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Simple Living is Simply Living, not becoming a Monk

Simple living is not about deciding to wear flour sacks, turn into someone who lives off the land and makes their own soap…

It is really at its core, choosing what is a priority in life and what is just added extra fluff or stress.

This applies to things of course but also to commitments.

If you take an example of a family that can’t seem to say no to anyone, taking on all and any responsibility that comes their way and overloading themselves with social commitments you’d think they were the epitome of the “perfect” family that has lots of invitations everywhere and a busy life.


Every social invite accepted comes with a cost. It is a cost of time, money and/or both.

You have to prep for (buying a gift or other), remember the date/time, and get yourself to and from the invite.

If you have a family, it takes time to round up the entire gang to get there and back without forgetting something or having stress mount in your head because you did or your kid has a meltdown because you missed their nap or snack.

If you think about packing two or more social invites into a day, you can see how it becomes a lot more stressful to coordinate with both along with trying to keep the family running smoothly (e.g. Errands, cooking, cleaning).

Why not book off time for just doing NOTHING, and choose to go to the park or really, do nothing?

It is no wonder families these days are completely stressed up to their eyeballs running from one event to another.

Even week nights are hectic – try to rush home from work, fend off meetings on the way out, battle traffic, pick up the kids, get dinner ready, get them fed and then shuttle them to their different enriching activities.

And this is supposed to be fun?!?

I propose instead that we all learn how to live simply and cut back.

Cut back on saying “yes”.

Think about the time, scheduling, effort and money involved in saying “yes” each time you’re invited and choose wisely.

Fewer, better engagements with friends and family are worth more than a busy schedule.

So what to do?

1. Set aside “Do Nothing” time

Every Saturday morning for us is Grocery Run day.

The afternoons are free for me to go out Toddler-Free and the following Sunday is Cooking Day, and those afternoons are free for my partner to go out Toddler-Free.

If we have a social commitment for lunch or otherwise, we plan for it and readjust the shopping or cooking to and earlier or later time/day.

We don’t cook dinner nightly but we do have occasional dinner treats where he will come home and make an omelette or some smoked candied salmon on bread.

2. Fill your hours with quality

You don’t need to do everything.

There will be more opportunities in the future and it’s better to choose between sanity & a balance in empty time (doing nothing) than to cram it full with “fun stuff” that turns into a big ball of stress.

Say “No” more often and fill your life with quality.

3. Do the 4 “R”s

Related to simple living is having simply less .. stuff.

You need to think before you hand over your money. A good rule of thumb is the 4 R’s.

You already know the first three: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ..

But the last one is to Rent!


Reducing being the first R is not a coincidence, you have to avoid bringing it into your home in the first place.

(My Living Room)

I don’t have a massive bookshelf, coffee table, bed, or chest of drawers because I’m reducing the furniture I own. I don’t need any of those items as I am happier without them.

Bookshelf: Have an e-book reader and I borrow from the Overdrive lending library

Coffee Table: We don’t have a TV or a couch that usually comes with this need.

Bed: We use a futon on the floor. Way more fun for Baby Bun and less stressful for me.

Chest of Drawers: I hang everything up even pants. Nothing except my sweaters are folded and those go on a shelf. I also don’t have massive amounts of underwear or socks that would require drawers.

What I would like eventually is a dining room table but that’s a maybe.

We seem to be doing fine without it, but Baby Bun may appreciate a big table to work on as he gets older.

I’d rather have my empty space than this….

For others, this may be a no-go but it works for us because I weigh the option between having space and having stuff. Will it make my life better or more comfortable? That’s the real question.


Do you have anything that could be used instead?

My partner wanted to buy another PC but was loathe to do so, so he decided to just buy a monitor and plug in the mini PC to see it on a larger screen. The monitor is quite useful for the whole family (we can watch videos on it) and work on a larger screen with any laptop without straining our eyes. Win-win.


Recycling doesn’t necessarily mean donating right off the bat! Doing something like making old stained shirts into rags is recycling.

Using plastic bags from the grocery store for garbage is not ideal but is it technically a kind of recycling.

Old tissue boxes are great toys for children and I remember making beds out of them for my dolls when I was a kid.

Keeping old shopping bags to reuse as packaging or to go shopping with is recycling.


We come down to the final “R” which is to rent or borrow the item instead.

Bartering has not gone away!

Think about the people renting their cars out for use while they are at work, or car-sharing services where you rent a car for a short period of time to go to a store or do your groceries instead of owning one.

Or how about borrowing books or toys from friends instead of buying it?

Lots of ideas. Even designer clothes can be rented these days.

Simple living is choosing to do what you want, and stripping away the unnecessary.


  • SarahN

    I definitely need down or alone time, for sure. I’ve a distinct memory of having church – straight to lunch and a movie – and my parents wanted me to come to dinner. I knew I couldn’t add that and declined. They are parents, they will and do see me. But I was already pushing ‘too hard’ for what I could have energy for to be honest!! I work to ensure there’s empty time for me – if they be errands or lazying, so be it

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    We can’t get away with it anymore, but I used to book two Saturdays a month to be commitment free! Sigh I sure do miss that. Now we NEED the playdates to keep that JuggerBaby busy.

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