If there has been one thing that living in France has taught me, it’s that it’s good to simplify your life. Bigger is not always better, more stuff doesn’t always equal more happiness, and life isn’t one big competition. I’m thankful for a husband who has no problem not having all the things other people have and I am so thankful to live as simply as we do. Even as simple as we live, we are still so incredibly blessed beyond measure.
I have been enjoying a minimalist series from my friends Tico & Tina. They are really cool people and on their site they have a ton of great resources! I would highly suggest checking them out maybe starting with 20 things you can get rid of without even noticing, or 5 practical ways to transition to minimalism. You’ll get caught up in all the posts!
But for now, and in the spirit of the New Year and everyone everywhere wanting to simplify things for an easier life, I thought I’d share
7 ways to simplify your life in 2015.
This might not be possible for everyone, but what do you really need? We are a (big) family of four and we live in a house that is maybe 1100 sq. feet. Maybe. We have a small kitchen without a ton of tools that regular kitchens have, small bedrooms with even smaller closets and we all share a bathroom. It’s most certainly not glamorous, and I know not for everyone, but it’s actually quite lovely. Bills are then cheaper all the way around, less up-keep and more money that heads into savings. If you can’t necessarily downsize your house (I know that’s not practical for everyone) think about the things in your life that you can downsize. Cars, cell phone plans, tv/cable, subscriptions. The less bills overall, the less stress!
2.) Give stuff away
Kids don’t need rooms and rooms full of toys. They are generally pretty creative on their own! Nowadays with video games and iPads, they sometimes need to be nudged in the right direction, but once sent on their way, you’ll be amazed with what they can conjure up! My kids just spent hours outside in the freezing cold into the dark evening hours being barbers, bad guys, good guys, bakers, and more. I had to make them come inside! They didn’t want to go outside in the first place, I made them, but once out, they were caught up in a land of make-believe. And it was magical. That’s what childhoods are made of!
Involve your kids in downsizing their stuff. Talk to them about how getting rid of some of the toys that they don’t use or play with could be such a blessing to other kids that have a lot less. Talk to them about being creative with what they have and learning to be content with the blessing in their lives. They will get more use out of the simple toys that they have and get a lesson in loving and giving by sharing their toys with others!
3.) Say no
It’s okay to say no!! You are not less of a mom or parent if you can’t help in your kid’s class or volunteer to be coach of your kid’s team. There are seasons in life, seasons where you might be able to offer more of yourself to service and seasons where you are just trying to keep your head above water. It’s okay during those seasons of craziness to just say no. It will definitely help simplify your life.
4.) Ask for help
I would love to be an organized person. But despite my best efforts, I am most certainly not. And never will be. I just don’t have the mind to think through organizing things! My sister-in-law, however, has a special gift. She can look at a messy room and not want to ball up and cry (like me) but instead organize it! I enlist her organizing capabilities as much as possible. I have even seriously considered flying her to France to help me organize my life here. Hey, a girl can dream…
If you’re not good at letting things go, organizing, or budgeting, seek out someone who is. Use their strengths to help you get on the right track toward simpler living!
5.) Baby steps
Simplifying your life is a process. Especially if you’re starting with a whole lot of stuff. You didn’t accumulate all of the junk overnight, and you won’t get rid of it that fast either. It’s gonna be a journey, which is a good thing. Because changes take time to get accustomed to and as you make this journey, you will change along the way as well.
When we first moved to France I was a different person. I was more ‘in control’ (or I liked to think I was) of my life. But there’s something about not knowing where you’re going to live every year and packing your life into two suitcases every 8 to 10 months that makes you just let go. At first it was a tad bit annoying that I didn’t have what everyone else had. I didn’t have a house, yard, car, or a lot of clothes. But now, those are some of the things I love the most. Over time I’ve realized not only how I don’t need a lot of things, but I don’t want them! I don’t want a huge house because that means a whole lot more to clean and even bigger bills to go with it. I choose less stuff and less stress. I have learned to love it this way and only pray that we can continue it!
6.) Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses
Everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses. I’ve got news for you – the Joneses are BROKE (Dave Ramsey’s famous and very true words). The family with everything usually has a little bit of stress (if not A LOT) behind it all. Even if they don’t – even if they have it all happily and easily – most of the world can’t have it that way. Therefore we end up trying and stressing ourselves to the max in the process! I think we need to understand that we don’t want to be like any other family. Find your groove for your family, what works for you, and stick with that. Our family – just the way we are – is perfect. We do things a little differently, but it’s us and that’s okay.
7.) Be content
It honestly takes practice and a lot of work, but it’s probably the most important one on this list. Be content with the blessings you do have in your life. A loving family, friends, shelter over your head (big or small!), food on your plate, and clothes on your back. To simplify your life is to find contentment in the non-material things. The people around you and the life that you’re living. Start practicing contentment with what you have and as you downsize your life, you’ll be amazed how happy you can be with so little possessions!
We are constantly working on living a simple, balanced live. We have a small house, share one car, and our kids have 3 small containers of toys that all fit under their bed. It’s not glamorous and you’d never see us on an episode of ‘Cribs,’ but we’re happy! Our kids have an amazing imagination and the toys that they do have get used all the time!
Any other tips you’d like to add that you use to help simplify your life? Leave them in the comments, I’d love to hear them!