Ever wish you could be transported to Little House on the Prairie and experience slow, simple living? Is it possible to live this way in the 21st century? Here’s why I crave a simpler life, and what we can do to start a new trend toward living the life God created us for.
It is the simple things that matter most.– Laura Ingalls Wilder
The crisis of our generation
Have we forgotten what God made us for?
In a society of go-go-goers, I’m exhausted. Maybe you feel it too?
The typical American on-the-go lifestyle does not speak to my introvert soul. But my extrovert husband feels the crunch too, so it must be a universal feeling.
It’s the biggest issue I see stressing the majority of families today. Not hunger or poverty (though those problems are very real for some). Thankfully, most of us have plenty of food on our tables, drawers overflowing with clothes, and lots of clutter we don’t actually need.
The crisis of our generation is this: We are starving for time.
While we try to “live the good life” by filling our schedules with all the things society deems essential, “the good life” evades us.
We are burned out and lonely. We are constantly connected to our devices as the distance between us and our loved ones grows.
What our human souls truly long for
It leaves me asking myself questions like: Where does real happiness lie? Is this really the life God intended for me? What is my true purpose? Deep down, I know.
Life’s true purpose is to seek and find God. To love, to be loved, and to soak in His creation.
This is what my soul longs for – more than anything.
Quality TIME with my loved ones. Real, true connections with friends. Gardening, reading books, making messes in the kitchen, playing board games, laughing, and walking the dog while I breathe the fresh air.
These simple things are the memories I cherish, the memories that make a life.
Our family’s Christmas day was the best day ever. Not because of the stuff under the tree, but because we were free. There was literally nothing on our schedule that we “should” have been doing, and we really lived.
We were free to lay around and read books, play outside together, cook lazy meals, and take a family ride in our little john boat. That night, I slept better than I’ve slept in months. Years, maybe.
It made me realize how much my mind and body crave simplicity and REST.
When I think about living slow, I think of The Little House books my mom read aloud to us as children. The themes of the Ingalls family working hard side by side, doing things the old fashioned way, and keeping the focus on God and family time, stirs up a longing in my heart.
7 Reasons Why I want a “Little House” Life
While living slow in today’s world is difficult to do, it’s not impossible. Here’s why the effort is more than worth it.
1. I want quiet so I can hear God.
May Psalm 46:10 be our life mantra, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
When we stop rushing, we have more time to reflect on God’s blessings and soak them up. There is also more time to study, pray, and meditate on His word.
2. I want quality time with my family.
If we spend most of our time together as a family driving from one activity to the next, spending money on costumes and sports gear, and attending every social event to make other people happy – how will we feel when our kids are grown and gone?
Remember: You will never, ever, ever regret making more time to spend with your family.
Also, keep in mind what real quality time is. It means nothing else on the agenda, screens/devices turned off (unless you’re enjoying a classic quality movie together), and really engaging/making eye contact.
Starting a daily family devotional routine and making meal times special has helped our family accomplish this in a consistent way.
3. I want to connect with nature, to learn where my food comes from, and to be grateful for God’s provision.
One of the best ways to connect as a family is to work hard together outdoors. Up until the last century, families worked together on the farm planting, tending, and harvesting. Kids completed chores which were essential to the family’s wellbeing.
While it may not be practical for your family to buy a milk cow, chickens, or purchase land for a homestead (my someday-dream!), you can still enjoy nature together.
Plant a simple vegetable garden with just a few of your favorites. Teach your kids the benefits of different plants, and educate them about where to get healthy food in your community.
Then, get in the kitchen and cook together!
4. I want to enjoy the simple things in life again.
When did the world collectively decide that giving our kids “the best” means playing a multitude of sports and activities, buying the latest technology and gaming systems, and enjoying lavish vacations every summer?
Looking back on my childhood, I remember the simple things we did more vividly than the elaborate. Dad making us chocolate pudding, mom reading aloud to us at night, riding our bikes in the woods, gazing at the stars on our deck, playing in the mud.
I want my kids to experience the joys of simple things. That way, whether life is grand or humble, they can find massive joy in everyday moments. I want them to:
- Have the deep gratification of a job well done. To understand that the sense of pride in working hard is greater than having something handed to them for free.
- Experience getting swept up in a thrilling novel, more exciting than any movie or video game.
- Enjoy the food on their plate immensely because they helped prepare it from scratch.
- Engage in look-in-the-eye, heartfelt conversations and laughter instead of text messages.
- Love little things like a hot cup of coffee, freshly baked bread, the wind in the trees, a clear night sky, or a hug from a friend.
When we live slow – with less stuff but more time – we are rich. Because we truly appreciate the beautiful things we have instead of chasing after what we don’t.
Read Next: 10 Simple Living Tips for a Happier Life
5. I want to get out of the “rat race” and truly LIVE.
The feeling of racing continuously from one duty to the next is exhausting and stressful. Wake up, work all day, race to practices, do homework and chores, go to bed, repeat. Parents today feel so much pressure to work 60 hour weeks so their kids can “have it all.”
Of course, we all want our kids to have every opportunity for the future. But the biggest thing your kids need is YOU.
If they have live in a small house, wear jeans from the thrift store, and miss out on Disney World, so be it. They will have memories of cooking with Mama and fishing with Daddy, and they will have a parent they know they can talk to about their problems.
This feeling of security is worth so much more than what money can buy.
6. I want to stop living up to others’ expectations of me, and do what fills my soul.
Let yourself off the hook.
Yep, I’m saying it. I’m the world’s worst at comparing myself to others and trying to live up to their expectations. But it’s exhausting.
Are you pursuing a career because you feel like you’re supposed to? Are you attending an event because you wonder what others will think if you don’t? Are you enrolling your kids in another sport even though you’re worn out, in fear that they’ll miss out?
Stop. It really is okay to slow down and fill yourself up.
Know that you are the best version of yourself when all your needs are met. And yes, time to yourself is a legitimate NEED, not a luxury. The same goes for your kids.
I’m starting to realize that God didn’t make me the “do it all” type, and I’m learning to be okay with that. Because he gave me other strengths that I can use to glorify Him.
The acceptance of my God-given nature is thanks in part to the book Introverted Mom by Jamie C. Martin. If you’re a bit introverted and feel like you don’t fit in to the constant hubbub of activity, you aren’t alone! And it’s okay to just be YOU.
7. I want to stop wearing busy as a badge of honor, and champion those who choose less.
“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” – Psalm 127:2
God didn’t create us to be busy 18 hours a day. He created us to need rest, quiet, and margin in our day.
For our noise-saturated culture to shift, we need to stop glorifying the lifestyle of constant busyness, wearing it as a badge of honor. “I’m so busy!” has almost become a statement of virtue among our peers.
We must stop thinking more highly of people who seem to “do it all” (newsflash: they are likely burned out too). Trying to emulate the frenzy we see around us only leaves us depleted.
Instead, start looking up to people who live slow and have their priorities straight. Can you think of a mom who implements this well? Ask her for advice.
Here’s some advice I recently received from a wise friend:
After raising 4 children spread across 12 years, I have come to fervently believe in the power of less is more with family activities.
Less media, more creative play.
Less tv, more reading.
Less outside activities, more family fun at home.
Less eating out, more family meals around the table.
Less worries about achievements, more praise for character.
These are just a few on my less/more list. And they are as important with friends and spouses as they are with children.
Some we did well, others I’ve learned from our mistakes or the good examples of others. But I do believe that it’s only when we slow down that we take the time to be still and know He is the God who will meet all our needs.– Karan Summit, mom of 4 (and my high-school yearbook advisor!)
What if the families who actually took time for rest and moments together were applauded? What if we said to moms who choose not to sign their kids up for more activities, “I’m so glad you are setting the example of slowing down to connect with your kids. We all need more of that.”
We would soon see a shift in our society.
How can I achieve the simpler life I crave?
Herein lies the challenge – actually making this type of life a reality. Can it really be done?
The answer is yes. But to achieve it, we have to be okay with giving some things up (and realize what we’re giving up isn’t that important, anyway).
1. Realize you will have to say no sometimes, and that some people won’t fully understand.
2. Be okay with living with less (i.e. fewer fancy clothes, trips, entertainment, and “stuff.”)
3. Stop trying to be like the person who “does it all,” and realize that she probably wants a break, too.
I hope this has inspired you to pursue a “Little House” life and slow down a little bit! Are you trying to reduce your family’s schedule and live simply? How do you accomplish it?