Simplicity in Action: Liz

Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action.

Liz

It was ten months ago now that I opened the door and simplicity walked in.

First she cleaned out my wardrobe and pared my favourites down to less than 33. Next she set her sights on the kitchen and gave me a look whilst shaking three potato mashers my way. I picked up the game quickly. How much did our family of five really need to own and how much of it was owning us?

I’d say that previous to that day, much of my life already reflected a lean towards simplicity. I was always eager to go through cupboards and reduce what was breeding there. But despite these efforts, it seemed there was still so much in my home and on the ‘to do’ list, that existed without much thought as to why.
There were gifts that served no real use or that I hung on to through guilt or sense of nostalgia. There was the woeful result of a twelve month shopping spree, a claim to financial independence celebrated with designer clothes that were more about impressing you, than clothing me.

It wasn’t until I discovered Courtney’s blog, that I started asking new questions.

  • Do I absolutely love it?
  • Will it serve a useful purpose to me or my home?
  • Does this purchase/commitment have my whole heart it in?

There was new thought and intention behind the notion – be more with less.

I learned to be more discerning when shopping or acquiring anything new. I felt a sense of purpose around purchases that I could quantify as a need, rather than a temporary emotion filled buzz.

In a way, I felt back in control of myself and my spending.

And beyond the almost bare bench tops and minimally stocked linen press, some deeper changes were bubbling away.

The less I owned, scheduled and committed to, the more down time and space opened up for me. And goodness knows I was needing the down time. I started to recognize and name out loud, the very thing I wanted more of and it was simply a less busy and more connected version of me, (currently unavailable at the local supermarket).

Today as I sit reflecting on this, I am lighter. I know I am more pleasant to be around and possibly the most significant shift, I have become a more present mother. Hard decisions have become simpler, by getting honest about what is really important to me and my family; a life with more love and joy and less obligation.

Here are some simple ways life flows more joyful in our family home:

Simple Meals – My creativity does not extend to the kitchen. I have eight to ten go to meals that I cook over and over again. I apply the same theory to school lunch boxes with fewer options than dinner.

Simple Birthdays – Every birthday is celebrated within our home and just once every three years, we celebrate the kid’s birthdays with a low key party with their friends of choice.

Laundry – Clothes, sheets and towels all get a longer shelf life between washes.

Zero Extra Curricular Activities – No sport, no ballet, just pure old school imaginative play.

Low Key Weekends – We love slow, spontaneous, schedule free weekends. We do stuff, fun stuff but it’s done as the mood strikes us.

Flexible Routines – While it’s ideal if homework can be done before dinner, sometimes mornings work just as well.

Opportunities to embrace simplicity show up in small ways every day and it is in these moments, I am able to connect with a joy that was harder to tap into previously.

Our life started to flow a lot simpler last year. Amidst the reality of three young children and all that this life entails, it got undeniably simple.

I haven’t said “I am busy” in response to “how are you?” for six months. Yet I am more productive, creative and connected that I have ever been before.

So as you can imagine, I have much gratitude for that day I discovered Be More with Less. As our family chose to move beyond the physical clutter and get honest about what was really important to us, we placed each other back up the top of our to do list.

Read more from Liz at her beautiful blog, The Connected Life and say hi on Twitter. 

 

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Comments

  1. Beth says

    That’s a lovely post. Thank you for sharing what works for you. For most of my adult life I have talked about having a ‘once and for all’ sort out- but a year ago I discovered Be More with Less and Slow Your Home. I have followed the mini missions and little projects since then and uncluttered slowly but surely. Yesterday I thought my house looked a little untidy- set to work and it was immaculate within an hour. Quietly, without me even realising it, I’ve achieved my ‘once and fir all’. Thank you, to all the simplicity bloggers! I owe my sanity to you! x

    • says

      Hi Beth,

      “Slowly but surely” is a wonderful approach to simplicity and it is still working in my life. When I found Courtney’s blog last year, I tackled some obvious spaces which I had been ignoring but most noticeable was the intention with which I approach new purchases. You are so right about the instant clean up, it’s so satisfying to know a quick tidy requires so little effort. Best wishes to you!

  2. Flor says

    I can feel a light shines from inside of you, a kind of light that is crisp and bright, just like your writing. I am glad your blog got featured here,( I already checked it out) or I would not find it at all on my own, I tend to stick to my regulars :). I can now add your blog to my must read. thanks!

  3. says

    Flor I think you just made me blush! Thank you for those kind words.
    I am so grateful to be able to reflect back much of what Courtney’s blog has taught me. I’ll be sure to write with you in mind :)

  4. Jerilyn says

    I enjoyed reading this (and courtney’s blog as well!). I always enjoy hearing that others are not doing extracurriculars either. None of my kids (boys aged 2, 4, & 7) do them and i’ve only started to feel a little pressure. We are doing swim lessons this summer (birthday present! Plus summer fun and an important life skill all wrapped up into one :)

    • says

      Jerilyn, our kids are so close in age (mine are 2, 5 & 7)! I’m a little old fashioned in that I think play is a dying art and there is so much joy to be found in encouraging children to create their own fun.

      Your comment just reminded me that I enrolled my two eldest for swimming lessons for this first time this summer just gone. We are a family on non-swimmers and the decision to do 10 days of lessons was born out of one of my boys fear of water – the lessons were a god send as swimming is compulsory for him at school this year.

  5. Gail says

    Liz,
    I enjoyed your story and your writing style. You are so fortunate to have discovered the simpler life while you are still young. I am retired now, and like most modern women, I worked full time outside of the home, raised a son, had a husband and home to manage. Running errands, laundry, and cleaning gobbled up most Saturdays. I knew I wasn’t enjoying my life like I wanted to, but I didn’t know how to change it. Instead of harboring regrets, though, I am downsizing now. Discovering Courtney’s blog has been a game-changer for me, too. Thanks for sharing your story. Looking forward to checking out your blog.
    Gail

    • says

      Hi Gail,

      I love that the possibility for change is always present in our lives, no matter what stage we are at. I am so happy that you found Courtney’s blog and are now creating a life you love.

      All the very best x

  6. says

    I love your list. I also have my go-to meals that we enjoy over and over again. Not only does it make dinner time easier but it makes my grocery shopping simpler. And my sons generally eat the same thing for lunch every day for months. My body has grown to appreciate the repetitiveness and simplicity.
    My four year old son has never had a birthday party with friends, only family.
    We also cut out all extra curricular activities except for the older kids church youth group that meets once a week. I often let myself for guilty for not exposing them to more activities, but I do try to encourage them learning about different subjects at home or through the library.

    • says

      Hi Julie,

      I used to be secretly jealous of some amazing friends and the meals they prepared for their families. I finally learned to let this go, it’s just not my domain. Provided my meals are nutritious, we are all happy campers and meal times are no longer stressful.

      You sound like you have worked out a beautiful balance for you and your family – guilt need not apply ;-)

  7. says

    Embracing simple living does wonders for increasing quality family time, as many of us are finding out :) We keep birthdays low-key as well, cake with the family and one present. Maybe going out for a hike if the weather allows. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • says

      Hi Cheryl,

      I agree! Quality family time was the motivator for simplifying how we do life as a family. The benefits have been more than I could hope for and I’m sure there is more to come. Our little family is quite partial to bush hikes also, here’s to many more for both of us!

  8. Moni says

    Hi. I enjoyed your post, I’m not sure about the ‘no extra curricular activities but they’re your kids. I do concede that we maybe should have scaled it back a bit, but as my daughters are in their final years of High School we’re on the home stretch and they’re firmly committed to seeing it thru.
    On the plus side, my daughters have had great teachers, mentors and role models at their extra curricular activities. They’ve learnt discipline and commitment and that even the impossible can be achieved if broken down into baby steps. They’ve learnt team spirit and how to be competitive without ego. They’ve had to learn to communicate well with adults and how to show grace under fire. They’ve made some of their best friends thru extra curricular activities.
    They’ve learnt things and been shown perspectives that I couldn’t have given them. So I do believe extra curricular activities have their place, just as long as they’re kept in balance with family life.

    • says

      Hi Moni,

      It is wonderful to have your perspective shared here. I can appreciate how much you value the benefits that extra curricular activities have brought to your family life.

      Our family choices are motivated by the benefits of a pace that works for us. Slow to unpack school bags after a full day of school. Slow to unwind, each of the kids finding just the perfect activity they need, to recover from a day of busy work and concentration. We love being able to eat early together (the kids are always so hungry) and rolling with what the evening brings.

      I was always curious (even before I have kids), to question the value of after school activities and see what worked for us. I’m open to things changing as our children’s need change and I’ll look forward to them guiding us on this.

    • Shayne Johnson says

      I really agree with this comment. Extra-curriculars must be controlled but there are so many benefits to them, as listed above. I see them as a way to develop and find my children’s passions as well as to teach them to try new things and follow through.

  9. says

    I love your story Liz!It’s inspiring, practical and holistic. Discovering Courtney’s blog also helped me on my simplicity journey.

    You’ve challenged me to rethink our meals, birthdays, and the way we handle the extra curricular activities. Our weekends are low key and filled with spontaneous activities. Spending time with each other is the only agenda.

    Your website is beautiful and I like your writing style. Glad Courtney introduced us to you :)

    • says

      Thank you Kelvin :)

      I’m so glad to hear some of our family story resonated for you. Shifting our lives to align with our values has created a change to our priorities, with unscheduled time together being at the top. Your low key weekends sound divine!

  10. says

    I love this post! I especially love the idea of slow weekends – doing things as the mood strikes you and not planning lots of things to do. I used to make lots of plans for the weekends then wonder why I was still tired come Monday morning. Now I make sure to allow a full day to myself to do whatever. And ditto on the laundry too – I make it last longer before washing it. Thanks for sharing :)

    • says

      Thanks so much Jen! We’ve just finished a slow weekend here. It started on Saturday with the kids painting pictures straight after breakfast and ended with a afternoon visit to their grandparents Sunday afternoon :)

      You’re full day to yourself sounds gorgeous, enjoy!

  11. Emily says

    It is so nice to read something from some one I whole heartedly agree with in a similar situation in life to me. I am going straight to your blog!

    Thanks Courtney for this one!

  12. says

    It is so great to feel simplify things. I am glad that you were able to do that. I am currently trying to do that in all aspects of my life. It does tend to make things easier : D. I like the idea of slow weekends. I’m going to try to do that.