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simplify

Family, Simplify

Frustrated Shopping? Your Guide to Experiential Gift Giving

Maybe you are still stuck trying to think of the perfect gift for your favorite traveller who hasn’t quite settled down or your best friend who is in full declutter mode. Maybe you want to give to someone that has waaaay too much stuff. What do you do?

Consider an experiential gift

Gifts of experience can be the answer to the question “What do I buy for someone who has everything?” or “What do I buy for my minimalist family member?” Perhaps you decide to gift them an activity or help them out with your expertise.

For example, my hubby is pretty handy, and he is always helping out my Mom with projects around her house. I think she appreciates his help much more than anything he can buy since she can no longer do the work herself.

What other kinds of experience gifts can you give?

For the kids:

  • Tickets to the local zoo
  • Tickets to a children’s museum (if you have one in your area)
  • Tickets to ride a train (really, any train. I have yet to meet a kid who doesn’t love a train ride)
  • Make them a certificate valid for a special outing to their favorite park with you.
  • Take them out for their favorite meal
  • Give them a day of yes. Basically, if they want to do something, then you do it. (I read about this awhile back, and the kids loved it. Let the recipient know they have to keep the requests within reason.)
  • Plan a family outing to one of their favorite places.
  • Take them to the movies or drive in

Frustrated Shopping? Check out our Guide to Gifts of Experience

For the bigger kids (aka adults):

  • Make them a meal or give them a gift card to a favorite restaurant.
  • For active peeps: Book a fun workout of their choice or one they have wanted to try. Better yet, do it together. (yoga, acrobatics, color run, obstacle course, etc.)
  • Help them complete a lingering household project
  • Movie tickets
  • Schedule time to hang out and spend the day on new experiences around town
  • Museum tickets
  • Bake something, bring it over, and spend time catching up while eating
  • Tickets to a favorite sporting or concert event (just make sure the recipient is available on the scheduled date)
  • For travelers: gift cards to their favorite airline.
  • If you are handy: Offer to help them with a project around the house. This is especially helpful for seniors and people with disabilities.
  • For avid online shoppers: offer to renew their Amazon Prime membership. At least you aren’t buying the actual items, just enabling their hobby a wee bit.

Do you have any other ideas for an experiential gift? If so, I would love to hear it. Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Family, Simplify

Routine vs. Whimsy – Where do you Fall?

Do you find that you are  a person driven by routine or are you a bit more whimsical?

I had never thought about this much until I took a Myers-Briggs personality test when I first started college. That question jumped out at me. Of course I was whimsical. Wasn’t everybody? I loved adventure and never wanted today to be like yesterday.

Flash forward and now I am in a completely different life stage. Routines keep me sane. Since I am not a naturally routinized person, I unconsciously fought the implementation of family routines with all my might. But life as a Mom is a heck of a lot easier when things get done. Developing habits helps us make sure what needs to get done doesn’t fall through the cracks.

So which of the following resonates more with you?

1) Are you comforted when you find yourself engaged in routines day after day? Does the idea of stepping out of your routine seem a bit daunting?

OR

2) Does the idea of doing the same things every morning or evening seem difficult or impossible? Are you always down for a new adventure?

Are you more like #1 or #2? Somewhere in the middle?

You probably guessed that I am more like #2. I love last minute plans and seeing the potential possibilities in each new day.

Now that I am a Mom, I’m finding that life is much smoother when I stay true to my daily habits and only treat myself to whimsy once in awhile. Yet committing to routine day in and day out is still a struggle.

If you are a whimsical or adventurous person,  you feel my pain.

In order to simplify life with young kids, you need to have a plan and execute that plan to maintain consistency for them and some order for you. At least in our house, no one else is going to make sure we have clean clothes, food in the refrigerator, and bedtime rituals. And honestly, a consistent bedtime is hard for us to maintain because my husband is a lot like me. We get home from work and want to hang out with the family. Heck, we might even go on a small adventure after dinner. And then we look at the clock and try to rush through bedtime routines only to realize that our daughters are late for bed….again.

Sometimes being more organized and routinized will simplify your life. Like when you have kids.

Other times letting go and making do on a whim is the best way to peel back your life to the essential.

Honestly, I don’t think there is a right answer to the routine vs. whimsy question. Your particular life stage may require routine. Or your structured life may benefit from a dash of whimsy. As we move through life, we constantly have to adjust and find a new balance that works for our souls and our circumstances.

Meditation Garden
Family, Simplify

Finding Pockets of Simplicity In Chaos

It’s already been a day and its only noon. My 3-month-old is particularly fussy this morning and my 3-year-old has managed to acquire pink eye. I have been running around the house all morning trying to wash everything that my 3-year-old could have possibly touched before we realized her condition. It got me thinking…

So many of us are busy, busy, busy. Even if you dream of a slower pace, when you currently have a full plate, how do you slow down? How do you find pockets of simplicity? Especially when you encounter periods that are especially chaotic.

Even amid our busiest, most overwhelming days, we can find pockets of simplicity. It will look different for everyone, but it can be done.

Here are a few ideas that I have tried:

  • Breathe. Do you have time to close your eyes and breathe? Even a 30 second time out to breathe can help bring things into perspective.
  • Clean one small area if you feel like your surroundings are closing in on you. If you desk is overflowing with paper or your kids have made a mess of your house, you may feel extra stress. Feeling like you have control of one area of your environment can make all the difference. Even if it is a corner of your desk or part of your kitchen counter.
  • Reduce your use of technology. How often do you have to check email or social media? Can you put your phone down to engage in other aspects of your life? Set limits.
  • Find a place of quiet. Even if for a few minutes.
  • Find the positive. What is good in your life?

Today is one of my more chaotic days. I am taking time to sit still and breathe when there are gaps between calls for Mama’s help. It helps keep things in perspective. And with a fussy baby, I am thankful for any pockets of quiet that come my way.

Let’s see if I can continue to follow my own advice today.

How do you cultivate simplicity on your particularly chaotic or stressful days?

Family, Simplify

The challenges of simple living when you run a brick-and-mortar business

I daydream that my husband and I own a business that allows us to work from home, or better yet, from any location we want.

Yet my husband runs his family business, so that is not the case. And there is nothing simple about running a brick-and-mortar small business.

When employees don’t show up, then guess who must step in? Yep, we do. When a customer demands something above and beyond, they demand to talk to the owner. And guess who that is?

No one cares as much about your business as you do.

And I’ll share with you a dirty little secret kept by many small business owners.

Once you have been burned by employees or vendors, then you become smarter, and you may hold your cards closer to your chest. This means that you are less likely to let go of work that you really should allow someone else to do. But you won’t let it go because you have been taken advantage of, and you still aren’t over it.

Sigh.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but for most of us it doesn’t mean the ability to shorten our work weeks. At least not yet. Simple living when running a brick-and-mortar business

It means doing the most important work to build your business, safeguarding what you need to, and then delegating the rest.

There is an art to knowing what work you should do yourself and what to delegate to others. Sometimes it all seems too important to delegate. And that is when life really gets out of balance.

I’ll be honest. It can be frustrating sometimes.

We are learning to step away and scan the whole business system to make more strategic decisions. It is just too easy to get lost in the day-to-day details of running a business and not take the time to think of its future direction and how to be more efficient.

But if we can continue to force ourselves to look at the big picture on a regular basis, that means that we can spend more time with our family away from work.

Luckily, our home life is fairly simple.

And when you already live simply at home, it gives you breathing room when the small business isn’t quite there yet.

Just sitting on a porch swing
Health, Simplify

The Joy of Just sitting

When was the last time you found yourself just sitting?

Not sitting watching TV or surfing the web. Just sitting.

No cell phone checking. No listening to music or podcasts. All devices turned off.

No distractions.

Tuning into your surroundings with no particular conversation to be had. It doesn’t matter if you are inside or outside, sitting on the couch or lounging in the grass. The key is to just sit and be.

Sitting while  listening to the sounds of your environment, alone with your thoughts.

Just being.

Try it today.

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