You’ve made the decision to simplify your life. You understand what simplifying is and that it involves some hard choices. And now you’re eager to jump in with both feet and purge the house, wipe out the schedule, and move to a deserted island in the Pacific.
Slow down. Take a deep breath. Simplifying is a process, yes, but it is also a lifestyle and a mentality. You can’t do it and be done. “I simplified. There. Now life is simple.”
But you can jump right in.
What can I do today to begin simplifying?
Look around you with open eyes and make a life assessment. Ask yourself these big questions:
Big Question #1: What are my priorities, the biggest gifts in my life that I want to enjoy?
Big Question #2: What is preventing me from enjoying those gifts to the fullest?
Big Question #3: What do my actions say my priorities are? In other words, does how I choose to spend my limited time reveal that I more highly value the trappings of life (girls day out, a spotless home, scrapbooking, Facebook, television, healthy eating, fashion, shopping, career, blog, the gym) or the gifts of life (husband, children, relationships, faith)?
Ideally, your answers to number three and one should be the same…but they’re not, are they? In that case, take a strong look at number two to see why numbers one and three are not the same. This isn’t technically math, but there are enough numbers in there to be a little scary, so let’s summarize it like this:
From this day forward, begin conscientiously behaving according to your priorities. Make every action and decision show what you value most.
Here are three blatantly obvious examples:
Blatantly obvious example number one:
You enjoy your quiet morning time. You read the Bible, pray, sip coffee, and hit Pinterest. You’re filling your parenting board with inspirational and encouraging posts about positive parenting when your three-year-old shows up in the midst of your quiet too-early-to-wear-the-mommy-hat time. You have two choices.
Choice #1: Grow irritated (even if you think it’s only internally) that your “me” time has been interrupted, because “I need that time to just be me, to focus on me, to collect myself for the day before I spill myself out for everyone else–is that too much to ask?”
Choice #2: Welcome that little sleepy blessing into your quiet time, your arms, your lap, and most especially your heart, just as you would want to be welcomed. Maybe that means the end of Pinterest, or maybe you’ll be clicking through to every twirly skirt pin or Lego pin. And yes, that important alone time that does help revitalize a mama is at an end.
Blatantly obvious example number two:
You have a hungry two-year-old, a whiny, over-tired kindergartener, and a nine-year-old crying over homework. Your husband is late coming home from work, even though he promised he’d take care of the kids so you and Fill-in-the-Blank could go see a movie. Your husband finally shows up from a hard day at work, and he has a headache. He forgot to stop at the store for baked chicken like you asked, because his meeting ran late and he isn’t feeling well. You have two choices.
Choice #1: Say, “It’s about time!” and head out the door, thanking your lucky stars it’s not you dealing with that mess tonight.
Choice #2: Call Fill-in-the-Blank (whose parents should have thought of a better name, and who shouldn’t have married Mr. Blank) and tell her that you have to put family first. Maybe some other time.
Blatantly obvious example number three:
You’re saling with your gal-pal–not the boat kind of sailing, but the garage sale, clearance rack, consignment store kind of saling. You see the absolute cutest dress for your daughter and it’s only $5, regularly $45. Wow, and those Gap jeans for your son! Two bucks? Seriously? Oh, saddle shoes are coming back. Only $10–score! By the time it’s all said and done you’ve got a cart full of $600 worth of clothes for $125. The budget only allocates $50 for clothes, and you really only went out for the necessities. You have two choices.
Choice #1: Buy it all. Charge it while you’re at it. These are awesome deals and some sweet name brands. You can’t pass this stuff up, Girl!
Choice #2: Respect the budget and the desire to not have over-stuffed closets, and put it all back except the two things you actually need…which are probably the jeans for your son, because jeans on boys last about as long as ice on a hot tin roof.
This may seem like a ridiculous exercise, but you are making these decisions every day of your life. On paper, the answers are obvious. (Uh, it’s 2 every time. Just pretend you knew that.) In real life, we make the wrong choice far too often.
We select the season premier of Once Upon a Time over a teen who obviously needs to talk. We interrupt our loved ones to check a text or take a phone call. We choose friend time or screen time over quiet time with our children and spouse.
We opt for possessions over peace–a peaceful, uncluttered home, a peaceful budget, peaceful family time not spent managing clutter.
We choose hobbies, passions, and pastimes over people. We select umpteen gazillion activities for the kids over relaxed (and very valuable) home time with the kids.
The first step in simplifying is to realize that every decision you make affects the direction your life heads and who gets left behind. Whether that direction is simplifying, or whether it’s continuing down the complicated path you apparently now trod (or you wouldn’t have read this far) is up to you.
Begin today to make deliberate decisions that emphasize your priorities, letting the non-essentials fade into the background. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s downright hard. Do it anyway.
It’s worth it.
Talk to me! Are you committed to simplifying your life and putting your priorities back where they belong?
Reminder: If you are interested in The 2013 Confident Mom Planner and Supplement to help simplify the daily process of managing your home, the discount code SIMPHOME will give you $2 off the combo through Friday, 1/18. You will still have to declutter, prioritize, and make deliberate decisions, but this can help manage the daily duties of a household. I like it…a lot…a lotta lot. Read my review here, or head straight to The Confident Mom here.