Simplifying your life is not an easy task. I’d say it’s something I’ve been working on since I became a mother. The movement towards simplicity, slow living, mindfulness and minimalism is strong right now yet it’s something us humans have been doing for centuries. The fact we are talking about it now is simply a sign that we are overwhelmed with stuff – both information and also, actual crap. This digital age bombards us daily with information and the wave of mass, mindless consumption, fast fashion and seasonal trends have led people to feel out of touch with what really matters. To put it bluntly, we can’t see the woods for the trees anymore there’s so much crap in our lives and heads.
People are going on technology detoxs, the Marie Kondo way has taken the world by storm and the Netflix documentary The Minimalists has converted many to a simpler way of living. So what’s it all about? I thought I’d share a few thoughts on simple living along with some of the ways I’ve implemented a simpler way of life over the past 3 years.
For me, living simply has centred around three core things:
- Consuming less stuff, let’s call this mindful consumption
- Laying the groundwork and creating some kind of structure or system for what will essentially make for a simpler day to day and therefore a simpler life!
- Choosing a simpler aesthetic – this is not about the style of your home or interior so much as the way you curate it – less mess, more order, less stuff, more space!
Here’s ten ways I’ve simplified;
- Working out our family rhythm. Through trial and error, mostly, I came up with a rhythm that best suits us. From they way in which we start each day, to my quiet cup of coffee, to our after school life, preparing our evening meal (and even thinking about the next two meals the following day), through to the evening rituals that help prepare us for sleep. Establishing our family rhythm has simplified our days and helps us to practise more of what works for us as a family and less of what aggravates us.
- Keeping on top of our crap – by this I mean committing to weekly sort outs of those little piles that seem to build up; the daily laundry loads that gather dust and crinkles unless they are folded and put away once dried; a regular look at the toy situation to filter out those that are broken or outgrown; monthly wardrobe checks to eek out and donate that which is too small or no longer used, and so on. Because if you let these things build up they can become overwhelming and laborious. Keeping on top of your crap essentially leads to a simpler life – less unwanted or unused stuff means more space; fewer piles of laundry or mess leads to a sense of peace and calm.
- Giving our objects a home. This took me the best part of three decades to accomplish because I was one really disorganised and messy person in my former life. Having a place for everything, and keeping it there, is a triumph – so simple and yet so satisfying. I’m talking your umbrellas, shoes, coats, makeup, kid’s art supplies and groceries… EVERYTHING should have it’s own rightful home. Gone be the days when you spend half an hour searching for the sticky tape before rushing out to a birthday party, if you know you put it back after using it, then you’ll know where to look, saving time, stress and energy!
- A daily walk to clear the head. This might not technically come under living a simpler life, but for me getting outdoors and breathing in fresh air, whatever the weather, is good for my soul, and the children’s too. We are lucky to live in a leafy part of London, close to the river and a beautiful nature park. I walk every single day whether it’s pushing the pushchair along as I run some errands or taking a walk on my own when Oli gets home from work, fresh air is the simplest tonic.
- Mindful consumption. I started being more conscious of what I was purchasing when I quit my old job and we lost half our income. Suddenly there was no disposable cash to throw at things and I had to really work hard to budget each month. Despite me now establishing a business of my own which generates a steady income, we by no means spend mindlessly these days. Every purchase is considered and contemplated. I think about how it will fit into our home, whether we have something else that could do the same job and whether we’ll still love it in 10 years time. I also think about the impact on the environment a lot more than I did 5 years ago. The long and short is we spend a LOT less these days but we waste a lot less too!
- Clearing out your inbox and unsubscribing from marketing mails. Simply put, there is too much junk clogging up the world and we are bombarded with hundreds of messages about how to spend our money each day. If you’re receiving too many marketing emails from companies who want to sell you stuff then unsubscribe. You’ll be less likely to go on a diversion browsing websites when you should be doing something else and you’ll be much less likely to buy more crap that you don’t need if you aren’t even aware it exists.
- Meal planning, thoughtful grocery shopping and homemade snacks. I’ve written about meal planning before when I adopted this practise a year or so ago. I really enjoy browsing recipe books for inspiration and writing out what we’ll be eating for the week ahead before I do our weekly shop. It helps me to stay on track when eating, keep to a budget and waste less. I now make 90% of the kids snacks myself and take packed lunches if ever we’re heading out for the day. This means they get a balanced meal and I spend less – win win!
- Making the beds. This is perhaps the smallest thing you can do to keep a simple home but once the beds are made, a room has some order about it. Between my husband and I, we make all three beds every single morning which means bedtimes are easier and the bedrooms can be enjoyed at other times of the day.
- Making do and mending or do it yourself. Raff’s jeans inevitably end up with holes in the knees so I refashion them as shorts by simply cutting them down. I recently put my foot through my ripped jeans tearing a hole bigger than I was comfortable with and resulting in a flap hanging down. Five minutes with a needle and thread and I’d fixed them back up. And when I lost Elsie’s summer bonnet last summer I decided to ask my mum to make her a new one. I found a cheap pattern online for £2.50 and rummaged through my fabric stash to find some pretty material we could use to make it. There is something so satisfying about making and mending
- Remembering that most of our happiest days are the simplest ones. Picnics in the park, gardening, going on a walk or taking the kids swimming. It doesn’t take grand gestures or big events to make a wonderful memory. Life is what you make of it and the people in your life are the good stuff, the rest is all fluff!
How do you live a simpler life. Does simplicity even matter to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic since it is one close to my heart.