How to Simplify Life with Kids

simplify life with kids

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Having kids can add a tremendous amount of complexity and chaos to your daily life. From the endless piles of laundry and toys to the constant meal preparation and chauffeuring to activities – parenthood can feel like a never-ending whirlwind of demands on your time and energy. However, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With some smart strategies employed by seasoned parents, you can streamline family life and make raising kids a lot more manageable.

The key is identifying systems and approaches that minimize stress, clutter, overscheduling, and needless battles with your children over things like meals, toys, and household responsibilities. When you have well-thought-out systems in place, parenthood flows much more smoothly and you can truly enjoy quality time with your kids instead of feeling frazzled constantly. Here are some brilliant tips from parents who have cracked the code on simple living with kids:

1. Keep Birthdays Fuss-Free

Birthday parties for kids have become outrageously elaborate and expensive affairs for many families. However, they really don’t need to be. One mom suggests keeping it simple – just a cake, 2-3 presents, and family in attendance until the kids are old enough to request friends over. No need for the added stress and expense of themed parties with all the trimmings.

If you do want to have some friends join, simply request no gifts or ask them to bring an inexpensive used book instead of a store-bought gift. The focus should be on celebrating your child, not a ridiculous show of opulence. Kids really don’t need much more than playing with their friends to have a great time.

2. Limit Extracurriculars

It’s so easy to go overboard with activities for kids these days – soccer, dance, music lessons, scouts, and more. However, overscheduling kids can be a nightmare for parents who end up spending endless hours chauffeuring from one thing to the next. It’s much simpler to allow each child just one extracurricular activity at a time. This frees up more downtime for family time at home and reduces schedule stress.

3. Let Kids Snack Healthy

Kids seem to graze and want snacks all day long. Instead of constantly battling them on this or resorting to packaged snacks and goldfish crackers, keep healthy snacks readily available. Fill the fridge with washed and prepared fruits and veggies that kids can easily grab anytime they are hungry. This prevents needless fights over meals since they can nibble on nutritious foods when hungry.

4. Take a Chill Approach to Meals

Speaking of meals, another mom shares her respectful yet firm approach to mealtimes that removes all the power struggles. She simply puts a plate of food in front of her kids for meals. If they choose not to eat it, she doesn’t fight them on it but also doesn’t provide unhealthy alternatives like popsicles either. The kids can eat the meal or not, but that’s what’s available for that mealtime. No short-order cooking or battles required.

5. Manage Kids' Artwork the Smart Way

Parents know too well how quickly kids’ artwork can accumulate into overflowing piles and clutter around the house. One clever mom’s system is to keep just one Rubbermaid tub per child for their most cherished creations. Any new pieces that won’t fit get discreetly slipped into the side of the garbage can out of their view. This keeps these sentimental items to a minimum without having your home overrun by them.

6. Limit Stuffed Animals and Toys

Similarly, limiting the sheer volume of toys in your home is critical for keeping things manageable. Kids have actually been shown to play and engage more when they have fewer toys out. One recommendation is to rotate having just 3-5 toys accessible at any given time, putting others in storage to cycle through. Too many toys at once leads to overstimulation, lack of appreciation, and definitely clutter.

7. Set Afternoon Quiet Time

Even as kids get older, enforcing an afternoon “quiet time” period of an hour or so where everyone heads to their room can be sanity-saving. Kids can nap, read, listen to music or audiobooks, or just play calmly on their own. It provides a reset period and break from each other that all families need.

8. Keep Christmas Simple and Sane

The modern Christmas season brings so much stress with overblown expenditures and exhausting traditions like Elf on the Shelf that have become a needless obligation. Many parents recommend skipping the Elf on the Shelf craze completely since keeping up with it daily is time-consuming, messy, and complicated.

Instead, they adhere to a four-gift rule: each child receives just one gift in each of four categories – something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. This provides enough while keeping Christmas from becoming a binge of overconsumption and excess.

9. Use a Color-Coded Family Calendar

Keeping everyone’s activities and commitments organized is crucial when you have multiple kids. Having a centralized family calendar, even a digital shared one, can be incredibly helpful. Take it one step further by color-coding each person’s activities and commitments in a different color. This provides an at-a-glance view of who needs to be where.

Additionally, actively protecting down-time on the calendar ensures your family’s schedule isn’t relentlessly crammed. This teaches kids important time management skills as well. The calendar keeps everything streamlined and under control.

10. Give Kids Responsibilities

Don’t try to do everything for your kids – that’s a recipe for burnout. Instead, build their independence and self-sufficiency by giving them age-appropriate responsibilities. For example, have them pack their own backpacks with needed supplies, water bottles, snacks, and books anytime your family goes out.

As they get older, teach them basic chores like laundry, light cleaning, and meal preparation. Involve them in these tasks from an early age so they have the skills to pitch in. You’ll be grateful for self-sufficient kids who can run a household seamlessly.

11. Get Kids into Thrifting

Clothing kids can be a constant cycle of replacing outgrown items in a seemingly endless cycle. Thrift stores and secondhand shops are your friend for affordable clothes that you don’t have to feel too precious about. Teach kids from an early age about the benefits of thrifting – it’s environmentally-friendly, builds gratitude for what they have, and stretches your family’s budget further.

12. Embrace Boredom and Simplicity

In our modern world of instantaneous entertainment, it’s tempting to constantly supply kids with toys, videos, and amusement to stave off their boredom. However, parents shouldn’t feel obligated to do this – boredom is beneficial as it forces kids to exercise their creativity and imagination.

One mom shared that her kids enjoy taking simple materials like a large cardboard box, sock, or just their toys and using them to invent elaborate imaginary worlds. Resisting the urge to oversupply them with entertainment allows their curiosity and creativity to blossom naturally. The beauty of simplicity!

With smart systems like these in place, you’ll find that parenthood feels much more effortless and joy-filled. The key is identifying approaches that minimize stressors like clutter, overscheduling, and constant battles over things that should be simple parts of family life. By keeping things streamlined, you can truly be present and enjoy quality time with your kids rather than feeling constantly overwhelmed.

At the end of the day, kids really don’t need much more than a parent’s attentive presence, reasonable limits and routines, and outlets for natural play and creativity. Simplifying allows you to provide those needs consistently rather than having your energy sapped by endless chores and commitments. With intention, you can craft a simplified family lifestyle that allows quality time with loved ones to be the priority.

Picture of Abhishek Sonkar [Author]

Abhishek Sonkar [Author]

Meet Abhishek Sonkar, [, B.Ed., M.Ed.], a child development specialist with years of experience in the field. He has written numerous blog posts on child development and parenting.


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