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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Simply the Rest: 5 Ways Doing Less Can Be More Fulfilling


1)      Consider Minimalism
Minimalism has so many benefits, and you don’t have to be an extreme minimalist to enjoy its effects.  There’s a simple philosophy at work with owning less:  the less you own, the less time it takes to care for your items, and the more time of yours is freed up.   Take the task of dusting as an example.  If you have a mantle full of tchotchke’s, it takes considerably more time to pick each one up, dust it off, dust your mantle, and return them to their places.  Compare that to a mantle with only 1 or 2 items on it, and how much easier it would be to dust it.  When you cut your physical possessions down, you also cut your cleaning and organizing time down.  Same is true for possessions not displayed, but stored away.  Eventually, as life stages change and you need more and different stuff, you will need to store things that serve you for that life stage, and you will need to purge.  Carefully consider your possessions and ask yourself these 2 questions:  Do these items serve a purpose in my life now?  And Do I love this item?   Also beware of the items you “might use one day” and items that have memories attached to them.  Items “you might use one day” can have a habit of multiplying.  Will those items really save you a significant amount of money of you hold on to them?  Do those items serve a hobby that is realistic for your current life stage or is it actually causing you stress by hanging on to them because you never seem to get around to that project?  I used to love to Scrapbook, but it just does not fit my busy mom life right now.  I am finishing up a few easy projects, but the ones I know I will not realistically get to in years to come, I made the decision to just get rid of.  Instead, I opted for a combination of digital photos, and am placing the remainder of the physical photos in photo boxes.  Items that have memories attached to them can be a bit more difficult to navigate.  First, consider how much physical space the item takes up.  Also consider if you are truly giving proper respect for the special item.  If it’s stored in a box in the garage, rarely to be looked at, maybe it’s time to reconsider.  If it’s neatly organized and has a place of its own, without causing clutter, then you can most likely feel great about preserving it’s memory in your home.  The time and effort you take now in purging down your items will have an exponential effect on the time you have to enjoy your family and do the activities you love. 

2)      Take Time to Day Dream
When was the last time you day dreamed?  I don’t just mean staring off thinking about relaxing in a day spa during an afternoon where you are feeling the effects of sleep deprivation and are in the midst of trying to entertain toddlers.  I mean truly day dreamed, thinking about future adventures and goals.  You may need to schedule some special time for this.  It could be as simple as an hour to yourself on a Saturday morning.  Maybe the 8-9am hour can be your special time of reflection.  Find a quiet coffee shop,  go for a run, or just a quiet spot at home where you will not be disturbed (if that’s even possible!)   Pray, journal, meditate, do what you need to do to connect and dream.  It is so important to have this time of reflection and dreaming.  Sometimes just being away from the chaos for 1 hour can have a profound impact on your life.  Invite a good friend to join you if you’d like.  Talking things over with a friend about your hopes, dreams, and even struggles in this life’s journey can not only be a great stress reliever, but can also result in some “a-ha!” moments.  Make these times of dreaming and reflection a regular part of your schedule.   In fact, get creative and fight for these times! 

3)      Work Rest & Recovery Times Into Your Schedule
I am guilty of not doing this!  Yep, even I, a Professional Organizer has experienced those weeks where the schedule got so busy, there was practically no time for regular routines of putting away, cleaning, prepping foods ahead of time, and even significant rest, connection, and down time.  Sure, I was rocking the schedule, doing a lot, experiencing a lot, having fun, and feeling like we were not missing out on anything.   Many probably know this feeling well.  You are tired when you get home from all of your activities, errands, and commitments, but yet there is still so much to do at home.  Dishes are in the sink, toys everywhere, corners of who knows what collecting, and scraping together sandwiches at the last minute for the kid’s lunches.  I hate these weeks!  I hate the feeling so much, when I feel that feeling creeping up on me, I immediately look at my calendar to see if I have down time in the next few days.  I call this my “Rest & Recovery” time to work some order back into the house and my sanity!  If I see crazy schedules during those days, I start saying no.  There is so much power in saying no.  Ask yourself, what will my family and I really benefit more from, this appointment/commitment in my schedule, or some time to recover, plan, and enjoy just simply being together?  There can even be some truly amazing bonding time as a family doing household tasks together.   Also, have you ever experienced a peace and calming when taking care of a sick child?  Maybe it was quite a disappointment to have to cancel events and miss out on some things because of the sickness, but instead the downtime brought some much needed time not only for your little one to rest and recover but for you to do so as well?  Maybe you were finally able to take that much needed nap while snuggling.  Or, perhaps you finally got to purge and organized the playroom during that time.  Maybe you and your child had some amazing time reading books and playing board games.  Embrace ”Rest & Recovery” time!

4)      Determine Your Focus
Overscheduling.  Unfortunately it’s become almost epidemic in today’s modern family life.  We are overscheduling ourselves and our children.  It’s something I personally struggle with.  There is simply so much in this world that interests me, I want to do it all!  I want to learn more and experience a lot.  Nowadays we have so much at our fingertips with the Internet, we are exposed to things we didn’t even know we wanted to do!  Pinterest projects, YouTube Videos of fashions and DIY Projects to get to “one day.”  All of this can add to feelings of stress, anxiety, and inadequacy.  We want to do it all, and others appear to be doing it all on social media outlets like Facebook.  We may even go to the craft store and get all the supplies for those DIY projects and start doing some of them, only to be sideswiped by life’s happenings and not able to finish, then cycling back to those negative feelings.  I’m not saying don’t do those projects.  You do however need focus.  Determine the projects, activities, sports, classes, etc. that are most important to you and your family.  My kids love practically every class I’ve taken them to.  If there was enough time in the week, they would be going to Gymnastics, Tennis, Karate, Baseball, Soccer, Dance, Scouts, Music and Swimming!  Instead of packing the schedule out, we pick a few, making sure it will not interfere with other important things in our schedule like family and church time, and also that much needed “Rest & Recovery” time.  Some activities can be done seasonally too.  Pick only a few activities, being realistic with your schedule.  Be sure to communicate with your family members about what their desires are, and figure out what are the most valuable activities. 

5)      Sleep Itself
Finally, there is so much value in sleep itself.  The statistics speak for themselves.  In September, 2015, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) declared insufficient sleep as a public health problem.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that school aged children need at least 10 hours of sleep daily, teens need 9-10 hours, and adults need 7-8 hours.   (More of this data can be referenced at:  http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/
If you are simplifying a lot in your life, working “Rest & Recovery” time into your schedule and have less possessions, there should be ample time for you to work more sleep in.  If you have a newborn, you are probably reading this and thinking – yeah right, that’s not going to happen!!  Hang in there!  When my kids were babies, and when I actually took the advice of “sleep when the baby sleeps,” I have to admit, I felt pretty good.  It didn’t happen all the time, but there was some great value in that advice – it really worked!  Sure my house was a wreck, but we recovered!  Give yourself some slack and know that you are doing your health and your family a huge favor by putting more priority and value on sleep.   Also, embrace your status as a night owl or early bird.  I am a night owl.  I do some of my best thinking and creating at night.  You will never be able to get me out of bed at 5am.  That’s just simply not going to happen!  I have even slept in clothes for the next day on an occasion where I had to awaken super early.  I love sleeping in! (When I can, which is not too often!)  I know some other moms who thrive by waking up at 4am, and are very productive, doing laundry, packing lunches, checking e-mail, working out and cooking breakfast before their family wakes up.   Embrace what you are, and thrive!