Keeping It Simple
“I know it’s going to be hard, but at least it won’t be so complicated. Simple and easy are not the same thing.”
When I was working at my big corporate job, I was contemplating quitting. I was pregnant with my 2nd (and final) baby, and I had just been through the wringer personally.
My husband had (and still has) a very busy and demanding job that has him out of the house from 4:30am - 6:00pm. His job isn’t one that translates to working from home very easily. And while he has flexibility for small things, I was always the one that had to flex if our child was sick since my job easily translated to working from home. And in that first year+ of daycare, our kid was sick a lot. So were we.
We both weren’t getting home until 6pm at night, and then it was a mad rush. We had to somehow fit in making dinner, clean up, prep for the next day, spend time with our kid and then put her to bed, and you get the picture.
Life felt complicated. And for most people, this is truly how it looks every day.
After my dad died and we found out I was pregnant again...1 month later...my heart shifted. I didn’t want to do this schedule anymore. I didn’t necessarily want to be a stay-at-home parent either. But there was something in me that said this was the right thing for me and our family.
Please hear me: this is not for everyone. I respect every parent’s decision about their own family. Whether they work with their kid(s) in daycare, or they stay home. So many amazing parents I know work “outside the home” because they want to. They love their jobs, and they don’t have the desire to stay at home with their kids. For many, it’s because they have to...finances don’t allow a one-income family. Or because they are the only source of income. Or or or. There are 1 million different scenarios.
All to say, there is absolutely no judgment here. This is only my story, and what worked for us.
Staying home with kids has been anything but easy. It’s a lot harder than I could have ever imagined, and at times, I begged God to release His will for me to stay home. He never did, and I’m glad. Every so often I check in with myself (and my spouse) if this still feels right and what we want, and the answer is always yes.
While school and 1 extra-curricular for my daughter do complicate things a bit, my life still feels simple, and I am thriving on that.
I believe everyone can benefit when they make their life and routines as simple as they can.
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of the topic (is that just a midwest saying?), can we talk about K.I.S.S.?
No, not them. I’m talking about the phrase, Keep It Simple, Stupid. It was coined by the lead engineer that was making a spy plane for war. He told the designers to keep things as simple as possible so that any person with basic mechanical understanding and some tools could fix it when needed, which was the majority of personnel involved in war operations. If the planes could not be fixed during combat, they’d be worthless. You can read more about the concept and the story here.
While there are certain exceptions and limitations to the concept, it’s still a good lesson to learn from.
In my (absolutely not-at-all expert) opinion, the most recognized and used result of K.I.S.S. design and engineering is the iPhone.
The same concepts are loosely applied in lean manufacturing, through Six Sigma (inspired by Japan’s Kaizan model). People trained in Six Sigma identify how to improve manufacturing processes by eliminating, simplifying, and/or reducing waste, time, people, or processes without affecting the end product.
This saves companies millions of dollars by making their processes as stream-lined as possible. While the process of doing this can be quite complex, some of the solutions are incredibly simple. For example, the shape of tools are outlined on the board they hang from, so the operator quickly knows where to put them back, which reduces time and accidents.
This has expanded far beyond just manufacturing too. It can be performed in any field.
All to say, some of our smartest minds fully embrace the concept of simplicity. It saves time, money, and sanity while reducing mistakes, conflict, and frustration.
Simplicity in Our Own Lives
Keeping it simple doesn’t only apply to work, it absolutely applies to all areas of our lives.
Here are some of the tried and true ways that I have made things simple in my life. And I’m the queen of making things way more complicated than they need to be, so I can only imagine the possibilities.
- Use a 32oz reusable water bottle every day, and aim to drink 2 of them. If I haven’t drank 1 by 1:00pm, I chug, chug, chug! No tracking water for this girl.
- Fill up my water bottle the night before.
- Make coffee the night before, and have it automatically start and be ready when you need it to be. Do I even need to list that?
- A daily cleaning routine, courtesy of Clean Mama.
I’ve slightly tweaked it to have it fit within my schedule, but knowing what smaller things get done daily, and what bigger tasks get done on what day of the week (e.g., bathrooms on Mondays), has been a game-changer for me.
- Making the bed right when I get up.
I even do this in the pitch black of morning. It takes all of 1 minute, sets up the day, and makes my mind happy every time I walk into our room.
Having a morning routine where I aim to do 3 things before the kids wake up.
If I can work out, do a devotional, and get ready, then my day (and mind) goes much more smoothly. Anything I can do above and beyond that is icing.
- Automate delivery of certain things.
One big example is the furnace filter. It was a sad day when I quit working at 3M and lost my beloved access to the company store...which is where I always bought our furnace filter. Then Target was ALWAYS out of them. So it never got changed as often as it should have. Now it automatically gets bought and shipped to us via Amazon. I also set a reminder on my calendar to change it on the 1st of the month, every 2 months.
- Put everything in the same place every day.
My husband is the king of this. Keys, wallet, phone, lunch box, water bottle, etc. Because nothing gets him more wound up than wasting time looking for something that’s out of place (which is a downfall to having kids that move everything and drop them in the most random places).
- Plan ahead for childcare (when you can).
Which I usually suck at, which causes my anxiety to spike. Then I’m left scrambling. And that’s not fair to the people that end up watching them.
- Use my laundry basket to transport things downstairs in the morning.
In my 2-level home, our bedrooms and bathrooms are the only things on the 2nd level. Our dirty laundry, empty recyclable bottles, things that need to go into my daughter's backpack, etc. all get put into the laundry basket and are brought down once we’re done getting ready. Then I start my 1 load of laundry.
Consolidate items in your purse.
I keep all the miscellaneous crap in my purse (chapstick, lipstick, notepad, lotion, binders, ibuprofen) in its own small pouch within my purse. I got this idea from The Budget Mom.
- Meal plan a week in advance so I only go shopping once during the week.
Sprouted Planners were designed simply on purpose:
- Minimal and unlabeled boxes
- Soft grey color scheme
You are not left feeling overwhelmed with things to fill out or track, especially in full and hard seasons of life. There is no color to overwhelm you but instead allows you to fill in your own color scheme and decorations if that’s your thing.
Now I’d love to learn from YOU, dear reader. I want to know (steal) the ways you make your life simple. Shoot me a DM (@sproutedplanner) or email me (hello@sproutedplanner). I’d love to feature your genius (with your advanced approval) when you do.