Anyone who has children knows that living with children is complicated. It is like this, we must not turn it over. Lots of clothes, toys, comings and goings by car, school and extracurricular activities, homework, sports, workshops … not to mention meal times, tantrums, birthdays, sphincter control, appointments to play and friends … and the list go and go.
Get the idea that you will not have an ultra-simple life if you have children … but you can find ways to simplify your life with children , no matter how many children you have. There are minimalists with children, like Leo Babauta who has 6 children, who have achieved a relatively simplified life.
The main key to simplify your life with children: make your family your priority , and choose a small number of priorities in your life. If you have too many things you want to do, or have to do, your life is going to get complicated. But if you choose only some things that are important to you, you can eliminate the rest, and simplify your life greatly. This is the key to a minimalist life .
The following is a list with different ways to simplify your life with children. It may seem like a very long entry to read. It doesn’t matter: You can save it, choose a couple of things you like, and put them into practice, instead of doing it all at once, and return to it at another time.
1. Family calendar
If you have children, you may have a lot of activities to remember . Between your own work and your activities you have to take school events, extracurricular activities, birthday parties, parent meetings … It’s easy to feel stressed sometimes, or forget something. Organize your life with just one calendar . Write down all the activities and appointments. When you receive the school papers or soccer schedules, immediately enter everything in the calendar. A quick look at the calendar every day will help you plan your day.
We use Google Calendar to keep track of everything our family is doing, and it’s easy to set up multiple categories for each person’s schedule and see them all at once. Google Calendar also easily syncs with my mobile phone ,so I have our family’s schedule with me all the time, and calendars can be shared with other people (which means that my husband and I are informed of everything). It can be accessed from the web anywhere, so it is not attached to the home computer (or in the fridge). Be sure to put all your events on your calendar, and don’t forget dates like expiration dates for library books, doctor’s appointments, or football league matches.
2. Create routines
Routines are a must for any home with children. They like routines, it makes them feel calmer and safer , and moms and dads simplify our lives.
This makes the day foreseeable for everyone, creates habits for success and eliminates many of the conflicts.
The daily routines may include regular schedule for meals, bathing, cleaning and household chores, duties and exercise time.
The weekly routines may include regular sports practices, cleaning, going to the supermarket ….
An evening routine , of vital importance for young children, can make bedtime easier when children know that after ordering toys comes bath time, pajamas, dinner, story time, and then to sleep.
Teach your children to do things for themselves as soon as possible. Teaching them to do something for themselves instead of doing it yourself or your partner takes time and can be a bit frustrating at first, but it will pay off in the coming years. Being self-sufficient is a life skill that every child needs to learn. Not only will it make your life simpler, learning to do things for themselves will give your children confidence.
Younger children can sort their toys, put on pajamas, sort their clothes by color, or sweep their cookies scattered on the floor with a small broom.
Older children can make their own breakfast or snack, dress for themselves, set the table or do the dishes, fold and store their clothes, or prepare their backpacks for school and extracurricular activities. It is a matter of giving your children the confidence that they can do it and explain what you expect them to do.
4. Plan ahead
Mornings may be the most chaotic moment of the day, but planning ahead can make them more relaxed. I like to prepare most of the previous night : mid-morning meals, clothes (mine too), bathing the little ones, that the backpacks are prepared and the homework done . So in the morning you just have to have breakfast, get dressed, pick up a little everything before going out the door. It is a great way to start the day.
On the other hand, I try to look at our calendar in advance (usually the day before) to see what’s coming. That allows us to prepare for those activities or events with time, and we do not have to hurry because we are not prepared. For example, if the next day my daughter has basketball and soccer, we try to make everything ready (slippers, shin guards, water, snack), and I also leave the food ready so that we do not hurry to the activities.
When you have to go somewhere the whole family, it is important that you have measured how much time you need to prepare . When we had only one daughter, it took us very little to prepare, but after our baby was born, we were late everywhere. Now we have extended our preparation time. If, for example, we have to be in a place at 6, I calculate the time it takes to arrive and also the time we need to prepare, quite extended. That way the preparation time is much more relaxed and we usually arrive on time to the sites (normally). That time is not always available, so in those cases I try to have prepared everything in advance.