I’m finding a strong need these days to simplify my life. I want to slow things down. I don’t want to let things speed by without me even noticing.
Maybe it comes with being in my early 40s. Or not. Maybe it’s something to do with our generation’s desire to #havingitall – the home, the kids, work and fun.
Whatever the reason, I’m slowing down and experiencing more. Want to join me?
Simplifying our homes
Montessori teachers know the importance of the prepared environment. We want things to be attractive to the children, we want them to know where things belong, and we want them to be able to be as independent as possible.
Montessori classrooms are calm, beautiful places to be. By simplifying and applying the same principles in our home we can also provide a safe, inviting space for our family.
1. Make things easy to choose
Parents who come to my class love the space and how all the activities are laid out on shelves on trays or in baskets, where the children can easily choose what they’d like to use.
So I encourage them to do the same at home. Instead of a toy box, have a low shelf with a few activities your child is busy with and put the rest in storage boxes out of sight. Then we rotate the toys about once a week or when we see they are being abandoned or not being used properly.
2. Put everything in its place
Young children have a strong sense of order. So it’s ideal to have a special place where their shoes go when they come in, a place for their coat and jacket, a place for brooms and cleaning things etc.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
Ever since I read Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” I’ve been inspired to declutter a lot around the home and love walking into a house which only has things we love or which are useful. It’s a quick read and instead of just making you think about it, it really helps you take action.
She encourages you to hold everything in your hands to see if it still “sparks joy.” If it doesn’t and is not useful, then she tells you to thank it and let it go. It’s worth trying!
I’m still working on it, but loving the results already.
By simplifying our homes, things feel calmer and less chaotic. The kids are able to concentrate better when there are fewer things available. They can find things and help themselves. They even learn where things belong and are more likely to pack away (most of the time!).
Simplifying our lives
It’s time to reclaim time. There never seems to be enough, right?
As I’ve been working to simplify my life, it seems to be clear that it’s about setting intentions rather than just reacting to all that life throws at us.
Fit in the important things first and then fit in the extra things if you have time. That might look like connecting with the kids, making some cards for Grandma, cooking a favourite meal, and then just checking Facebook and email if there is still time.
1. Schedule less
The easiest way to reclaim time is to plan less. Have the kids in fewer activities and try a new one every six months instead. Stop saying yes to everything and say yes only to the things you want to do. If you feel you should help, find a way that feels ok with you – there are many ways to offer help and commit at a level that makes you feel comfortable and not overstretched.
Scheduling less also allows children to have free time to just be a kid and explore the world around them. I’ve always wanted to give that to my children.
2. Make time for movement and language
Two things I think are important to make time for – movement and language.
If you have a young baby, make time for them to lie on the floor in front of a mirror to learn how to move their body without restrictions. Toddlers love to run, jump, slide, hang from monkey bars, swing and start to cycle. Preschoolers and older children also need time to be moving. Ideally outside in a playground, in nature, or make an obstacle course in the home if you can’t get out.
A large part of the way a child learns language is through our daily interaction. So make time to stop to listen to your child, have time without anything planned to chat, connect and talk as you change a child’s nappy, bathe them etc. Respond to a baby’s efforts to communicate and respond to your older children’s questions and stories.
3. Make time for quiet
It may not be for everyone but I have started meditating. Actually it’s been nearly two years and I still feel like a beginner. The thing is though, I’m practising. You can’t get it wrong. You just notice thoughts are coming into your mind and then notice them leave again.
It’s one thing I’m choosing to make time for. And my mind feels calmer as a result.
4. Technology free days
In my quest for simplicity, I’ve been trying out some technology free days for myself. I don’t check email or social media and I notice how often I check these usually. Some days I’m brave and completely switch the data off. Ha!
It gives me mental space and time with my family without being distracted. I feel like my senses start waking up. I start slowing down. I start noticing more. I start hearing things and am surprised I’d not noticed them before.
I’m simplifying. I’m slowing down. I’m connecting more. My senses have never felt more alive.
Will you join me?
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