In fact, for the majority of human history, ‘simple’ family life has been all but mandatory.
But for modern families, creating a simple life is not so simple anymore.
I know this because creating a simple life for my own family has not been simple.
I also know this because I have read hundreds of blogs, tweets and posts from other families who are struggling to create a simple family life for themselves.
And now I am cringing as I prepare to disclose embarrassing details about the contents of my hall closet.
Is Simplifying Enough?
Does familial contentment require us to pare down to the bare, bleached bones?
When you’ve given away all of your technology and moved your children to a shack in the woods to grow wild asparagus in your forest garden does unfiltered contentment magically appear?
Or do you only trade one set of complicated problems for another?
How do you cut away careers, house mortgage, thousands of square-feet of belongings and possessions, cars, student loan debt, friends, extended family, pets, charitable obligations, big green egg, on and on and on?
Is seeking contentment by simplifying your life an oversimplification?
Hall Closet Confessional
My family and I are on a journey to answer these questions for ourselves. We’ve figured out ideas that work for us and flops that don’t. Our war on clutter is a daily war of attrition against 2 toddlers and ourselves.
For example, we have a hall closet filled exclusively with winter coats and old instruction manuals for gadgets we don’t own anymore. Accumulating estranged instruction manuals is one of my bad habits.
Accumulating estranged instruction manuals is like buying a box of breakfast cereal, dumping it all out on the front lawn for the squirrels to eat and then carefully stashing the empty box in a safe. It’s extremely illogical, and I know this.
My attachment to these orphaned instruction manuals is complicated, too complicated to explain to my wife, too complicated to explain to myself.
These complicated relationships with the accumulated stuff of modern life are part of what can make battling household clutter such a… well, battle.
Here’s a simple idea that is working for our family.
We fill a bag during the week with items from around the house that we can agree to donate with little debate. Think worn-out undershirts, coffee table coasters, unused kitchen tools and toys the kids haven’t glanced at in a year.
Keep the bag in your trunk (or boot if you live across the pond) and when date night comes around, drop the contents in the nearest donation bin.
We get a lighter, more relaxed feeling as we go out for the evening when we use this method.
If you aren’t sure where to start looking for items to donate, think of a place in your home you’ve been procrastinating to organize. Bookshelves, junk drawers and hall closets (ahem) are likely candidates.
Of course, to execute on this you’ve got to plan and organize that date night first. Sometimes this is the trickiest part of the plan for us!
I’m looking forward to creating a series of posts about date night to address these difficulties soon.
Simplicity for simplicity’s sake is probably not going to be enough for my family or yours to reach the kind of contentment we are striving for. That said, building automatic declutter routines can definitely enhance nearly every aspect of your family life, from your date nights to your storage spaces.
Finally, don’t be greedy. If you’ve collected some effective tips on simplifying your family life to increase your family’s joy and contentment please share it in the comments below!