I started my search for a simplistic life when my kids were born. At the time, we were living in a small two-bedroom flat in a busy town. We did not have a back garden and had to walk to find green space. The traffic was awful.
I felt claustrophobic and anxious thinking, “Is this how my kid is going to end up growing up?” Fighting the space in the playground with other kids. Having to dodge cars and walking amongst the traffic to school and back. Living with little to no backyard space to play or grow veggies in a garden.
We started looking for a new place to call home. Somewhere we could live simply and slowly, with enough space for our children to grow and play. An environment that was supportive and nurturing.
This was a stark contrast to my “old life”. I used to work in the corporate world. I traveled to faraway and exciting countries, living a fast-paced lifestyle that fit me at the time. After having kids, the joy of a 9-5 and traveling no longer appealed to me- my priorities shifted immediately to my little ones, and I knew this lifestyle wasn’t what I wanted for them.
After some searching, we found our forever home in a small seaside town just a few hours drive from our old home. But after this move, I realized simplifying didn’t have to stop with my home. The space for my garden patch was only the beginning.
Ever since my move I’ve been on a simplifying journey, and the more I live it the more I find the benefits for myself, not just my children. Here are five things I’ve learned that steadied me on my journey. Hopefully, these can benefit you too.
1. It takes to time to slow down
The changes I put in place in our lives did not happen overnight. I was in a hurry to start living with less and feeling free. With kids, you need to be patient and embrace the change and the growing pains. Give them reasons to like the new things. They might not understand why, for example, less screen time is better for them.
2. Define your values
Have your values clear from the start. Share your goals for minimizing with your family and friends. Have conversations to make sure that you all are on the same page. Don’t feel bad if not everyone agrees with you. Be ready to challenge your own values and others to improve your journey.
3. Express Gratitude
I was not able to appreciate the changes we were making. As one could imagine, moving caused a great deal of stress. By the time we had the new house and new garden, I was just grateful to be finished. But I began to take the new amenities for granted. The backyard with space for a garden became hardly an afterthought.
To combat this, I went back to journaling and writing to express my thoughts and to note the things I was grateful for. This was key in improving my mood and feelings about our new space.
4. Limit information intake
I removed all my social media apps bar one from my digital phone. I removed all my subscription newsletters, news apps as well. The internet is full of information, but I wanted to be in charge of what I was consuming. I started to take walks without my mobile phone with me. Reducing my time in the digital world gave me newfound freedom. I explored my surroundings and nature and appreciated the new experience.
5. Read books
Once I removed the distractions, I made a habit of going to the library and borrowing books. I realized that for years I had missed so many good novels. I used to see a good book come out and I thought, “I will get it later”. Later never came. But now I had the time to indulge in books and I have not looked back.
My new simplistic life is not yet finished. It is an ongoing process of looking at needs, wants, and overall fulfillment in my life.
Science says that we only need food, water, air, and shelter to survive. But we have included many more things with the modern world to that mix. Simple truth is that if we include some hygge (Danish word for cozy, contentment) to that mix we will thrive. Hygge is a concept, a state of mind of feeling content with your life.
I have spent more time reading and feeling hygge in our new surroundings. I am not anxious anymore and the traffic does not worry me anymore.
The garden is in good use. There are three veggie batches with tomato, rhubarb, herbs, salad, and strawberries. I cannot wait every season to see what else we can grow. My kids are using the fresh vegetables in our kitchen and are getting creative on what to cook with them.
A simplistic life; cooking and baking with my kids was not what I thought I would get when we moved to the country. But that is exactly what we achieved.
About the Author: Susanna Heiskanen is a Nordic mum of two living in Australia. Writing and podcasting about the Nordic life and how to live more with less. Find her at thenordicmum.com.