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Embracing Simplicity

25 June 2019

Janie read Want happier, calmer kids? Simplify their world by Sandy Kreps and thought about the similarities between children and adults and the ways this advice could be useful at home and at work.

Tags: balance, happiness, janie read

Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a mission to simplify things at home. I’ve been particularly focused on the different rooms of my house and what feels like a lot of stuff we don’t really need, so I’ve been making donations, rehoming toys, and trying to be thoughtful about what new things come into the house. I’m not sure what initially got me started on this mission, but it’s something I’ve been working on all year. Along the way, I’ve found myself drawn to articles and books about doing and having less and recently really enjoyed reading Want happier, calmer kids? Simplify their world by Sandy Kreps on the Green Child Magazine website.

Kreps said, “when you simplify a child’s world, you make space for positive growth, creativity, and relaxation.” While there are lots of ways to make space, I’ve seen almost immediate impact from making physical space in our home. It’s been a challenge; I think decluttering can easily become very overwhelming if you try to do too much too soon. The only way that it has worked for me is to take things slow and focus on one task (or space) at a time. I’ve also found that involving my family in the process has really helped. My older son, Charlie, has been really interested in helping me get rid of old toys in his room. He likes having more space for the things he really loves. As an unexpected bonus, the work we’ve done to clear out old toys in his bedroom meant that we made space to add a desk. I had no idea how excited he would be to have a desk in his room and have been really amazed at some of the things he’s already created with his new workspace.

In addition to focusing on clutter, Kreps also discussed the bigger issue of too much. She said, “too much is overwhelming and stressful, whether it’s too much stuff, too much information, too many activities, too many choices, or too much speed – always hurrying from one task to the next, never a moment to relax or play.” This sentence really made me think, and while this article was written about the effect too much can have on children, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels for my own life.

I feel depleted when I spend my time rushing from one task to the next and never taking a break, and I feel overwhelmed when there is stuff everywhere, so I’m committed to continuing my focus on simplifying wherever I can. For me, that means continuing to get rid of clutter at home so our environment feels less crowded and more serene. It also means fewer planned activities and less rushing around so things feel a little bit simpler. At work, this means focusing on one task at a time instead of trying to tackle ten different things at once. When I have a lot on my plate, I tend to bounce from task to task, moving on from one thing to the next before fully completing anything. I tell myself I’m multi-tasking, but in reality, I think I’m overcomplicating things by working this way.

I’ve realized that all the things that are important to me for my children are also important for my own wellbeing and self-care. It’s a lot easier for me to take care of others than it is to take care of myself, but I’ve recognized that simplifying has had a huge effect on my stress level. Having less to do (and less stuff to deal with) makes me happy and that leads to less stress, more productivity at work, and more time for fun.


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