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SEVEN FOR YOU ◽ TIPS
Simplified and Calm
Our Panel of Women
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Simplicity is a buzz word, and it has been since Covid.  Covid forced us to simplify our lives as we all slowed down because we had to.  We stayed in because we wanted to stay safe from the virus.  But now, has life become crazy busy again, or not?  We asked our panel to share ways they have simplified their lives and kept it simple, from the practical to the spiritual.  And we asked for one simple hack or tip for all of us, as we enter the busiest time and season of the year!

There are several things I can think of that keep life simple for me. Routine: A general routine to a week brings me peace. After son is at school, this signals time with Jesus.  A couple hours later I run errands, exercise, possibly a home chore, and lunch I have a part time job (bookkeeping), then I start the dinner process, and more home chores. After dinner I may need to attend a meeting or event, finish up work, or watch Wheel of Fortune, surf social media, read. I also say, "No." I do this so that I can protect my routine and my peace. No, I cannot be a part of the PTSA; no, I cannot attend your Gala; etc.

I don't clean that much. Dust doesn't bother me. I want things to be sanitary in my bathroom and in my kitchen. I don't care if the living room is messy or dusty. I occasionally and I promise I clean before I have company. But I don't really put lots of cleaning into my routine. And it keeps me peaceful.

I make a meal plan EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Who wants to hit 3 pm and have to decide what's for dinner? That's my definition of NON-peaceful. I LOVE my meal planner, and I use it every week. I will include a picture of it. It has tear-out pages, so the list of what we are having for dinner that week (and any meetings/events that we have to be at) is on the front of the fridge all the time.

We have a family text thread that is specifically for all of us to send our work schedules to. No chatting, no memes, just our schedules. This way we know if we can call our daughter who is a night-shift nurse, or attend a meeting while someone else picks up the kid from his after-school activity, etc.

And as for holidays…I don't get fussy. Paper plates are fine with me. Clearance wrapping paper from last year is fine with me. I keep my routine so that I don't get out of whack! I had been in an unhealthy routine of "doing it all" at Christmas because my kids had been little for so long and I became bitter. We talked and came up with a plan to share the work. We drew names and passed out money. We each shopped for ONE person and wrapped our OWN gifts. Mrs. Claus was much happier! - Laura

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Covid simplified my life as it did everyone’s. I’ve always been the kind that never stopped from the time I got up until I went to bed but life came to a halt during 2020. I couldn’t babysit my grandchildren or do anything else I loved to do so I turned to writing more, reflecting more, and resting more. I’m back to babysitting but I still spend time just sitting and reflecting, which leads to more to write about. And one thing I still do that I really enjoy is the resting part and it helps to refresh me. I can’t do this every day, but I try to do it at least two to three times a week and it’s simply to sit down to eat lunch and watch a movie. I usually take a short Power Nap during this time also.

 

For the holidays, I simplify my life by cooking early and freezing it. I mix up my cornbread stuffing and freeze it for Thanksgiving and Christmas in about October. It’s ready to defrost and cook and I’ve read freezing it even helps the spices to add more flavor. Of course, pies and some other desserts can be premade, along with some other dishes, and frozen. This really helps me feel less stressed during the holidays. I love my freezer and my family teases me about it. They always ask jokingly, “Did this come from the freezer, Mom?” Even if it’s something that couldn’t possibly have been in the freezer. – Carole

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One way I've simplified my life is through walking and observing.  Covid forced us outside to walk a lot more, and we've continued that habit.  I try to keep my phone in my pocket and my eyes turned upward to observe His handiwork and listen to the sounds of nature and to His voice.  This has calmed my spirit many mornings and set the tone for the day. 

 

I’ve also continued using curbside.  For me, it helps me to make my meal/grocery list and shop all in one sit-down event at my laptop.  I feel it saves me money, as I don’t browse all the other stuff on the shelves at the store.  And I’d rather spend my time out shopping in a store other than the grocery store (like Marshalls!)

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One simple hack we started last year with Christmas prep was moving our dining table and making our living room bigger.  No sit-down for the 10 of us, only buffet.  This allowed us to move our sofa back and enlarge the sitting area.  And I set gifts in little piles around the room instead of all under the tree.  It looked spacious and pretty! I also don’t use gift tags, but a nice bold marker and just write the name on the wrapped box. - Marcy

For the past two-plus years, I've dealt with a daughter who was very sick and almost didn't make it, as well as my own ill health. It's times like this that make you look at your life, your health and emotional needs, and well, everything.

 

I try to avoid stress these days. I have learned to say "No" when the situation or person might cause my stress level to go up. I choose my diet carefully to avoid stress on my body. I look for happiness in little things like my plants, my family, my dog, and the wildlife around me. I've edited the things I own and have donated what I no longer need. Donating the excess in my home makes me happy and gives me a sense of peace that maybe someone else will find enjoyment out of them.  I buy used items and clothes to give them purpose and then donate them back when I'm done. My dad told my mom that the rule of thumb should be that for everything you bring into the home, one thing has to go. It's this motto that keeps things simple for me and stops the clutter. Simplifying my life, especially as I get older, makes the most sense...being simply happy with less...less junk food, less stuff, less stress. – Cathy

I only have my whole family home for Christmas every other year.  This allows them to visit their in-laws or do their own thing at their home. Of course, I want to send them all presents.  However, the cost of shipping is outrageous.  So, I have turned to Amazon to simplify the gifting process.  We pay for Amazon prime monthly.  This buys us free shipping on most items that we order through the year plus some other Amazon services.  So, I am able to send presents out of state with no shipping costs.  And, the Amazon Prime payment pays for itself with the money that is saved by getting free shipping.

 

The Thanksgiving/Christmas hack I have discovered is buying a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey.  A whole turkey is usually big and hard to handle compared to a turkey breast.  Also, if you have a small group you don't need as much turkey. It simply works! - Gina

I’ve read several books on simplifying life and there is one principle that continues to be useful.  When I am contemplating a new purchase I ask myself if I currently have an item that is already fulfilling the purpose.  For example, the picture I included is from a recent gathering where several of us brought food in casserole dishes.  My friend had a nifty insulated casserole dish carrier with a handle.  It was quite functional and helpful.  I don’t have one, but made a carrier out of what I already had.  I put warmed clay tiles in the bottom of my red carrier and wrapped my dish in a beach towel.  It served the purpose and I didn’t have to buy and then store the legitimate carrier.  I could buy the cute carrier but I don’t want to own one.  Not having to own things brings me a sense of freedom.  I want to use what I have to get the job done. Do I need the precious rain coat I saw online?  Nope, my current raincoat is doing the job it needs to do.     In my garden the goal is beauty.  So yes, after the brutal summer I do need to freshen up with a few new plants.   Do I need new jeans?  Thankfully, the ones in the closet still fit and look good enough.  (If following the current fashion trends is important to you this philosophy on clothes probably doesn’t work.)    The books The More of Less and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up changed me and our home and definitely brought me more peace.

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It is with a touch of sadness that we have given up on having a sit-down family Christmas dinner.  The mental image of the Norman Rockwell Christmas family dinner table spread with wonderful food has to be released. Although the obstacle of seating everyone was a factor, the main movement toward a more simple approach is six little people, six and under.  For the near future we will do appetizers and boards served from the kitchen island with family congregating in different rooms to be together.   I keep reminding myself that the season is here to service us …we don’t serve the season. -  Shelley

Simplifying our lives might look different in every home.  Your pets may consume a chunk of your money, whereas she wouldn’t spend a dime to house pets.  Maybe she doesn’t spend a penny at salons but would rather DIY all of her pampering, but pampering is a treat for you that you gladly spend dollars on.  We are all different, and anything that simplifies us personally and makes our lives easier, more peaceful and works for our family is great!  No need to compare…but only to breathe…

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