“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
William Martin

We live very simply.

I always say that the years we had of barely scraping by financially as newlyweds were our biggest blessing because they taught us to live simply.  Now, living simply is our choice.  We love living this way and feel that our life is more fulfilling when we focus on the simple things.

Living simply to us means that our children are in very little after-school activities (one at a time, is our rule).  We make family dinner a priority.  There is usually only 1 night a month that we don’t eat dinner together as a family.  (The night I have book club and Mr. Miller takes our three ladies out on a date – a highlight for everyone).  I limit our days out on the town during the week, playdates, etc.  I want the majority of our time to be together as a family.  I am serious when I say I don’t want our moments together robbed by busyness.  When I stopped booking photography clients 2 years ago, it was a leap of faith, because we relied heavily on my income.  We decided that these fleeting years with my young girls at home was our priority and I wasn’t going to let anything take me away from them for hours of the day.  This meant we had to really commit to living simply, and we happily agreed it was the right choice for our family right now.  We have been blessed by that sacrifice ten-fold.

I talk about this because I think somebody should.  We live in a country where MORE IS MORE is constantly being shoved down our throats, but I disagree.  I think less is more.  Less outside activity is more family time.  Less money spent is more time simply spent.  Less gifts is more meaning.  We tend to live by this principle, and it really comes into play during the holidays.  The life we live is sometimes a lot different than our friends and family, and that’s okay.  We are intentional about living this way, and I believe we are blessed because of it.

I’ve had friends asking us about how we do holidays, so today I thought I’d share some ideas to live more simply through the holidays.  It’s definitely not always easy!

  • For one, we stick to small Christmases.  We get each child something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.  It’s amazing how enjoyable our Christmas is with these four thoughtful gifts.  We spend a lot of time thinking about each category for each child and we have never been disappointed by a Christmas yet.  Our children aren’t overwhelmed by their loot to open, and the things we purchase are so well used and loved by our girls.  We started doing this from the beginning, and we will continue this tradition forever.  Not to mention how this blesses us financially.  December is a big month for business owners to get in all the year-end taxes, etc. done.  We don’t go into debt purchasing an abundance of gifts for our family, and we start the year out with a clean slate.
  • I hope to raise my children with plenty of traditions to enrich their childhood.  I believe that time together and experiences far exceed material things.  Starting a couple years ago, we started making a simple paper chain count-down to Christmas for family home evening.  On each paper, there is an activity for our family to do together.  These are based around service, the meaning of Christmas or just good old family fun.  Things on our list are things like “make a treat for a neighbor”, “do something nice for someone”, “visit a grandparent” others are simple things like “drink hot cocoa by the fire”, “read a story about Jesus”, “go on a Christmas light tour around town”.  We look forward to what each night will bring.  Tonight we’ll be painting Christmas nails. 🙂 It makes the whole month of December feel so Christmas-y and lets us focus on the true meaning of Christmas – Jesus, service, and family time.
  • The Holidays get extra busy for us because Harlo’s birthday is the week before Christmas.  Last year, we made a deal with our girls that we wouldn’t do friend-parties every single year.  Friend parties are really fun and special, but I don’t want that to be the only kind of birthdays my girls have.  I want them to know what it’s like to have a special day from start to finish with their family.  So on bigger years like 5, 8, 10, 13, etc.. we’ll do parties with friends.  On off years (like all of my girls will be on this year) we will just have special days full of birthday traditions.  Special date with mom and dad the night before birthday, traditional birthday lunch, special birthday breakfast and a birthday filled with whatever-the-heck-you-want-to-do that day.  Harlo has been busy brainstorming her events of the day.  We will be getting pedicures and going to a movie – two special things around here.  It’s her day to choose, and I’m grateful I’ll be around to enjoy it and not running around like a chicken with my head cut off setting up her party.. at least some of the years. 😉

The holidays is one of those times that we rarely get permission to do less, but today I’m giving you that permission.  Do less “stuff” and enjoy your family more. That’s what it’s all about!