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The Best Parenting Books for Connecting, Simplifying, and Making Time


The Best Parenting Books to help parents connect, simplify and make time for what really matters

After posting about my struggle with time (for art and creativity) I heard so many of you have similar issues. So, I thought I’d share some of what I consider the best parenting books out there on slowing down and connecting better.

Not that books will solve everyone’s problems. But there’s a lot of perspective and wisdom to be found in books sometimes, and in these books in particular.

These books are not about doing more in order to raise kids who will get into Harvard or be the next president. And conversely, they don’t say we should all eschew society and live in a cabin in the woods.

These are books about parenting in the 21st century. They give us the tools to shape our parenting style, home, and time together intentionally. They are thought provoking and require some work, but it’s worth it, right?

I’ll list the books, expand on each below, and I hope you’ll add your faves in the comments, too.

There’s a little witch at work in the studio…

A photo posted by Jean Van’t Hul | Artful Parent (@jeanvanthul) on

P.S. In case you missed it, here’s my post on 7 Ways to Fit Art in When You Don’t Have the Time.

This list of books I’m sharing has nothing to do with art. If you want to make more time in your family’s life for art and creativity, they can help. But they can also make more time in your family for life and for the things and experiences that matter most to you.

Boat Races at the Creek

This post contains affiliate links. The Best Parenting Books for Connecting, Simplifying & Making Time 

If you’re like me, you probably have a stack of books to read and don’t necessarily need more book recommendations.

Hands Free Life Book But if you feel like your home and family life is out of balance, it might be worth picking up one of these books, letting the ideas percolate, and implementing the ones that make sense for you and your family.

Space to Read

You can fit your reading into any time that you have—at breakfast, while nursing the baby, in the car line, before bed.

I’ve been reading bite-sized chunks of Hands Free Life in the car line and feel like it sets the whole tone for how I interact with the kids after school.

Many of these are even available as audio books, so you can listen to them in the car or while you are washing dishes and folding laundry.

The Kon Mari Book on Decluttering If your house is cluttered and the clutter is preventing you from living the life you want to live because it’s taking up time, space, and energy and causing frustration, then I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s book ::

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

Hands Free Mama Book If you, as a parent, are too busy and over committed, and feel like it’s affecting the quality of your life and your family’s life, I can’t recommend Rachel Macy Stafford’s books enough for helping you re-prioritize and focus on what matters when it matters. And really connecting.

Simplicity Parenting Book If you want to be more intentional about how you shape your child’s day, schedule, and space, Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne is awesome. Subtitled Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids. Its message is aimed at creating a foundation for younger families.

Free Resources for Intentional Family Living

Anything to add? If you have a favorite book or resource that is relevant please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about more books about creating time and space in our lives for what matters.

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The Best Parenting Books to help parents connect, simplify and make time for what really matters


  • Reply
    October 21, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    A new studio? Love your table / stools and all that lovely light!

  • Reply
    October 21, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Great books too! :-)

  • Reply
    Tanya Hoover
    October 21, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Hello Jean,
    I have been following your page on FB for the past year or so, and I love your ideas and your approach so much. Thank you! I have a very active 4-year-old boy, and a 9-month-old daughter who is intent on keeping up with her brother! I am at home full time with my children right now, but my work is as a child and family therapist. I am particularly passionate about helping to build strong attachment relationships between parents and children. I’ve seen your book recommendations in a couple of posts, and have noticed that some amazing books on building strong attachment relationships are missing. Specifically, I’m thinking about books that help us as parents to guide our children through their really big, strong, difficult emotions (an area many get stuck!). I think you had listed Gordon Neufeld’s Hold On To Your Kids and it’s a great book. Here’s another one I think you would find to be an amazing read: The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson. Another fabulous one is Attachment Focused Parenting by Daniel Hughes. Both books are by well known and highly respected authors in the attachment field. Let me know if you read them, and what you think! Thanks again for your amazing resources! I love them!

  • Reply
    October 22, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I love love love “simplicity parenting” . It is my to-go book when I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or just feeling “blah”. I have read it over and over, and each time I learn something new, probably because my focus and perspective change as my children grow up, and my life changes, too. Nothing is stagnant in our lives! I like KonMari’s book. I have the one you mentioned, and also another one in Japanese that my mother brought for me from Japan. I try keeping it up, but to be honest, it is not working that well as I would like. I also like “Steady Days”. I am re-reading it now that I feel our life a bit out of order. I have been wanting to read the other two books you mentioned. They will be on my reading list next! :)

  • Reply
    October 22, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Thank you for including me it’s an honor here.

    I’d recommend Shawn’s book: Savor slow as one that helps you steady yourself in parenting intentionally.

  • Reply
    Special Crazy Mom
    November 18, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel. It uses Jewish teachings in it’s philosophy of raising kids, but they are for everyone. Lovely book- I recommend it to everyone.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    I have a few of those books on my nightstand! I would add: Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children by Sarah Napthali. It goes way beyond Buddhism and just an I sliding book. I always feel like I’ve taken a big deep breath after reading it.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    “Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids” was life-changing for our family in terms of connection.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    I have Marie Kondo’s books on my list at the library all set for summer break. (I’ve started teaching full again for the first time in seven years). Trying to find time for art and truly being present for family have been a challenge this year. I look forward to reading more of the books on this list. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Hannah Elise
    April 21, 2016 at 8:11 am

    I will have to see if my library has the Hands Free books. They sound excellent. I actually read Kondo’s book last year, and while I loved some of the ideas she put forth, I notfi nd the book as a whole to be all that applicable to our lives. Especially her thoughts on books. ;)

    The books I find myself referring people to all the time are, well, anything by author and gentle mama L. R .Knost. She hasn’t published thing recently due to battling cancer, but she has some great ideas for connecting with the hearts of your children. Her website also has a lot of thought-provoking blog posts. Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel, is another favorite round here.

  • Reply
    Cascia Talbert
    June 24, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Great post! I love parenting books. You can learn so much from them. Have a terrific day!

  • Reply
    January 25, 2018 at 9:14 am

    Grace not Perfection by Emily Ley is a book I am reading now and I love it. It is a very easy Read much like the Hands Free books you talked about. Loved those too!

  • Reply
    January 26, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    I do love parenting books! If I could recommend one more, a workbook, actually that was a game changer for me (a busy parent) with two wildlings:

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