This is Step 3 of the Simplify Your Life Challenge! This is a general outline of the steps I am taking with my family to simplify our life and become more minimalist. If you haven’t seen them, please click through to Step 1 and Step 2 for more details!
Step 3: Attack Problems
This is where the rubber meets the road, guys. Prepare yourself, because this step is crucial and you can’t back down. This is the time to really recognize the “issues” your family struggles with and be totally honest with yourself. This is the step that will mainly focus on attitudes and how we approach parenting, and less on physical action. (Which means it could be the most difficult step of all). Keep reading, this is an important part of simplifying your life!
To attack the problems, you first need to recognize (or admit!) what they are. I made a list of some of our “problems” that I wanted desperately to address. I tried to stick to broad, overlying issues that were affecting our family’s “big picture”. This isn’t a time to list every petty complaint you have about your spouse or children, but a time to think about what small changes could make a monumental difference in the atmosphere of your home.
Attitude & Chores:
I’m so sure that we are the only family ever to struggle with children who don’t want to do chores, right? That’s not a common issue at all! (heavy sarcasm) I was frustrated because there was constant competition between the twins with sharing the workload and almost complete belligerence from my four year old son when it came to simple tasks.
(Like, “Go wash your hands”. “No”. Seriously? You’ve had to do this multiple times a day your whole life. You really want to fight this?! )
I knew we needed a smooth and full proof system, so I started asking friends and working on solutions.
Attitude & School:
How shocking that the second category was also related to attitude! (Perhaps, next I need to tackle the personal problem of excessive sarcasm). My older girls have the complex challenge of being identical twin girls who are also sharing the first-born role and descended from two high-stress strong (stubborn?) personality parents. Don’t you just feel like weeping for them? Seriously, I am fully convinced that my three children are going to do truly great things one day, but for now, where is the balance between loving them where they are and addressing pride issues that arise from chronic perfectionism? This has been one of the main difficulties with homeschooling and one I am fairly certain will persist in challenging me.
Attitude of Entitlement
Noticing a trend? I must begin by saying that this a family issue (well, I won’t blame my husband but I do fully implicate myself) not just something the kids deal with. Despite our very blessed life, we are all finding it difficult to have gratitude and temper our entitled expectations. I’m pretty sure this is also a universal issue among humans (and particularly Americans) but does that mean we should just accept it?
I will probably create more detailed posts about what we have done to improve the three areas above, but for now I will just promise you that the more you simplify your life, routines and living space, the easier it will be to actually deal with problems.
I want to treat parenting like my life’s mission field, which means taking this job seriously and not allowing the mundane tasks of unloading the dishwasher and washing the clothes to take the place of the true battlefield that is parenting. This is about so much more than cooking and cleaning and carpools! This is about shaping the next generation and responding to God’s call on my life to glorify Him as a mom. For me, all the stuff has kept me from my calling….and I refuse to allow that to happen any more. I don’t think that minimalism is the cure to every ailment, but in my life it is making a profound difference.
Before I started down the minimalism path I felt so overwhelmed all the time that discipline issues came down to the quickest possible end to whatever was currently disturbing the peace. I had trouble actually addressing the root of problems. The more I simplify, the easier it is to focus on the big issues. We’re a work in progress, for sure, but at last I finally feel like the progress is moving forward!
I encourage you to ask yourself, what is preventing you from fulfilling your calling? What is keeping you from the greater good? Is it stuff, or commitments, or money, or work, or debt? Is it selfishness, jealousy, or pride?