For the last few years, I’ve been on a mission: simplify as much as possible. The passion for simple living intensified when I discovered minimalism, a growing movement that advocates having less stuff so you can enjoy more of what life has to offer.
With four small children, simplicity promotes sanity. Clutter multiplies around here in the blink of an eye and it’s impossible to keep up with when we accumulate things we don’t need.
But simple living doesn’t necessarily mean you need to sell all of your possessions and live in a tiny house – though, I think that’d be pretty cool. 🙂
Here are some of the ways I’ve simplified over the last few years.
The openness to make such a huge shift in our priorities came after being exposed to Dave Ramsey. Simplifying our finances so that we could get out of debt was the first step. As I began looking at things I thought we needed, I saw that they weren’t really necessities.
In fact, they distracted us from spending more time with our kids or enjoying time outside or any number of things that we felt were more important. Cutting out these expenses was a major eye-opener for me where I saw that living more simply could be better, much better.
Since switching to the pantry principle (making a list of all the foods we eat regularly and shopping to restock those), meals have gotten much simpler. I’ve also become less concerned about variety and more concerned about quality.
Before, I would try to buy new and exciting veggies, only to be disappointed to find them moldy in the fridge, forgotten or ignored because I didn’t know how to prepare them.
Now, I stick to favorites, choosing organic when necessary, occasionally bringing in something new and changing things up on a seasonal basis. The same goes with other types of foods.
I’ve learned that it’s ok to eat our favorite foods over and over. And I don’t stress if dinner is a simple chicken and veggie salad instead of the elaborate meal that I used to think it should be. I love good food, but not so much that I want to spend most of my time in the kitchen.
To me, simple living means being able to relax. It seems like such a foreign concept in today’s world, where we go, go, go all the time. But where is the joy in that?
I confess that I would go, go, go all the time, too, but I’ve been blessed with a large family that forces me to stop and play and appreciate the little things. This means that we try to keep as much free time as possible to connect as a family.
Sometimes it works great, sometimes it doesn’t, but we try hard and appreciate the time we get together. It really helps when we don’t have a lot of obligations away from home.
There was a time, not long ago, when I was pretty busy. I had a new friend that I loved hanging out with, we were being invited to lots of get-togethers and Spring sport sign-up was just getting started. Rather than feeling excited about this new pace of life, I was kind of distressed.
Spending a lot of time out of the house, separated from each other didn’t match up with the simple lifestyle we wanted. Sure we were all about cultivating relationships, but we envisioned doing it together.
So I had to take a step back and evaluate everything that was going on. And then I had to say no. Simplifying our commitments can be tough, but the end results are worth it. Peaceful contentedness beats busy obligations any day.
Simple living is a process, one where you continually evaluate where you are and decide if it’s good or needs to change. But it’s an enjoyable process that gives you the freedom to live life on your terms, with the people you love.