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Life with kids is typically anything but simple. But, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming life full of too much to do, too many screens, and too much stuff. You can simplify life with kids. You just have to think outside the box.
And the benefits are many. When you begin simplifying your child’s life (and yours as a consequence) you will have more time for them, and they will have more capacity for creativity, learning, and relaxation.
Relaxation? What’s that??
It seems like in today’s modern world none of us have time for that, but that’s not normal and it’s certainly not healthy. Kids today have far too many toys, too many activities, and not near enough time for blank space and relaxation. Heck, none of us do….
We’re all over scheduled, overworked, and overwhelmed.
But all of this is detrimental to our health, and our children. They never have a chance to become their own person, develop their own personalities, and learn when to say enough.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you simplify things, they will have time to learn to be more creative, spend time outdoors in nature, and learn to say enough is enough and no. Well, they can learn to say no when you actually want them to. If your child is anything like my two year old everything is no haha.
9 Ways to Simplify Life with Kids
1. Conquer the Toy Clutter
The best place to start is the place that takes your child’s most attention. It’s time to declutter toys. When children have too many toy choices, they often play less, and more superficially than they do with fewer options.
I was surprised when I found my children play best when they don’t have a ton of toys but rather just a handful. When we go overboard with toy clutter (this happens a lot after holidays and birthdays) they’re often more cranky, play less, and aren’t near as imaginative.
When I remove the toys, only keeping a few simple toys on hand, they spend more time being creative, play more deeply, use their imaginations and really immerse themselves in play. They also get along a lot better when they don’t have so many toys to fight over. It’s amazing.
Along with toys is books. We are lovers of books in our home. I have instilled a love for reading in all three of my children even though the youngest can’t quite read on her own yet. We spend time reading daily and the books can easily pile up. But, it’s easier to only keep a few favorites and visit the library to find new books to enjoy. Less overwhelm, less space required, and they actually read more when we only have a book or two from the library to choose from.
2. Ditch the Screens
Oh how I have a love-hate relationship with screens. Since part of my job is to work behind a screen, it’s often a struggle for me to spend less time on screens. And since I’m a mom… it’s up to me to lead by example. But, all of that said….
Screens are awful. The less time I personally spend on them, the more calm I feel and the less overwhelmed I am. And, of course, the less screens… the more present we are with one another.
I can tell when my kids have had too much screen time. They’re irritable. They fight. They don’t listen. And they don’t play. Life glued to screens is not a life at all.
And ditching them is difficult. The average child is spending over 7 hours a day looking at a screen, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. With new educational tools utilizing technology for school, the TV, and the fact that it seems the whole world is glued to its phone or tablet it’s a struggle for most families to decrease that time. But… the benefits are by far and wide worth the effort it takes.
If they’re not watching TV, they aren’t seeing commercials for stuff that they think they need. They spend more time playing, being imaginative, and being kids.
3. Do Less
With never-ending schedules full of activities and the art of busyness that has swept across the country we don’t spend near enough time doing nothing.
We spend so much time going to and from, filling our schedules, mindlessly scrolling and watching that we often forget how meaningful it is to just spend time together.
It’s nice when you don’t have to worry about a schedule, having to be somewhere at a certain time takes away from being able to truly enjoy the moment. While you may have times where you think you must find something to do…. go for a walk, explore, read a book out loud together, build a fort, take the dog for a walk. Do something small, don’t set an alarm or put time limits on it, and just enjoy the moment.
4. Say No
They look at you with their beautiful faces… “please mom”. It can be so difficult to say no. But, it’s necessary. Say no to more obligations on the calendar, but also say no to more. They don’t need more toys, they don’t need to go every which where. Just say no and just be together. Spend your time living life instead of constantly being on the go or constantly thinking you need to buy something for yourself or them. They’ll quickly learn how peaceful and calm it is to just be in the moment and how little they really need to be happy and fulfilled.
5. Limit Incoming Stuff
My kids have a ton of stuffed animals. I have a huge collection of books. So, it’s time to impose a rule. No more stuffed animals, no more books. And if something comes in, something else goes out.
Impose a rule to keep the clutter from coming back. If you get rid of all that excess but you don’t do anything about keeping it from coming back you will spend your life in a perpetual mode of decluttering. Which, is fun for a short time and then you get burnt out and the clutter takes over again and you’re right back where you started.
Don’t let that happen. If your kids are terrible at accumulating stuffed animals, dolls, action figures… whatever it is. Impose a rule that says no new ones for a while. It doesn’t have to be forever, just for a time. Besides, once you’ve had the rule for a while you’ll often find they stop asking and it’s not such a struggle anymore.
And when you do allow them to get new things (yourself is included in this) at birthdays, Christmas, or just because… something else goes out. Keep it simple, you’ll be so glad you did.
6. Eat more Simply
I try not to keep us on a strict schedule. I allow most days to play out however they’re meant to. Which means that we don’t always sit down for supper at 5PM. While we almost always do sit down for supper together as a family (it’s extremely rare we don’t) it’s not always at a specific time.
Since it isn’t and I don’t want to start some extravagant meal at 430 in the afternoon, I’ve started simplifying our meals. Things that can be ready in less than an hour (often less than a half an hour) and don’t contain a ton of ingredients. This allows me to keep fewer things cluttering up the kitchen, it gives my kids an easier time helping out and learning how to cook right alongside me, and it frees up our time to spend on other things.
7. Spend time Together
Of course, right? But, instead of spending all of your hours in open, unstructured play, do something together. Let them help you cook dinner. Start a family reading hour. Play music together. Learn a new hobby like crocheting… something fun and engaging that you can do along with your children to interact on a whole different level and you all can learn along the way.
8. Go Outdoors
Spending time outside with your children is probably one of the absolute best things you can ever do with them. Nature is full of possibilities; learning opportunities, creativity, and healthy experiences.
It always amazes me the magical world that my kids develop in the outdoors. It’s so fun to really immerse myself into the world they’ve created and let time just fly by while we just enjoy being together. Our toddler is constantly asking to go outside and I oblige her as often as we can.
Unplugging and spending time outside in nature is beneficial to us all and we strive to spend as much time as possible outside, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Because the benefits far outweigh a little crummy weather.
9. Let go of Perfectionism
Life with kids is messy and that’s hard to admit as a neat freak and self-proclaimed perfectionist. But, just because I’ve let go of having a perfectly cleaned home doesn’t mean that I don’t take time to clean up and do chores. We just do them together, which often means they aren’t done the way I would do them. And that’s okay!
I’m more than willing to accept “good enough” in exchange for time with my kids and their happiness. I’m not constantly harping on them to clean up this or to do something a specific way. Instead, we clean up the living areas daily, make our beds, and keep it “good enough” that if a complete stranger walked in they wouldn’t want to run away.
Are my baseboards cleaned? Probably not. Is there mud tracked in on the kitchen floor? Probably. But, it’s not that bad and the time we spend together is far more meaningful than an immaculate house.
Life since having children has been far from simple, but we have found ways to simplify it and we are all so much happier and better adjusted. We enjoy each other and our time together more and spend far less time cleaning, organizing, and filling up our schedules. And I wouldn’t trade any of it for the old way we used to do things for anything in the world.
How do you simplify life with kids?
Other Simple Living Posts You’ll Love:
- 15 Slow Living Tips to Slow Down and Enjoy Life Again
- 10 Simple Ways to Be More Mindful Every Day
- 7 Secrets to Simplify Your Life