Balancing it All: Top 5 Ways to Become Minimalist

Family holding hands

In today's intense work and parenting times, many of us find ourselves hurriedly running around in the car from appointment to activity, returning home to clutter and chaos.  There is hardly a chance to breathe, much less feel balanced. There is a movement gaining momentum which encourages us, even parents, to become minimalist.  In a minimalist lifestyle, clutter is gone, stress is reduced, and people actively behave in their daily lives, and create in their environments, balance through simplicity.

So today I share with you top 5 ways to turn your chaotic lifestyle around to become minimalist, even if you are a dual working parent household:

1.)  Get rid of stuff:

If you go through the scattered toys, clothes closets, junk drawers, all the stuff in your house and get rid of anything you have not used in the last 6 months, you will be surprised at how different your environment will feel and look.  And what's more, if you bring those extra things that are doing nothing but cluttering your space to a charity that serves poor families, your clutter becomes someone else's treasure.  Nothing better than a win-win!

2.)  Cut out extra activities:

Sure, your neighbor's kid is going to be a world chess champion, and the Nobel Prize winner's daughter at school is probably going to get into Harvard one day.  Does that mean you have to sign your kids up for 6 different activities, signing yourself up to become an unpaid chauffeur?  Not necessary.  Let your kids be who THEY are.  It's not about comparing them or keeping up with perceived greatness.  Your kids will make their own progress just fine.  The important thing is that you and your family spend quality time together.  What if in the afternoons when you normally would be running around from activity to activity, you and your kids laugh and play and connect?  What if you spend that time NOT STRESSED and your kids experience your presence?  Don't we all know that that is what matters most to our kids' growth and development?  Go through your weekly schedule and for now, pick one or two things that your kids really excel at or love and stick with those.  Everything else, cut them out and stay home or find simpler, free ways to spend your time, TOGETHER.  Your kids, your life, your spouse, everyone around you will thank you for taking this step because it will make you all happier.

3.)  Let go of your To Do List:

If  you're like most modern moms, your To Do List is like an angry boss who never relents.  Your To Do list controls your entire existence.  Really?  Is this why we had families and work so hard everyday?  What would it feel like to just let the To Do List go for a while and replace it instead with one or two major things per day that you need to get done?  Are the To Do List police going to come after you?  I don't think so.  It is a CHOICE to live a lifestyle that creates stress and overwhelm.  And while we choose that because we think somehow it makes us a better mom or a more efficient person, in the end, the anxiety and stress caused by it bring us down and get in our way.  So for the next month, burn your To Do List.  Seriously.  Just let it go.  And let yourself experience some freedom from anxiety, worry and stress.  What you gain in centeredness, groundedness and a feeling of freedom will serve you better in the long run than chasing after a finished To Do List, which is impossible to attain.  When we die, our inboxes will be full.  So what?

4.)  Spend More Time in Nature:

Research shows that people who spend time in nature are happier and experience a feeling of balance in their lives.  The natural sounds, beauty, energy and lessons available to us when we are in nature have an impact on our inner rhythms, our sense of time, and our connectedness with all that lives.  When we spend too much time around technology, we are robbing ourselves of these opportunities.  Remember that technology and gadgets, the latest app, all of that "cutting edge" stuff is really produced for companies to get rich off of us.  What if we let go of the time we spend using technology and replace it with time spent in nature?  The local park counts.  Sure, if you have a chance to go take a real, longer hike in the woods, great.  But just choosing the park and outdoor play over technology will make a huge difference in yours and your child's life.  Every chance you get, when you see yourself opening the laptop, your kids turning to the video games, whatever form screens are taking over your family, close them, turn them OFF.  Open the door and go outside.  Even for 15 minutes, time spent in fresh air will serve all of you better now and in the long run.

5.)  Tell stories and connect:

Some parents may wonder what they will do with time created by cutting out all the things that stress them out and have their family running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  No gymnastics class?  What will I do with that time?  No TV?!  How will I possibly entertain my kids?  Well, here is an idea.  What if with the time created by letting go of the chaos, you spent some time telling stories and connecting with your family?  Research is showing that the more kids understand about their parents', grandparents' and family's lives, the more they can recount stories about where you grew up, who your friends were, what milestones you reached, what you learned along your journey, etc., the more grounded their sense of self is in life.  Sure, it takes a bit of time and energy, but connecting with your family is always time well spent.  And this is authentic time together, not created by buzzing lights and plastic levers.  This is just people being together, sharing what their lives have been, and satisfying natural curiosity that kids have to know their histories, their parents, and their own lives more deeply.  Enjoy those special, meaningful and fun moments!

Some of these ideas may seem impossible from where you currently are in your time management and family lifestyle.  But they are completely within your reach.    Everyone can benefit from slowing down, deepening into themselves, embracing simplicity, and relying on nature and connection to teach them what matters most in life.  You will not be sorry!