This past summer the readers asked for a series on HOW TO SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE. It was a four-part series of life coaching, insights and worksheets to help you mplify your own life.
I know as moms we are scheduling all the errands, driving to all the activities, slinging all the waffles and trying not to lose our chill when our kids hate all their sweaters and is about to be late for the bus.
Our lives as moms feel chaotic. I know I often feel like an underpaid bouncer at the worst club ever where the patrons complain about crusts and my dining table is covered in legos and broken crayons.
BUT we crave this ‘simpler life’ that people are talking about. We are drawn to the idea of sitting in our favourite chair to drink hot coffee and read a book. We love the thought of meeting up with a friend for a yoga class, or beer, or whatever. We long to have time for our own hobbies and goals. Or to feel that peace of knowing there is enough time in our day sit with our kids and hear about their school day instead of rushing around and grabbing take out for dinner.
We long for simpler. Because as moms, simpler means you aren’t scrambling for control and putting out fires. Simpler allows us to SHOW UP and ENJOY the life and family we have right in front of us, today!
BUT THERE IS THIS HUGE HURDLE!
There are so many demands on our resources (time, space, energy, money) – this high demand on our resources makes it feel like our life is not simple. In the You Can Simplify Your Life series, I shared that in order for life to feel simple, we need to better manage our resources.
But how do we do that as moms? How do we manage our own resources when everyone is demanding them 25 hours a day?
The best way to simplify your life is to find what feels simple TO YOU. And if you have worked through the You Can Simplify Your Life series you have taken a good look at ways you can better manage your own resources. BUT, I know that as part of that process it is helpful to get ideas on how other moms are simplifying.
So I will share with you 11 things that have made my life simpler and maybe some of them will work in your own life.
11 Things That Make My MomLife Simpler
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1. Decluttering my space
I got rid of truckloads and truckloads and truckloads of stuff from my home! Do I miss it?? NO!
My whole ‘life on purpose’ journey was launched with me tackling the clutter in my home. It started with me giving myself permission to let go of the false layers and false security I was building up. I started with me learning to make better decisions about what I want and don’t want. It started with me MAKING SPACE for the life I really wanted for me and my family.
Decluttering was a tool I could use to help me move towards living a simpler more purposeful life.
Clearing your physical space truly helps you see the power of clearing out how you use your other resources (time, money, energy).
2. Meal planning for me and my people
Feeding myself well wasn’t something that has been ingrained in me from an early age. It has been a more natural instinct for me to reach for protein bars and frozen pizzas than it has been to make a pot of soup or cook a chicken.
In my adult years, I am learning how important it is to feed myself well, and then I am also learning how to do it on a family scale. (Sharing it all on Instagram Stories)
This is why I rely on meal planning. I’ve talked about the meal planning boo k I use here.
I recommend planning what makes your life easier and meals in one thing that makes my life easier.
3. Simplifying my wardrobe
Decluttering my closet was a big part of home decluttering.
Over the years I’ve worked on paying attention to my clothes, to the styles I like. I learned a lot about how to wear my clothes and how my clothes look on me through the #moms30for30 challenges.
It has become exciting to let something go in my closet because to me, it is letting go of a burden. When I let something go I don’t have to worry anymore about trying to make it work, or feeling bad that I’m not wearing it, or wondering how I could trick myself into wearing it. I can just let it go and be left with clothes I really like the best.
This makes getting dressed so so easy.
I’m always surprised when someone tells me that I look ‘put together’ because 1, I probably haven’t washed my hair in three days, and 2, I put on pants and shirt just like everyone else. We all generally take the same time to put clothes on my body, but I have just taken the time to edit out the clothes that I don’t feel good in.
4. Having buffer time in the mornings
Our mornings can set our whole tone for the day and I really don’t want to lose all my chill and have my kids think I’m a stress case at all their waking hours.
With my youngest starting kindergarten this year (and the addition of a family kitten that everyone HAS TO PLAY WITH at all waking hours) I am so very aware of much I need to have time in the mornings.
Not time to like drink coffee, tra la la l, but time to make me feel calm and collected in the morning. To feel peace of mind to know we can find the sweater without the itchy zipper and debate on if we can bring a pair of nail clippers to school and walk down to the bus on time.
So, if things aren’t flowing in the morning then I will try to plan out as much as I can the night before AND wake up earlier to guide and train these tiny people through the morning routine until they get it on their own.
5. Having a weekly rhythm for my family
A rhythm is the flow of our day and week. I’ve talked about how you can identify and plan out your own family rhythms here (free worksheet).
Our weekly rhythms include things like scouts nights, Friday night treats, Saturday morning chores, Sunday is ‘church and chill’ day.
I love having a natural flow to our weeks. Not to have any strict structure or timetable we need to follow, but rather to have this outline of when things get done.
I can predict how the whole house will be feeling on a Thursday afternoon or Saturday morning because the flow of the week is generally the same. I can anticipate what types of meals to make for the week (days with activities, friends over, etc).
I think the kids really like knowing what is happening and having a predictable flow of life and expectations. They know what is expected of them and what to expect of us.
But what I appreciate the most is KNOWING there is time for all these things to happen and I don’t have to feel pressured to make it all happen in one day, or RIGHT NOW. It is part of the weekly rhythm so it is most likely going to happen and that makes me feel more relaxed.
6. Taking time to slow down and be at home
We will always think our lives are too busy when we feel like there isn’t enough time. If we fill our days going from place to place or chore to chore then we will feel the tension of living a life that has no time for the things we want and need.
And we all need time to rest, and that time isn’t just given to us by some time fairy. We need to schedule in time to rest and recharge.
I mean, God rested, he encourages us to rest. And if you are a Christian and practice the Sabbath (which is keeping Sunday as a day of rest), then we are putting our plans and security and hustle out of our hands and into His.
But, no matter your faith, a day of rest is so important to stop and listen to your body, your mind, your heart.
It is important to slow down and let your mind wander.
It allows you to stop and process things that have been lingering all week.
It is a gift you give yourself to breathe deep and pay attention to yourself and your life.
I think it is so important to help our kids find this balance too. There is so much science coming out that hails the benefits of ‘being bored’. Specifically because it takes the agenda and activities from being handed down to them, to giving them time and space to set their own agenda and explore their own activities.
A day of rest can really recharge you and let you reset for the week ahead.
Currently, we try to keep Sunday as that day ‘off’. We go to church, eat lunch and just chill out around the house and yard. Then the kids have baths and ipad time. I stay off my phone a lot more and read some real life books. We have a super simple dinner – like breakfast for dinner.
It has been unofficially named ‘Church and Chill’.
Of course, we aren’t strict with it and there is often someone stopping by to play that day – but I try and say yes to each opportunity they bring up to find rest.
And I definitely notice how much I need it. I didn’t even realize it till I started and missed a Sunday. I felt like I got rushed into the week without feeling ready for it.
7. Operating the household with a calendar and planner
I thought planning things never applied to me because I wasn’t opening a small business or training for the olympics.
I didn’t think it was necessary, I could generally remember what needed to get done. I don’t think I even owned a calendar for a lot of my pre-kid years. I just planned out my work stuff at work, and let life happen as it did.
BUT planning is a game changer in motherhood!
When I have a plan I feel in control, more relaxed and things get done that are supposed to get done.
Knowing what needs to happen, preparing for it, and making sure everyone knows the plan makes my life a lot easier.
In this post, I share with you the three steps I take to plan my day.
I use a paper planner to keep my calendar and all my notes and lists.
Other things I plan out are my bills, gift ideas and I keep running lists of ideas I can refer to later (like meals, or things to do with the kids, or projects I want to work on) those are all kept in my planner.
Two things that help me USE THE PLAN is
- reviewing my planner each morning.
- having calendar meetings with Conor. Every week or so we sit and talk about what is on the calendar and write in anything specific we want to get down. Then we know what the other is doing and we know we are going to get in this time for the things we need to do.
I’m learning that running a home and family also has a business component to it and we should have ‘business meetings’ with our spouse and ‘business hours’ for ourselves.
8. Using technology to keep me on task
When I put the laundry in the wash, I forget about it. When I have to make an appointment in the middle of my workday, I might be late for it. When I plan to make dinner tomorrow, I will forget to pull out the meat of the freezer.
So, I rely on phone alarms to remind me.
I set calendar alarms for almost everything. From signing school forms at night to stops I need to make on the way to school pick up tomorrow, to a text message I want to make in a week.
I put it all in my phone calendar and set two alarms to go off at different intervals so I don’t miss it.
9. Limiting the number of extracurricular activities we have as a family
I think we as moms have different tolerances and expectations on how much time we spend doing extracurricular activities.
For me, I need to have a lot of blank space in my week to feel like I can manage my energy. I know that if I have obligations every day that I will burn out. So, to be a better mom and human, I know I need white space to help me show up better for my life and family.
I also grew up with a lot of free time in my childhood so I really value that and think that it can help kids learn to make their own fun, and set their own agenda and explore things they wouldn’t normally. Like, I taught myself to draw, and danced, and climbed trees, and played with my little sister, and wrote stories and sang songs…..so, like everything I am bringing back into my life as an adult.
The way we set limits is to have each kid pick one extra-curricular activity. Which has been handy because they are all in the same one. We do make exceptions for special things like basketball camp, or horse camp, or something that our kids seem over the top interested in. For instance, Lenayah has been wanting to ride horses for a solid year and over time she has shown her interest and passion is so strong – like, she’s getting obsessed with horses to the point where it is starting to feel weird. So we want to help her channel her weirdness into action. So she’ll do horse riding twice a month.
I know this is a very personal issue so I am not saying that our way is right. This what works for us, right now. I appreciate being at home with the kids after school and giving them downtime to play with the neighbourhood kids, and play lego, and read, and whatever. I know these days won’t always be here and they will be teenagers and we will be signing them up for ALL the activities.
We also limit the activities we do ourselves. And by that I mean, I add things to my plate and Conor reminds me I have to let go of something else to make room for it.
And there is a lot of freedom in saying ‘no’ or ‘not right now’. Because a ‘no’ doesn’t mean ‘never’. We can say no to things now, and make room for them in the future.
It can be so easy to say yes to everything that comes our way, but making choices about the best few allows us to still have time to play and rest in between.
10. Keeping celebrations simple, but meaningful
This again, is an example of seeing what is the right fit for you as a parent.
I admire moms who throw Pinterest parties for their kids, or a summer BBQ with kebabs and patio dishes. I think it is a wonderful way to be creative and love on your people.
But I’ve seen that these types of events cause me so much anxiety to prepare and pull off. So, I try to keep them simple as possible while still making them special.
Christmas is another big one, and you can read a lot of how we handle it in the Simple Christmas series. But the big things that make it simple for us is: no Christmas cards, simple decor, drawing names with each side of the family to keep the gift quota low, and planning a lot in advance of what we are getting and buying it well ahead of time.
There are so many birthdays and holidays in a year that it can drain our resources fast to keep up a high level with each of them. But if we can keep them simple and thoughtful it feels much more manageable and purposeful. We can pay attention to what the best activity or experience or gift might be for someone and make them feel seen and special in so many ways. We don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Here is your permission slip!
11. Planning out the upcoming year/season
I lived so many years just letting life happen to me. I wasn’t intentional about what I wanted to do in a season, and how I wanted to show up.
When we started our ‘Life on Purpose’ journey about five years ago, something we did was ask ourselves ‘what do we want to do this year?’
Just asking this and writing down our answers got our brains spinning about all the ideas we actually had but weren’t listening to.
Putting it to paper helped us be accountable and encouraged us to actually do it.
We still do this every New Years, with the Life on Purpose workbook.
And often we check-in at each season.
Now when something big is happening or a season change like Summer break, or a family trip, or a special holiday – we sit and have a quick talk about what we want it to look like this time.
It helps us to lay out what our top priorities are – so we get clear on what is most important for us to say yes to. We talk about what we hope for – because unmet expectations are a fast way to break down joy. We list any specific activities we want to do.
We even include this in our family meetings too.
I even asked my lady posse to do this when we planned our girls trip to Portland this summer.
I love doing this because it lets us get clear on where to focus our efforts, time and money. We can work together “teamwork makes the dream work”. And because I know we will do it again next time, so I don’t feel the pressure to DO ALL THE THINGS in one summer, or one holiday.
You can see all of these things are about planning how we will use our resources – they help me get very intentional about where I allocate my time, money, energy and space.
Simplifying your life and planning how to use your resources is also a way of being intentional with the years you have with your kids at home. It means being direction by asking what kind of family culture you want to have, what things you want to make sure are top priority for the years your kids are in your house, and still making space for you to live your life too.