One of the most common complaints from single parents is “my life is so crazy” or “I never have time for myself” or “I am living in chaos.” One of the ways to combat the clutter of life is to simplify your life. Simplifying can mean many things to different people, but in essence, simplifying means getting rid of the things you don’t want or need and focusing on what you really love and need to have a healthy, happy, productive life.
Of course, that is easier said than done but to start: identify what is important to you—your children, career, education, friends and family. Maybe it is easier to remind yourself of what is not important to you-people that hurt you and activities that get you nowhere.
To help you with the process of simplification here are 10 tips to simplifying your life today.
1. Make a list of the priorities and make a commitment to keep them first. When your children are first you should tell them your plan to simplify and commit to a family schedule that allots time each day, each week, each month for special activities. A family calendar that they can see will also hold you accountable to keeping them #1! Mark other important commitments on the calendar.
2. Evaluate those other commitments in your life. Think about the activities that you value and love and keep only those activities on your list and calendar. You can always reevaluate again later, I recommend seasonally!
3. Evaluate and streamline what you do with your time. What do you do from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep? Make a list and evaluate whether they’re in line with your priorities you listed above. Commit to focusing on what’s important. You may need to redesign your day so that it flows more smoothly. Ever notice how your children feel better and do better when they know the plan? Routines are essential-make yourself a daily routine and stick with it!
4. Simplify your work life. Simplify your work wardrobe. Find a few pieces you can mix match and wash and iron on your day off so you will be ready for the week. Clean out your office and make your workspace clutter-free and efficient. Use a system to get things done and read articles on how to be productive. And remember if you can to delegate tasks that can free up your time!
5. Simplify your home. Purge! Get rid of all the clutter and organize your home to be the most functional. Make a list of all those chores, errands, activities, and demands. Find a way to eliminate anything non-essential, like hiring a neighborhood boy to rake the leaves or wash your car. Delegate a chore for each morning and night. Plan your meals so that you only grocery shop once a cook all your meals on one day and freeze them or store in Tupperware for later in the week. Pack school lunches on the same night.
6. Just say no! Do not over commit to your friends and family or others who need help or favors. You and your household come first and you can offer when you truly have the time.
7. Limit unproductive communications. As a single parent, we need adult dialogue but we really don’t need hours of texting or facebooking a day. This adds to our daily clutter and by the end of the day we are tired and yet have we really even had a conversation yet? Pick up the phone and call a friend, that is communication that bears fruit.
8. Limit outside noise. This includes TV, radio, magazines, internet, video games, etc. All of these distractions keep us from our priorities. Save them for the end of the day when you truly have that free time. Need to “just veg out” pick up a book and read to your children or drink a cold bubbly drink on the porch in the silence. This will give your mind some much-needed rest.
9. Enough is enough. Our materialistic society today is all about getting more and more with absolutely no end in sight. You can get the latest gadgets and more shoes and more toys, but when will you have enough? Most people don’t know so they keep collecting more. Stop the never-ending cycle by figuring out how much is enough and then stop when you get there. This is a valuable lesson to teach your children. Things do not make you happy!
10. Find inner simplicity and peace. Spending a little time with your inner self creates a peace rather than chaotic thoughts that collect until we blow up. This could be time praying, reading, meditating, painting, crafting, journaling or time spent in nature. However you go about it, working on your inner self, by yourself, is worth the time.
Every life has some stress no matter how much you simplify your life, you’ll still have it, but it is also essential to learn how to decompress. Is that spending time away from home or with your girlfriends. Whatever it takes, put that on your calendar as well! Being a loving, respectful person, being an intentional parent, caring for the home, and all the other commitments we hold close sometimes seem impossible to balance. But you can find ways to free up time for the important stuff by eliminating the stuff you don’t like, cutting back on time wasters, and making room for what you want to do. Once you’ve freed up some time, be sure to spend that extra time doing things you love and being with whom you love.