Once upon a time our family chose to intentionally pursue a more simple, less chaotic life – we wanted to slow down, spend more time as a family and do the things we’re individually most passionate about.
But this didn’t happen overnight. Things like having a small home, moving back to Oregon where it’s easy to explore the outdoors and homeschooling are all massive life changes.
But simplifying life means different things to different people.
In fact, writing down what a more simple life looks like to you and your family is well worth the few minutes it takes to do it and will give you the vision necessary to carry out your wishes.
It’s been over a year and a half and we’re still not where we want to be but we’re getting closer. We can finally see in our near future the place where we live intentionally, naturally, peacefully, and invested in each other and our desires every day.
Of course, we want to help inspire others to do the same, if they feel they’re called to do so. To start, here are five easy things we did to help simplify our lives:
Choose One Zero Obligation Day
We chose one day (which later turned into 2 and then sometimes 3 days) on our calendar and cleared it completely, making it a “zero obligation” day. We started spending it doing things we’re passionate about, mainly at home, or simply did nothing at all and enjoyed the space to think clearly. I realize this is a lofty endeavor for us parents but as we implemented this on a regular basis, our kids started catching on and joined us in a slower paced day at home doing what their hearts desired as well. We watch the sunrise. Drink tea. Read poetry. Take walks. Read books. Nap. Bake. Journal. Play games. Do crafts. Play music and sing songs… whatever our happy place looks like, we do that instead of what we think we “should” be doing, barring any family emergencies. For us Christian folk, this day does not include our day of rest, usually Sunday. Put simply: these days we do our best to let go all things that really don’t matter in the big picture.
Turn Off Notifications (yes, all of them)
I personally turned all notifications off on my phone for emails, news, apps and anything else that doesn’t add value to my already limited time. Instead, I schedule specific parts of my day to check said forms of communication and leave it at that.
Dive Into The Life You Desire
We chose to start investing our time researching what it means to be minimal. (Again, we’re not completely there yet). We started reading minimalism books like this and following minimalist blogs like this, subscribing to newsletters like this, and watching documentaries like this – now available on Netflix. We were instantly inspired to start minimizing our belongings and to slowing our consumption which opened up breathing room in our home and offered us time to do the things we care most about.
Simplify Your Meals
We simplified our meals by: 1) Eating the same thing for one meal a day, and
2) Setting up a delivery service for items we use daily (if you live in an area where this is possible, I highly recommend it). For example, we eat eggs, oatmeal and fruit every morning for breakfast so we get them delivered biweekly (sigh, until we get our own chickens). We also have a box of local, organic ingredients delivered each week to make five healthy, homemade dinners. This saves me time from planning, budgeting and shopping for dinner every freaking day. It’s also less expensive for us – such a weight lifted.
I left Facebook and chose one social media experience that adds value to my life – Instagram. Sorry guys, but this has changed all our lives in the best way. (Yes, my posts are automatically shared on Facebook but I haven’t looked at the site in over 8 months). So instead of spending hours or my precious time here on earth scrolling through a meaningless-to-me feed where I was involved in people’s lives without actually being involved – (kind of pointless if you ask me), so much of my time is now freed up. I know what you’re thinking “But what about the messages and groups and all the events you’ll never read or hear about?!” I respond by saying “good riddance.” If people aren’t close enough to us to text or call, to send us a personal invitation via email or snail mail, then it makes RSVPing much simpler and has only simplified our calendar, time and life even more.
So, while some of these things might be easier said than done for others (and that’s OK!), they were easy for us because we want to simplify our lives.
Once we realized how much time we truly have in any given day, we stopped complaining there isn’t more time available to do what we really want to do.
We forced ourselves to settle into the uneasy yet liberating feeling that now comes with open mornings and afternoons, more open space and less belongings to clean and organize, limited social feeds to keep us distracted, and just started to go with what God calls us to do as often as we can.
Have you been intentionally trying to simplify your life as well? Would love to hear what has helped you and your family in your journey.