Six tips for Slow and Simple Family Living
I’ve always been drawn to the past. Days gone by and the slow and simple family living of those who came before us. I grew up consuming large amounts of shows like Little House on the Prairie, Christy, and Doctor Quinn. Admittedly the late 1800s and early 1900’s are my favorite.
As I grew older I took an eager interest in the Amish. I was fascinated that they managed to live more like the pioneers in the midst of our modern society. My husband introduced me to the Anne of Green Gables tv series and later I found The Road to Avonlea series as a young adult. These shows are escapism at its best for me. I often ponder why do I long to take my family and jump right into the tv screen?
Ok. Yes, I do love the clothes, the houses (big and small), the horses and other animals but there is more to it than that. It’s the moral standards. The hard work ethic and ingenuity. The ability to do so many things from scratch with primitive tools. The evenings spent indoors together by lantern. Reading, playing games, sewing, knitting or wood whittling. A quiet life. Hours spent providing the very necessities of life for your family and with your family. Also the ways neighbors often helped one another.
There were no time consuming organized sports for kids and a million activities to drive to and from. Families were together, work ethic, talents, and activities were learned at home. Even school did not interfere with the needs of the family as schools were often closed during planting and harvest times.
Sadly, I cannot take my family and jump right into the tv and I can’t go back in time. My husband says we can’t become Amish so there’s that. What I can do is look for things I can do to make our home and family life similar to the things I value from the olden days.
Six Ways I bring Slow and Simple Family Living into Our Home
1. Clear the Calendar
You may have heard the saying that just because something is good doesn’t mean it’s what’s best. This was a hard one for me the first several years that I had kids. I was used to being heavily involved with things prior to children and most women I knew were still involved with many things after kids. Pair that with the fact that I am not great at telling people no and you get the picture. I was always running out the door, frazzled, late, half put together, always forgetting something. My house was in shambles, processed food was all we ate and I was miserable.
I had to learn to say no. No, I was not going to sign my kids up for a bunch of sports, activities or lessons. I wasn’t going to attend every church function and get together. Don’t get me wrong, I know we need friends and fellowship, but I had to learn to prioritize. I began to limit how often in a week we would be out of the house. Family dinners are supposedly important but how do we have them if half or all of the family members are gone all the time?
2. Cook from Scratch More
If your family is like mine was and all you eat is quick processed food then take this slow! Start with just one food item that you would really like to know how to make from scratch, take time to learn about it, try and try again if necessary. Cook or bake that food until you can almost do it from memory and slowly try more recipes. I know what the women like me are thinking, you don’t want to take it slow, you want to go all in, right now. Learn from my many mistakes, the learning will go faster in the long road if you don’t try to change your entire way of life in one week. I can tell you right now that will only lead to overwhelm, burnout and ultimately giving up on the whole venture.
If you want to know the truth, we still eat processed food but less. I’m still growing and adding in new things slowly. I threw in the towel more than once because I bit off more than I could chew. Eventually, when I tried again I slowed myself down. I started making family recipes that I already knew or was somewhat familiar with. Then I decided I wanted to learn how to make cinnamon sugar scones, next it was cinnamon rolls, later I learned homemade pizza crust. Right now I’m just starting my own Kombucha and hopefully soon I will add in a sourdough starter. I would probably be further along if I had started one thing at a time from the get go. Plus, taking things slow makes it more fun.
3. Work Together
I know you can get everything done so much better and faster if you do it yourself but resist the urge. Again I know this because I learned it the hard way. Thankfully despite my attempts to do things myself my husband taught the kids to chip in. They need to learn how to run a home, keep a yard and/or garden, keep the firewood stocked and more hands make light work. Kids also need to develop the habit of work before play, at least I wish I had learned that better before I became an adult. Working together in the running of a home, helping younger siblings, growing food and caring for animals gives your kids a sense of accomplishment and know how. Lastly, if you all work together you have more time for the fun stuff!
4. Read Aloud as a Family
Finally I can write about something I didn’t learn the hard way! Reading aloud or listening to an Audio book together has been a huge part of our family life. This has brought out so many cool opportunities for imaginative play and fun conversations about what we have been reading. Inside jokes, and fun mutual memories of mom crying histerically while reading sad parts of books. We have enjoyed supporting our favorite authors by buying merch or pitching in on crowd funding. My son even got an email response from one of our favorite authors! We have been able to travel to some of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s homes and relive what we’ve read. My favorite part of years of read alouds is hearing my now teens still talk about those books together and relive their reactions and thoughts on them.
5. Play Games
This is one I have not been great at doing regularly but long to do more frequently. When I have taken the time to get the family together around the table to play cards or board games, we all enjoy it so much! There is always lots of laughter and memories made. Games require so much more interaction with one another than watching a show or a movie. My teens can be a bit reluctant at first but they always seem to loosen up and enjoy themselves once the game gets going. Good snacks always help as well.
6. Slow and Simple Family Living means Living with Less Stuff
I never had time for the things listed above because I was too busy trying to manage a house full of stuff. Endless laundry, dishes, toys, and hobby supplies. I was constantly reorganizing it all to make it fit in our home and function well. I kept wishing to be Ma in Little House with minimal clothes and bedding, minimal dishes and toys, and a simple cleaning schedule. Through many a google search I finally found Minimal Mom on YouTube and I cannot recommend her channel enough! If you want to have more time for the things you love and spend less time managing stuff then check out her channel.
How about you? Have you found ways to slow down and simplify in your homeland family life? Feel free to share in the comments.
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