After another exhausting day, I stood in the midst of chaos. My home was a dumping ground for the seven people that lived in it. I couldn’t keep my house clean. I would spend all day cleaning and organizing to get it relative tip-top shape, but it was in vain. An hour later, the house was a complete mess again. A vicious cycle would start; I’d get frustrated and angry, I’d snap and yell at my kids, and then I’d start cleaning again. I was becoming a mean mom that I didn’t recognize.
What was wrong with me? This wasn’t how I pictured motherhood to be like.
Instead of lovingly gathering my children around me to read stories and snuggle, I was the grumpy old troll who lived under the bridge! Trying to keep the house clean was just part of my job as a stay-at-home mom, but it felt like it took up most of my time and I wasn’t asking for a spotless home. But was having a tidy home too much to ask?
I was getting overwhelmed and feeling a little hopeless. I found myself lying in bed more and more, unable to handle the world. As I lay there, I wondered how I got to where I was. Why was it so hard to keep my house clean? Why did my kids constantly want my attention when there were so many things to do and play with? I wasn’t enjoying motherhood because I wasn’t living life. Instead, I was cleaning my life away.
I knew that things needed to change. I did not want life to continue on this way, for my family or me.
I took a step back and looked at my life. It needed a do-over, so I started googling “how to make life easier.” I had no idea where to start, but I came across articles about minimalism, simple living and being present in your life. I signed up for courses to get free weekly emails to help me along the way. It was scary at first. These weren’t things that I had been taught growing up, but as I started to take baby steps, I could see the benefits. Reading success stories about people who had gone through what I was going through gave me hope that I wasn’t a lost cause!
My journey to simplistic living started three years ago and I’ve never looked back. Here’s what I started implementing to make my life simple:
1. Less stuff!
Less stuff means fewer things to clean, which meant I wasn’t cleaning up after my family all day. I first tackled my own belongings and got rid of things I never used and clothes I never wore or didn’t fit — anything that didn’t give me joy or that I no longer used/needed. Then I sat with each of my kids and talked to them about the process too. I wanted to be intentional with what was in my home; along with that is BUYING LESS. Living simple has helped me save so much money because I have realized that I don’t want or need MORE things. Moms are the gatekeepers of our home; we decide not only what goes out, but also what goes in, so we can control what is allowed in our home. Thus, less stuff and more money in our wallets.
2. Let it go!
I needed to let go of the idea of having a perfect, clean home. That was hard, but with all these kids and all their stuff, I just couldn’t do it on my own anymore. If I was going to save my sanity and have a tidy home, I had to let go of having complete control of my house and had to start delegating jobs. It was hard to accept that I can’t do it all. We weren’t meant to do everything on our own. God organized everyone into families for a reason. We were meant to love, support and serve one other, and I definitely needed that reminder.
3. Learn to say NO!
Part of being overwhelmed was spreading myself too thin. I felt like I had so many things going on that I couldn’t think straight. I had to start saying NO in order to free up my time for the most important things in my life: my family and friends. I came to realize that my time with my family is short and precious. The more time and attention I give them, the better I feel and the more our relationships grow.
4. Delegate responsibilities.
Many hands make work light! One of the benefits of children getting older is that they are able to do more things around the house. Once I let go of being in complete control of cleaning, I started delegating jobs to my kids. You’d be surprised what kids are able to do at certain ages! We had a family meeting and went through their new responsibilities. We explained that since they lived there, they needed to contribute to keeping the house clean, like being responsible for their belongings. No more plopping things down wherever you feel like it. I also assigned them jobs like emptying dishes, picking up the living room, setting the table, etc. Now each Saturday, we do deep cleaning so our house stays tidy. There are so many great ideas on how to implement that into your family. Find out what works best for yours and then enjoy the freedom you find.
5. Put down the phone!
What does your smartphone have to do with simplifying your life? You’d be surprised how much social media affects you. The things you see on your feeds tend to make you believe that’s how people live — like their lives are perfect. We fail to remember however, that most people only post their best or happy moments, and then we start to compare our worst with their best. It’s a slippery slope from there. We start feeling bad about ourselves, our homes and families. It’s just too hard to filter out what’s real and what’s not, and if you think it’s hard on us adults, think what it’s doing to our kids! Suicide has risen since the introduction of the smartphone — it’s not a coincidence! All the hours we waste on our phones could be used towards something productive and meaningful. We need to put our phones down and look around! Strengthen your relationships with your partner and especially your kids. They are desperately in need of our love and attention.
6. Slow down!
Most days I wish that I could jump to the next milestone in my kids’ lives, but in reality, it’s the simple, every day things that I love the most. If we are rushing through life, not paying attention to the present, then we miss these golden opportunities, and once the kids have grown, once we miss them, they are gone. Relax and enjoy the crazy, chaotic ride that motherhood is all about. Life isn’t about being perfect; it’s about living it to the fullest.