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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

VIEW FROM AMERICA: Simplicty Will Come When the Kids Leave




I don't know about you, but I need to simplify my life. I have too many to-do lists, too many piles of paperwork. I have too many errands to run, too many calls to return and too many bills to pay. My day timer is more important to me than my marriage.


Elaine St. James needed to simplify her life, too. After she did, she wrote a book about giving things up and throwing things away, doing less and making do with less.


The book, called "Simplify Your Life,'' was a big success. But I don't think that success simplified her life because someone talked her into writing two more books: "Inner Simplicity'' and "Living the Simple Life.''


But it seems she's back on track. Now she has simply combined the books into one, 858-page doorstop called "The Simplicity Reader.''


I greedily thumbed through this tome for any hint that might help me tame the chaos in my life. I soon realized that implementing any of St. James' suggestions would require that I take an important first step: Get rid of the husband and kids.


Otherwise, I'd have to discard every suggestion. Each would be met with resistance from the very people who make my life so complicated.


For example: "Reduce the Clutter in Your Life.'' Translation: "Throw out everybody else's stuff.'' My kids can't seem to get their Kleenex into a wastebasket, so how I am going to convince them to throw out anything else?


"Get Rid of Your Lawn.'' Hah. My husband would rather fuss with his grass than sleep, and he does plenty of that. "Move to a Smaller House.'' Sure, but you will probably be living there by yourself. By the time your kids are old enough to arrange their own play dates, they are so wedded to their friends that you couldn't get them to move if it were to an arcade. "If you don't like the holidays, bow out.'' Sure, tell your children you're canceling Christmas because it's too complicated. Then you'll be living in that smaller house by yourself for sure.


Overall, St. James' suggestions are sensible, and they certainly will simplify one's life: "Just say no.'' "Just do nothing.'' But women don't live just one life. We live the lives of everyone in the household, especially our children's, and simplifying ours can only mean reducing theirs to the point where they are playing with pots and pans on the kitchen floor.


That runs counter to our instinct to offer our kids endless activities and stimulations to enrich their lives and capture their passionate devotion. We can't help it. Everything sounds like a good idea, and that's where things go from simple to complicated.


In the end, "The Simplicity Reader'' did help me simplify. I realized I could reduce its 858 pages to a simple sentence: "When the kids leave home, things will be simpler.''


Susan Reimer writes for The Baltimore Sun.