Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What does simple look like?

This is a question I have grappled with a good bit. One of the reasons for that is that most of what one reads about simple living defines it as such: sell nearly everything you own, move to the country and raise goats or chickens or sheep. O.K. that is said somewhat tongue in cheek, but truly I do feel this way sometimes. None of those things is even a remote possibility or desire for our family. My husband's chosen career means we live near a major university. Almost without exception this means near a fairly large city. I have two school-age children. For any number of reasons homeschooling is not an option for us so that means we live in the suburbs in order to be near the "good" (also said tongue in cheek) schools. So what does simple look like for a mom living in the suburbs of a major midwestern city? This is how I define simple:

...TV-free school days
...afternoons at home, not in the car going from one activity to another
...saying 'no' to overblown birthday parties and talking about why we don't pay $250 to have a party at the really cool gymnastics place
...keeping our home free of video games
...spending time outdoors
...eating homecooked meals as a family
...teaching the children how to help themselves
...giving the children responsibilities
...never having more than one car payment
...living in a house we can easily afford
...staying out of the mall!
...talking about what is necessary and what is a want
...talking about why we can't fulfill our every want
...caring for our community and environment

Suburban living is fraught with all sorts of complications...most of them highly trivial. It is so easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the trivial. I still struggle with this, and have to remember to keep it all in perspective!


Jen@The Cottage Nest said...

I totally agree with your list and it can be hard to keep in mind when you are surrounded by the competitive nature of the suburbs. I try really hard not to get caught up in all of that and to just live our lives for ourselves and not to impress anyone else.

Mrs. Pivec said...

This is a good and thoughtful list. Sometimes I forget what we do and I feel like I'm not working enough at the voluntary simplicity goals I have for myself. But then when I see and realize how much is just habit now, I guess I can be a bit more gentle with myself. It's a journey and it is interesting how many different ways there are to practice this lifestyle right where we are.

I am so sorry about your difficult day... and for that father. Yes I prayed for him. How is everyone faring at your house? Better, I am hoping. :)

Joanne (The Simple Wife) said...

That's the thing about living simply--you have to do it in your life, not Little House on the Prairie. Something that's hard to come to terms with because it means there's no set formula for the simple life. It's all about what will work best for your own family.

Loved your list!


Anonymous said...

So much true! Video games have destroyed QUALITY family time. It is in fact nowadays hard for American kids to shy away from all the peer pressure that surrounds them. Families with their kids' education in mind will continue to struggle trying to balance between what to teach their children and what the kids are picking up... At the rate and in the way this is all going, soon, Americans would loose their ability to interract with each other because they are doing it less and less, but they will continue interracting well with their computerized gizmos.

Tracy said...

I have been thinking about your list the last few days and how our priorities are much the same. I have also been thinking about how quickly our life gets out of balance we we slide on even on of these items. Good thing to keep in mind as those New Year's Resolutions draw near!

clbeyer said...

Thanks for your candor, and for your list! :)

I just posted my "wishlist for society" on my blog, and I'll admit it came across somewhat idealistically. But I needed a good dose of things I can do right now to live simply and and with fulness.

Thanks for the inspiration!


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