What does it even mean to “simplify” your life?
I remember as a kid my mom called things “dwaddle” that was a useless activity but took a considerable amount of time.
For me, simplifying my life means cutting out all the dwaddle.
- Getting rid of the pile of junk mail that I was moving every time I needed to wipe the counters off.
- Throwing out the Tupperware that never is the size I need, but I always have to move it to get to the ones I do need.
- Giving away toys that aren’t played with so time spent with the kids isn’t spent picking up toys and yelling at them to do it.
It’s getting rid of the unnecessary so you can focus on the truly important.
There are many things we can do to simplify, from decluttering our homes to decluttering our schedule, but if you’re looking for a place to start that will have an immediate impact, here are 4 meaningful ways to embrace simplicity:
1. Turn off the screens
- Phone, Computer, TV. Entertainment is so much fun! But, instead of helping us simplify, it complicates. It’s a distraction when we need to accomplish something. If someone is talking to me and the TV is on, I tend to only half-listen. I love my husband and children, I want them to feel important to me, so the screens have to be put down or turned off if we’re having a conversation. So many studies are coming out with the dangers of screen time. That doesn’t mean we have to swear off it completely- start by turning off most of your notifications, set certain times during the day to check your email and have designated screen-free time during the day.
2. Take on the slow movement
- Slow food. Have you heard of it? Google says it’s “Food that is produced or prepared in accordance with local culinary traditions, typically using high-quality locally sourced ingredients.” Slow food is healthy food. Actually, anything you prepare from scratch is healthier than something packaged. If you’ve been reliant on pre-made food, make it a point to slow down and prepare something from scratch once a week. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, start out simple with something you are confident with and experiment as your skills and comfort grow.
- Slow travel. I first heard of slow travel from Brooke McAlary, but now if you do a quick search you can find all sorts of resources. Traveling doesn’t have to be a whirlwind of chaos cramming in one tourist activity after another. Instead, slow down, enjoy local food, stay at an Airbnb and talk to the host about what the locals tend to do in their leisure time. Be flexible. Stop and enjoy things that look interesting.
3. Put downtime on your calendar
- Go for a walk. Getting fresh air and exercise is just as important to your physical, mental and emotional health as the food you put into your body.
- Sit at the park. Pay attention to the things around you- how the leaves blow in the breeze, the sound of water in lapping at the lake, the smell of the flowers. Take enjoyment in the detail of the butterflies and admire the trees that somehow find a way to grow even when the rocks are in the way. Nature is beautiful, make it a point to notice.
- Read a book. How many times do you think to yourself “I wish I had time to read a book.” So, take time and do it! Mark out time on your calendar to sit with a cup of coffee and read a chapter or 2. It’s not just being indulgent, reading is very beneficial.
4. Focus on Relationships
- Spend time with God. Many people embrace simplicity to find meaning or to have time to grow spiritually. But just because you have less stuff or fewer time commitments doesn’t mean you automatically grow closer to God. If you want to grow closer to God, make it a point to obey Him.
- Talk to your spouse. It’s easy to just be in the same room together, but still doing our own thing. Make it a point to ask questions- and avoid those that are easy to answer with a simple answer.
- Do things with your kids. Studies show that if we want to have a decent relationship with our kids we need to spend time doing things with them that they are interested in. I know it’s hard to spend time with them if all they do is play video games. But try- you can ask them to teach you to play, you can do a mission with them. And if it just seems impossible, think through what else they like to do. Will they shoot hoops with you? Will they play a board game or go get a frappucino? If you have younger kids, get them used to you doing things with them. Go for walks, play card games, garden together, do crafts together.
- Plan coffee or go for a walk with someone important. Do you have a special friend that you just don’t visit enough? Plan it out! Make it a point to do something together. Be the one to reach out- you’ll both be happy you did.