Last year was a significant milestone for me. It forces you to reevaluate your entire life. It has been a shock to me how quickly life is moving by. I want it all to slow down so that I can cherish every moment with my family. I want my moments to have meaning so I don’t regret not having done enough or worried about the endless to-do lists. Instead, I want to enjoy the time with my family and friends and work to strengthen the relationships in my own life.
My children were very young when I was caught up in the chaos of tantrums, sleepless nights and diaper changes. I was living in survival mode, not being able to appreciate those precious moments with them. I started this blog while my daughters were still babies to document the journey we had to debt-free and to assist other families in achieving their financial goals. Now that my daughters are in school full-time, I value the time spent with my family more.
My husband and I are committed to teaching our daughters to be generous and to share that love with others. We moved away from the familiarity of our church for many years to start a new church in the city’s heart. This was a way for us to help families in need and teach our children to love others and give back.
We want to spend more time making memories with our family and giving back to the community. So we tried to simplify our lives. We all have busy lives. It’s important to find ways to simplify them. We are still learning, but these are some things that we have been trying to do with our family to live more intentionally.
Tips to Simplify Busy Lives
This is the hardest for me. However, I am sharing it because I believe it is crucial to get enough sleep if you want your busy life to be simpler. Many people want to work late because there is so much to do. However, I find that I am less productive at night. Because I cannot sleep in on weekdays, I have to go to bed early so that I have the energy I need to do more work the next day.
This is also true for “down time”, regardless of whether it’s on weekends or when you have free time. Use that time to relax, take a nap and listen to music. I used to feel that I didn’t have enough time for “down” time in my busy life. But now I realize that I do need it to be more productive with the rest.
Get Your Day Started
Although I’m not a morning person, I’ve learned that it is important to take some time for myself in the morning before your children or spouse get up. If you don’t wake up at the same hour as your children, it just makes you more ready to get the day started. My experience has been that I wake up earlier and have a better start to my day if I spend time with God. The First5 App is an app that sets an alarm to wake you at the time and helps you spend your first five minutes with God by reading a brief devotional. This app has made it easier to start my day calmer than wasting time on Facebook and email. It doesn’t matter if you get up early to check your to-do lists, exercise, or take your time getting ready for the day. Whatever helps you feel relaxed is key to a productive day.
Working Together as a Team
Working together with your spouse, children, friends, or family is a great way to simplify your busy life. We have found that our family has more fun when we do household chores and meals together. We also ask our children to help with daily and weekly chores that are appropriate for their age. (Check out our printable Responsibility chart for more ideas on how we do this). You can teach your children how to manage money by getting them involved in chores.
The Wunderlist app is one way my husband and me have managed to stay on top of things around the house. It’s a list-making application that allows you to share your list with others. This can be a grocery list or a to-do list for home projects, or a list of family outings. I can add items to my list when I see that my husband is going to the grocery store. It will appear as he goes. This is so much easier than trying remember to write a list on paper (which always gets lost), or texting one. It is the same place where we keep our lists.
Get Outdoors More
It’s important to be able to escape the stress of life and the endless list of to-dos. The best way to do this is to go outside and get some exercise. You can go for a short walk, bike ride or long-distance walk with your children, spouse, or friends. You can unwind by trying a new sport. I hadn’t been on a bike since childhood, but we took up bike riding while on vacation last May. It was so much fun riding bikes together, that I now want to do it again.
Since the beginning of this year, we have set a goal to hike with our family at least once per month. Although we don’t always manage to make it every month it has helped us get out and explore the NW, making many memories. We hiked up Sunrise at Mt Rainier last summer and ended up hiking 5 miles up steep trails around Burroughs Mountain. They were so proud of themselves for climbing to the top of a mountain. It gave them a great sense of accomplishment. It also showed them that exercise can be fun if done together.
These are just some of the ways we’ve tried to be more intentional about our time and spend more time as a family making memories that will last. It is important to simplify your life whenever possible so you can focus on the things that matter most.