The simple life. It’s an elusive concept that many of us seem to always be striving for, but somehow rarely reach. But the simple life is masterfully embodied by Erin Boyle, author and mother. She shares her guidelines and inspiration in Simple Matters, a readable and attractive volume recently published by Abrams Image.
The volume is full of easy to follow steps towards decluttering, organizing, and streamlining belongings—from making all holiday decorations fit into a shoebox to corralling each day’s projects into a vintage wooden crate. Her approach to storage and décor solutions places value in aesthetic, emotional and functional aspects; each item in the home has a value-checklist to meet. “Living simply requires conscious acts,” Boyle writes. “By consuming less, purchasing more thoughtfully, and sending fewer things to the landfill, we can free up time and space for the things that really matter.”
“A lot of people that have read this book feel a renewed energy for a path that they’re already on,” Boyle remarks warmly. “It’s fun to see the book in other simple spaces and notice the practical implication in other people’s lives.”
Boyle’s philosophy flows into her parenting practice, she and her partner keep just a few toys for their two-year-old daughter, deciding instead to make playthings out of beans and pots. “My hope is to create an opportunity for as much imaginative play and self expression as possible,” Boyle notes. “One path to that is to pare down the noise of toys and accessories so that my daughter can explore her world.”
As her daughter grows, Boyle engages the process of ‘gatekeeping’ that is outlined in Simple Matters: “We’re always continuing the work of going through a space and deciding what is useful and functional,” she says. “The more time children are on the planet, the more stuff they can acquire.” Tricycles get given away as soon as they are outgrown, storybooks are donated to the library instead of kept at the bottom of the shelf when their moment of bedtime favor is past.
“One of the main challenges of modern parenting doesn’t have to do with parenting, but with stuff. Our conversations tend to revolve around things, and I think this does a dis-service to parenting,” Boyle says. “Parenting is hard work, and of course some tools make it easier, like the sound machine that can help a baby finally go to sleep at 3 a.m. But, as parents, when we’re preoccupied with finding the right things, the focus gets taken away from our ability to nurture.”