What Simple Living Looks Like When You Have Three Kids

Here’s what real-life simple living looks like, when you’re a busy parent smack dab in the middle of raising young kids. It’s about little habits and shifts in perspective that add up to something big. Family's shoes on a shoe rack

Is simple living unattainable when you’re in the throws of parenting young children?

Sometimes it feels like it, when you have to choose between housework and spending time with your kids.

Or when you re-heat your coffee for the fourth time because so many little emergencies bubbled up over the course of the morning.

Or when the donation bag is overflowing, because while you might snatch some time to declutter upon occasion, it’s a Herculean feat to get three kids pottied and buckled happily in the minivan for a trip to the thrift store!

There’s just too much going on at this stage of life for anything to be clear cut, whether it’s your choices or the state of your home. And depending on how many children you have and how far apart they’re spaced, this life season can be several chapters long.

So. How can we simplify our stuff, our schedules, our routines when things are naturally so chaotic?

Well, there are a few ways, I’m finding. They’re small, mind you, but I think the impact is cumulative. For the record, I’m writing this when our children are 5, 2, and 4 months. Things can get a little crazy around here at times, but it’s still one of our family values to live simply where we can. Here’s what simple living looks like for us these days…

Simple living looks like eating the same thing for breakfast, most mornings. (For us, it’s overnight oats. Healthy, cheap, easy to make, easy to clean up from.)

Simple living looks like having a lean, predictable wardrobe so you can throw on something quickly and go.

Simple living looks like keeping only a couple of toy options out at a time…and locking the rest in the closet.

Simple living looks like turning your kids outdoors to make their own fun.

Simple living looks like defining your priorities, so you spend time on what’s important and forgive yourself for neglecting the rest.

Simple living looks like small allotments of time: a 5-minute snuggle, 15 minutes for a reading lesson, a 20-minute tidying session, or just 1 time around the pond so you can all get at least a little walk in.

Simple living looks like sometimes writing short blog posts, so you can scratch that writer’s itch without spending hours doing it.

Simple living looks like acknowledging the unique demands of this season of life, and accepting everyday entropy.

Simple living looks like lots of time at home; an uncluttered calendar and wide, wide margins.

Simple living looks like offering fewer choices to your kids–what to eat, what to wear, what to bring when you go somewhere. “This or This,” you say, “And that is all!”

Dish drain full of dishes

Simple living looks like, every now and then, ignoring what could-be-should-be-done so you can just be lazy with your family.

Simple living looks like simple liturgies that ground us: meals together, and Quiet Times, and evening prayer.

Simple living looks like early bedtimes for the kids, so the parents can recharge before doing it all again the next day.

[question]What does simple living look like for you these days?[/question]


  1. Yep! That’s what simple living (or even simply living) looks like at your stage of life. You are in the busiest time! We raised and homeschooled five children. When I had the first three (under 4 years) an older mother of eight told me that once you get the first child to eight years old things begin to ease because at about 8 (somewhere between 7 and 9) the child becomes a helper both with younger siblings and around the house. Keep pressing forward, you are engaged in the greatest, most important work on earth–raising children! By slowing down you can enjoy the unplanned funny moments, the tender loving moments and even the momentary disasters that in the future will become the funny stories of family lore.

    1. Thank you so much for this, Rozy! Truly one of the most encouraging things to me at this stage of life is hearing from other moms who are further along. I have to remind myself (daily) that this work is good, and important, and absolutely worth it!

  2. Hi Elsie, Wow you have your hands full! 5, 4 & 2, you’re much braver than me 😉 I have an almost 3 year old and an 11 year old. #boymom My calendar is definitely no where near as full as it used to be, courtesy of covid quarantine. Tho I have to be honest, I still have a hard time slowing down even in confinement. :/ But I would say that simple living looks like playing cards together after dinner and not rushing to clean up the kitchen while the kids rush off to bath time. And taking long walks together while we talk about anything and everything. This post taught me something, it doesn’t matter what stage of life you’re in while raising kids, you could still learn a thing or two from another mama. I need to slow down more 🙂

    1. Thank you(: We are enjoying a breather in the hot weather here…the last few days we’ve eaten outside and it’s been lovely! Trying to hang on to the summer evenings while we can, and let the kids play outside before it starts getting dark early once more.

  3. Yes. As a mom of 12, half are grown up and married and the other half are at home still, this all rings the truth! I am still in the busy part of life and homeschooling and teaching to read while also in the busy part of life with married children and grand children blessings. Two of our children were aunts/uncles before they were ever born! Such a blessing. It did get simpler for a while when they were all home, but now I find that I am doing more than when I had more children living at home! Balance. Balance. That’s what I keep telling myself.

    1. Wow, that is a lot of “olive plants”!(: When you have a big span of ages like that, it’s interesting how the help amongst family members ends up being very reciprocal. I’m sure your older kids helped with the little kids, and now the little kids are going to grow up and in turn help with their little nieces and nephews! Keep those family bonds tight and the younger generation will carry on. My mom passed away suddenly in May, and even though we are all devastated my siblings and I have a blueprint for how to be a tightknit family, because of what Mom did for us day by day!

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