Please welcome my friend Bobbi to the blog today! I love Bobbi’s instructional, motivational writing. Read her blog and you’ll find yourself thinking deeply about sustainable fashion, homesteading, seasonal rhythms, and all sorts of other stewardship topics. I hope you’ll be inspired by her guest post today on getting your family on board with a simplified lifestyle!
Guest post by Bobbi of Living Life Green
A simpler life is often a happier one, especially with a family. Getting kids and a significant other into the same mindset, however, can be a bit of a challenge! That doesn’t make it an impossible task, however. With a bit of forethought and a solid commitment to how you handle yourself, you can help change the way your entire family views possessions.
Start With Yourself
Leading by example is the most powerful tool any parent has in their arsenal, for literally everything. Leading a simplified lifestyle is no different, so start by making your own life simpler.
The first thing you can teach your family is that it’s okay to simply be. Make a time to set down your electronics, turn everything off and just engage with them. With teenagers, that might mean they don’t respond at all, but the gesture is still important. Start to get rid of your own belongings first, and learn how to walk through a store without buying a single thing.
Make It Fun
Kids don’t want to do anything unless they think it’s fun. It doesn’t have to actually be fun for you, so long as the kids think it is. Silly songs and explanations go a long way with kids. Songs might not make quite as big an impact with your partner, but it certainly can’t help!
It’s also important to realize that not every part of transitioning to a simpler lifestyle will be fun, and that’s okay! Let kids (and adults) feel their own way through without diminishing their feelings, but create fun and joy in the job wherever you can.
Embrace the Small Things
Small changes can make a big difference. You don’t have to start by getting rid of every superfluous piece of clothing or electronic device in your home. Start with little things, since that will help to make the transition easier for everyone.
Make dinner, or half an hour after dinner, a “family only” time. That means no electronics, no sorting or organizing mail and no adult-only discussions. Make this a simple time when the entire family puts aside whatever is bothering them and makes an effort to engage one another with joy. This is actually practiced in other areas of the world, particularly in Denmark, where it’s called “hygge.” Hygge is designed as a cozy family time, and we could all use a bit more of it!
Say “Yes” to What’s Important
Simplified living doesn’t mean you have to live a totally austere lifestyle. A solid understanding of what’s important to each person can help you create a life where the only things you have are ones that bring joy. Choosing things carefully, with love and care, can make the difference between having “stuff” and having items you truly love.
After all, every home will need some basics. Take the time to choose items carefully, and pick ones that will last. After all, 91% of customers claim that durability and quality are vital in choosing furniture. Don’t depend on mass-produced items to fit perfectly into your home.
Creating a sharing mindset can drastically alter the way a family operates and views belongings. Again, starting with yourself is important. Be generous with your things, but also with your time. When you’re with your family, be with them fully, and engage them consistently. Share food, joy and love more than you share things, because that’s what really helps build long-lasting relationships.
More than anything, teaching your family how to be generous with their hearts can lay the foundation for any one of them to become a totally new person.
Studies have shown that the best way to feel richer is to give away what you have. Engage the rest of the family with donations. Instead of dropping things off at an unmanned donation center, take the family down to a homeless shelter and let them see how much their old things can change the life of someone with less. Let your kids see what generosity does when you can touch it, and they’ll grow up realizing how lucky they are.
They can also get the benefit of a much wider world, realizing that people and experiences exist that are far outside of their own.
Buy Experiences, Not Things
There are more things in the world than you could ever possibly buy, and you’ll adapt quickly to the ones you do. Possessions tend to fade into the background, and become just more visual white noise.
Experiences, on the other hand, remain as memories. You don’t see or think of them daily, so when you do notice the pictures or see an advertisement for somewhere you went, you get the flashbacks of a memory, and with it, the joy. For this reason, experiences make you happier than things, and will continue to do so in the long term.
Make Them Part of It
Children are especially prone to feeling like they have no control over things, and this would only be amplified if they come back from an outing to find their possessions gone. Include them in everything. This might be hard, especially if they’re toddlers, but you can still work with them instead of against them. Bring your family into it, and let them choose how they participate. It’s fine to make participation mandatory, but giving them choices is still important.
Making a lifestyle change — any lifestyle change — is often fraught with challenges. However, if you’re convinced that it’s worth it, your family will soon join in. Parents are the primary shapers of how children think, and they’re the main source of comfort and influence for each other. Work together, and you can accomplish anything!