A year ago, my life was filled with everything I thought it should be…and I was miserable. I didn’t know it then, but I was actually living my life on auto pilot. Day in and day out, I had the same routine with all the responsibilities, obligations and “have tos” I thought I needed. By the end of the week, I felt drained and I couldn’t help but focus on all the things I didn’t get done. You know, too much to do and not enough time. I was overwhelmed, anxious, burnt out and empty.
WHEN LESS BECOMES MORE
I finally decided that I didn’t want to live life this way and that things needed to change. I wanted a more fulfilling life, with less stress and more energy for the things that I enjoy doing. I wanted quality time with my family and not be distracted by all the things I should be doing. I believe things come to you when you need them the most. Emily Ley announced her newest book, When Less Becomes More, and I could not wait to get my hands on it!
As Emily puts it, this book is about making space for slow, simple & good. This is what I wanted my life so desperately to be. She identifies how chaotic our modern lives have become and how you can start to choose what you allow in your life that brings joy and what things you choose to let go of in order to live the best life you were meant to live.
I would like to share a few things we did to create a more simplified life.
After reading the book, I went through each aspect of my life that I wanted to change. The first thing I examined was our family schedule. What were we saying yes to and consequently, what were we saying no to? Instead of thinking that I had to say yes to an event simply because someone invited me to go, I began to evaluate if this event was just something to add to the calendar or was it something that truly added value to our family time or my personal time. Would it feed my soul or would it just deplete my energy with no reward? I began to enjoy not having anything scheduled on some weekends because this meant that we were free to choose what we wanted to do that day. It left the day open for us to be creative. We could take a relaxed afternoon walk, paint with the kids, work on house projects, watch a movie or just take a nap once in a while.
I also looked at our nightly routine, which was very stressful for us. My husband, Tony, and I discussed how we could make nights more relaxed and still accomplish what must get done. We came up with some ideas and just tried them. Some ideas worked and others were great in theory, but they weren’t practical in how we live our life.
Since we couldn’t really eliminate anything from our nightly to-do list, we set up a loose plan of dividing the work. I say a loose plan because for us to be successful, we cannot create a rigid, concrete plan. It will never last. We just aren’t wired like that.
After dinner, Tony and I decide which task each of us will do from the list. This is really helpful because it helps us communicate and not just assume the other parent is going to help the kids with their homework or whose going to do bath time and then one parent feels overwhelmed. The tension is lessened if we communicate before we get started. And if one of us is completely drained from the day, that person can take the night off! We give each other grace and let each other rest when we need it.
let go and bring in the joy
With a more simplified life, I began to let go of the things I previously thought I had to do or the things I thought would make me an amazing mom and I began to invite the joy back into my life. I became aware of what was taking up so much of my time and I let go of it. I began to fill my life with the things that I wanted in my life and what my dream life would look like.
This meant that I set limits on how I was using my phone. From checking emails, social media and immediately responding to texts. I was on my phone way to much in fear that I might miss something important or exciting.
Do I really need to check my email every hour? No. I’m generally not receiving emails that require my immediate attention. So, now I check it maybe twice a day. Another thing that helped with the amount of emails I received was to unsubscribe from the lists that I didn’t want to be a part of anymore. If I didn’t shop at a particular store anymore, I got off their list. If there was a blog newsletter I didn’t enjoy reading anymore, I unsubscribed.
I also noticed that I was aimlessly scrolling through social media and for what? Most of the time, I left each platform feeling angry, jealous of someone else’s home or feeling inadequate in some way. I went through and unfollowed any account that didn’t make me feel good after reading their posts, who didn’t inspire me or those that didn’t align with the lifestyle I was creating. Now my feeds are curated with only authentic accounts, positive and supportive posts and my mood has improved so much.
I used to think that I didn’t deserved to rest. I believed that I had to keep working, push myself harder and I would just get over the hump. I thought that one day it will be easier. Well, after I finally had a breakdown, I realized and accepted that I couldn’t do it all and I didn’t have to. I accepted that resting wasn’t being lazy or that I was undeserving. It was actually a gift to give myself a break, a way to reset my mood and to be more present with my husband and kids.
I began to set aside time that I could step away from everyone, even if for only ten minutes, and do something for me or just to clear my mind. I let my husband know I was stepping away to make sure he wasn’t in the middle of something important (also so that I didn’t end up feeling guilty about leaving him with the kids – don’t let guilt ruin your alone time) and did whatever I needed to reset. Some things I like to do are reading a book or a home decor magazine, word search books (my favorite is Margot + Co’s Fields of Green or her newest Rest), listen to podcasts or just listen to my favorite playlists.
I also set aside time to just play with my kids. I can allow myself to get creative without time limits and I can be totally present. It’s nice when our whole family goes outside to ride bikes, draw with sidewalk chalk in the driveway or blow bubbles. We have family game night once a week with a trophy for the champion! We have movie nights where we set up comfy pillows and cushions in the living room. We read together, bake cookies and draw or paint pictures. This is the quality time I always wanted. They aren’t big events, but they will create the memories and the connectedness I want my kids to have.
This is the life I craved. This is the life that I intentionally created. Don’t get me wrong, there are still hard days, days when we get off schedule, I get stressed out and overwhelmed, but those days are less frequent and easier to handle when they pop up.
Are you craving a simpler life? Have you started intentionally creating the life you want? If so, leave a comment below and let me know how you live a simpler life.