A couple years ago, I shared 6 ways I simplify my home — and I’m happy to say that I still do all 6 of those things. In fact, they are are habits I do without a second thought; and added together, they play a key role in my ability to keep my home neat, organized, and simplified on a regular basis.
As I was thinking more about that post, I realized that having a simplified home environment has played an important role in my overarching goal to simplify and streamline my entire life.
Since I spend the vast majority of my life at home, it is crucial for me to feel calm and comfortable in my home — and in order to do that, it needs to be relatively neat, organized, and decluttered.
If my home is chaotic, my life feels chaotic. If my home is simplified, my life feels simplified.
For me (and for the rest of our family) having a simplified home environment goes a long way in simplifying our lives — however it’s not the ONLY factor.
I’ve taken many steps to simplify and streamline my life as much as I possibly can, and (along with keeping our home environment relatively simple) there are a few concrete things I do in order to simplify.
I’m sharing those today!
1. I abide by ‘all things in moderation’.
In almost every single aspect of my life — food, family, friends, work, home, hobbies, etc. — I am a firm believer that (almost) all things in moderation is the key to a simpler life for me.
I do know that different personality types truly cannot follow the “all things in moderation” approach to life, but for me, this is one of the most essential pieces to my simple-living puzzle!
I have friends with “all or nothing” perfectionistic personalities and it honestly frustrates me to see how much time and energy they spend trying to follow the latest fad diet, create a pinterest-worthy playroom, or be super strict and rigid about seemingly pointless things (like never letting their kids watch TV or eat candy). I want to shake them and say “your life would be so much simpler if you just practiced moderation”.
That said, I do not anticipate ever changing my “all things in moderation” approach to life (at least not by my own free will).
I will let my kids watch TV, we will eat dessert after every meal (sometimes even after breakfast), I will serve some processed foods to my family, and I will consider my bathrooms “clean enough” after a quick wipe-down with a few disinfectant wipes.
I will save loads of stress, time, and energy that I can then use for people and activities I want to use my energy on.
post-nap TV and snack time
2. I say “no” when something doesn’t fit my season of life.
I know I spend a fair amount of time encouraging and motivating you all to say “no” — but that’s because SO many people I know work themselves into such stressful situations because they simply don’t have the guts to say “no”.
Of course, I do NOT think we should all turn down every volunteer opportunity, church committee, school meeting, or request for help from friends and family. However, I DO think that we need to be mindful of our current schedule, time limits, energy level, stress level, and season of life — and say “yes” or “no” according to what we feel we can truly handle.
Dave and I are still quite involved in school and church — but all in ways that fit with our season of life. For example, I’m now on the Nursery Committee instead of the Women’s Ministry Committee, and I regularly participate in events at Nora’s school, even though I’m not nearly as involved with Dave’s school anymore.
I also try to invite friends and neighbors with small children over on a fairly regular basis (either just to hang out and play or for a meal with our family). I enjoy entertaining, I enjoy cooking, the kids love having extra guests over, I love that we don’t need to get out of the house, and it’s something I can easily do while being home with my kids.
There is no way I could have a simple life and still do everything I did before having kids — and I’m (finally) OK with this realization! I’ve gotten good at saying “no” when something doesn’t fit my season of life (like when I was asked to be on a committee that always met from 6-8pm — a.k.a. “bedtime” in our house) and although I’ve had to turn down some great opportunities, I know there will be more time for them at a different season of my life.
we’re not used to the sun during winter months — they all needed their shades!
3. I don’t overly-involve my kids in outside activities.
As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in a VERY active household. I participated in nearly every sports, music, and other extracurricular activity I could find — and I loved most of it.
However, our kids are still REALLY young, and even though I’ve seen advertisements for a local indoor soccer league for 18-24 MONTH OLDS (true story) Dave and I feel absolutely no need to get our kids involved in any outside activities yet. Aside from the free programs at our local library and a few church activities on Sundays, they honestly don’t participate in anything “extra”.
At 5, 3, and 20 months, they are all perfectly happy and content to play in our huge backyard, ride bikes on our super long driveway, play with the neighbor kids, walk to the park, or play inside.
And, as I’m sure you realize, this means we never have to bring them or pick them up from anything, nor do we need to work our schedules around various drop-offs and pick-ups.
Now, we will certainly let our kids participate in some extracurricular activities once they are a bit older, but I do think Dave and I might be some of “those parents” who only let their children pick a few activities to participate in at one time (we might come around though — don’t hold me to that statement!)
I realize busier schedules might be just around the corner for us — but for now, we will enjoy the simplicity of staying home!
their new favorite activity… running down the hill!
4. I delegate and outsource more.
I am not usually the type of person who likes to let other people do things for me — I’m very “hands-on” and much prefer to do everything myself. However, over the last 3+ years, I have learned to start delegating more (especially when a certain activity feels stressful for me).
For example, when I transitioned my business from an LLC to an S-corporation a couple of years ago, I decided to hire the local accounting firm to do ALL my business taxes. They were already doing our personal taxes, but now they take care of all the monthly and quarterly tax prep for me and all I need to do is sign a few papers every now and then and write a check a few times a year. It’s glorious, it saves me a HUGE amount of stress, and it drastically simplifies my life.
Along the same lines, I pay Agathon Group to do ALL the tech, design, and “behind the scenes work” on my blog. If something goes wrong, I email them and they take care of it. If there is a problem, I email them and it’s fixed before I get the kids to bed. If I have a question, I email them instead of spending hours researching and I have an answer in an hour or two. Yes, I could learn how to do all of that stuff myself, but it would take hours and hours and hours, and I would feel SO stressed out all the time… so it’s 100% worth the cost in my opinion.
Another example from home — Nora makes her own bed and usually does a good job picking up toys, books, games, etc. She definitely doesn’t do it to my standards, but it’s done and that’s good enough for me (see #5 below!)
I also get a lot of help around the house from Dave — and although I still can’t get on board with hiring a cleaning person to come deep clean a couple times a month, the thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion. We do, however, pay a company to plow our driveway in the winter since I just couldn’t let Dave get up any earlier than he already does!
Even when it comes to grocery shopping, meal planning, and household maintenance, I’ve started using many “pre-order and pickup” services that either deliver the goods directly to my front porch, or allow me to order online and simply pick up when the items are ready. It saves me SO much time, often without any extra fees!
I know that delegating and outsourcing often sounds expensive (and I do pay for several of the things I’ve outsourced). However, I’ve come to realize that there are ways to frugally outsource, AND if it fits into the budget, it really does wonders for simplifying life!
my little ‘mother hen’ — she’s actually extremely helpful when she wants to be
5. I am truly happy with “good enough”.
I have never been a perfectionist (see #1 above about all things in moderation) — but more and more, I have realized that “good enough” really, truly, honestly IS “good enough” for me.
I never thought I’d be OK with dusty baseboards and bathrooms that definitely aren’t up to my pre-children standards — but I can tell you with utmost certainty that I very easily accept the fact that my home will not be as clean as it used to be just a few years ago. I don’t even feel the need to apologize when unexpected guests stop by (except maybe if Simon just peed all over the toilet or something!)
I never thought I’d be OK with running my business in maintenance mode while I focus more of my energy on raising my kids and keeping my home relatively clutter-free… but I’m so happy to be able to do what I love from home, make a little extra income for our family, and share something I’m truly passionate about with anyone who cares to read!
I never thought I’d be OK with a completely weed-infested vegetable garden, but with little to no desire to pull any weeds, and seeing how much fun my kids had tromping through the weeds that were literally taller than they were, I realized I did not care what our garden looked like as long as we were able to harvest some yummy veggies.
I never thought I’d be OK with giving less than 100% of my effort to so many different areas of my life, but it turns out I can actually do a lot more with my time if I strive for “good enough” instead of “just right”.
There are countless other examples I could share, but the fact of the matter is, my life is SO much simpler because I am truly happy with “good enough” (at least almost all the time!)
we save all our bigger cardboard boxes for 2 days and the kids go nuts
6. I rarely rush.
One of the things that really, REALLY bothers me is running behind and rushing. I hate the feeling of rushing from here to there, yelling at my kids to hurry up, and feeling frantic because we’re behind schedule.
I will do almost anything in my power to assure we arrive on time wherever we go (usually several minutes early) and THIS is huge for helping me to simplify my life.
I don’t forget things because I’m not rushing around at the last minute. I’m not frazzled or stressed trying to hustle everyone out the door. My kids are more behaved because they have time to think and acclimate to their surroundings. I’m not constantly coming up with lame excuses for why we’re running behind.
And even when we’re at home, I’ve adapted a MUCH slower pace of life. In fact, there have been many afternoons when I sit on the couch and read for a bit while James is napping and Nora and Simon are playing nicely upstairs (I know, I’m just as shocked as you are!)
Yes, there are mornings when we have to hustle to get Nora to school on time, but those are not the norm — and if I’m being honest, we’ve never been less than 5 minutes EARLY for school (so I’m not doing too bad!)
Over the last couple of years, I have drastically slowed my entire pace of life, and I cannot tell you how much simpler every day feels for me!
all ready for church with plenty of time to spare
Dave and I both thrive on simplicity, order, schedules and routine (I think our children do too) so our whole family benefits when I’m able to keep my life and our family’s lives relatively simple.
I realize this way of life will not work for all people and personality types — but if you’re looking to drastically simplify your life, adapting even just one of these ideas might make a big difference!