It was just over three years ago when I turned to my husband and said, rather dreamily, “I just want a simple life.”
What I didn’t know, as those words escaped my lips, is that living a simpler life often makes things just a little more complicated.
At the time, we lived in suburbia where neighbors were friends and the cul-de-sac was teeming with kids on scooters and bikes. There was an elementary and middle school within walking distance. You could get to a shopping center in a two minute car ride.
Sidewalks for walking, paved roads for driving. From this vantage point, I can see now that things were pretty simple if not down right easy.
There’s something about motherhood that causes a person to step back, see the future, and make huge, life-altering decisions on a whim. Or a whimsical vision. Whichever.
Or is that just me?
When you know that your five year old loves riding her bike in the dead-end and arguably safe road, but you dream of toddler legs waddling across green fields, you might do something others consider crazy.
You might put your perfectly fine and reasonably updated house in a dying-to-get-into neighborhood up for sale.
You might choose to move just 90 minutes away where country roads are a thing and HOAs are not.
In fact, you may decide to do that within a month of deciding you want to do that.
Oh and also… you might invite your parents to live with you, as well.
Here’s the thing about simple living that you don’t realize when you’re only dreaming of a simple lifestyle… it takes work.
Lots of work.
Loads of work.
It’s a lot harder to prepare soil, spread seed, fertilize, weed, and protect growing plants, harvest, and can the fruit of your labor than it is to go to the store and select a can of tomatoes off the shelf.
Even if the nearest store is 20 minutes away.
Sure, any mom any where has to figure out what’s for dinner.
She has to collect the ingredients, which means she has to grocery shop.
But what if she also has to till the land?
Look, I don’t have a garden yet but it’s a really easy way to make a point and it’s one of my top priorities for future projects. Yet, every addition to our little homestead means a whole other area that requires work. Chores. Maintenance. Attention. Energy.
Simple living is totally worth all of that. But let’s not pretend it isn’t a challenge!
Part of our simpler living journey is homeschooling, though it didn’t begin that way.
I was never going to homeschool.
Like, never ever ever.
More never ever than Taylor Swift circa 2012.
And for the first year in our new country space I didn’t.
But it did not take long for the bug to bite and my eyes to open and see the beautiful benefits that it would bring.
So, let me recap for you. We’re adding work to our workload and losing some hours in our day. Sounds like fun, eh?
To be fair, this is always good advice. No ostrich heads in the sand when you’re adulting, at least not to a good end.
When I wrote this, though, there was one challenge I was referring to in my mind… sibling challenges.
Kids. Can. Argue.
They can fight.
Even in violence free homes, they can hit, pinch, and try to knock their younger brothers off of the step stool in the kitchen.
Regular living folk, ya know, like me back in the day, had a way of avoiding such behavior. It was called public school and it took a big chunk out of the day that left space between siblings.
Also it was called not having more than one child for 6.5 years, but that’s beside the point.
The thing is, I do have to referee the youngest two (toddlers) while they’re playing almost all of the time. Simple living and homeschooling means no daycare, no preschool. I do have to correct the sarcasm laced attitudey responses my oldest sometimes gives my littles. I do have to be on all day every day.
But you know what else? My kids, who only have one another to play with most days except for those rare occasions when this introvert mom actually sets up a playdate or they get to go to church and see kids by default, have the best bonds. I mean it. My nine year old and my three year old are like best. buds.
It’s so good.
It’s hard work.
But it is just so good.
Sacrifices must be made.
With more hours in the day that you are in demand, more chores to complete, animals to care for, children to wrangle, and the time it takes you to drive around town running errands… you may find you have less to nurture your own relationships.
I used to meet friends for coffee, like, twice a week.
Mostly because I’m a coffee addict but partly because I liked seeing my friends.
More to do. Longer to reach others. Less time to play with.
I mentioned before that I’m an introvert, so being a stay at home mom who doesn’t have a lot of extra time for friends isn’t always the worst thing in the world, for me, whenever I’m listing the worst things in the world.
But sometimes, if I’m being honest, I miss those “complicated” days when I got to sit and sip coffee while my kiddo was in school.
Don’t judge, it was good coffee.
This one is a little bit personal. A lot of stay at home moms feel guilty if they can’t give their kids a more simple life. Some moms feel guilty that they’re not stay at home moms.
Moms are good at guilt.
When you decide to go simple living, when you were already living well, there is a lingering wondering.
Did I make the right decision for my children?
Did I do the wrong thing by taking them away from their friends?
Am I mean for wanting them to have more chores and responsibilities?
Will they fall behind by being homeschooled because I’m their teacher and let’s face it, I remember a limited number of things concerning how to do math and that knowledge is only going to carry us through about the third grade level?
For a solid three months, I was convinced I was the most selfish mother ever because my daughter missed her buddy (who had lived right down the street), and my mom couldn’t find a job she loved as much as she loved the one she left for this new adventure. Oh, and my husband’s commute to work almost doubled.
And his work at home, like, tripled.
I was literally convinced I had ruined everyone’s life.
Three years later? My husband is working at a job he loves and would never have found had we not moved, my daughter is thriving in school and socializing (hello new horse riding hobby), and my mom found a job working from home which suits her just fine.
It turns out, I’m not as powerful to control everyone’s life as I once believed. And thank God for that.
Despite all of the difficulties, all of the complexities, all of the ways simplifying complicates, I would make the same decision every single time. Because the pros far outweigh the cons and simpler living is as easy as letting go of old belief systems and embracing the slowed down lifestyle.
It’s okay that it uses up more of your time. As my daughter and I often quote to one another, taken out of a book we read aloud together our first year of homeschooling, “What good is time if you have nothing to do?”
There’s nothing so delicious as going to bed tired from a day of hard work.
Except for maybe home grown tomatoes.
I don’t know though, because I still don’t have that garden I just looove referring to! 😉