Inside: Try these simple living tips which work together to create an amazing, well-oiled machine. It’s easier than you think to create a simple life for your family.
A couple months ago while I was getting settled into an evening of relaxing, my son runs into my office.
In the breathless whisper he uses when he knows his brother is asleep, he says, “Hurry, hurry. Come see the hummingbird moth outside.”
I reluctantly pull myself out of my comfy chair and find him and my husband outside staring into one of our Lantana plants.
With awe in his eyes, he points to the moth and says, “Look!”
Hovering above the flowers was a tiny hummingbird moth enjoying nectar from the flowers. It was a rare sight indeed, and if it weren’t for my son, I would have missed it.
I realized my son was learning to live in the moment. And the next words out of his mouth were not that of an 8-year-old.
He matter-of-factly stated to my husband, “See, if we would’ve been playing Xbox inside, we would’ve missed this.”
I think our jaws hit the floor. He was exactly right.
As a family, we’ve been striving to live simply and in the present. But in this moment, he was teaching us.
We by no means have it all figured out, but through trial and error, we’ve come to establish small changes that pack a big punch with creating a simple life.
Life is still busy, but we consciously make the time to slow down and live in the present.
Here are 22 simple living tips which can help bring out the best in you too:
Create a Budget
Money tends to be one of the number one stressors between partners, so it’s a great place to start your simple life. The foundation for creating a budget is to track your expenses and make sure you aren’t spending more than you make. Pretty simple, right?
You write down all expenses you have that occur every month. Create a set dollar amount for other more fluid expenses like food, gas, and other less often expenses. Make sure you track where every penny gets spent or you’ll have a hard time sticking to a budget.
I wrote a whole post about how our family budgets and the app we use to make it super easy.
Decrease “The Latte Factor” Spending
Every time we go to Starbucks, my husband asks me if I want to order my usual “cost-a-latte.” Even one drink a week for a month adds up to $15-20 which is why we only frequent the place if we’ve been given gift cards.
These little purchases can eat away at your budget and leave you wondering where all your money disappeared at the end of the month. The financial planner we consulted described these small amounts as “holes in your bucket.”
This metaphor creates the perfect visual to what these small purchases will do to your budget over time.
David Bach coined the phrase “latte factor” to relate these small purchases to the expensive coffees being sold. He has a great calculator that will show you how much those little purchases would be worth over the course of several years.
That $4 coffee each week for 10 years at a modest 3% interest would be worth almost $2500. If you instead saved the $4 per week, you could pay for a semester’s worth of college for a child.
Set up automatic bill pay
How much time do you think you spend on paying bills online or mailing a check in the snail mail?
I recently had one our utility bills set up to be auto drafted from our account. It only took me a few minutes to fill out their required paperwork and get it in the mail. A phone call told me the account was all set up.
Now I don’t have to worry about remembering to sit down and pay it.
Paying bills automatically is one of those simple living tips that is too easy to ignore. It not only saves you time but money too. If you’ve ever paid a bill late, you know those fees are crazy high.
Declutter Your Stuff
Less stuff means more time for family and friends. As people, we are so conditioned to buy more, more, more. It seems to be viewed as a status symbol.
The simple life doesn’t place an emphasis on belongings but rather the life you live with what you have and how you spend your time.
As much as we try, sometimes unnecessary items make their way into our home. We use the piles of “keep, sell, donate” to help us declutter. Three piles make it so easy to sift through any area that we are trying to simplify.
One rule-of-thumb I’m trying to adopt is the idea that when a new item makes its way into our home another item must leave. The one-in-one-out rule does help with organization because you don’t accumulate more over time.
Though, I’ve noticed it’s much harder than you’d think. It takes a little more mental effort to remember to remove one item once you make a purchase. It also helps you make more deliberate purchases knowing you’re going to get rid of an older item.
When you have less, staying organized is a piece of cake. We want to work smarter not harder, so setting up a routine takes less mental effort.
RELATED POST: Six time-saving tips for busy moms.
Complete Chores Together Every Week
This is one of my favorite simple living tips because it involves the whole family, and there’s such a highly satisfied feeling when you’re done.
When you take the time once a week to clean your house, you don’t have to worry about it getting too dirty because you just cleaned it a week ago.
Unless of course it just rained 4.5 inches within 2 hours and you let your dog out to relieve himself in which case he runs wildly inside with extremely muddy paws. Ugh, then you have to clean twice. Thank goodness for easy-to-clean floors.
We can get our house cleaned in under an hour with everyone pitching in. I’m not talking about a spring cleaning but a “just enough” clean where I can let the toddler crawl on the floor without getting black knees and toes.
It usually includes vacuuming, mopping, mirrors, toilets, all counters, and dusting.
A clean home feels like an organized home and does wonders for stress levels even when the rest of your life may feel disorganized.
Make the Bed Every day
Making your bed every day has this psychological effect on your brain that you’ve got it all together. It’s not some voodoo mind trick either. Charles Duhigg discusses the correlation of bed-making, productivity, and well-being in his book, The Power of Habit.
Clutter and untidiness interfere with your brain’s ability to focus because we’re all wired to organize information. I can raise my hand and say my stress levels rise when I can’t focus.
I know fifteen pillows to decorate your bed are cute and all but remember, we’re creating the simple life here. You don’t need more than a few pillows to make your bed look beautiful. We use three Euro shams and 2 king shams on our king-size bed.
Just try making your bed for 2 weeks and see if you notice a difference in the way it helps you cope with the usual stress in the mornings.
Your bedroom should be your place of sanctuary. Keeping it tidy will help create that place of zen.
Do “15-Minute Pickup” Every day
Stress thrives off disorganization, so we do what we can to stay no more than 15-20 minutes away from an organized home. Notice I didn’t say a “clean” home but rather an organized one.
There’s a big difference.
If you have a place for everything in your home, it should only take 15-20 minutes each day to do a quick “pick-up” of the whole house.
Those graded papers from my son’s backpack have a specific home each day he places them. The mail from the last few days gets sorted and put away in our command center. Lunch boxes get repacked for the next day.
This doesn’t always mean things aren’t left on the counters. For example, our lunch boxes are left on the counter during the week because we’re going to pack cold items the next morning. But on the weekend, they are placed on the pantry shelf out of the way.
And the baby toys, well, we all know how that goes. They get cleaned up about 100 times a day, but it takes just a few minutes to put them in a small bin on the floor.
You won’t find perfectionism or even minimalism as one of the simple living tips here because our home isn’t spotless, but it’s clean and organized. You have to create an environment and routine that work for you.
Light a Candle
I know you may be thinking, “How can a candle be one of the top simple living tips?” It’s actually more popular than you think.
One of my favorite podcasts is from Young House Love. John and Sherry are hilarious and such a great couple. Sherry mentioned a book that sounded interesting, so I bought it on Amazon. It’s called The Little Book of Hygge.
The book explains the Danish word “hygge.” It’s written by the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In Denmark, you’ll find candles lit in almost every window and home throughout the country. They’re also known to be the happiest people on Earth. They believe their environment plays a big role in their happiness, and the candle is a cheap way to improve any environment.
The WoodWick candles are my absolute favorite. They last forever and smell so good. There’s nothing like the sound of crackling wood even when you don’t have a fireplace. It always takes me back to my childhood and all the times we spent together around a campfire.
The ambiance of your home plays a big part in reducing stress too. The warm glow and scent from a candle can be the perfect way for you to enjoy the present moment and live simply.
Are you noticing a theme yet? These simple living tips help create a simple life and reduce your stress so you can enjoy life to the fullest.
Take a Walk and Breathe, Listen for Sounds
Now let’s get outside for one of the simple living tips. Fresh air always does a body good and so does a walk. Leave the earbuds at home for this one.
I say “walk” because this allows you to focus on taking deeper breaths and listening for sounds around you.
Can you hear any sounds you wouldn’t normally focus on like birds singing or wind between the leaves?
Simple living requires you to slow down and live in the moment. We are so used to going a hundred miles an hour and not taking the time to enjoy nature around us.
Our oldest has now started to notice the little things on our walks like the direction the wind is blowing, the jet trail in the air, or the dung beetle trying to make it across the road while rolling his ball of poo with his mate in tow.
Rushing from moment to moment causes you to miss these unique occasions.
Take a walk and tell me in the comments what you see and hear around you. I think you’ll be surprised.
Declutter the Mind
How many different thoughts do you have running through your mind at any given moment? I’m sure it’s a ton.
I heard a comedian describe a woman’s mind as a ball of wire. The ball of wire has no beginning and no end and absolutely everything is interconnected in some way, shape, or form.
Our minds are always trying to connect all the dots. With this constant rush hour going on in our heads, it’s important to give our minds a break every once in awhile. Decluttering our mind increases the simple lifestyle and helps reduce stress.
Whether you choose to meditate or just sit quietly for a few moments, your brain is given the chance to recharge during this time of focus. It’s not an easy task to quiet your mind, and it takes practice.
Every time you put forth the effort to quiet your mind, it will become easier.
I have a long way to go before I consider myself proficient at quieting my mind, but I have noticed a difference in my ability to stay focused on tasks. I can finish a task before becoming distracted by another.
Taking a walk mentioned in the previous simple living tip is a great way to practice decluttering your mind. Try to focus on one problem you’ve been trying to solve. Each time your mind wanders bring its attention back to that problem. You’re training your brain to stay focused.
After about a month, you should see a difference in your ability to stay focused on a single task and not feel like you have a whirlwind of thoughts going through your head.
Follow Others Lead
What better way to learn simple living tips than by reading about those who are “walking the walk”?
I love reading about other people’s experiences in creating a simple lifestyle for themselves. Studying history and other groups lends itself to learning new things in the most unexpected places.
Wanda Brunstetter is an author who weaves the Amish lifestyle into her fiction novels. Although her stories are fiction, she has studied the Amish for decades and writes about their simple life through stories.
Simplify Your Wardrobe
Clothes take up so much space, and when they’re crammed into the closet, they come out so wrinkled (and truth-be-told I hate to iron). By simplifying your wardrobe, there’s one less thing to think about, and it gives you more time for your favorite things.
I realized I’m amongst the majority of people who wear only 20% of their closet 80% of the time. So, I’ve been thinking about creating a capsule wardrobe. I’ve seen several Pinterest pins and blog posts recently that got me yearning for a less cluttered closet.
In my search, I stumbled upon Courtney’s blog and her Project 333. The challenge “invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.” It had me intrigued. We live in Texas, so the weather doesn’t fluctuate too much. I think a capsule wardrobe might be doable.
Cleaning out my closet and creating a capsule wardrobe is on my big project list.
RELATED POST: Get your closet organized.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Most people call it “comparisonitis.” We sometimes look at others and wish we had this, that or the other.
Comparing ourselves to someone else not only creates a negative mindset but also damages our goal of creating a simple lifestyle for ourselves. We all have different gifts that make us unique.
Embrace the person you are inside, and enjoy the moments as you experience them.
We need to stop trying to be someone we’re not and accept our imperfections.
Remember, being present in the moment is a key factor of simple living.
This simple living tip is all about others. Helping others brings yourself out of focus, so you can concentrate on what others need.
Don’t we often say, “Tis better to give than to receive?”
Put those unique gifts and talents to good use by helping others. Research shows that three areas of our brain benefit from giving support to others.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~Socrates
Many people have become pros at covering up the turmoil in their lives or within themselves. You never know when a simple smile or kind gesture will turn someone’s day around.
We need more good people who are sympathetic to others and help whenever they can. There’s also something about teaching kids to care for others that make the world a better place.
Create a meal plan
Knowing what we’re cooking for dinner ahead of time helps the evenings run smoother and quicker. Quick meals are for during the workweek and meals that take a little more preparation are left for the weekend.
I don’t rely on my memory to remember every meal planned. I keep a simple sheet of paper on my cookbook stand with a list of all the meals. Nothing fancy at all.
When you meal plan, those evenings when you’re too tired to cook become bearable because you know you’ve created a simple plan for dinner.
Cooking dinner is also a great family affair. Kids love to help in the kitchen. Eating at home not only helps bond the family but saves us money too.
Pinterest is my favorite place to save amazing recipes. A couple of my favorite bloggers who create never-disappointing, easy recipes are Jen over at Carlsbad Cravings and Chungah over at Damn Delicious. Follow me on Pinterest and you’ll find several of their recipes.
RELATED POST: The 3-step system I use to prep and meal plan.
Batch prep lunches
This is one of the most productive and best simple living tips because anytime you batch an activity, you save yourself loads of time.
Sunday is the day we get everything together for the upcoming week. My husband makes our lunches for the work week, so we can just grab and go in the morning. We usually eat a salad at lunch, and the prep is a breeze. Or I’ll make a soup in the crockpot that we divide into containers.
My 8 year old makes his own lunch in the morning after he wakes up to his alarm. Yes, you read that right. I don’t wake up my 8-year-old. He is old enough to get himself ready. Moms, you have to let things go sometimes. You’ll be a better mom for it, and you’re teaching him to be a helpful husband.
He batch preps his lunches too by dividing his chips or crackers and lunch meat into baggies for the week. Then everything gets organized in the fridge so it’s easy for him to grab everything he needs to put in his lunch box the next morning.
This makes me happy and gives him some responsibility.
Plan activities together
Once or twice every couple of weeks we plan a family game or movie night. It’s a great way to unwind and have lots of fun. Living in the moment at its best.
“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.”
It’s also the easiest way to foster relationships with your kids. A united family is really the heart of living a simple life. It does take work, and it’s never easy to be engaged when you’re exhausted. But your family will be better off for it.
Dream together as a family
Thinking long-term now, include your kids, if they’re old enough of course, in your plans for the future. What goals have you and your spouse set for yourselves? What dreams do you have for the future of your family?
Kids have the greatest imaginations and always dream big. They can also be the best accountability buddies because they don’t let you forget ANYTHING.
Our conversations usually include our next vacation spot and things we dream of seeing. We also help our oldest dream about his future. These dreams help create a positive mindset within all of us and give us something to look forward to.
Take a break from electronics
I put these last few simple living tips at the very end of the list because they can sometimes be the hardest ones to conquer, especially the electronics.
The majority of the population couldn’t imagine life without their electronics. Our kids are growing up in this technology age, and we have to teach them how to set limits.
The research is inconclusive on whether technology affects our attention spans. But it has increased the feeling of F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out). It’s really the whole purpose of social media when you think about it. They want you to create a habit of hopping on social media when you’re bored, tired, or scared to miss something.
It’s kinda hard to live in the moment when you’re constantly paying attention to someone else’s moment. Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, but it shouldn’t run our lives.
We set up a screen-time schedule with our son and a checklist of tasks that he must complete every day before he can be on a screen. We’ve found that a timer works best for him rather than relying on watching the clock.
I’d also like to point out that our kids aren’t the only ones who should take a break from electronics. We need to do it too to simplify life.
My favorite non-electronic activity is reading a good old fashion book. Not the electronic kind either, though I read those too. There’s something extremely satisfying about turning the pages of a book. Lately, I’ve been reading books to learn new things, but I still love an intriguing fiction book.
Learn to say no
If you’re constantly saying “yes” to everyone and everything, how can you live a simple life? You don’t leave yourself enough time to “stop and smell the roses.”
We don’t overly commit ourselves so we have time to enjoy just being together as a family. Sometimes this means we say “no” to a birthday party or reschedule a get-together.
This also allows us to stay at home and relax or travel more often because our weekends aren’t jam-packed from morning till night.
We like to create experiences for our kids because as teachers, we see the effects every day of kids who don’t get to experience the world around them.
The kids who have the opportunity to experience things firsthand and have involved parents tend to perform better academically. They have a better understanding of the world. In order for this to happen, as parents, we need to learn to say no.
Simplify your schedule
The last simple living tip I want to mention is most often the hinge that the other simple living tips swing by. It all boils down to our schedule. Learning to say no in the previous tip is sometimes the first step in simplifying your schedule.
Slowing your pace is key to a simple life. We’re all given the same amount of time in each day, which is 1,440 minutes to be exact.
It’s what you do with those minutes that really matter. A time audit can be the perfect solution if you’re not sure where the time goes. Write down the exact amount of minutes that you spend on any given activity.
I think you’d be surprised that the 20 minutes you thought you were spending checking your email or social media actually turned into an hour. It’s pretty crazy once you sit down and really study your time management. Most of us aren’t really great at it, but we can only get better with practice.
The other important thing to remember is that not every minute of every day needs to be planned. A simple life doesn’t always mean that we have our schedule mapped out to the minute. It sometimes means we don’t have anything planned at all.
It’s really freeing choosing to live life in the slow lane so you aren’t having to constantly check your calendar to make sure you haven’t missed something.
While living simply won’t solve all life’s stress problems, simplifying your life as much as possible will help make life a whole lot easier.
I would have missed the hummingbird moth moment completely if I hadn’t already introduced some simple life qualities to my son.
As it turns out, kids can teach us to live in the moment too.
Download Your Free Simple Living Tips Checklist
It’s not hard for us to get caught up in the whirlwind of life and forget what we’re working towards. Use this checklist to help keep you on track and remind you of the little things that can make a big difference in creating a simple lifestyle for the whole family.
- Click the button below to grab your free checklist, plus join my newsletter!
- Print out the checklist. It won’t do you any good if you don’t take action.
- Hang it in a place where the whole family can see it. We all need visual reminders.