Living simply isn’t something that just happens. It’s something that is ongoing, and that you need to work on. While I would never have described our lifestyle as extravagant, over the last few years we have increasingly focused on simplifying our life to give time to what is important to us. So here are five things we have done to keep life simple, that you can do to.
Regularly sort and cull your belongings
After several years of simplifying, I have gone through all our bits and pieces and done some serious culling and organising. Unfortunately, these things don’t automatically stay organised. Kids grow out of clothing, things break, and despite my best efforts, we occasionally fall for an impulse purchase. So we need to regularly go through cupboards and check that clutter isn’t accumulating. Set aside a small amount of time aside regularly to sort and cull your belongings to avoid junk building up.
Keep extracurricular activities to a minimum
One of the things we have consciously chosen for our family is to minimise the extracurricular activities for the kids. The girls learn piano, though the lessons take place at school during their lunch time once a week. We also do swim club as a family on Friday nights during the summer. That is it. One of the reasons why we chose these activities (besides the fact that the kids enjoy them) is that they don’t take a lot of time out of our week. Our kids need down time, and we don’t need the stress of driving all over the countryside to play soccer, netball etc. Instead, we get to focus on time together as a family.
I’m not saying to cut out all extracurricular activities, but if you spend your afternoons and weekends trying to juggle pottery, karate, French, football, swimming, and flute lessons, it might be time to rationalise what you and the kids are doing. Consider limiting them to just two, or designating a day that is free of activities so that you can enjoy some family time together.
Make time for your own hobbies
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It’s very easy in a busy life to neglect things that you enjoy. For me, having time to spend on my photography and crochet is important, while CB enjoys the garden and computer games. I find the mindfulness of crochet, in particular, gives my brain a break and forces me to slow down, while photography lets me notice the world around me in new ways. Whatever your hobbies are, make sure that you get some regular time to participate in them. The mental health benefits are too good to miss out on.
Eat dinner together around the table (most nights)
It can be very easy to let this one slip. Let’s face it at the end of the day, the last thing you feel like is sitting down around the table with the kids to eat, but it is still important. It gives us the chance to connect with each other, talk about our days, and for us to instil our values into our kids. We’ve had countless discussions about everything from what we believe as Christians, to why we grow our own vegetables, to how we make financial decisions. Sitting down and enjoying good food together is one of life’s great joys and is a habit that is important for family relationships.
Follow the quality not quantity principle
In a world full of cheap, semi-disposable consumer goods, it can be hard to find quality products, but it is always worth spending a little more to find a quality product that will last a long time. I’ve written more about this here. Whether it be buying quality food or quality clothing we try to make the best choices within our budget, and it definitely has made life better in the long run. Avoid buying items just because they are cheap, and you will also have less to keep organised (see point one).
No matter what strategies you use, keeping life simple is always going to be an ongoing process. It is something that you need to continue to put work into. Fortunately, the benefits of living a simple life are well and truly worth the effort.
What do you do to keep your life simple?