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Simplify Your Life With Kids : 100 Ways to make Family Life Easier and More Fun (Elaine St. James Little Books) Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 1, 1997
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This book is not about being a hermit, being cheap, or giving away all your possessions. It's about keeping those things that contribute positively to your life and discarding the rest. Getting to the essence of things if you will.
Most people wear 20% or less of their wardrobe. Why not then give the other 80% to friends and charities and enjoy a clutter free closet where you can easily find what you are looking for?
If you find yourself stressed out going to 10 holiday parties, then try going to only 2 and see how you feel.
I came across this book in 1994, and have gradually employed a lot of the ideas. I've found a few things that I tried that weren't for me, but overall it's been a huge positive in my life. It's great not being choked with possessions and clutter. It's freed up so much time to do volunteer work, exercise more, enjoy the outdoors more, and just to drink my coffee slow in the morning.
This book is fantastic for those who wish their lives to focus on doing and contributing and experiencing, rather than buying, consuming, storing, moving, weeding-through, tripping-over, collecting, and trying to impress.
The book opens with a scenario in which a mother has forgotten to pick up her child and the child is stranded somewhere late in the evening while she tries to figure out a way to get someone else to go pick him up now that she's home and needs to make dinner. This did not bode well for the rest of the book [for those of us who don't routinely completely forget about our children and leave them alone in public places late at night....]
Much of the advice in this book falls into the category of "simplify your life with children by paying someone else to deal with the little brats". There is much about how parents should put their children in day care all day [and don't EVER let your child think they have the ability to cause you to delay your departure because of their pathetic tears, etc, etc, etc] and then get a sitter to care for the children in the evenings so mom can have "Me" time and parents can have "Us" time. Apparently, if you schedule 2 hours of "quality time" on Sunday afternoon with your kids, that's really all they need.
There was also a big push to teach the kids "self sufficiency" - as in, your 5 year old really can get his own breakfast so he doesn't "bother" you.Read more ›
To understand why, remember that this is really a collection of ideas that St. James and her husband have already put into place in their lives. They were hard core yuppie materialists in the 80's and decided to simplify their lives to have more time for each other. The author's recommendations reflect this orientation. "Get rid of your boat" is obviously not going to apply for everyone. Some of the suggestions to limit your time with others also probably assume that you've already found a life partner; single folks should keep this in mind as they read.
The format of this book also makes for a strange alternation between huge, life-changing choices (move to where you can be close to your workplace), and weirdly specific recommendations (stop using nail polish). I found this to be a little odd, but if you are just looking for ideas, it probably won't bother you. I also found the suggestion to "change your expecations", which turned out to mean, "avoid doing difficult things" to be defeatist and unhelpful.
There are some great ideas in this book in every section. Some of the suggestions are challenging, but could yield great results. Each one, although not helpful to EVERYONE, will probably be helpful to SOMEONE. For these reasons, I'm giving it three stars. The book could be very useful as a way to provoke thought about what is really necessary in your life. Just don't look to it as an all purpose guide, and keep in mind the backgrounds of the authors as you read.
St James begins with a description of your typical harried day, which includes having to "rescue your two-year-old from the baby-sitter." Any mother whose typical day includes "rescuing" her two-year-old from child care needs more than to simplify her life. She needs to drop everything and find some better child care! But St James, with no experience in trying to find adequate and affordable child care, doesn't appreciate the magnitude of this problem, and is simply trying to be funny. (Also, most child-care professionals resent being called "babysitters," a term she uses throughout the book, because it does not reflect the care and education caregivers work hard to provide.)
On page 7, St. James attempts to deal with the universal problem of separating from your child. As she does repeatedly, St. James approaches this problem with only the parents' needs in mind. Her focus is on streamlining the adult's morning routine, without any mention of the child's needs. She suggests that you (mommy) let daddy take the child during the first few weeks because the child is probably more used to saying good-bye to daddy. The stereotypes in this statement annoyed me, but worse than annoying was her suggestion that you enlist "another adult" to take the child. Separation from parents is one of the most difficult problems children face in child care.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Once in a great while and if you're lucky, you find a book that can change your life if you let it. This was such a book for me. Read morePublished 9 days ago by medvlit
Bought books for my two adult children too, so they have the knowledge and ideas from this book that my husband and I wish we had years ago.Published 23 days ago by pet lover
Elaine St. James wrote "Simplify Your Life" in 1994, and is really one of the "pioneers" of the current simplifying, minimizing, and downsizing movement (as I read... Read morePublished 3 months ago by TeekMom
A little outdated but great advice for simplifying your life. Following a guideline that frees you of society's expectations and allows you freedom to live a simpler ,less anxious... Read morePublished 5 months ago by AD
A godsend that has guided my life for over ten years. Great book to keep by the bed, dip into, and remember what's important. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Katy Butler
Great cute little book, but much of this information is outdated and not very useful. Could have given it 1 star, but really I should have paid attention to the date it printed. Read morePublished 7 months ago by 0waste88
I came across this gem at the library a number of years ago, and enjoy picking it up for a re-read from time to time. Read morePublished 7 months ago by sparkle60