12 Ways to Simplify your Life
We all have those moments. Sometimes these moments stretch to days when everything just seems too hard. That feeling of overwhelm is a sign that’s its time to reassess, to regroup. The easiest was to do this is to begin the process of simplifying your life and cutting out the unnecessary to make space for the things that matter.
1. Practice Self Acceptance
I’ve started with this, because it’s the one I want you remember, even of you skip the rest of the post. This is the one thing we need to remember as Moms.
Negative thoughts and self loathing are more of a problem than many of us care to admit. Feelings of inadequacy and overwhelm are leading causes of depression and anxiety for so many of us – and not just for Moms, it’s happening with our children too.
Simplifying your life is more than just clearing the clutter and cleaning your home. It’s also about clearing your mind of negative thoughts and simply focusing on being the best ‘You’ you can be. Without the need to apologise or please anyone else. You don’t have to do everything and it’s OK to ask for help.
I love this story written by Teju Ravilochan, it’s a beautiful reminder to not let things get you down when you simply can’t do everything you expect of yourself. Sometimes your strength isn’t held by you alone.
A 30-Second Story to Remember When You Feel Inadequate
By Teju Ravilochan, co-founder and CEO of the Unreasonable Institute.
A boy and his father were walking through the woods together. They came across a large log, blocking their path.
The boy turned to his father and said, “Do you think I can lift this log, Dad?” The father replied, “If you use all your strength, absolutely you can.” The boy rolled up his sleeves, bent his knees, and got his hands under the log. He locked his arms and heaved with every ounce of strength he had. But the log wouldn’t budge. He tried over and over again until at last, exhausted and breathless, he gave up.
He looked at his dad with disappointment and frustration and said, “You told me I could lift it!” His dad smiled and said gently, “I told you you could lift it if you used all your strength. You didn’t ask me for help.”
So the boy asked his dad to help him and together, they lifted the log out of their path.
Your strength isn’t held by you alone, but also by the people who march alongside you. When you feel unequal to the task in front of you, perhaps it is simply because you aren’t using all your strength.
2. Stop watching the news
Just stop. It’s easy. Stop watching the news. The news is a lot like one of those TV shows that have been running for the last 15 years. You can get a little addicted to the next episode. And every episode is designed to get your attention, and bad news gets the most attention. Think about it. How often do you see stories about ‘good’ news. 1 out of 10 stories? 20? If you feel a little panicked at the prospect of being out of touch with what’s happening in the World. Try this: I have an app on my phone that gives me the top three or four headlines. This lets me know if there is anything major happening that I should know about. And helps me keep on top of major issues without smothering me with too much information.
Decluttering is one of the easiest ways to start simplifying your life. Getting rid of the ‘stuff’ in your life is extremely freeing. Whether it’s an overstuffed wardrobe, too many toys in your child’s bedroom, clutter. All of this ‘stuff’ can lead to overwhelm. Our culture is over obsessed with the ‘stuff’ that we have and the ‘stuff’ that we don’t have. Keep it simple. If you don’t use it or it doesn’t make you happy, then get rid of it.
4. Build a minimal wardrobe
When we made the move from a busy suburban life to a simple country one, we had to make some hard decisions. Some were small, others a little bigger, but most of them hard at the time. Building a minimalist wardrobe was one of the things that felt really hard to get started. It meant giving away a lot of our clothes and keeping only a few essential items that we wear regularly.
Now I could never go back. I used to spend ages wondering what to wear, not any more. Each member of the family has (at most) two pairs of jeans, two pairs of trackpants/leggings, three pairs of shorts, a week of shirts, two jackets, two – three sets of shoes, underwear and socks, school clothes (for the kids) and work clothes for my husband (3 x shorts, 3 x shirts). In summer we add a swimming costume to the list and in Winter, a set of boots and PJ’s. Oh yes, we all have one pair of gumboots which live outside the back door.
5. Focus on the things that make you happy
Worrying is a bad habit that can consume you. Most of the time our worries are unfounded, and even if they aren’t, worrying means you get to experience the anguish more than once. Focus on things that you can change. If you are worried about money, focus on ways to make more money or spend less, if you are worried about your kids, rather focus on spending time with them or having fun. Changing your focus from doubt and fear, to action and problem solving takes a conscious effort when you get started. Be aware of your thoughts and focus on the things that empower you rather than overwhelm you.
6. Make Memories (and take the photo).
I have read so many recounts from elderly men and woman who all say the same thing: They all wish they had done more. Not accumulated more or owned more. No. Done more. Made more memories. Time passes no matter what you do. Your children will not be children forever. Make memories for you to look back on. And take photos!! I know this sounds a little ‘unsimplified’ but don’t rely on your memory to capture those moments. You will forget and photos or movies will remind you of the richness of the moment forever. I’m not saying live your life behind a lens because you will miss out on too much. Take the picture, put down your phone and make that memory matter.
7. Stop multitasking
You can’t do everything. Be present in what you are doing. Live in that moment or you will miss it. This habit of ‘multitasking’ is an illusion we have been sold into. You can only ever do one thing properly at any one time. Trying to do everything at once : Cook dinner, help with homework, listen to your childs day, clean up, put on a load of washing. It’s no wonder that so many Moms feel as if they are inadequate or overwhelmed. You are being stretched too thin in your daily life. This week, stop the multi tasking. Allocate the time to one thing only at any one time. You will be surprised at what you can get done without the stress.
8. Plan your Day & Book in the stuff that matters.
This takes 5 minutes and will be the most important gift you can give to yourself. You don’t have to go overboard, simply allocate time and importance to your most pressing tasks that you want to do that day. I have a whiteboard on which I list 3 – 4 things that I want to get done that day. This is my personal board. Not the everyday, routine stuff, just the things that I want to complete everyday, or that day, that I know will make a big difference. Everything else just fits around it.
9. Learn to speed clean
There is an amazing quote that sums up why we should all learn to speed clean (which I can’t remember exactly), but it goes something like this:
“Don’t let the important stuff be at the mercy of the less important stuff”.
I know someone said it better, so if you know the correct quote, please let me know.
Allow a set time to clean and then free your day to get bored, build a future, learn new skills, play with your kids. You are not going to get to the end of your life wishing that you windows had been cleaner!
10. Shop with intention
Stop buying crap that you don’t need. It wastes money and adds to the clutter. You can choose to shop with intention. Buy only the things that you need (not want) this week. Keep track of the money you save and how good you feel by not having succumbed to the temptation to buy more ‘stuff’ that doesn’t matter.
11. Automate savings and bills
Automate your accounts by setting up direct payments of your bills and also your savings. If possible, arrange your bills to come off on the same day of the week or month. Then you know how much you need in your account on that day. It brings it down to one number which makes it easier to regulate. It also lets you know exactly what (and what not) you can afford. Set up your savings to come out the day you get paid. Make it small at first, then up it by small amounts (even one dollar) if you can.
12. Make homemade meals with real ingredients
I write a lot about this on my blog, and I am really passionate about it. Homemade meals made from real food ingredients are a priority in our home. Not simply because they are better for us, but also because it saves us money by eating at home, I get to teach my children valuable cooking and nutrition skills, we can control our weight and health and most importantly – every day we get to spend valuable time together as a family, sitting together, talking about our day and sharing over a home cooked meal. A real food lifestyle makes our lives simpler as a family and has become the most valuable part of our day.