I guess the first question we should ask ourselves is, “Is a simple life important to me?” If your answer is yes, then I’m sure that’s why you’re here. If your answer is no, then let me take a moment to explain to you why a simple life can be exactly what you need.
For most of us we have an abundance of options when it comes to almost everything. On the surface that may sound like a good thing, and to some extent it can be. But when you factor in the energy it takes to make a decision and how mentally or financially draining it can be to choose between so many things, your perspective may change. Consider education. In the past people were either uneducated, home schooled or went to the only school that was in their town. Compare that to now, a time when we have an abundance of schools to choose to send our kids to. Think of ALL the choices that go into picking a school for your child.
At one point married women with children stayed home to raise their children and take care of their home. Now women have to choose whether or not they want to be home or work. If they choose to work, then they have to pick a job (which involves a bunch of other choices), they have to choose between day cares or babysitters, full-time or part-time, salary or hourly, etc. So many choices. And those are examples of big choices. We have a ton of little choices that crowd our day like what to wear, what errands to run, what chores to do, who to spend time with, where to go, etc.
We will always have to make choices about things, you can’t escape that. However, by simplifying your life you can cut out the choices that masquerade themselves as important, make better choices, and free up space in your life for things that actually matter.
So, what does asking questions have to do with a simple life?
Over the next few weeks we will look at how choosing simplicity can be beneficial to our health, spiritual walk and finances. The goal is not to provide you with a checklist or a to do list, but the tools to customize your own simple life. An important tool for doing this involves talking to yourself. Learning to find out what is important to you so you can focus your time and energy on that. I shared what is important to me in two previous post about getting back to simple and having enough time in the day. You can go back and read those, but I will use myself as an example here to illustrate how to get the conversation going with yourself.
It is important to me to be able to spend time with my husband and my son. First, I had to start off with asking, “Why?”
- Why is spending time with my husband important?
- Because I love him, and spending time together helps us bond and grow as one.
- Why is it important to spend time with my son?
- Because God gave me him to love, teach him The Word and educate him. Spending time with him will allow me to do that well.
In addition to understanding why spending time with them was important, I also gained a little insight on how I can spend time with them. Next, I had to ask myself, ‘What could keep me from being able to do those things?”
- Working too much
- House work
- Social media
- Poor time management
Now that I have a list of things that could stand in my way I can begin to cut things out or set boundaries (simplify) so those things are no longer obstacles. Before I did that though, I had to know what I wanted spending time with my husband/son to look like. So I asked myself, “How do I want my interactions to look and feel?”
- I want the time to be enjoyable
- I want to be completely present, giving him my undivided attention
- I want us to learn about each other and respect one another
- I want to be completely present, giving him my undivided attention
- I want to encourage his growth and development
- I want to point him to God and teach him to live according to The Word
So now that I know what I want, why I want it, what can keep me from it, and I know what it should look like once I have it, I can decide what to cut out. “What am I willing to sacrifice in order to do this?”
- I chose to not work outside the home and be a stay at home mom. We sacrifice a second income (which makes a simple life even more valuable), but I have more time to spend with my son and my husband (when he is not working).
- I got rid of a bunch of stuff. Now I spend less time cleaning and organizing. As a result it takes less time to maintain a clean and functional home, plus I now have a standard that limits what I buy, so I end up saving money too.
- I keep social media to a minimum. I use to find myself scrolling on Facebook out of boredom, but now I read a book or talk to my son or my husband or do something productive so when I do have free time I can relax, knowing that I’ve taken care of other things. The same with TV. I watch less TV and try to get outdoors and play or enjoy nature with my family (makes for great quality time).
- I manage my time. I have a plan for most days that allows me to get things done. I schedule productive time, quiet time, quality time, etc. When I sit down to play with my son I can over look the laundry basket because I scheduled a time to take care of it.
I always feel the need to stress that by no means am I on top of everything! I have things that keep going undone day after day and week after week. I have times when life gets busy and I feel like I have not had a full conversation with my husband about anything of interest to him for days. My son misses activities and play dates because I’m lazy or didn’t plan properly. I use myself as an example because prior to caring about simplifying my life I was reactive instead of proactive to everything.
I would start arguments with my husband because I felt neglected at times, when the real issue was that I was not making choices about what was important to me. I allowed myself to waste time on unimportant things instead of making myself available for him. During the season of my life when I had an infant we would eat out all the time even though I was home full-time. Yes I was tired, as new moms are, but I wouldn’t rest when I had the opportunity or plan to tackle little chores here and there, because (this shames me to say) my days were organized around television show line ups. Fortunately, I snapped out of that after a few months (still shameful).
On top of all that my home didn’t feel like the tranquil haven I desired it to be because I had a bunch of stuff I wanted (at least initially), but didn’t use or need. I was what I’ve heard people refer to as an organized hoarder. I had clothes, shoes, bags, furniture, books, pens, shelves, towels, dishes, etc., that I would never or rarely use and although my home wasn’t trashed, it was overwhelming and easily became cluttered if I neglected, in the slightest bit, to stay on top of things. Now I can have a busy week and my house is just as clean on Friday as it was on Monday with minimal effort. Why? Because I started asking the right questions to remove the physical, emotional, spiritual and financial clutter in my life. I asked myself:
- What is important?
- Why is it important?
- What is standing in my way?
- How do I imagine my life doing/with xyz?
- What sacrifices am I willing to make?
It is still a learning process for me. I am hopeful that as I continue to ask these questions and remove the distractions and excess from my life that I will grow as a woman, wife and mother.
I’m curious, have you simplified your life in any areas? What questions do you or will you ask yourself? Let us know below in the comments.