Simplicity Doesn’t Matter, If You Don’t Have This Key Element on Lockdown
by Kate Saffle
A year ago
Decluttering, minimalism, and simplicity are incredibly popular right now. Across podcasts, how-to articles (ahem), and books, experts will guide you in living a life with less stuff and quite possibly more freedom. There is value in choosing the less materialistic path, to having clean countertops, and letting go of the kids’ messy playroom. The simplicity parenting method, although rooted in a life of less, provides a much deeper foundation and approach than most minimalist approaches. Its approach is similar to essentialism, the intentional paring down to what matters most to your family, because both are rooted in values.
What I’ve seen over the last several years of teaching and coaching in the simplicity realm is that decluttering without clear values and goals is akin to dieting without self-love. The approach may work for a period of time through grunt work and sheer determination, but without the foundation of values, a home, like a body forced into unhealthy dieting, will eventually slide back into its original chaotic state. It’s in our human nature to expect external changes to impact our internal state.In other words, we think that taking action will impact how we think and feel about ourselves, our family, and our home. When working with my clients, I teach them that we first must create the thought that we want to have and this will lead to the outcome we desire. All lasting change must be built on a strong and consistent thought pattern. In this case, the thought pattern we want to create is our family’s values.
In all that you do in your life and home, your values and your why are the critical piece to making lasting change. Knowing your family’s values makes it so much easier to say no to more stuff, overwhelming schedules, and spending too much time apart as a family.
Our values are the support structure on which we create lives with meaning and create family traditions and our daily rhythms. Values imbue our lives with meaning and propel us forward in our decisions and our days.
Once you add kids into the mix, values create a family culture that will be part of your legacy together. The most important part of it all? Values are unique and tailored to your family and set you apart from others. It gives meaning and freedom to the way you parent, the way you create your home, and the daily choices you make. Your values are not determined by social media, by your community, or by the way your extended family thinks you should live your days.
All of the moving pieces of your life—the home, the kid’s schooling and activities, your home and where you live—are branches of your family’s tree, and your values are the roots. You need strong roots to grow the right branches. Without values, your home will feel less like your family’s sanctuary and more like that place where you sleep at night and pay bills. So let’s spend some time really honing in on what your family values and use that knowledge to guide all of your future decisions, including simplifying your home environment. You’ll feel more confident that the decisions you make going forward are rooted and run deep; this foundation isn’t going anywhere.
3 Truths About Values
1| Values Rarely Change
Your family’s values should be lasting and not easily swayed by life transitions, such as moves, career changes, or the kids getting older. It’s inevitable that as you grow and get older, that some of your values might shift. They should generally be timeless and a good fit for your family regardless of external changes. A good way to think of this is imagine the ocean; the water on the surface (your life and all of its ups and downs) may be choppy and stormy, calm and smooth, or even a tumultuous hurricane. Under the surface, however, the ocean (your values) remains calm and steady. What steadfast values are calling out to your family?
2 | Values Are Not Goals
It’s easy to confuse values and goals as the two play a supportive role in moving your life forward. Goals are typically short-term or situational, meaning they can and will change over time as you grow and change as a family. Values, on the other hand, should ideally stay the same with time. For example, you may think a good family value would be to prioritize family vacations, however, that’s actually a goal. Your family’s goal might be to take a yearly vacation to your favorite mountain getaway. You prioritize financial resources and time off from work and school to make it happen. Whereas, the family value that supports this is quality time. You may not always be able to make the goal of a family vacation happen, but regardless of life’s circumstances, you can live your value of spending quality time together.
3 | Family Values Are Inclusive of the Whole Family
When you’re determine your family values, it’s imperative to separate your personal values from those of your family. We all have our own innate values that act as a compass. Often what can cause conflict in a family is when members assume that their personal values belong to the group as a whole. Finding common ground will help you create goals that support the entire family and help you move forward as a team. What matters most to all of you? How do you want to live your days and create a legacy as a family? These guiding questions will help you shift from a self-based mentality to a group mindset.
Creating Your Family’s Values
When creating your family’s values, I recommend scheduling a meeting to come together and discuss what ideals should form the foundation of your home. Request that everyone turn off tech devices and be fully present for the meeting. You, as the parents, will certainly intuitively know what you already value, but asking the children for their contribution will bring all of you even closer together.
Our children are such a valuable and irreplaceable part of our lives and honoring their hearts will create a deeper bond for everyone.
Ask the following questions:
- What ideas do we believe should guide our family and our days?
- What makes us feel most like family?
- At the end of our lives, what do we hope we accomplished as a family?
You’ll need to narrow down the responses and figure out what the overarching values are within the ideas contributed. Write them all down and then vote as a family on 5-8 values that everyone will choose to live by. These values then become the foundation of any decisions you make as a family and are a beacon by which to guide your family’s path. I love writing these down and hanging them in a prominent spot in the family home so that everyone sees them daily. Over time, your values will become so entrenched in your home and life that you’ll always know who you are as a family and what you stand for.
Remember: we can make all the external changes to our homes, our parenting, and our lives, but if it’s not rooted in your values, the quicksand it’s built upon will rapidly erode your progress. Make the internal changes, do the deep work of knowing who you are as a family, and then those external changes will come from a wholehearted place that cannot be shifted or taken away. You will then find your days are intentional and values-based, your home a welcoming sanctuary, and create a beautiful legacy for your family.