Living the Simple Life

I thought my household needed to be simplified so I read Living the Simple Life by Elaine St. James. I was amazed to learn that I didn’t need to buy the book.

It just verified that I should have written it. My family has been doing the majority of the book’s suggestions for years, which proved that we are behind the all-consuming times.

One of the book’s suggestions was to consider a smaller home. Having a small house has simplified problems such as company staying for an extended visit. Staying here is like camp; visitors have to rough it without conveniences such as television and privacy. There’s no guestroom with a door or private bathroom, and we make guests sleep on the couch. My simple spending plan has allowed us to offer company the same hide-a-bed couch in our living room that we’ve had for 15 years. 

It may seem hard to believe in today’s society, but we’ve managed to get by without a garage—the space designated to store people’s overflow from their house. Without a garage, I’ve eliminated the need to waste money on things like excess holiday decorations that aren’t out long enough to pay for themselves and require storage for 330 days.

I was familiar with the book’s idea of having a moratorium on spending except to buy groceries and personal items. I do it because I can’t always get away for big shopping trips, which has led to coming up with creative solutions rather than a buying solution; another suggestion.

I keep meal planning simple too. All our meals are made with beef. And cooking doesn’t get any simpler than not cooking. Ever heard of a crockpot? It’s really simple.

Evidently eating meals together is another novel idea, which wasn’t in the book but a problem I’ve overheard complicated moms talking about and a simple practice I’ve developed to meet several of my family’s needs simultaneously. I don’t know what it’s like with other families but in mine, my husband, kids and I, all have to eat, live together, and usually have something to say, so I’ve simplified by meeting all of their needs at once and make mealtimes something we do together. 

Our family time is simple too. We spend it together and my simple parenting style includes eliminating busy time fillers so that our kids have an excuse for being kids. As a result, they’re more self-sufficient. They can sufficiently entertain themselves through the interests they’ve discovered such as making up immature song lyrics, rhymes, poems and strange noises, mocking me, or creating different ways to annoy me.

Did you know that one way to live simplistically is to find ways reuse what you already have? This concept seems simple to me but evidently people need the idea suggested to them because this gal was able to sell her book informing people that you can actually reuse your old stuff. Most of the gifts I give include at least one reusable plastic or glass jar.

I did find it surprising that filling the dishwasher or washing machine full before running it had to be suggested. I always considered those simple habits no-brainers.

Reading the book made me feel like I’m the queen of frugal, simplistic living, which should’ve been obvious since I married the king.

This column was originally published December 29-2010-January 4, 2011 © Amy Kirk

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