No word, in the history of the English language, makes me happier than the word ‘simplify”. World-peace, beauty, and self-love? Sure, those are nice terms; however, they don’t give me the warm-and-fuzzies like the word simplify.
Living a simple life has been a constant goal in my life. In fact, I think I have always been drawn to a simple way of life. I was never attracted to gaudy things or complex relationships. I value practicality, authenticity, and non-materialistic pleasures.
I am that chick that you see walking down the street in flip flops with socks; because I wanted the quick slip-on option of a sandal, but my toes were cold.
After having three kids, I found that achieving the level of simplicity I am comfortable with was as easy as treading water in a rip-tide, while balancing a 20 lbs weight on my head, as I am trying to play Symphony No. 9 on a flute (spoiler alert: I don’t play the flute).
There are those daily after-school activities, endless chores, bottomless pit of junk mail, and piles of toys as far as the eye can see. As a parent, living a simple life felt almost impossible to me.
Regardless, I knew that if I wanted to enjoy my children and this life I worked so hard to build, then I had to find a way to restore balance.
I thought back about my childhood in the 90’s and how simple the times were. We were glued to our bikes, not our phones. I wanted my kids to have that sort of life.
After some trial-and-error, I developed this list of 10 guaranteed life changes to return to a more simple way of living, in this modern world.
1) Automate Anything and Everything
First, sit down and think of the things you can automate in your life. Next, automate all of those things.
- Deliveries (Amazon Subscribe and Save)
- Social media
Are there any other things that you do regularly? It may sound obvious, but removing a few items from your monthly to-do lists or your mental checklists will have a huge impact.
2) Declutter Like a Boss
Do you know why kids with 100 toys like to play in boxes? If you have too many things, then you are distracted, overwhelmed, and stressed. It’s true, read all the studies here.
In my eyes, this is THE most important step to simplification. Unnecessary clutter only leads to anxiety and stress. Go room by room, and try to fill up a garbage bag with anything you and your family do not frequently use. I guarantee you will be shocked at how much unused stuff you can get rid of, and how relieved you will feel when it is out of your home.
Stop buying things just to buy them. Only purchase things that you and your family need.
For an easy 5 step approach to reducing toy clutter, read here.
3) Quiet Down the Social Media Chatter
Every time I (DING) tried to do anything (BEEP), my phone would (DING)… what was I saying?
I could not get anything accomplished because my phone alerted me every time I received a junk email or a friend posted a cat meme to Facebook. I even started to get notifications that I hadn’t been on Instagram for a few days.
Turn off ALL unnecessary notifications and unsubscribe to any email distribution list that you do not regularly use. Don’t worry, I promise that you can get added back on any list if you miss those emails.
4) Learn to Say the Magic Words “No”
Listen, no one wants your chocolate chip cookies for the PTA bake sale if you are too tired and accidentally use salt instead of sugar. Do you get what I am saying?
Do not overfill your plate. When things are busy, this simple response can avoid a cataclysmic anxiety attack.
5) Asking for Help is a Sign of Strength, Not Weakness
My house could be burning in flames, while we are being attacked by a pack of lions that escaped from the zoo, during an alien invasion, while my arms were falling off – and the old me STILL would have turned down help.
To say that I had a difficult time admitting when I needed help was an understatement. I was the oldest of five kids, and I take my birth order very seriously. I like to be a leader and I like to be in control. AND even if I don’t have it all together, I like to portray that I do.
Once I learned to say the word “help”, I realized two things. First, people who love me WANT to help me. Secondly, it felt amazing to get some clutter off my plate and focus on what really matters – my kids.
6) Delegate to Your Family
It wasn’t that my husband and my kids didn’t want to help out, the problem was I just did everything and never asked for help.
When you delegate responsibilities you are teaching your kids what it means to be part of a family, as well as simplifying your own workload.
Sometimes your family needs a little push in the right direction. Read all about how to introduce kids to age-appropriate chores, when they really haven’t done chores before.
7) Develop a Paper Sorting System
Each of my three children bring home about 55 pieces of paper from school each day, that gets thrown on top of the 10 letters and bills we get in the mail. If you aren’t organized, sorting through your families papers can feel like a full-time job.
It is important to develop your own system. In our house, we have this paper organizer that hangs over our door. Each member of the family has their own pocket and has a folder in it for things to keep and things that need attention.
Additionally, we have this bill organizer to keep track of what bills we have to pay or sort.
8) “Routinify” Your Most-Hated Chores
I passionately HATE laundry. If I wait until I have “time” for this chore, then I will constantly remember things that I “must do” before I sit down to fold my laundry.
Take the procrastination out of the tasks you hate by “routinifying” these chores. I fold my laundry Sunday evenings before bed and Wednesday mornings before I get the kids up. It removes my internal debates over when I will have time to do this chore, and the stress I feel when I push it off another day.
9) Ditch the Activities Your Kids Don’t Love
My daughter’s main mode of transportation is a cartwheel. She loved gymnastics class so we thought we would try out a few other sports.
Every week before basketball she would cry and run from us to avoid going. Once we got her to the gym, she would take 5 bathroom breaks just to hideout and avoid practice. Although my husband and I wanted to teach her not to quit, adding that weekly stress to our lives did not benefit anyone.
Ditch any activities that your kids don’t love. This will free up your time and simplify that hectic schedule, and leave more time to do the things you all truly enjoy.
10) Prioritize outdoor time over screen time
A big part of living a simple life is removing unnecessary distractions. I can’t think of a bigger distraction to modern families than screen-time.
With screen-time, moderation is key. Learn what experts say is the recommended amount of screen-time kids should get and the negative effects of overusing screentime.
On top of this, studies continually show the benefits that outdoor play has on the development of children:
- According to a University of Illinois study, interaction with nature reduces symptoms of ADD in children.
- Many studies, like this one, link outdoor experiences to improved mental health.
- Outdoor play is associated with lower BMI scores in children
Spend more time engaging as a family and exploring the outdoors.
The magic of simplicity is that when you take the time to make these simple changes in your life, you will suddenly have more time to do the things you love.
You will have more time to interact with your family, and awaken the joy that was blurred behind the chaos. To prove how much I value the simple things in life, I will end this in a very cliche way – with a quote:
Life is really simple, we just insist on making it complicated.Confucius
If you found this helpful, share it! And follow us on Facebook for more up to date discussions.
Print this reminder and subscribe for access to ALL our freebies!