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Living Simply with Children: A Voluntary Simplicity Guide for Moms, Dads, and Kids Who Want to Reclaim the Bliss of Childhood and the Joy of Parenting
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Living Simply with Children: A Voluntary Simplicity Guide for Moms, Dads, and Kids Who Want to Reclaim the Bliss of Childhood and the Joy of Parenting

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  350 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Raising children ranks as one of life’s most rewarding adventures. Yet between Mom and Dad working full-time jobs, endless carpooling of overscheduled youngsters, and the never-ending pressures to buy and consume, family life can be incredibly—needlessly—complex. What if you could find a way to spend more time with your children, replace unnecessary activities with meaning ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published May 26th 2010 by Harmony (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Colleen
Nov 24, 2008 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Greatest parenting book ever in my opinion, of course, doesn't help you with breastfeeding or getting your kids to sleep, it is way better than that. I finally finally felt like there were other people out their like me in this material obsessed, must have everything by age 2, I won't deprive my child society of ours. Loved it, own it. I finally didn't feel quite so "weird". Hard to believe I know.
Ami
Nov 25, 2009 Ami rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book to be a watered-down, generic, long-winded rant against commercialism with liberal lashings of pro-evironmentalism. And while I am not necessarily a fan of commercialism and I admit we need to watch over and care for the planet, I found this book sadly lacking in balance.
The concept of the book is interesting. How can we voluntarily simplify our life and enjoy the fruits of that simplification? Yet, I felt the author didn't offer many specific details, lists, or definitions. Th
...more
Amy
Mar 01, 2010 Amy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had high hopes, but ugh. This was dry, overly deliberate, too moralistic. The arguments for simplifying are fairly obvious, as are the basics of how to do so. Therefore "How to Brainstorm," "How to Hold a Family Meeting," and a mention by page 25 of the events of 9/11 as a reason to simplify all turned me off completely. Turn off the TV, cut commitments from your family schedule, have family night. I've already figured that much out myself. Once I got to the suggestion of creating "simplifying ...more
Jeanette
May 11, 2014 Jeanette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this when L was just a babe, and just reread it. So pertinent in today's busy culture. Brings focus on how to slow down and make meaningful lifestyle choices that will not only enhance our kid's childhood experiences but our happiness and stress level as parents. A good solid read.
Amy
This book turned out to be a little more hippy/liberal than I had hoped it would be, but still had some useful information. For the most part it was information I had already read in other sources - so I didn't read it word for word, but skimmed and only read the parts of particular interest to me. Chances are that if you already have the value of limiting childhood exposure to marketing, home-schooling, sustainable living, charity, etc. you will already have read/heard this stuff too. Though it ...more
Laura
Jun 21, 2016 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would love to simplify, but know that at this point, getting down to brass tacks wouldn't work for my family. The main thing I liked about this book was that it was full of ideas, and you could do with them what you wished. So, while retirement in our 40's is not going to happen for us at this point, easing some of the commercialism out of our kids' lives is something we can probably work on.

There are a few times the book gets a little too on it's high horse (mainly when discussing work styles
...more
Cindi
Sep 30, 2008 Cindi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
I really, really liked this book. It validated me in many ways and gave me new things to think about, one of which is becoming more GREEN. I just like the idea of slowing down the pace, something I've been intuitively trying to do but feeling guilt about, for a while now. It's hard to do things differently from other people. This book gave me the courage to do that and know that I'm not alone!
Kelly Coyle DiNorcia
I really enjoyed this book. It didn't really contain anything Earth-shattering that I hadn't heard before, but I think it would be a great introduction to the idea of Voluntary Simplicity. I also thought the resources that Sherlock provides are extensive and very useful, and plan to follow up on many of the books and websites she suggests.
Carissa
a good introduction to simplicity for those who are just considering it. Also some good suggestions for those who choose to live simply. I would rate it a great beginers guide and a good idea resource for others who have already began the journey to simplicity.
Samantha Newman
Apr 23, 2008 Samantha Newman rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents, annoying hippies
Recommended to Samantha by: Adam
Shelves: nonfiction
Not well written, if you ask me, which you didn't, but this is my review, so there you go.

I don't claim to know the rules of rhetoric, but I'm quite sure her arguments are flawed. She doesn't work very hard to prove the validity of her constant (somewhat laughable) references to "research," "recent studies" and "experts."

This would probably be a very good book...were it written by someone else. Someone who was an actual expert in the field, who had done lots of actual research and knew a lot ab
...more
Anna
Mar 03, 2008 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, parenting
In a culture of excess, particularly when it comes to kids, this book is full of many great ideas on ways to cut back. I particularly liked the idea of coming up with a family mission and values statement. It helped to really look at these things on paper and then look at what we were doing as a family to live these values.

At the same time I think that some of the ideas are too extreme. I think that it would be completely unrealistic to cut back to having both parents work part time, although I
...more
Sandra Pedicini
She lost me with the holes in the socks. This book has some good ideas and will make you think about just how much we consume as a society, but it offers up some pretty radical ideas about turning away from that consumerism that I think will turn a lot of parents off. And in today's brutal economy, where so many people are still trying to find a decent job, I don't think all the suggestions about downshifting and working fewer hours will prove practical for many people. And I sort of envision th ...more
Jillian
I agree with much of this book and will take a few solid ideas from it, especially regarding family meetings, allowances, media limitations, and holiday traditions. It just wasn't uniquely helpful or engaging enough to push it past three stars, and there's a lot of preaching to the choir. It seems most useful as a compendium of other resources on the topic.
M
Sep 12, 2016 M rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I agree wholeheartedly with the principles put forth in this book, but this could have been a lovely article rather than a whole book. Perhaps I'm not the audience for this book, as I didn't glean a great deal of new information--I'll tuck this on my parent shelf at school, however!
Saoirse
Jun 02, 2016 Saoirse rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this book didn't offer much. it was very basic and judgemental. we live fairly simply because we enjoy a calm less hectic life but it includes technology. I usually enjoy books like these add I'll find a thing or two to add to our family living more joyfully. this book offered me nothing.
Charity
Feb 11, 2008 Charity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sherlock gives a number of practical suggestions for simplifying in general and simplifying with children in particular. Those who have already begun the process of Voluntary Simplicity will find a lot of the suggestions familiar, but Sherlock offers some family-oriented ideas that were new to me. I found the chapters on simple holiday traditions and creating family rituals to be particularly helpful. The TV chapter seemed a little preachy to me, but perhaps that's just because I felt uncomforta ...more
Beth Gordon
This book was a little too idealistic - i.e., creating Eco Teams in your neighborhood to focus on how to get the community to reduce, reuse, recycle in order to consume less. Some good tips, albeit some are far-fetched when your children are infants and toddlers (family vision statement). All that aside, consuming less is a laudable goal for many reasons, which the author detailed as I'm sure you could too if given a few minutes. The author obviously interviewed her friends in the simple living ...more
Natalie
Dec 17, 2014 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, a great refresher on how to raise kids on a shoestring. The part of this book that sticks with me the most is that families should make a list of values and articulate those values with friends and extended family. Also, it should be obvious to all parents that children do not need a lot of expensive toys and electronics to live fulfilled, experience-rich lives. Simple objects from home, as well as the outdoors, provide families with ample opportunities for exploration and entertainment ...more
meghann
Feb 21, 2011 meghann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not much new here. I didn't read the same sanctimonious/preachy tone that some other reviewers did, but since we've lived this way more or less for many years—it's the "with children" bit that is new to us—I guess it wouldn't feel preachy to me. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't more here for me to take away & incorporate into my own family's life, but for someone who is on the hamster wheel & just looking to downshift, there is a lot of good information here to get started. (An ...more
Richard Kravitz
Living Simply? With Children? Not possible.
Michael Fitzgerald
Seems to link things together that don't need to be. I don't believe that living simply necessarily means being an environmentalist or a local food consumer. There were a few useful tips, but the Kim John Payne book Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids is much better.
Amy
Feb 02, 2009 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting-books
I really wanted to like this one. And I did get a lot of food for thought and good ideas, but some of it I didn't agree with (for me, personally). I don't see anything wrong with my kids wearing Thomas the Trains or Mickey Mouse shirts. Also, I love Disneyland too much to skip a trip for camping instead...at least right now with young kids.
Maybe I'm not as "simple" as I try to be! But I am planning to go back and take notes on parts of it. Worth a read, but maybe get from the library first.
Akehia
Apr 01, 2013 Akehia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a good read for someone who is considering a simplified life. It might be eye-opening (or might be annoying) for someone who doesn't at least have an interest in downgrading a little. There's a bit of a hippie-ish tree-hugging slant, but it's not that bad, assuming that anyone wanting a simpler life at least cares a little about the planet. There are some motivational sections for those that need a little extra nudge to make the move toward a simpler life.
Lindsey
Jan 08, 2011 Lindsey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
I read this book halfway and then skimmed to the end. I really liked some of her ideas, but I got really sick of her "save the planet" rhetoric. I like the idea of simplifying raising children; focusing on what really matters and avoiding the rampant commercialism common in childhood and she provided some good ideas on ways to do that. I especially liked the chapter on simplifying the way we celebrate Christmas, which is think is way too commercialized.
Eva
Nov 02, 2010 Eva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and even encouraged my husband to read it as well. Though we already do many of the suggestions in the book, I was encouraged to do more. I liked how Sherlock encouraged readers to communicate our decisions & choices to our children ... to include them in the process. It also helped me to know that I'm not the only one making these lifestyle choices. Each chapter had an extensive list of resources, which I found useful.
Erica
Apr 17, 2010 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came across this book several years ago and is one that I have held onto. It is a great reminder in how to raise children with the morals and values that you really want and not what society tries to force on them. It has put into words and gathered together a lot of my own outlook on parenting. It is a guide to living, as the title states, simply with children. The reason for 4 and not 5 stars is because the writing can be repetitive.
Jeffrey
Nov 15, 2009 Jeffrey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family
Not so much "simple living" as "anti-commercial living." Everything focused on avoiding marketing and not buying stuff. I admit that this is important to living simply, but it is not everything.

There are lots of good resource sections (one at the end of each chapter) that are worth checking out. Just browse through the book, find the chapters that would interest you, and jump straight to the resources.
Maddi MacDonald
Nov 21, 2013 Maddi MacDonald rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Super repetitive. Skimmed the solutions to issues but never fleshed out ideas. Perhaps a bit dated to modern families who've already considered things like turning off the TV, buying less, homemade, and CSAs. Lingered too much on "soul searching" for why one should live simply (Lady, I'm reading your book, which means you're preaching to the choir. Tell me something new.) Not great overall.
Kristilin
Apr 30, 2008 Kristilin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book and it's one that I reread and refer to again and again. Some concepts in this book are a little extream, but it continually reminds me what my family's true needs are. I think there is too much wastefulness, indulgence and loss of value in this world. Reading this helped me put many things in perspective and change some things in my family's lives to better ourselves.
Allison
Nov 30, 2011 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book, great ideas. Sometimes the ideas were a little too far-fetched for me (we can obviously not have Steven working part time to stay at home more). She refers to, and encourages you to read, the book "Your Money or Your Life" so many times it started to get annoying (but I guess it worked because I got it from the library...). Overall it was really encouraging.
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