Slowing down, simplifying, becoming a minimalist …. whatever you like to call it, there is a lot of talk lately about people making a conscious decision to step back from the craziness of life.
I’m one of them. Although when I made a decision to leave my career to become a stay at home mum and focus on my family, I actually didn’t realise I was taking my first step towards simplifying my life.
At the time, I just felt overwhelmed and knew that something needed to change, and quickly, more for reasons of my health and happiness than anything else.
My family and I were stressed and anxious all the time, bouncing from one activity to the next, not enjoying what we were doing but just going through the motions from day to day, week to week.
I was so run down that I started to get ill quite often. I then developed a bad rash under my nose, called rosacea, which my doctor advised can be caused by stress. He had already run a series of tests trying to find some kind of physical reason as to why I was always feeling so poorly. In the end, after discussing the ongoing stress I has been experiencing, he sent me away with some antibiotics and ointment to clear my rash as well as a doctor’s certificate to take a few days off work, rest and figure out what I wanted to do. But deep down I already knew the answer.
Handing in my resignation was one of the biggest decisions I have ever made; strangely it was also one of the easiest. It just felt so right, like a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders.
Since taking that leap of faith a little over a year ago, I have come to realise that no matter what you label it, simplifying your life has a different meaning for different people.
For some, it’s about physically decluttering their homes and living their day to day lives with minimal possessions; buying less ‘stuff’; creating less waste; eating organically or even from their own home grown harvest.
But for me, the decluttering that needed to be done was all in my head. The decisions and actions I have taken to date have made a big difference to my life. They have brought back some balance and peace to me and my family.
Last week, I shared a post about needing to re-find my balance and it was such a good reminder of how much things have changed over the past year and the little things that tend to get overlooked.
So I thought I would share with you some of the ways I have been trying to simplify my life and I hope it offers useful ways to help you slow down your life.
Ideas for slowing down and simplifying your life
Focus on what is most important to you – for me, my family always comes first. I walked away from my career to spend more time with my family and simplify our lives, which were spiralling out of control into a world of busyness. Yes, life is still busy at times, but I feel I’m able to cope with this so much better than before.
Try not to over-schedule your life – one of the most important things I have learned is that it’s ok to say no. I have made a conscious decision to agree to only one social event each weekend and limit the number of activities my children do each week. This then gives us enough time to enjoy some time together as a family.
Find some time for me – in all honesty, I’m still working on this one but I know I will get there in the future. For the moment, I try to give myself at least 10 minutes a day – whether that be to sit, relax and enjoy a morning coffee while my baby naps, a guided meditation or a few minutes adding to my latest crochet project. Since having my baby girl four months ago, I have also been trying to find a way to add some yoga home practice into my week … I know new routines can take some time to stick so I’m hoping this will become easier over time.
Creating a positive morning routine – I find this really sets the tone for the rest of my day. It may not always go to plan – let’s face it, I have a four month old baby to care for and two children to get to school each morning – but even through the crazy mornings I feel more at peace.
Changing buying habits and budgeting to live on one income – My decision to become a stay at home mum has left us to live on one income and it’s fair to say that it can be challenging at times. Some ways I save money include creating a weekly meal plan for dinner; using modern cloth nappies and cloth wipes with my baby girl; and reviewing and updating our electricity and gas plans as well as our health, house and car insurance annual premiums. This is a work in progress and I’m continually reviewing our budget to find ways to save money and hope to blog about this more in the future.
Creating achieveable to do lists – I only ever put a maximum of three things on my ‘to do’ or cleaning list each day. That way I don’t feel like I have too much on my plate and if I get them all done I can either enjoy some time for myself or make a start on another task – bonus! I have a separate list of projects I would like to get done around the house, such as a major clean up on the pantry or the linen cupboard for these times.
Being realistic of my time – Writing is one of my passions and setting up my blog has allowed me to use this creativity since leaving work. For the moment, I have set myself a target of posting once a week on my blog. While I would love to do more, I need to be realistic as I just can’t fit it into my life at the moment but that doesn’t mean it will be this way forever.
Be present, enjoy now – To enjoy my life and be grateful for what I have is the greatest part of slowing down and simplifying my life, but it is tougher than it sounds though. To breathe, even when the kids are pushing my buttons; enjoy short meditations; soak in the warmth of those early morning snuggly feeds with baby; respect the quiet of the morning before the kids wake. These things used to pass me by unnoticed, but now I try to fully experience them.
My journey still continues and, you know what, I think it always will as life presents new challenges and my children enter different stages of their lives. This is just the beginning and I thoroughly look forward to the experiences yet to come.
What does simplifying your life mean to you?