Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Process of Simplification

There's been a lot of critical assessment going on in my house lately.  "Simplify" is not just a trendy word featured in magazine articles and on TV shows, but it is my new reality.  Especially since there is nothing simple about #1) six kids #2)homeschooling and #3) pastoring a church.  So as my steam and energy for life has waned in the past year, I've had to begin to adjust and change the way I operate and exist.  Simplifying is becoming my primary course of action as of late.

Just to share how this is having an effect in my life I'm going to describe some of the ways I've been working to simplify.

I worked to declutter - specifically my kids' toys and rooms.  I got rid of the majority of my children's toys, especially since it felt like they had dozens of things that they never played with, didn't really care about and that were of little benefit to them! I have also, on an ongoing basis, kept a "give-away" bag nearby, so I can get rid of any items that I don't think we need or that don't get used.

I've also worked to declutter our schedule - attempting to assess my children's activities and our activities as a family.  I don't want to waste valuable time doing stuff that doesn't really matter in the long term.  I think we are a generation that wants to give our kids all of the best in experiences, but that in itself doesn't create healthy families and children who grow up with character and purpose.

I've also dabbled in, and recently revisited the idea of my children's workload and how they contribute in the home.  I believe that I as a mother am not meant to be a slave to my kids and do everything for them, but that part of home life is teaching them how to take care of themselves and others (including how to cook and clean).  That being said, they are included in the running of the home, and are expected to contribute.

Even more recently, I've been simplifying our finances and taking a close look at how we spend our money.  Whether you are working with a lot or with a little (money), having an awareness of your financial situation, and taking responsibility for the way you spend your money is a way of taking control and thus being able to tie up any loose ends (or dripping faucets of mismanaged money). For me, doing a budget "cleanse" and sticking to a cash-diet (no debit or credit) for a little while means that we will be in better control (and more aware) of our finances.

Today this "simplifying" brought me to my cupboards and pantry.  In trying to save some money this month, and pay off a small amount of unnecessary debt, we are going to attempt to shop a lot less, and only buy what we truly need.  This means using the food that we already have in the cupboards.  So, I got a little nerdy about it, but I did an inventory of our pantry!  By knowing what we have available, I will have an easier time meal-planning, and I will plan our meals around ingredients that we already have in stock.  Not only will we be saving money, but we will be less likely to waste food and... this simplifies things in that there will be less shopping for me to do!

Anyway, this has been more of a practical "this is what's going on in my life" post, than something introspective and emotional like I normally write.   However, I want to reflect upon the fact that all of this practical, hands-on simplifying leads me to a less cluttered, less emotionally driven lifestyle.  A cluttered life - whatever the area - is usually a not-so-happy life.  Clutter brings stress.  I want to spend my time, money, energy, and essentially my life on the things that really matter.  I don't want to be worn down by excess or by mismanagement of my resources.  I may not be able to control all aspects of my life, and there will always be interruptions - but I will do my best to manage what I have, and in doing so, I'm sure to be more content.

Simple is good.

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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