Thursday, April 29, 2010


I find myself drawn to the products of a simplified life. The beautiful photos of homes that are stocked with books, where odds and ends are stowed in baskets, the surfaces are clear, and the textiles rich and layered pull at my heartstrings. I find the idea of homeschooling from whole, living books; nature; the seasons of the secular and church years inspiring. I love the idea of organizing our schooling from a single bookshelf.

But notice that I used the phrase "the products of a simplified life." It is occurring to me that I'm not sure that I actually want to live a simplified life. My purse is huge--I want to be prepared to alleviate the discomforts of all sorts of uncomfortable situations that might arise. But to go with a smaller purse requires me to give a little forethought to the outing at hand--and decide what I can be unprepared for.

My "bathroom bag" for when I stay overnight somewhere is quite large: I carry a hairdryer, numerous hair products (and I don't even consider myself to be someone particularly obsessed with my looks), soaps, lotions, make up.... A smaller bag would necessitate some "making due" with whatever my hosts have available. Or doing without. Why am I unwilling to do that?

Do I like to lead a complicated life? Do really want to lead a simple life? I certainly like the effects of simplicity in other peoples' homes. In my quest to declutter my house, I'm beginning to realize that if I don't really lead a simple life, my home cannot begin to reflect that simplicity in a lack of clutter.

A line from a post on Simple Mom entitled Creating a Home Where the Living is Easy seems to clarify what can be meant by "simplicity":
Let’s face it, we all know life isn’t easy, but it can be easier. It has taken my family years of taking small steps to get to where we are now, and we are nowhere near where we hope to be even next year.
It's about making daily life easier, not necessarily throwing out anything that might be construed as clutter or making my home look like a magazine clipping.
It's also about taking small steps to make one part of my life at a time easier.

As I said above, I like the aesthetic effects that decluttering and simplicity produce in peoples' homes. So, to effectively declutter specific areas of my apartment, I'd have to be willing to actually simplify the portions of my life that correspond to that space in my home. To really declutter our video collection, for example, we'd have to be OK with living without the videos we get rid of.

I am mostly skeptical that I can really simplify anything. I mentioned how I do not lead a simple life in many ways. But then there are things I am trying to change in that department--not necessarily in the name of simplicity, but as a way to make my life easier and to allow more time for other things, like homeschooling our kids. My ongoing project of simplifying our menu into a set weekly one (changing by the season and liturgical year) has made it possible for me to really organize and simplify my freezer.

The Simple Mom post I quoted above has inspired me to take a small step in simplifying my life by making "both time and space for you" (emphasis mine). I can find bits of time, and I will have more of it when baby #3 arrives (if you count nursing time as "time for you"), but I do not have a good space to use that time. More practically, I will need a nursing station. I'm hoping to turn my papazan chair into that space. I'd like it stocked with prayer books, leisure reading, some kids books to dole out, possibly snacks (for all of us!) and a water bottle. It would be lovely if the computer fit into the picture too. I'm not sure what I will arrive at, but I have some ideas.

So, that is my next step in the direction of simplicity in my life and home. I am beginning to feel a little more fondly for the term than when I began this post--simplicity as a name for making my life easier. Who wouldn't want that?


  1. I agree with you. When I approach simplicity I try to avoid the minamilism trend that seems to focus on having less than having more, reaching a certain number of possessions. I really don't find the "own a 100 things" or "give up 40 bags for Lent" ideas helpful.

    Instead, I try to make my decisions based on need in the hope that providing for those needs will make our home life run more smoothly, offering more time for family and prayer. So while a minamalist probably wouldn't keep a stash of 6 countertop wipes stocked at all times on the laundry room shelves, someone trying to simplify or reduce unnecessary trips to the store would. :)

    Good post. I hope to write on it soon as well.

    With love in Christ,

  2. Thanks for your comment, Mary.

    Until writing out this post and thinking it through, I think I had an aversion to the term "simplicity" because I tend to do things in a complicated way or at least like things "the way I like them."

    But I've taken a real step toward simplification in trying out a set weekly menu, and that has made my life *easier* and allowed me to simplify my errand and grocery routine (not to mention I've noticed it's saving us money).

    If I can take that kind of idea and apply it elsewhere in my life, I think that I will see new possibilities of simplification.

    I also need to figure out how to apply this logic to my children's toys!

    I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the topic!


  3. Really good well thought out post Patty. I too looked at those pictures with longing until I realized that I did not want to live the lives reflected by those rooms. As my girlfriend here says "it's just not my culture." Empty space does not always mean quality living, sometimes it means the opposite.

    Alicia in New Zealand

  4. Thanks, Alicia. I think part of my desire for at least cleared surfaces and a little more space--you're right, not necessarily empty rooms :)--is produced by us living in such a small apartment. Had we a bigger place (someday!), I might be less focused on the amount of "clutter" I see, which in reality are pretty much things that get used (books, homeschooling supplies, clothes, toys).

    Something that might help in this department, as we are able, is to invest in more "closed storage" like baskets, wardrobes, and other things that will at least present an uncluttered view to my eye when closed. But of course, if we could afford different storage options, we could probably afford a bigger place!

    Lastly, I also am constantly battling my impulse to "pile" instead of put away. That would help with any home setting or storage options. :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...