I hate to use terms because they are overrated and overused but I feel that this one fits.
We are a simple living family. What does that mean exactly? Well it probably means something different for every family who classifies themselves as a simple living family.
For us it means that we live with less. Less stuff. Less noise. Less mess. Less activities. Less toxins. Less outside influences. We do our best to choose carefully which activities, people and situations enter our lives and remain part of our lives. If something isn't working for us and is making our lives more complex we find a way to separate ourselves from it. We want simplicity and ease in our lives. We want a slower but more fulfilled life. One that keeps us busy but not overwhelmed.
Does it work all the time? NO! Of course not, we are human and so is everyone else around us. But that doesn't mean we don't do our best to bring more simplicity into our lives.
Does this look differently for everyone? Yes! While my life may not involve running around to an arena every weekend, yours may very well. Consider what actually makes you and your family happy. If hanging out an arena every weekend with your kids stresses you out and your kid doesn't actually enjoy hockey, then perhaps it is time to shift your focus. If your kid loves hockey and you feel a natural high every time you walk into an arena then hockey may be the right activity for your family.
It can be hard and challenging to take the time to choose what makes you fulfilled and what keeps you feeling rejuvenated versus what sucks your energy and life away from you. Things are not always what they seem at first. It takes time, careful listening and purposeful thought to make those decisions - and it probably involves talking with your partner too! Ask meaningful questions to each other and your children about what they truly enjoy doing, not what they feel pressured from either you as parents or from peers.
In an effort to help you get on your way, we have chosen 10 ways that you can choose less with your kids that will get you jump started and don't require quite as much effort and thought.
1. Say no to one activity per week (preferably on a weekend). We keep our weekends empty with no scheduled activities. It leaves us open to many opportunities and ensures we don't get stuck with prescheduled events that perhaps are not going to work based on our moods, the kids moods or even sickness.
2. Take a technology break. This can be once per day or once per week depending on where you are starting. Our children watch television/play video games on weekends only. But this may not be the right choice or start for your family. Perhaps implementing a TV Free Friday is better for your family. The same goes with cell phones, ipads and computers. Is there a day of the week you can eliminate complete use of technology?
3. Set boundaries with friends and family. Are they visiting too much? Do you feel overwhelmed by their plans, activities and schedules? What about friends and playdates? Are there too many gatherings that you feel unable to keep up? Don't worry you or your child will not miss out. Look for activities to do at home together instead of buzzing around town after school/work everyday. Learn to say no, gently and with compassion. Let them know you need time to yourself or that your family needs quality time alone.
4. Clear out your toy room. I promise it will feel good after. Not sure how to do that? Check out our post "How to Minimize the Toys in your Home"
5. Choose natural skin care products for your children that are safe for both your children and the environment.
6. Spend a day outside. Clean you your yard, go for a walk or hike, read a book under a tree, go skiiing or sledding in the winter. Breathe the fresh air and take in the seasons. Have a picnic lunch at a park and come home feeling lighter and happier.
7. Choose less processed foods. Take the time (I know...you don't have much. But you really do!) and create home made meals and foods. Make your own muffins, cook your own spaghetti sauce or bake the kids favorite cookies. Find ways to incorporate more real food into your diet.
8. Donate one item each week. Find one item in your home each week that you can part with. By the end of the year you will be 52 things lighter!
9. Read a book to your child each day, even if you have older children. Children at all ages love being read to!
10. Cut back on "extra" spending. Try it for a week, or a month. See how much you can save. Do you really need that new book or shirt? Do your kids absolutely need that new toy right this moment? Can they go without? Can you wait? How long can you wait?