Clothes flapping on the line. Sipping coffee on the porch. Green hills for miles. Hours spent reading and sewing. Church picnics.
These things all conjure up memories of our time living in Kentucky near an Amish community. We would often visit the Amish stores and neighborhood nearby, gathering foodstuffs like massive fresh tomatoes and home-baked bread. These visits would stir in my soul a longing for simpler times and enjoying life’s little pleasures.
In our fast-paced world, I’m ready to start a new revolution. A revolution of catching your soul’s breath. Of a less cluttered schedule. Of lazy, bored summer days with nothing to do.
Breathe with me and imagine.
What would your life be like if you weren’t always running from one activity to the next, trying to keep up? What if you actually had time – lots of time – to develop your favorite hobby? I’m convinced that is how the brilliant minds of years gone by were born. DaVinci, Edison, Einstein – I’m betting these guys all had lots of time on their hands to let their souls imagine and create.
When did we as a society start feeling the need to fill our schedules to the brim? Stress related illness is at an all-time high, yet we continue to increase the pace of our lives.
Fast food and household shortcuts have become a must. Vacations have become a dream, and when they are over, we grieve. Why is this? Because we have no time for our souls to breathe.
We’ve lost ourselves in the the shuffle. And it’s hard to figure out how to live a simple life again.
My desire for simple living began after the birth of my kiddos. B.C. (before children), having a busy schedule was no big deal – because my downtime was mine. If you have kids, you know that having time to yourself is hard to come by. Add in lots of extra activities, and you’ve got a recipe for exhaustion.
How do we recapture our true selves and go back to the basics of enjoying life? I’ve compiled the top ten simple living tips to inspire you to make changes in your life.
How to Live a Simple Life: Top Ten Tips
1. Learn how to say no.
This is the hardest tip to implement, but one of the most important. If you cannot learn to say no when people make loads of requests on your time, your life will not truly be your own.
Decide how many commitments are realistic for you, and drop the rest. If you’re stressed out with your current schedule, see if there’s anything you can eliminate.
If you’re concerned about how to decline offers gracefully, try this response by Lysa TerKeurst:
I am honored by your request but I’m in a season of refocusing my priorities and have committed not to add anything new right now.
Read all ten of her lovely responses here.
I’ve been wanting to read Lisa’s book for awhile now, it sounds amazing!
2. Spend more time in nature.
There’s something about spending time outdoors that just makes life slow down a little bit. It lowers our stress levels and helps us connect with our Creator.
We just spent the weekend camping with friends, and WOW. It was amazing the boost I got from getting out in nature and spending time in play! Here are some ways to implement the outdoors into your daily life.
3. Cook from scratch.
Our breakneck speed of living has made home cooked meals less and less commonplace. If you’re finding it hard to cook your own meals during the week, your schedule is too packed. Relying on ready-made, processed, and fast food is going to affect how you feel.
Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be hard. Here are 5 No-Fail From Scratch Meals that are easy to prepare. Your family – and body – will thank you!
4. Dare to not sign your kids up for every activity under the sun.
I promise, they won’t suffer or resent you. Actually, the opposite is true. Kids need to be bored and learn how to cultivate their brilliant imaginations.
You’re not slowing your child’s development or causing them to miss out. They may surprise you and come up with a skill that none of the other kids on the soccer team can do. Your kid may be a budding artist or brilliant chef, and you’d never have known it!
Kids blossom and become who they really are during downtime. Don’t be afraid to skip this soccer season.
And here’s a shocking concept: how about letting your kids take responsibility around the house? It’s good for them to contribute to the family dynamic.
5. Get lost in something creative.
What did you love to do in your downtime before life got all crazy?
In my childhood, I would spend hours sitting in my floor drawing. Getting lost in a state of flow is so great for our brains.
Do you love knitting, baking fancy desserts, or building things? Make this creative time a priority and watch your happiness blossom.
Our God is creative, and we are creatively made in His image! You are made to create and be filled with joy.
6. Have friends in your home with nothing on the agenda but a good, long chat. And maybe some pie and coffee.
Why does having people over have to be an Olympic sport? Why do we think our homes have to be spotless or the cuisine earth-moving?
To me, the simplest gatherings are often the most memorable. Throw some hot dogs on the grill and sit in the backyard. Or, just have some friends over for dessert and a laugh. Entertaining guests doesn’t have to be serious business. I love these words from Grace Table,
Our home is a place where everyone is welcome, yet I don’t wait until I’m ready to swing those doors wide open because otherwise, it would never happen. Read the full article here.
7. Turn off the noise.
Not only are our schedules packed to the brim, we are constantly bombarded with noise and ideas in the place that should be most tranquil – home.
This is one of the hardest tips for me and for most in our generation. We are so accustomed to being constantly connected and bombarded with news, entertainment, and updates that it seems normal.
You need some time to disconnect. It may seem like a challenge, but try turning off all devices for at least a couple of hours a day. This will give your brain some breathing room.
8. Purge, purge, purge.
The less stuff you have, the more time you have for the things you love. Here’s a great article about simple ways to declutter. I can’t remember where I heard this quote, but I love it:
Clear a space = create head space.
9. Keep celebrations simple.
Who made the rule that kid’s birthday parties (or parties of any kind) have to be extravagant? If planning an extravagant bash makes you happy, by all means, go for it! But if party planning causes you stress, keeping things simple is key.
So far in my motherhood journey, the only thing I’ve had energy for is family gatherings – and that’s ok. Your kids won’t miss a thing! All they want is their loving family surrounding them (and maybe a slice of cake).
10. Focus on faith.
The biggest cornerstone of simple living is focusing on what’s most important. Your family needs a goal and purpose for unity and simplicity. Keeping God at the center of all your family’s decisions and activities is key.
There’s often a misnomer that you should always put “family first.” I disagree. If we put God first, everything else will fall into place. This perspective is beautifully illustrated by this post “I Don’t Want to Be a Good Mom.”
When you know your family’s purpose, your life has one direction – instead of going in a hundred different ones.
Perhaps now you have a bit more inspiration on how to live a simple life.
This post is a part of my new book, Simplify Your Stress. Check it out if you want more tips for simple living!