How to Define Simple Living for Your Family

Simple doesn’t mean ‘less of everything’.

It means less of the distractions. Less of the excess. Less of what doesn’t truly matter to you (but for a host of reasons, you let it into your home and your life).

Choosing simple is picking the best and leaving the rest.

But there is always a choice involved.

Choices like….

I’m going to keep this.

I’m going to do this, and not that.

I’m going to buy this, and an extra.

I’m going to store this here, cause I don’t know where else to put it.

I’m going to work over time.

I’m going to live in this town, hang out with these people, spend my time doing this activity…..

You get it. Everything is a choice.


The costs of our choices

It gets easier to make a choice when we step back to see that the cost of our choice. Opportunity cost, our yes costs something because when we say yes to one thing, we say no to another thing.  For instance, when we say yes to working overtime we say no to family time. When we say yes to a big move, we say no to the life we’ve been living in the current town. When we say yes to waffles, well, we say no to an unsatisfying brunch, don’t we!?


What will your YES be?

For my family, our first step towards simpler living was having a conversation to identify what we wanted to be saying YES to. Full disclosure, it began as me cornering my husband in the kitchen spewing on about some books I’ve been reading and winking at him till he sat at the table cause I was creeping him out a little.

So we sat and wrote down our hopes and dreams for ourselves and our family life. Which, I know, sounds like something you do in a school that gives you a spirit animal instead of a letter grade (best show ever, right?). But science told Google, who told me, that it is a tremendous exercise to write things down. You are more likely to end up with more insight on paper than you thought was in your head AND you are way more likely to follow through. Yay science!

slow living, simple living family


How to uncover the things to say YES to?

We all need to take the time to write more, so why not start with this little exercise? You can ask things like…..

What makes me feel alive?

What relaxes me?

What inspires me?

What memories do I want my kids to have of their childhood?

What goals do I have for myself this year?

What goals do I have for my marriage?

What does my ideal day look like?…..

All of these things help you determine what you should be saying yes and no to. And, really, it is more than how we spend our time, it is how we spend our money, the places we shop, words we use, the relationships we invest in, the food we eat, how we convey ourselves…..I mean this stuff gets deep when you let it stew….


You are different, OWN IT!

Choosing a simpler life looks a lot of different ways.
Some people want to get rid of all their belongings and backpack Europe with their kids.

Some people want a sweet little apartment in the city and buzz with the energy and resources all around them.

Some people (yours truly) wants a little spot of land to try and grow some food while the kids run around…..playing the most good-natured game of tag with each other……belly laughing and running through sprinkler water that is always lukewarm….eating popsicles that never drip…..and little birds lift my laundry up to the clothesline while I cheerily pin it on……or, #reallife, it includes some things like gardening attempts, friends over for bbqs, pushing our kids on swings between telling them not to pee in front of the neighbours.

simple living family, weenie roast


Saying NO to the good so you can say YES to the great

The more we are saying no to all the ‘extra’ stuff that has been taking up our time, and now working up the energy to say yes to all the things we say we want – we are enjoying our life way more. Don’t let me mislead you here, it’s not perfect, or less full, or tidier – but it is simpler, because we are working on choosing it to be, on purpose.

It is my hope for you and your family that you can start thinking about what YOU want out of parenthood, marriage, life, work, friendships. As you think about these things you will see ways to steer your mindsets and your actions. You will see that you can forget what society or family tell you to be and do and YOU DO YOU! That is how you were made.

If you want regular inspiration on finding YOUR on simple on purpose, don’t forget to pop your email in the box below for the Simple Saturdays email.

Love Shawna, Your Nerdy Girlfriend Who Is Blogging At You While Watching Brooklyn 99, Because Priorities.



2 thoughts on “How to Define Simple Living for Your Family”

  1. We definitely need to work on this! We made some big changes in the past couple years that have really simplified life for us, but I feel like we’ve gotten back into a rhythm and could use the goals exercise again. It’s such a process, isn’t it?


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