A big part of living a simple, minimalist lifestyle is defining what your values are, and then living according to those values. That’s all well and good, but sometimes the people whom you share your life with don’t completely align with all those ideals in your head, and that can lead to discontent. A large part of what people struggle with when starting on a minimalist journey is not having their spouse or children on board. You can declutter your home all you want, but if your spouse still wants to hoard old magazines, and your children won’t part with their stash of Happy Meal toys, you’re probably not going to get very far. When it comes to simplifying, the same thing can happen: you can want to slow down, but if your husband has lots of activities and your kids want a play date every week, and everyone is still plugged into their computers and phones, what can you do?
It’s really hard! I definitely don’t have all the answers–or any of them, to be honest! Here was the scene in my house on Sunday. Saturday had been warm, sunny, and busy. We’d run some errands during the day, gone home to eat dinner, and then piled back into the car to spend the evening at the park. Sunday it was chilly and rainy. The kids stayed in their PJs all day. We intended for it to be a relaxing, at home, no agenda type of day. They were lounging around, playing Minecraft and watching cartoons. I started to get twitchy with them being on their screens too much. So I rallied the kids and played toys with them in the playroom for about 20 minutes, while hair color set on my hair. When the timer beeped, I rushed off to the shower to rinse my hair, turning the kids over to my husband. When I came out of the shower, the kids were back in the living room, watching YouTube videos.
I didn’t act as the calm mom that I aspire to be. Instead, I got frustrated with the kids, snapped at my husband, muttered about the content of the YouTube videos (essentially toy commercials), complained about the toy mess that the kids left (why do we even have so many toys if all they want to do is watch TV? I moaned), and basically, put a pall over our cozy Sunday morning.
Then, I took a deep breath, and explained that the reason I was so upset was because we weren’t acting in accordance to our values. We value time together as a family, and people over stuff, right? So why are we spending our Sunday watching videos that make our kids want stuff, and not doing things together? When I put it that way, my husband understood, and my oldest seemed to as well. The videos went off, and the rest of the afternoon was spent pretending to be kitties and inventing an indoor soccer/dodge ball/hide and seek hybrid.
None of us are ever going to be perfect at this. It’s impossible. But there are two things I learned yesterday that hopefully will guide us to getting to a better place with regards to living in accordance with our values.
You just have to keep an open dialog with your family. My getting frustrated at everyone didn’t help the situation at all. It wasn’t until I calmed down and just talked to my family that we got somewhere. They were able to see my side of things, and we were able to come to an understanding of how that afternoon should look. And while I love the idea of putting together a mission statement, and always following our family’s priorities, sometimes, you just have to take it day by day. If you can make good choices today, you’ll likely make better choices tomorrow, and so on.
- Keep the Big Picture in Mind
Why was I upset because the kids were back on their screens? Because I wanted to spend the afternoon connecting with the ones I loved! But I definitely didn’t achieve that when I snapped at them in frustration. In some ways, I would have been better off if I’d snuggled up on the couch with them and given into the video-bingefest. Sometimes, we have to loosen up and compromise. And we always should keep the big picture in mind. My relationship with my sons and husband are the most important thing in the world to me, and I need to work not to erode that just so I can achieve my own agenda. By speaking to them using more loving, understanding words, our afternoon calmed down and became more peaceful.