“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder
I think my ideas of the ‘Simple Life’ go back to my childhood delight in the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I love those books! They are filled with the beauty and delight in the simple things in life and the central characters are family members living, working and loving one another.
The hard part comes when you realize that a simple life doesn’t occur randomly or suddenly. It’s a CHOICE that takes EFFORT.
Strangely, living the simple life requires more work. It’s completely counter cultural. In the busy pace of the twenty-first century I find people question why I make my own bread, grow a garden and preserve vegetables, make maple syrup (now THAT’S time consuming!) and home school my children. To some, who are looking to make life easier, my choices are impractical and unreasonable.
The simple answer is to say that I’m not trying to live an EASIER life, just a simpler one, with a different focus. How can I teach my children to make hard choices because they are the right choices, if I don’t live it myself?
Our family’s health is important to me, more so since my father died last year of colon cancer. That event birthed in me a passion to ensure that we do everything possible to prevent this most preventable of diseases. Honestly, I don’t care if my kids can’t have “special treats” because I know that teaching them to read labels and make healthy eating choices right now will cause them to reap the rewards of good health all their lives.
The ability to live frugally, even making for more work on the weekends, when most of our friends are “playing” is still worth it to me. I am teaching my kids to live within their means, make sacrifices and WORK! So many of us complain about how busy we are by all this extra work, but so does everyone else I know, no matter how “Simple” their life appears.
I found an essay by Laura Ingalls Wilder on this very subject, published in January of 1924. “We are so overwhelmed with things these days that our lives are all, more or less, cluttered. I believe it is this, rather than a shortness of time, that gives us that feeling of hurry and almost of helplessness. Everyone is hurrying and usually just a little late….and anyone you meet will tell you there is no time for anything anymore.” source
I admit I choked on my swallow of Earl Gray tea. This is the same thing we still struggle with today. Truly, “there is nothing new under the sun!” Here is Laura’s advice: “To simplify our lives as much as possible, to overcome that feeling of haste by remembering that there are just as many hours in the day as ever, and that there is time enough for the things that matter if time is rightly used.” source
Mankind was designed to work and although many modern conveniences make things so much easier for us, there is always work to do. It’s time to realize that we will always be busy. I would rather be busy than do nothing of importance. Now it’s just a matter of using my time rightly.
Here are some ways in which I have simplified my life:
- I don’t allow my kids more than one (or two, if it’s convenient) outside activities each and I try to keep them on the same day and preferably in the same vicinity. This saves me driving time, gas, SANITY and assures that we are home where our priority lies.
- I buy bread in the summer when it’s too hot to bake.
- I cut down on entertaining. We were having people over at least twice a week. It was making me crazy and grumpy.
- I also cut down on play dates for my kids. Now we have one a month during the school year.
- I try to appreciate that time with my children is flying. No need to rush them out of the home. I want to enjoy them.