As mamas, we are pulled in all different directions. We finally get our day-to-day schedules figured out and balanced, but with each year we add more and more activities and responsibilities onto our plate. Soon, we can’t handle it all anymore. Our bodies either shout back at us to stop the only way they know how — through anxiety, pain, or exhaustion. But we sometimes don’t get the idea and press forward despite all the signs that we are overworked and overwhelmed.
But what if I told you, you can say “no.” You can take things OFF your plate, and you can choose to live a whole life by leading a simpler life?
I’ve been experimenting with the idea of simple living since I met my husband six years ago. My family and I jumped on the bandwagon of the “tiny house” trend for two years — living a simple and clutter-free life where all of our possessions had more than one purpose, and our daily life encouraged togetherness, resourcefulness, and creativity. We dressed in capsule wardrobes and limited consumerism because we just didn’t have the room to store impulse buys or an abundance of toys.
I organized and simplified everything around me, and though I felt freedom in most areas, I still felt worn out and tired. The issue wasn’t my lack of simplifying, the problem was that I was simplifying everything in my life except for my “to-do” list!
Fast-forward to 2017, and we moved to a farmhouse. We kept our possessions minimal and vowed not to fill-up our larger space. And, so far, we have stuck to this agreement. But I still didn’t feel the peacefulness I had hoped for. I spent the first couple months wondering what I was doing wrong! What more could I simplify? When it hit me…I was keeping my plate full with saying unnecessary “yesses,” taking on more projects outside of my regular work hours and engaging in the constant battle of a spotless home. But now with all the extra land to run, the beautiful sunsets over the fields, and the old, creaky porch swing that sways in the wind, I wanted to live a slower-paced life so I can take in all the new sites and sounds alongside my children rather than hearing their stories about what they did with daddy while I hustled to complete extra work.
I am now on a quest to reap the benefits of slow family living.
Before you can join a slower paced lifestyle, it’s important to understand what slow family living is NOT!
It’s not living in a permanent state of boredom.
It’s not living in a filthy home.
And it’s not neglecting responsibilities.
Here is what it IS!
It IS being present, unplugged, and connected throughout your day-to-day.
It IS subtracting activities, commitments, and some of your “yesses” out of your life that don’t serve you or your family well anymore.
It IS catching up on little projects around the house so that you aren’t living in a state of “incomplete.”
And it IS saying “yes” to sitting on the front porch swing with your family after dinner while the dirty plates on the table wait until the sun goes down.
After years of simple living, it wasn’t until recently when I simplified my “to-do” list that I felt true peace, connection, and the assurance that I won’t look back at this time in my life and wish I was less busy and more present. Each day I have to decide to put the phone down for a few moments and read that book to my son for the tenth time, participate in the dance party before bedtime instead of searching online for more writing projects, and to not rush through our bedtime routine so I can turn on Netflix a few minutes sooner. And what I’ve found is surprising! Slowing down has actually helped me to be more productive when I AM working or cleaning — probably because I’m not hanging on by a thread from the exhaustion of busyness.
Before you say this can’t happen in your life because you have too much to do, really take some time to reflect and examine your life. Write down or map out all of your responsibilities and start delegating or looking for ways to say “no.” You may upset a few people along the way, but you should not be relied on so heavily that people aren’t able to lean on someone else for a period of time. Is the baseball practice every night of the week more important than taking a night or two off to look into each other’s eyes for a bit over conversation and ice cream cones? Think about what adjustments can be made toward a slower lifestyle. Even if it’s just blocking out one night a week for family time, you are on the right track!
Your kids will have their whole lives to be busy and carry the large load of responsibilities. For now, let them be kids and set an example for them by slowing things down.
Tell us in the comments: What will be YOUR first step toward a slower pace?