A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety. ~Aesop, Fables
Being busy has become a modern badge of honor, one I was happy to throw out by embracing a simpler life. Being less busy has a wonderful effect. It helps reduce daily stress and chaos while opening your schedule to things you actually want to do.
I think Moms, especially, become busy with the chores of the whole family. It’s just what we do. This leaves little or no time to work on our personal goals. A recent post on the science of happiness by Jennifer Gresham explained that focusing on your goals is one of the keys to a happy life.
If you’re new to my “stop being busy” mantra, you might find it a bit annoying. You might be thinking, “Just tell me how to stop being busy and girlfriend, I’m sooo there.”
To clear up any confusion, here are some ways I avoid being too busy in my own life. If you’re craving a slower life with more time to do things you enjoy, try a few of my ideas:
Give yourself permission to use free time for yourself. For instance, I focus on my amazing work while the kids are at school. Instead of doing housework, I’ve decided that time is too previous. It is the only time I have to write, build my Smalltopia and take care of myself.
When the kids come home, I can put my job away and focus on homemaking. By giving myself permission to prioritize that time, I don’t feel guilty cleaning the kitchen while they do homework and have a snack.
Cancel appointments. If the week is filling up with appointments, reschedule a few to different weeks. I try not to plan more than two evening appointments during the week so we can enjoy a flexible schedule.
Be at home. If you have kids, you know they are constantly looking for instant gratification. Set the expectation that it can be wonderful to be at home. No library trips. No friend visits. No wildly fun adventures. Those things usually fit best during the weekend. Being at home is an extremely enjoyable and relaxing way to slow down.
Call people instead of sending thank you cards. When my kids receive a gift, they call the giver to chat and offer their thanks. We don’t send out cards.
Listen to music when cleaning. This makes it more enjoyable. It also allows me to focus and get things done quickly.
Simplify personal care. Cut a step or two out of your make up routine. Get rid of old products or items you no longer use. This makes everything streamlined and keeps closet clutter to a minimum. Read about Tammy’s minimalist make-up and beauty for more inspiration.
Create a master grocery list. Set it up in order of how you navigate the store. This makes filling out the weekly list a breeze.
Create a monthly dinner menu. Come up with two weeks worth of meals, then copy and paste to complete the month. Most people don’t mind eating the same delicious meal twice in one month.
Cook simpler meals. For instance, we always have eggs during the week – either scrambled or as an egg sandwich with meat and cheese. A healthy side can be simple – cut fruit or veggies. Focus on meals that can be created and cleaned up in no time. This leaves more time to enjoy each other.
Visit Stone Soup for 5 ingredient recipes.
Ask for help. My kids are awesome helpers. Helping around the house has always been the expectation, and not something we make a big deal about. Delegate a few chores per day and pretty soon it becomes second nature for everyone to work together.
Minimize stuff. First, resist the urge to store it in a plastic bin. Instead, live with fewer things in the open and fewer things in storage. This makes cleaning and keeping up with daily clutter so much easier. For the best how-to articles, read:
- Clearing the Clutter You Can’t See from Be More With Less
- Go Hard Core with a Clean Slate Room Declutter from Minimalist at Home
- A Guide to Creating a Minimalist Home and 21 Tips on Keeping a Simple Home with Kids from Zen Habits
- 15 Clutter Busting Routines for any Family from Becoming Minimalist
Minimize clothing and jewelry. This makes getting dressed so much easier. Be bold and try dressing with just 33 things.
Before you spend money on something, decide if you really need it. Do you need to cover your lawn in pesticides this spring? (We decided no.) Do you need a manicure? (Yes, but not willing to spend the money.) Do you need to highlight your hair? (Yes. Willing to spend the money.)
Limit kids’ extra-curricular activities. We allow only one activity per child at one time. This helps reduce their daily stress, too.
Say no. Stop doing things you don’t want to do. You don’t need to give an excuse. Just say no. Here are a few ways to do it:
- Okay, okay, here are Fifty+ Ways to Say No from the halfway point. Maybe you’re nicer than me.
Leave breathing room between events. I still ignore this rule at times and usually regret it. The chaotic, busy feeling creeps in from time to time. To avoid it, leave plenty of time between weekend plans. Don’t rush from lunch to shopping to dinner. Say no to a plan or two. You could also say, “Maybe,” and decide later if the event fits or not.
Set a timer. When there is a lot to do, limit distraction by giving yourself a deadline. Unless you’re taking a nap. (Just kidding.)
Create a lost and found bin. I used to spend tons of time putting away everyone’s clutter. Now all that misplaced stuff goes in a bin. If the kids are looking for something, I direct them to the lost and found bin first.
Have kids walk or ride bike. If your kids are older and the is weather okay, have them walk or bike to activities that are close by. We live within a mile from school, which is too close for driving everyday, in my opinion. If they are younger – or older and not embarrassed by you – walk with them. This is an extremely healthy habit for the whole family. It saves money and gas fumes, too.
Try laundry/movie night. I love to watch movies on Netflix with a few breaks to switch the laundry. This makes the process enjoyable and I can get two or more loads done in an entertaining way.
How about you? What are some ways you create a full life instead of one that’s overly busy?
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Special Note: I learned that Leo from Zen Habits has a Bootcamp that helps get your family back on track. His work is always amazing, helpful and inspiring. Check it out! (aff)