This was certainly the most perfect first book of the year for 2019. You guys know I am really trying to streamline my business workflow, as well as our personal lives so I don’t always feel like we are barely making it by. I love the idea of doing a little but of preparation beforehand to make things smoother for myself and my family down the road. That is exactly what Emily Ley focuses on in this book. Everything that you already do (work, chores, parenthood, social media) and breaks it down into manageable steps to obtain simplification of your home and life. The driving reason behind each step of simplification is so that you can spend your time enjoying your family and friends, rather than being overwhelmed by clutter and activities.
The best part about it is that it acts as a journal of sorts too. Emily proposes questions throughout the book and allows you to answer them honestly in a space provided.
The book is split into ten chapters, each one focused on simplifying a different aspect of life. I have picked out the most poignant parts to me and will review those here…but I don’t want to give away too much, so that you still have incentive to go read this book.
Chapter 1: Home
Eliminate a junk drawer.
Coming from someone whose grew up with multiple junk drawers, this is a hard one to grasp. But where would I put all the junk in the junk drawer?! Either get rid of it or find a home for each of those items. Have a bunch of pens in your junk drawer? Start a mail drawer with envelopes, stamps, pens, and stationery.
Chapter 2: Wardrobe
Develop a semi-capsule wardrobe.
So you don’t have to keep just the basics, but Emily encourages you to go by these three “rules” while cleaning out your closet:
It must fit. It must be good quality. It must be your favorite.
Or bring you joy…I’m joking. I have also been watching Tidying Up, so Caleb is going through his own personal Hell as we clean out each room.
Chapter 3: Meals
Keep a list of quick, easy meals and plan those meals out weekly.
I had already started doing a form of this…but not successfully. The key to routine is to make it a routine, which is sometimes easier said than done. But I am always on board for simple meals, so if you have any, drop them as a comment below.
Chapter 4: Schedule
Throw a small load of laundry in every morning.
I’m not totally sure this would work for us. I know me, and I know Caleb…even if I threw the laundry in each morning, we would end up with a huge pile of clean, unfolded laundry by the weekend. I prefer to choose one day (Sunday) where we do all the laundry and try to get it all done and folded in the same day.
Chapter 5: Finances
It seems like setting up the systems for finances are the hardest part.
This is the stuff that no one likes to talk about. Money is one of the most common issues in marriages, so it’s easier not to talk about it. Emily’s point, however, is that everything goes much smoother when jobs are assigned—big picture versus day-to-day. Once the system is in place and both partners know what his/her responsibilities are, it cuts down on having the same conversations every month and allows you to spend more time enjoying your family.
Chapter 6: Hospitality
Encourage small, easy to maintain traditions.
Like cinnamon roll Sunday! This has been a thing in our house for a while. We don’t do it every Sunday, but most Sundays we do. Once Hux is older and grows to have favorites of her own, I’m sure that may change to biscuits and gravy Saturdays or whatever she prefers.
A main point in this chapter though is that “hospitality” does not just include guests. Making your home hospitable to each member of your family that spends time everyday there is important too!
Chapter 7: Technology
Turn off all notifications from social media.
Um…this is huge. I am that person that sees a little red 1 on my [insert literally any app icon here] and cannot stand it being there, so I check it immediately. I may not even really check it. I might just open the app and close it to get it to go away, but that still takes time. If you take that little red 1 notification off, it makes it so much easier not to constantly be on your phone checking your Instagram or your email.
She also brings up a “social media policy” for her family. I think we are in that part of the generational wave where new technology (super smart phones and social media) has been implemented, but all the long-term effects are still to be determined. It’s important that we think about how what we post about our children may affect our children down the road. No longer is that embarrassing bathtub photo reserved for girlfriends and boyfriends that visit your parents at their house…literally anyone could screenshot it no matter if it’s on an Instagram story that only lasts for 24 hours or even a Snapchat that lasts three seconds.
Chapter 8: Self
Brain dump by writing every stressor down.
I really need to start doing this…I think it would help to organize thoughts and to-do lists (y’all know I love my color coordinating!).
She also talks about the normal things—food and exercise. I think we become desensitized to this because we hear it so often. But I can’t tell you how many days I get to 5pm and am like, “Wow, I haven’t eaten anything today.”
Chapter 9: Motherhood
More toys do not equal more happiness!
Encourage your loved ones to give experiential gifts instead of toys. Toys are often discarded after a few weeks or months use and they take up space while they’re in your home. Instead, gift little ones movie tickets or an art or swim class, something that they can experience.
When I was growing up, my mom really never made us clean…except for on my brother’s ninth birthday (but that’s a story for another time). Emily encourages splitting the chore load between all family members and gives strategies on how exactly to do that. For example, she gets her four-year-old son to gather up his clothes and his twin siblings’ clothes and throw them over the banister every morning for that small load of laundry. Of course a four-year-old boy is going to look forward to throwing things off the side of the steps…genius!
Chapter 10: Faith
Don’t be afraid if your praters sound ugly or unpolished. Just pray.
See? Don’t these seem like small, manageable steps that can truly lead to a simplified life!? At the end of each chapter she gives you five steps/activities to do now in order to simplify your life.
It all boils down to: A little preparation and forethought today can go a long way to simplifying your life tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. 10/10 would recommend this quick read to help lead you to a simpler life where there is more family time and less hustle time.
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