A Life of Moderation: My Top Tip for Simple Living

posted by Andrea | 10/14/2014

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Obviously, due to the nature of my job (and my overall personality), I am quite focused on simplifying every area of my life.

HOWEVER…

This does NOT mean that every area of my life is completely simplified.

It does NOT mean that my home is perfectly organized all the time.

It does NOT mean that I can stop tweaking things (or completely overhauling systems) to make them fit better with our lifestyle.

It does NOT mean that everything goes my way and my life is spared of stress, anxiety, or late arrivals.

It does NOT mean that simple living is somehow effortless for me.

Even though I’ve been striving towards a simpler, more organized life for as long as I can remember, I still need to work REALLY hard to keep moving forward.

As I’ve mentioned before, a simple, organized life is not necessarily easy to achieve. I know from lots of trial and error that living simply is something I need to work at daily otherwise it will quickly unravel and I’ll be left picking up the pieces for weeks. It’s hard work… but I’m not going to stop.

NO! The benefits and rewards of a simplified and organized life FAR out-weigh any amount of daily or weekly work I put in to achieving it.

But it can get old after a while.

There are days when all I want to do is go to bed at 9:00… but then I know I’d wake up to piles of dirty dishes, laundry to fold, blog posts to write, lunches to pack, and emails to send. I know that if I simply stay up until 10:30, I can finish all of those tasks before I go to bed and wake up to a less chaotic home. After all, those tasks aren’t going to do themselves!

So how do I avoid burnout?

I’ve thought about this a lot the past few months (especially over the summer when Dave was home all day) and I think the key for me is to strive for a life of moderation. 

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I’ve never been an “early adopter” or the first one to jump on any trend’s bandwagon, I’ve never been one to “put all my eggs in one basket” or go all-out right away, and I’ve never been one to have hard and fast rules for food, exercise, organization, TV, dieting, house cleaning, entertainment, etc.

Despite my VERY structured nature, I much prefer to have a basic “routine” and then mold and adapt that routine as needed to fit my current stage of life. Sometimes this means I’m tweaking things on a daily or weekly basis. Other times, this means I’m completely overhauling a system that no longer works for us (with the realization that my new system might not work any better!)

However, almost everything I do and almost all the decisions I make are based on a goal of “all things in moderation”.

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I know from personal experiences that the minute I set a hard and fast rule, that rule just begs to be broken. I’ve seen this happen in my own life and in the lives of SO many people I know.

For example:

A person who is just a few pounds overweight decides they need to lose weight and they are going to do so by completely cutting all refined sugar out of their diet. Even if they didn’t have an issue with sweets before this new-found diet plan, I can almost guarantee they’ll be craving sweets the second they start their diet.

A parent with unnecessarily-strict rules about TV, computers, and screen time can probably expect their kids to be obsessed with using technology at school or at friend’s houses once they are old enough to start making their own choices.

Anyone who ever proclaims they will NEVER _______ (insert anything you can think of because it’s going to happen sooner or later).

And I think we all know someone who has been obsessed with a certain way of life as a personal choice (cloth diapering, going gluten free, homeschooling, heirloom gardening, couponing, being excessively neat, obsessing about time management, etc) and outwardly proclaims that it is the only way to be… but then ends up eating their words (and their pride) later on down the road when they realize that they’ve simply left no room for moderation and end up burning out because their life is so extreme.

I could keep going, but I think you get the idea.

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The fact that “Simple Living” is currently a HUGE trend right now can sometimes make it difficult to know where “simple” ends and where “I’m doing this because I saw it on Pinterest and it’s eco-friendly so who cares that it’s taking me 5 hours longer than it should” starts.

There are lots of super cute, super clever, super frugal, and super eco-friendly ideas and ways to simplify our lives — and for the most part, they are all good. However, they might not all be good for me or for you right now.

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes my simple-living choices are not necessarily popular choices… like the fact that we eat some processed foods, we let our kids watch some TV, we don’t use cloth diapers, there are days when I’d rather clean and organize my house than play with my kids, and that I don’t hold onto kids clothing or other sentimental items.

Those things won’t make the news, they won’t get me featured in a magazine, and they probably won’t get “pinned” thousands of time on Pinterest. However, by living a life of moderation and not having extremely strict or legalistic rules on many hot topics, I am able to simplify my life A LOT, and that’s what I want right now.

flowers from our garden

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Simple Living isn’t necessarily “easy”. It requires daily work to achieve… however I think if you keep your end-goal of a more simplified life in sight and strive for moderation, you’ll be able to more easily stay on-track and avoid the burnout caused by all the “extremes”.

Moderation has worked well for me and my desire to live more simply… I think it just might work for you too! 

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20 comments

  1. Mara

    11/03/2016

    Reading in the archives 🙂 FANTASTIC post!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay — I love reading through the archives myself every now and then 🙂

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  2. Lynda

    10/29/2014

    Yes, totally agree!!! Love it and try my best to live it! Trying to let go of my perfectionist and OCD tendencies ;)! Thank you for writing this… Good life mantra!!

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  3. Weekend reading: October 18, 2014

    10/24/2014

    […] A Life of Moderation: My Top Tip for Simple Living | Andrea Dekker […]

  4. Bituin

    10/17/2014

    Excellent post, Andrea! I totally agree with your points. I think that doing things in moderation is subjective, depending on the values and non-negotiables for a person and it shouldn’t be what’s on trend or what the majority (or your neighbor) says. I do strive for a simple and sustainable lifestyle but I also have to keep in mind to do it in moderation or else I get overwhelmed or imbalanced.

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  5. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    10/15/2014

    Well said, Andrea, indeed! I’m constantly tweaking my routines, too. There are nights when bed calls my name and the dishes don’t, but like you, I know tomorrow will run smoother if I tackle those chores now. Do I always? No. There are nights when tiredness wins, but that is also moderation of knowing when sleep is more important than chores! 🙂 Here’s to a new day, filled with wise and practical choices of moderation!

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  6. Nancy

    10/15/2014

    Excellent, Andrea. It is important to read, hear and listen to ideas concerning simplifying and moderating your life. However, we must constantly use our common sense in analyzing if the new information fits us personally. We must feel confident enough in ourselves to adapt the new ideas into what works for us (our belief system) and not get all caught up in what others think or do. This is called “discernment” and if you practice it enough and realize that perfectionism is an illusion – it will increase your happiness. Great insight on your part, Andrea..

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  7. Ivy

    10/14/2014

    Very very nice post ! I love that you aren’t afraid to say what works for you might not work for me. Your not trying too “sell ” me on it! That is so nice in this world today where everyone is trying to get you on their bandwagon for what ever it is.

    Lot’s of love,

    Ivy

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  8. Alicia

    10/14/2014

    Totally agree! Especially in a day and age where, like you said, moderation isn’t exactly popular. I’d even go so far as to say it’s probably considered old fashioned! But I totally agree with your view. I had to go through a couple of bouts of “all or nothing” attitudes before I came round again to moderation in all things, but it’s truly what works best for our family. My Grandpa is 83 years old, healthy as can be (for an 83 year old, of course!), and has told me for as long as I can remember the key to life is moderation- in finances, food, activities, work, etc.

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  9. Carrie

    10/14/2014

    You hit the nail right on the head. As I continue to try and make mine and my family’s life more simple, I find myself setting new rules and making new routines that ultimately end up complicating things (unintentionally, of course). As a result, I feel like I can’t get my act together or that my house isn’t perfectly clean, that I may not being doing a good enough job as a homemaker.

    Thank you for the reminder and acknowledgement that this is a normal part of motherhood and running a home.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Carrie. I’m definitely an advocate for basic routines… but we don’t have super strict, to-the-minute schedules because they just don’t work for a normal person with a normal life (especially not with little kids!)

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    Carrie Reply:

    It’s funny because I am very much like you in that I cannot have a to the minute schedule, Those never ever work for us. We have our routines for sure; some days don’t go as planned and it’s much easier to tweak and roll with it than to be strict. However, I get frustrated when my daughter (now 8) and husband don’t help enough around the house (I.e. Things aren’t “perfect” all of the time) and I implement a new rule to make things smoother. Those are the times I feel like I have failed because my “rule” doesn’t work, no one follows it,…lol.

    It’s nice to hear to from someone who seems to have it all together that normal isn’t perfect. I’m not sure why that idea pops up in my head now and then. This is post is a great reminder to keep things in perspective and to stop pressuring ourselves.

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  10. Janice

    10/14/2014

    One more time Andrea hits the mark! And she’s only 29! How did you get so smart at such a young age? Can I adopt you into our family? 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha thanks Janice!

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  11. Pamela

    10/14/2014

    I’ve always been puzzled by the term “moderation”. What’s your definition?

    I hear people talk about, for example, eating all things “in moderation”, but really – do we want veggies in moderation? Or abundance?! The phrase confuses me. Certainly it can’t mean “equally”. We want a lot of the good stuff and not so much of the bad stuff. But then issue becomes: who decides what is good/bad.

    I think what you’re getting at here, Andrea, (and I always accidentally type “Andrew” when I type your name! That’s my hubby!), is legalism. And I agree with you 100%. We need to uphold freedom (I would call it Christian liberty) and avoid the man-made rules, aka legalism. Our identity (for Christians anyway) is in Christ — not our schooling choices, food choices, vocational choices, or financial choices.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Pamela… and you know what, I almost used the word “legalism” in my post but felt like that was just too much for my blog 🙂

    Also, I honestly do think we can have “too much of a good thing”. For example, my mouth literally hurts if I eat too much pineapple or bananas. Also, I feel totally overwhelmed and over stimulated if I have too many friends and family around for too long (even though I enjoy their company and the fun we have together). After too long with friends and family, I could start resenting them.

    I really can’t even think of any examples from my own life where moderation has hurt me. Obviously, when it comes to smoking or drugs or anything illegal, my goal is to completely avoid them… NOT experience them in moderation 🙂 But I think everything else from my life would apply. What do you think?

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    Pamela Reply:

    Great points. LOL – I totally agree about the pineapple! 🙂 And friends and family! 🙂 Thanks for your blog. I love it!

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  12. Siobhan

    10/14/2014

    So true Andrea! In my personal and professional life (I’ve worked as a Registered Dietitian, Group Fitness Instructor and elementary school teacher) I’ve seen that moderation is usually the key to success.

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  13. Paulette

    10/14/2014

    Well said, Andrea! If my plan is extreme, it’s too difficult to continue on a long-term basis. Moderation is key in all areas. It’s such an encouragement to hear this from someone else. Thanks so much.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Paulette. In my experience, extremes are never attainable for a long period of time.

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