You may recall that I posted in September that I wanted to focus on living more simply for the month (or maybe you completely forgot about that post because of your own very busy life!). I had three focus areas that I challenged myself to: spending less, de-cluttering, and cooking at home more.
The idea for this challenge stemmed from feeling a little overwhelmed with modern day life, like there were some unhealthy imbalances in my home and lifestyle. Overwhelmed with stuff. Overwhelmed with credit card bills every month. Overwhelmed with the heavy and expensive restaurant food we indulged in so frequently that it didn’t seem like an indulgence anymore.
I knew in my heart that these things weren’t making us happy and could have, in fact, been contributing to our unhappiness.
So how did it go? Well, I am more of a process over result person, and also a hopeless optimist, so though we definitely weren’t perfect in reaching my goals, we did improve in each area!
Also, we did have a massive roadblock to reaching our simple living goals toward the end of the month: About a week before the end of the month, my long-time feline companion, Felix, was hit by a car and abruptly passed away. The manner in which I found out that I lost him was somewhat traumatic, and his death was an unexpected hurdle I wasn’t prepared to face. We kind of threw our goals out the window for a week or so as we began to grieve our tiny little friend’s death. Life happens, goals change or are put on hold. Which is more than ok!
Before Felix’s passing, I was pretty proud of our progress in each area for Simply September. Read on to find out how we measured up in each goal area!
1. No-Spend September: My husband and I have always been big clothes shoppers. We are very fortunate to both have good paying jobs that afford us the ability to mostly buy what we want, when we want. But lots of research shows that things do not equal happiness. Our world of fast fashion further leads to discontent by telling us we always need that next big trend…that changes a month or two later.
I was proudest of our progress toward this goal. Again, I wasn’t perfect, but reminding myself to not spend money on things that weren’t necessary made me stop and think, “Do I really need this right now?” It curbed my tendency to stop on my way home from work for an iced tea and cake pop treat, which can add up quickly by the end of the month.
Trying not to spend excess money also forced my family to look for low cost or free things to do together. One of the best weekends we had in a while was spent exploring a local farmers market and grabbing a cheap ice cream cone as a treat! I think we were reminded of the pricelessness of quality time together, especially without a hefty bill!
I have to say, though, I missed my occasional treats quite a bit…maybe I’ll just have to make them a little more occasional!
2. The Purge: The second goal for this month was to rid our space, both physical and mental, of “stuff”. I gleaned inspiration for this challenge from a mama I follow on IG, Cherrell from Avocado and Toast. Cherrell spent a month getting rid of one piece or group of clutter from her house each day.
We live in an age of consumption and things. Where more is considered more important and our homes are filled with things that may or may not be meaningful to us and may or may not go out of fashion next week. But there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that clean and clutter-free homes and spaces result in more productivity and less stress. I know this is true for myself!
I’ve always prided myself on not hoarding stuff and tending toward minimalism, but I still find myself wanting to purge things every few months or so, so I welcomed this challenge with open arms. I did not get rid of something every day. In fact, I only got rid of things about half the days of the month! Still, process over product, and I was proud of myself for donating some things that had been hanging around for too long and finally listing some of Lu’s small shop goodies!
3. You Are What You Eat: Alright, guys, I am going to admit that we completely bombed this one. Well, I guess not completely, but it was the most challenging goal that I committed to this month.
Goal number 3 was to work on eating at home more often than not and explore simple and healthy home-cooked meals. My husband and I admit that we eat out way too much, and though I often try to choose healthy options, I know they are way less healthy than what I could cook at home and also cost more.
While we did eat at home more often this month, I still feel like we could have done better. In reflecting on why I think we are drawn to eat out so often (or pick up take out), I think a lot of it stems from both my husband and I working full-time. I work as a special educator, which can be very emotionally and mentally demanding. I am often in no mood to cook or meal plan when I get off work, and I just want to spend time with my own babe. It’s also always a challenge to make it to the grocery store on a continual basis to have fresh ingredients available to cook with when we are constantly wanting to have family adventures on the weekends.
This area of Simply September is one that I want to continue to work hard on, perhaps by looking for more simplified meal-planning ideas or scheduling my time better on the weekends to grocery shop. In the meantime, please enjoy the two pitiful pictures I took of our simple in-home meals (I made more than just two, I promise)! On the left, chopped chicken strip salad with goat cheese. On the right, keto stuffed mushrooms with chicken sausage.
So there you have it, kids! As I stated, though we weren’t perfect, I am pretty happy with our progress toward living more simply for a month and plan on continuing to strive toward a simpler, more minimalist lifestyle for me and my family. I’d like to fill our home and time with those things and activities that mean the most to us, and I’d like to continue to fill our bodies with food that fuels it.
Have you taken steps to simplify your life a bit more? Which of my Simply September challenges could you incorporate into your lifestyle?