We’re going back to basics for this week’s blog in recognition of National Simplicity Day 2022.
This day is marked each year to encourage us to reflect on our busy lives and consider ways we can make life simpler in order to help reduce stress and live more peacefully – something all of us parents want more of in our lives, we’re sure!
There is no denying, that with modern-day demands, family life can feel overwhelming and simply frantic at times. Whether we’re rushing to get the kids out of the door for school, running children to after-school clubs and activities, dealing with jobs around the home or at work, or cramming in a bit of guilt-laden self-care at the end of the day, there are times when we would love nothing more than for life to simply slow down!
And as much as technology has brought us so much convenience, it is also of course partly to blame for our fast-paced lives and those modern-day stresses. We live in a world where everything is at our fingertips, where instant gratification is an expectation, and where our lives are broadcast and compared on social media. Not only can this feel overwhelming for us as parents, but it is a message our children receive daily too – and this can make life feel far from simple.
Why is living more simply so good for us?
Studies show that living more simply not only reduces feelings of stress but also produces positive effects on the brain in a number of ways, including:
- Boosting creativity. When we free ourselves of unnecessary burdens and our stress levels are reduced, the activity in the amygdala (responsible for the fight or flight response in the brain) settles, meaning we have more capacity to think more clearly. This positive response is activated by the pre-frontal cortex, the region in the brain associated with imagination, creativity and problem-solving.
- Improved concentration. As we’re all aware, our stress levels can be affected in a number of ways, from the more obvious, such as excessive daily demands, to too much time on social media or even a cluttered environment! In fact, studies have shown a direct link between decluttering your home and improved concentration – so having a good clear out and making everything simpler and more organised at home is well worth it!
- Enjoying a better night’s sleep. If your child already works with one of the Youth Fairies, you will know how much we emphasise the importance of sleep and the tools we provide children to support this process. Throughout our work with children, we explain how our ‘stress buckets’ (an analogy used to describe the brain’s capacity to process and cope with life’s demands) often get filled up with worries and negative thoughts throughout the day. It is during our sleep that this bucket can be ‘emptied,’ allowing us to think more clearly and cope better with life’s ups and downs. When family life becomes simpler, often this has a very positive impact on our well-being, as our ‘stress bucket’ is less full and sleep improves as a result.
- Improved relationships. Becoming more focused on what our true values are as a family and what is most important often leads to improved relationships at home. Spending more quality time together is often high on the list of priorities! We have an innate desire to feel a deep sense of security and belonging, and when we have this, we are rewarded with a healthy flow of ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters in the brain, such as Serotonin.
So, what does living life more simply really mean?
Living more simply, of course, means something different for everyone and every family. It’s about ditching those things that no longer serve us and which we continue to do (or don’t do) largely out of habit. And, when we consider the fact that the majority of our behaviours everyday are performed using the sub-conscious, habit-forming part of the brain, it comes as no surprise that consciously reassessing family life from time to time can work wonders for our feelings of overall well-being. We all know how productive and energised we feel after a good spring clean – and this is really no different!
So, perhaps living more simply for you and your family might involve:
- Ditching unhealthy habits
- Spending more time in nature
- Taking more time out for YOU
- Relying less on technology
- Cutting out unnecessary tasks
- Becoming more organised
- Enjoying more quality time together
- Practising gratitude for the things you have
- Decluttering your home
- Setting realistic goals
- Or, all of the above!
At its heart, it involves reminding yourself about what your core values are and what is important for you and your family. When we live more simply, we are able to value the things that make us and our family happy instead of chasing unrealistic expectations or the thoughts of how we feel we are supposed to be.
So, in reading our blog today, we invite you to consider the last time you stopped and reflected on your life as a family. How closely does it align with your values and goals and what small changes might you like to make?
And, as always, if you need a little fairy-inspiration to get you started, here are a few of our top tips below:
- Try to cut down on excessive technology or screen time for the day. Whilst this might be a regular battle with your child at home, we all know the negative impact that excessive screen time can have on us all, particularly leading up to the hours before bedtime when blue light devices inhibit the normal release of melatonin (the sleep-inducing hormone). Consider making a pact, that even just for a day, you will put all devices away early and spend time together as a family – make a list of all the fun things you could do together instead or learn more about each other’s hobbies and interests. It’s a great way to reconnect and to remind each other of the fun you can have when you are all fully present in the moment, without the distraction of a screen.
- Share gratitude for the things you have. As Oprah Winfrey once wisely said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” We hear many things about the benefits of practising gratitude and many scientific studies have demonstrated the direct link to improved well-being. Not only does gratitude encourage feelings of positivity, contentment and kindness but it has been shown to boost our immune system and reduce the risk of major diseases. So, why not try keeping a gratitude journal at the end of each day and include three things you feel thankful for. Not only is it a great well-being boost for ourselves but it is a powerful, life-long skill to teach our children too!
- Declutter your living space. As we have seen, there are great benefits for becoming more organised around the home but it’s even better when we get the children involved too! This might involve clearing out unused toys or clothes, or organising their desk or study space. Living simply doesn’t need to involve getting rid of lots of material possessions but it can help you all as a family to prioritise the things that are important and valuable to you, making room to live more calmly.
- Decide as a family on the things that are important. Perhaps it’s not very often that we stop and take stock of family life and consider those habits and routines that are helpful and those that perhaps no longer serve a purpose. Afterall, a change in habits leads to a change in lifestyle! Asking children for their view on this too can not only be really insightful but can lead to better communication and a more harmonious home life. Try to set some small, actionable goals that lead to a simpler lifestyle – whether that’s committing to a technology-free evening once a week, planning a family activity every fortnight or just getting outdoors more and enjoying life’s simple pleasures!
- Carve out more time for YOU! A simpler family life starts with us as parents. When we are more relaxed and have fewer distractions, family life just feels so much calmer. When was the last time you set some uninterrupted time aside for yourself? Or when was the last time you picked up a new hobby or became completely immersed in something you enjoy? When we carve out more time for ourselves (guilt-free!) we are in a far better position to help our children live more peacefully and simply too.
As we can see, living more simply doesn’t need to be difficult! Often, it’s the little tweaks to our daily routines that can make all the difference and remind us what is important in our lives. As Henry Thoreau, the creator of National Simplicity Day, once said, “As you simplify your life, the universe will appear simpler… So, simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.”
If living more simply feels difficult for you and your family right now and you need support to help manage feelings of stress then more support and information can be found at:
You can also contact your nearest therapist at The Youth Fairy for further help for you or your child at: