Simplifying Life


I feel as though I am forever on a quest to simplify my life. I will simplify for a time and then life will get cluttered until I hit a crisis point and simplify once again. Those who know me best, know my favorite pastime is dreaming up ways to simplify life, so here is a post on some of the ways I’ve found to trim the excess from my life and streamline my household.

1. Find the problems areas. What areas in your life cause the most stress? The itsy-bitsy kitchen? The cluttered school room? The too-full schedule? Start there. You can’t think in generalities or else it will be like conquering the forest, rather than dealing with the individual trees.

2. Think outside the box. Take a no-holds-barred approach to rethinking the problem area. Always be thinking how could this space/schedule/method be better handled. Recently, I found something as simple as moving the spice rack freed up a huge amount of precious counter space in my tiny kitchen. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference.

3. Never be too old, young, strong-willed, pig-headed {fill in the blank} to learn. Blogs, forums, front porch and back patio chit chats, and conversations at the park are just a few of the places where we ladies can learn something new. Don’t be too shy to ask or too stubborn to accept a new concept from another mom (even if she’s younger than you!) Simplifying your life is often a matter of finding efficient solutions to everyday problems and there is almost always someone out there with a workable solution for you.

4. Just do it. Close your eyes and pitch, reorganize, regroup, give away, or whatever it is you have to do change things. Don’t be afraid of things not working out quite right. If you don’t try it, you’ll never know. If it doesn’t work, start over. No harm, no foul.

5. Learn to let go. Toys, books (ack! did I just say books?), clothing, papers, grudges, irritations…let them go. Things are just things and festering feelings eventually eat you alive. You can Paperback Swap the books and garage sale or Craigslist the things if you have time and energy; otherwise, give it away! In fact, many thrift stores are happy to come get your stuff if you call them. As for the emotions, go to the Scriptures. What does God have to say about what you are feeling? Work through the emotions and let them go.

6. Pray about purchases. Even the small ones! Recently, I decided I would like to have a bell to ring to call the children to me when they are scattered about the house. I saw how wonderfully it worked in another homeschool mom-of-many’s home and was eager to get my own. So eager, in fact, I nearly purchased one that was much too heavy for me and made a less-than-pleasant ring. I was being impatient and almost brought into my home one more thing that was going to end up unused and taking up precious space. However, I practiced self-control and began to pray for the perfect bell. As we went from antique mall to antique mall, I prayed that if the Lord had my bell there I would find it and know it was perfect. Sure enough, at the last antique mall we visited I heard a bell ringing! Next thing I knew my daughter was at my side with the perfect old school bell! MY BELL!

The Lord is faithful to provide and if we are prayerful about our purchases, we will be more in tune with what it is the Lord wants to provide us rather than just buying and hording useless, meaningless junk that only serves to complicate our lives.

7. Be on the lookout for ideas. Annie has a gorgeous school room, Beth’s kitchen is always spotless, Lois never forgets a birthday…what are their secrets? Perhaps Annie has a great organizational tip for your school supplies. Maybe Beth has an awesome cleaning schedule and Lois has a to-die-for household journal. You ask the questions and I guarantee they’ll have answers. Not all of it will be something workable for you household, but something they say may trigger something else or help you to rethink things for yourself.

8. Rid your home of (or at least learn to keep a tight reign on) distractions. All too often what makes life complicated is the clutter of things that distract us. What constitutes a distraction?

dis·tractplay_w2(“D0295000″)

(d-strkt)

tr.v. dis·tract·ed, dis·tract·ing, dis·tracts
1. To cause to turn away from the original focus of attention or interest; divert.
2. To pull in conflicting emotional directions; unsettle.

To know your distractions you need to know what your focus is and then pinpoint the things that divert you from that purpose and/or cause you to feel unsettled.

Ultimately our focus is Christ. The things that distract us from a closer relationship with Him and the focus of doing His will and following after Him are things that should be kept at a distance. This is truly a personal thing, but you have to be honest with yourself. People naturally think distractions come in the form of technology like computers and television, but distractions can also come in the form of taking on too many projects, having unrealistic expectations, or spending too much time in personal pursuits. All of these things have the potential to cause us to lose our focus and feel unsettled. Once you identify what your distractions are, you can begin erasing them from your life.

9. Become a minimalist and work from there. Sometimes you just need to start over. For us, a trip to our rustic lake cabin is a good starting over point. There we must make do with only the bare bones. We come away from our time spent there knowing all the extras we have in our “real life” are truly just extras and not needed. In fact, they do more to clutter our day (see #8) than help at times. So, box a few things up (your kitchen is an easy place to start) and “get by” on less stuff. You’ll be amazed at how very little you need and how much simpler everything seems.

10. Smile more. My husband recently read that Americans are setting their jaws more than ever. We are tense and we are not enjoying life abundantly. Something as simple as smiling more often (even if it feels fake at first) can bring such joy and peace to our lives.
/>Really that’s what we’re really looking for, isn’t it? Our quest for a simpler life is really a quest for peace and joy. If we become peaceful and joyful right where we are at, we won’t find ourselves so discontent when we can’t start our own homestead, or when daddy can’t work from home, or when getting out of debt feels impossible. Attitude is important.

So that’s my list of things of I do to simplify. It is not a list of specifics because no two households are the same and my specifics could end up complicating your life rather than simplifying it. But the general idea is the same and absolutely doable.

May you be blessed by a simple life.

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10 thoughts on “Simplifying Life

  1. Thank you for this fantastic post! My husband and I each desire to declutter but tend to be tight-fisted on our own things. I need the reminder daily to focus on Christ rather than on the things of this world and to JUST LET GO of some of the STUFF!

  2. What a great post. I especially like your point about praying over purchases we are making – even if they seem so small. Although I am not an impulse buyer when it comes to large purchases, I definitely buy smaller things on impulse and I cannot even count the number of items I have hanging out in this house that are unused and just in the way!

  3. This is something I have trouble with. When I was a kid my mom would go into our rooms and throw away our things every time we were gone. She would throw away things that were sentimental to me because she was sick of seeing them. She would throw away small parts of toys and then the toy set would be incomplete. It got to where if I was spending the night at a friends house I wouldn’t have much fun because I’d be kind of sick-feeling just dreading going home and finding out what of my special treasures Mom had thrown away. Sometimes I would ask her not to throw away a particular thing and she would say she would not throw it away this time- then next time she went in there she would throw it away. Instead of teaching me how to let go of things, this taught me to panic at the thought of getting rid of anything. I cry when I think about getting rid of things because of this.
    When my kids are old enough to understand, I will give them a goal or quota they have to fill for decluttering and they will have to chose what stays and what goes. Because if I do it for them it will be like what my mom did. They won’t learn how to let go, they will just want to hold on tighter, like me. In the meantime this is something I need to work on myself. I need to work on my knee-jerk reaction of defensiveness to any thought of getting rid of anything. :(

  4. Kat,
    I keep a black trash bag (black on purpose so no one can see through it!) behind my bedroom door that is where things go as they are decluttered. There is a Christian thrift store right down the street from me where I take things.

    And yes…baby steps! ;o)
    ~Amy

  5. Amy,

    What a blessed post this is for moms and others that are simply overwhelmed by it all. I would suggest starting it off, one drawer, one closet at a time as it can be so overwhelming when you start. That keeps the momentum going and before long, you whole home is completely organized.

    Tip! If you have stuff you are getting ready to donate, load it in the trunk and the next time you are out, drop it off.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  6. Great post!
    I do pray about things and God always provides me with something even better than I imagined.

    But I sometimes forget to pray…like the other day I had to rush out to Goodwill to get sweaters for a project that I’m to scared to make! Yes….my sweater are still sitting there.
    So when I do my Happy Homemaker Monday post…I can now write that I have something in my craft basket! hee hee.

    Blessings,
    Georgiann

  7. Just stopping by from Lynette’s blog. Glad you are the featured blogger today.

    THis post has some really great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

    Amy

  8. Mirage,
    Those are some good thoughts. I’m sure it would be aggravating and I could see myself doing just that (especially w/ my pack-rat prone children).
    Amy