This past week has gone both so quickly and so slowly. Just a week ago my kids were still in school, but by that point, we knew they’d be coming home for at least the next six weeks. This isn’t a situation anyone would have chosen, but this is what happens when life forces you to simplify.
What Happens When Life Forces You to Simplify
I’ve been working to simplify my life and home for some time now. It has been an intentional choice for me. In recent weeks, everyone has been forced to simplify whether they wanted to or not.
Through this process, there are lessons to be learned and ways you can grow should you choose to. Here are the thoughts and realizations I’ve had so far as I’ve been staying home and watching what’s been going on in the world.
Adjust your expectations
Whether you normally work outside the home or in it, life likely changed in major ways for you recently.
In our case, my husband is now working from home. I normally work from home, but usually, I’m home alone. Now my husband is here and my kids are trying to do schoolwork and play while I try to work.
It’s taking a lot of adjusting for all of us and likely you are experiencing something similar too. We’re all used to life being different than it is now.
We don’t have the same freedoms and resources available to us. It’s time to adjust our expectations and realize that life is going to look different temporarily.
Coming and going to any place we want as we choose is no longer an option. My peace and quiet are much harder to find.
For some jobs and income may look really different right now. Kids aren’t going to school. Our normal habits and routines changed very quickly and expectations need to be adjusted accordingly.
Choose to have patience & grace
When life forces you to simplify, you get to choose how you respond to it. Many people are stressed and scared, children included.
Being stuck at home all day with each other is and will continue to be a challenge. Most families are not used to this amount of time together with no ability to take a break and go elsewhere.
To the best of your ability, choose to have patience and grace with others. Model it for your kids. Know that everyone is sharing similar feelings even if they handle it differently.
When children are afraid or stressed by all the change, it can look like temper tantrums and acting out. They have lots of big feelings and can’t fully comprehend what’s happening. You may need extra patience as you help them through this.
Give yourself grace too. Life has changed dramatically very quickly and it takes time to find your new rhythm. Be kind to yourself as you process through various emotions and frustrations.
There are various ways to learn creativity when life forces you to simplify. Dust off your old board games and enjoy time together as a family. You can find my 37 favorite family board games here.
You can practice creativity by using the items in your fridge and pantry to make meals. We’re trying to stop getting groceries for a bit, so it will be interesting to see how long it takes meals to get creative here.
If your kids are out of school and weren’t provided with work from the school, there are lots of options available. Don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself with this though.
Teach them life skills. Have them read or listen to books. There are so many ways to learn and resources available that it can feel overwhelming, but the simplest options are often best, especially during a stressful time.
Make sure everyone keeps their body moving even when at home. You could try workout videos, weights, or other creative options. For kids, Go Noodle is a fun way for them to get exercise indoors.
Go outside or even just open a window when you can. Fresh air is essential for wellbeing. Make sure you’re managing your stress in healthy ways so that you can be the best version of yourself.
Realize what you’ve been taking for granted
One thing I’ve just started to learn is how many things I’ve been taking for granted in life. I’m used to be being able to get what I want when I want it. That’s all changed.
On a normal week, I’d go to the grocery store a couple of times. I didn’t have to plan meals too far ahead since stopping by the store was convenient after dropping my kids off at school.
I’d taken that for granted as well as all the options of food we had easily and readily available. So have my kids. This isn’t just a process of me realizing what I’ve been taking for granted but for them to realize what they have.
I always knew that teachers work really hard but having kids at home and guiding their learning makes me even more appreciative of the work they do.
We don’t even realize how good we have things in life until they suddenly change. I feel like I’d been spoiled with having so many conveniences, but this process is helping me not take so many things for granted.
Look for the good
When life forces you to simplify it’s more challenging to focus on the good. You didn’t get to choose your current circumstances, but you can choose your response.
Choose to look for the good in the world. You can try to make the best of an unfortunate situation. I know this is easier said than done in some cases.
Everyone is impacted differently and some are much more directly than others. When things aren’t going well with work or your health or with loved ones, it’s hard and it’s ok to feel that.
But how do you get to a place of feeling better? You choose to look for the good and being part of the good in the world. How could you help or encourage someone today?
We set the example for our kids and their experience of what this time in their life is like is directly related to how their parents deal with it. Lead by staying positive and looking for the good.
You can always choose gratitude and focus on the good things you’re thankful for and encourage your kids to do the same. Have your kids start a journal to write about their experiences during this and to express what they’re grateful for. It may completely change their perspective.
Control what you’re letting into your mind
Have you noticed yourself feeling more scared and sad after watching the news for an extended period of time?
While it’s good to keep up on the latest information and recommendations, far too many of us are spending too much time focusing on it.
The media feeds your fear. It’s hard to be optimistic or feel positive if that is what you’re filling your mind with.
Protect your mental and emotional health. Limit your exposure to the news. Be selective of what’s in your Facebook feed and what you’re choosing to read.
I’ve been intentionally posting and sharing more often on The Simplicity Habit page with positive and uplifting quotes and posts.
The world needs more positivity right now. If you want other positive pages to follow, here are some of my favorite Facebook pages.
Be careful with what you read and watch. Notice how it impacts how you feel. Set limits and choose an appropriate balance for yourself.
Realize what’s really important
When life forces you to simplify it can be a wake-up call to what is most important in your life. Life can get busy and it’s easy to get distracted from your priorities.
This is a great time to reassess your priorities and make adjustments as needed going forward in your life.
The paring down of the distractions and slowing of our schedules has been a clarifying experience. I’m reminded of what truly matters and what doesn’t.
This is an opportunity for reflection and for questioning motivations. The forced simplification reminds you of what you’re doing and why. Perhaps you’ve gotten off course and remembering what matters most to you may change what you do when this is over.
I hope this time leads to more family dinners in the future even when there aren’t restrictions and that people will continue to care for each other. May this help us all keep our focus on what’s essential and make it obvious what’s a distraction in our lives.
Have you thought at all about how staying at home would be if we didn’t have technology? Not only for things like Netflix and Amazon, but also for being able to stay connected with friends and family.
Skype and Zoom are great options for staying connected when you aren’t able to be physically together. While it isn’t the same, I love that we have the ability to stay virtually connected.
We live within 15 minutes of most of my family. We’re going back to Skyping with each other like we used to when we lived in different states.
We just spent an hour talking and playing games to celebrate my nephew’s 5th birthday ‘together’. We’re using technology to make the best of the situation.
I also appreciate that my daughter’s teacher is using Vimeo to record classes that she can watch online. I’m thankful for technology and all the resources and options it provides.
If you’re in the situation that many of us are with a lot more time at home, consider what you could do during that given time.
Plans often get pushed aside and life gets in the way. This is your opportunity to finally take care of the things you’ve wanted to do in your home but haven’t.
This is a great time to get started decluttering your home. You can work on organizing areas you’ve been putting off. If you’ve been wanting to plant a garden or work in the yard, now is your chance.
Perhaps you’ve been wanting to take an online course. Now is a great opportunity to do that. Maybe you have books you’ve been meaning to read. Now you can.
Focus on the things you can do. You can still text, call, or email friends and family. You’re still able to make homemade meals and bake.
You still have options and opportunities. Choose to focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t.
Staying home can be an opportunity to do the things you’ve been meaning to do but have been putting off and it can be a time for much-needed rest.
Remember the lessons you’re learning
When life forces you to simplify you learn new things. There are lessons to take from this unprecedented time in our history.
Write down what you are learning through this. Maybe the slower pace of living will help you to live more intentionally going forward in your life.
You may opt to keep more margin in your calendar and have more time at home with your family. This experience will help you to see the clutter you had in your life.
Maybe you’re learning to live more simply and frugally and want to continue to be more intentional with shopping from this point forward. You might choose to save more money.
Whatever lessons you learn during this season, keep them with you. Whether it is resourcefulness, reminders of what matters most, or something else entirely, use this time to make positive changes in your life.
When life forces you to simplify you can try to fight it or you can make the best of it to learn and grow. The world could change for the better if we all carried these lessons and experiences with us.
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