LESS STUFF, MORE LOVE – PART 2

Welcome to Part 2 of Less Stuff, More LOVE! 

Grab something to drink and settle in because these aren’t short articles. And if you have babies and/or toddlers at home – please jump to the bottom of this article for my “MAMA OVERLOADED DISCLAIMER” in bright orange so your weary eyes won’t miss it.

*I realize there’s a picture of my kid in front of our massive truck which doesn’t exude simplicity or minimalism – Hang with me… I explain more later.

Ok… let’s do this.

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Today I cover the first four ideas listed in the intro to this 4-part series:

  • What does it mean to truly simplify your life?
  • What does it really mean to parent intentionally?
  • What would it look like to not stress about the ins and outs of daily life?
  • What does it mean to have a peaceful, minimal home atmosphere?

Before we begin you need to ask yourself – “What am I waiting for before I feel I can really “live?” Is it money? Is it losing weight? Is it finishing a project? Is it buying a house? Is it achieving a personal best? Is it getting married or having one more child or adopting the next one? 

Just so you know, this is your life. None of your plans will help you “live life to the fullest.” You must find a way to accept that right now is the only real life you have. Hopefully what we discuss will help you do just that…

1. What does it mean to truly simplify your life?

If you’re reading this you’re most likely privileged. You have enough. You have what you need to survive unlike the majority of the world.

Since this is the case, we have a responsibility – you and I. We have an overarching ache, deep inside, to show other’s God’s love through sharing our “enough.”

But guys, you cannot give your full self to others and love others unconditionally if you’re wrapped up in distractions and stresses of daily, modern life. I’ll be touching a LOT on this in next week’s post regarding loving and serving others…

Now, if you look at your home, your calendar, your bank accounts, your everything – then you have more than you need and you can decide whether or not it’s adding or taking away from the life you’re called to live.

Because your soul needs a simpler life in order to do the work it’s meant to do.

Simplifying is all-encompassing. Just passing through the day getting things done and collapsing into bed isn’t enough. Breathing, experiencing, feeling and living in each moment results from simplifying your home by minimizing distractions, simplifying your calendar and creating more experiences with those you love.

Things like managing time usage on tech, eating simple, healthy meals, spending time taking care of your relationship with God and yourself, sounds like a lot all at once, but if you start crafting these into daily habits, they’ll become a part of your routine.

Simplifying will look different for everyone. But after you simplify your home, your calendar, your debt and your time, you should be able to look at everything and feel overwhelming peace, joy and gratefulness. You’ll know your “enough” is plenty… and then you’ll realize you have plenty of time to love and serve others.

Why else would we be here?

If you’d like to jump to a few ideas, you can read my “5 ways We live Simply and Intentionally.”

 

2. What does it really mean to parent intentionally?

“What matters most: Stay connected and never withdraw your love, even for a moment. The deepest reason kids cooperate is that they love you and want to please you. Above all, safeguard your relationship with your child. That’s your only leverage to have any influence on your child. It’s what your child needs most. And that closeness is what makes all the sacrifices of parenting worth it.” – Laura Markham, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting

Parenting intentionally is one step to feeling this peace – the peace that all is well with you and your family. This is the peace you also need to fully invest yourself in whatever work you have in addition to your role as a parent.

One reason kids act out is because they’re striving for your attention and feel you’re withholding it. Attention = love.

Why would we ever want our kids to feel deprived of our love?

Let’s start with the today’s obvious tendency: Nix PHUBBING (staring at your phone while you say “uh huh” to your kids when they’re trying to have a conversation with you). 

Guys, we’re adults – put the phone down. Break your day into segments. Even if you work full time (actually, especially if you work full-time) when you’re at home be fully at home. Turn off notifications. Put your phone in another room when you’re not using it.

I know how hard it can be if you’re a stay-at-home or a work-at-home-parent as well. Your phone is often your only escape into the real world and a quick connection to those you work with without having to pop open your computer.

So here’s what I suggest: Try selecting a portion of your day to focus solely on each child. If you’re not great at scheduling alone time with your kids – jump down to under the next highlighted blue box below.

I highly recommend spending one-on-one time with each child every day for a minimum 15 minutes. Play a game, read a book, paint, walk together… Make it fun but don’t make it about sitting on the couch watching TV – this will actually counteract your effort to connect.

If possible, take time to work/look at your phone after you’ve “filled their emotional buckets.” And if they need you (because they will, multiple times, they’re kids!), put the phone down FIRST. Look them in the eye and maybe take their hands in yours as you listen.

You can also read this lovely article: 9 Ways Phubbing is hurting your family.

Your kids deserve and want you.  So delight in the presence of your kids! You have to enjoy being a parent… your kids notice whether you do or don’t and this effects them deep into their core.*

Parenting intentionally means doing life with your kids.

Don’t just be the “sideline parent.” You know, the one that signs their kids up for all the activities, extra-curricular and school stuff and think their work is done because they attend the games, bake the cupcakes, coordinate the emails and volunteer?

Sorry, that’s not how real connection with your kids works.

We have to be actively engaged with them.

My husband and I try to include our two kids in our work, our passions. Likewise, we join them in theirs. They’ve joined my husband and I in serious meetings (not because we couldn’t find a sitter but because we feel its important they be a part of witnessing important work.)

They often help me box up books to donate to local kids through Broken to Brave, my little nonprofit. This leads to life-giving conversations, it leads to them get creating serving others on their own time and we spend one-on-one time together.

Bottom line: Your children want to do life with you, not apart from you. Whatever that looks like for you and your family.

So if you’re not great at “scheduling” time alone with your kids each day then simply including them more in daily life may be your key to helping create those connections. Let them help in the kitchen, with cleanup, doing errands and yard work. Talk to them through these moments that make up the whole of our lives.

Naturally, you need to fill your own soul. There are plenty of articles on how to do that. Saying “I can do it all and don’t need a break” is actually pride. It’s your ego telling you you’re superhuman. Reality check: You’re not. Your soul needs regular healing and without it you’ll inadvertently damage those around you.

Finally as moms, it’s become common lately to hear “you are enough.” And each time we hear this we first don’t believe it. But when we realize we are enough for our kids, our hearts melt because it’s true!

But when do your kids hear this from you? They sure don’t hear it from their friends.

Love your kids for who they are today, not who you want them to become. Tell them “YOU ARE ENOUGH, I LOVE YOU,” every day. This is part of parenting intentionally.

3. What would it look like to not stress about the ins and outs of daily life?

“Perfect love casts out fear.” – John 4:18

Did you know the Psalms talk about calming and stilling your soul? It’s not just the latest fad – living with internal stillness has always been important for your spiritual and physical health.

Now, if you’re career involves life and death situations such as firefighters, EMTs surgeons and police officers to name a few, you most likely endure more stress than most of us and we all need to give you a big group hug to thank you for your service.

But constant agitation, activity and busyness for the rest of us leads to exhaustion and the inability to help others and do our job well. If you’d like to stress less, first you need to simplify (see above).

And then you need to put our daily life into perspective:

Yes it’s important to keep a roof over your head.
Yes it’s important to eat.
Yes it’s important to pay your bills.

But when did living in a world with too much become normal and worse, stressful?
Which “Joneses” are you trying to keep up with?
Are you letting news and politics creep into your sacred wellbeing?
Do you portray a different persona online that conflicts with who you really are?

There’s absolutely nothing to be fearful or anxious about if we’re living authentically because then God is in control – not us and not anyone else.

Now then, how do you spend your days?

Are you constantly going non-stop, multi-tasking too many projects?
Are you trying to love your messy life with diapers, dishes and unresolved anger?
Are you saying “Yes” when all you want to do is say “Let me get back to you” or “no?”
Are you working more and more because you think you need the latest and greatest?

How is this really living exactly? Change it…

You’ll never feel peaceful if you’re running a race you think you should be running. 

Once you realize nothing is in your control and yet every moment you’re alive is a series of tiny decisions you get to make – to stress or not to stress, to love or hate, to listen or talk, to believe or to question – you’ll find amazement and awe in every moment and find the inner stillness you’re seeking.

Choose to calm down and ask God for direction every morning, during uncertainty and when you start to feel overwhelmed. He’ll answer. Promise.

“Life is made up of a collection of moments that are not ours to keep. The pain we encounter throughout our days spent on this earth comes from the illusion that some moments can be held onto. Clinging to people and experiences that were never ours in the first place is what causes us to miss out on the beauty of the miracle that is the now.”  –– Rachel Brathen

Remember when we talked about having enough? Now place yourself in the shoes of someone who’s literally struggling for his or her life. Place yourself in the shoes of someone who doesn’t have a home, or a child who doesn’t have a parent, or a parent who is losing his or her child to malnutrition or disease…

I know we like to say “it’s all in perspective,” but come on people. The perspective we should have is if God’s in control then there is never a reason to be stressed.

The only thing we should be stressed about is whether we’re doing enough to help people who don’t have enough live.

Now, because I said this will all your modern day frustrations of traffic and fighting siblings and dull headaches and rude people who cut in line fade away?

Of course not.

And I’m incredibly guilty of being bummed if someone got my coffee order wrong.

But when you find yourself frustrated or stressed out – admit it. Own it. Surrender and move on. Don’t dwell. Take a break. Do what you need to do to let it go (and possibly apologize to those around you for stressing in the first place).

We typically only feel stress when we give power to thoughts and issues in our lives.

Modern frustrations should never reign over your thoughts and actions –– they should only empower you to do something bigger and believe in someone more infinite than the problem you’re facing.

 

4. What does it mean to have a peacefulminimal home atmosphere?

Only when we enter into habits of creating a calm, peaceful life, can we hear from God and His direction for our life.

This goes hand in hand, I believe, with everything I’ve talked about so far.

Find peace, clarity, purpose and joy when you minimize.

If you are spending your days constantly organizing clutter, picking up toys, doing fifty loads of laundry, cleaning dirty dishes and aren’t happy about this then do something about it!

“We were created for more than filling our time and our lives with more stuff and more space.” – Kristen Welch, Raising World Changers in a Changing World

To me, joy is momentous and it all started after God nudged us to minimize our home.

First comes the peace of owning and maintaining less; then clarity and purpose without all the distractions; then joy from unconditionally loving others because I’m not weighted down with the stress from my own complicated life.

Having a peaceful, minimal home again will look totally different for everyone.

I know many minimalist parents whose home looks nothing like ours and is instead are strewn with things their family loves. We’re incorporating more Montessori materials in our homeschool this coming year for our pre-k kinesthetic learner so our home is going to look drastically different than it did this past year.

It just means I have to be more intentional about our other belongings so our homeschool materials don’t overwhelm us.

Someone close to me asked if it’s possible to claim to be a minimalist family while owning two large, off-road vehicles. WHY NOT? To our family, our vehicles (as beastly as they seem) are life-giving – They allow us to take our kids on big adventures we wouldn’t be able to take them on if we owned a Prius. #nooffense #justthetruth

Minimalism is more than just getting rid of stuff – it’s keeping things that have a purpose and/or bring life to you and your family.

–––>  So You Call Yourself a Minimalist <––––

Finally, when it’s time to clean up your home, no matter how small or large it is, it shouldn’t take you more than (insert how much time you’d like to spend cleaning here).

If making our home feel clean enough to have people over takes more than 10 minutes then I know we need to get rid of some stuff or make a change.

Feel free to a look inside our home in a recent interview “Having Less Stuff So You Can Give More.”  over at The Minimalist Mom. You’ll get the idea. And again, my home isn’t your home. You may have six kids, two of them being foster kids so you need an atmosphere that exudes comfort and love with way more stuff. Totally OK!

The point is getting rid of the excess so you can life simply, parent intentionally and love others fully without being distracted by what you have to get done in the home.

Make sense? If you need more specific motivation read 10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home by Joshua Becker with Becoming Minimalist.

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NEXT WEEK: Parts 3 and 4 of this series in the next two weeks will cover:

What does it meant to simplify your calendar so you have more time to do what you love?

How does having less help you live and love others more?

How does serving others help your family bond?

How does managing screen time for everyone help create a healthy family?

How does doing any of this help me in my situation?

MOST IMPORTANTLY – WHAT CAN IT LOOK LIKE FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY TO LIVE INTENTIONALLY, FILLED WITH LOTS OF LOVE, EVERY DAY?

Have a great week everyone!

With Love.

 

 

SIMPLE + FREE MAMA OVERLOADED DISCLAIMER:

Please also know I remember the days when tiny humans took over my life – one who needed 100% of my attention and a colicky baby with reflux and allergies who wouldn’t sleep. Our home was old, gross and a mess. But it was a home and I was grateful for it… And then we started homeschooling our oldest when he started Kindergarten. Those crazy days remain crystalized into my memory. I’ve totally been there… I walked in a haze for almost three years wondering how on earth I was functioning on zero sleep while trying to give my all to God, both of my children and my husband. There simply wasn’t room for anyone or anything else. But I knew I wasn’t alone and neither are you. 

What I discuss had to come in small habitual shifts and with much prayer and time.

In the end – we committed each day, month and year to realize the life we’d been called to live. And you can too. Just… give yourself some grace in this season.

*Reference Sarah Mackenzie with ReadAloudRevivial.com

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