Simplicity Can Be Very Time Consuming

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Simplicity Can Be Very Time Consuming


Today, I went outside in the frigid spring air to hang some clothes on our line, and I almost stepped on a rabbit.  I really have no clue how this happened, because furry wildlife a.) are generally scared of moms with intimidating piles of clean laundry and,  b.) don’t frequent the city much and we live in the middle of it all, next to an elementary school.

(hmmm…as I am typing this, I’m realizing that if I had to choose between visiting an elementary school playground or a grassy yard with new spring shoots in their garden, well…I can’t blame the critter.)

Nonetheless, I was trying to knockout the 437 items on my to-do list today and so this wasn’t a leisurely stroll into the yard.  This was me at full speed, on a mission to hang this load to dry in under 3 minutes.  Our line is only about 7 feet outside of our back door, so the poor bunny didn’t even have time to react until I was right  there, less then a foot from his nose.

At this point one of us screamed and we both bolted.

Please rest assured that the rabbit is fine and my heart has started beating normally again.  And let me clarify that I do not have a fear of rabbits, but in my defense, I am not fond of mice or rats, and from the corner of my eye, all I saw was quickly moving fur.

I went back to my speedy line-drying marathon and inevitably started wondering why on earth I was wasting time line drying my clothes when I have a perfectly good dryer inside…which snowballed into thoughts of, “Why on earth am I baking bread this afternoon? I could easily go to the store and grab a loaf.” And,  “The beans are still soaking! I forgot to turn on the burner!  Guess we’re not having black bean soup for dinner…shoulda just bought CANNED beans…”

There is no easy way to live simply.  And by simply, I mean getting back to the basics, living frugally, cooking at home, producing your own food (even if it’s just a tomato plant on your patio!) and eating un-refined, non-processed food.  Last week, our article focused on facing the reality that “living simply” looks different for each person, and can change with the seasons of our life, so we can’t compare how “hippy, crunchy and frugal” we all are, because we are all living completely different lives with different circumstances, budgets, living arrangements, etc.

There are several blogs that I love to read that talk about their expansive gardens, acres of wooded forest and that sweet little stream behind their house. *sigh* If I look behind my house, I see school buses and a playground.  But this is where I am, and although it’s not a rolling prairie, it’s MINE and I adore it!

This week, I’m realizing that “simplicity” takes TIME.  That elusive thing that disappears before our eyes.  

There is a careful balance that we must find between simple living, frugality and, quite frankly, our sanity.  

This isn’t going to be an exhaustive list of how to save time doing chores, or kitchen tips that I’ve learned along the way.

It’s simply a question:

Is what you’re doing worth it?

Decades from now, I want my memories of this time in our life to be full of days spent playing in our yard (sans the bunny!), afternoons snuggled up, reading on the couch, and time spent TOGETHER.  Not memories of my lacto-fermented bean dip and my questionable sourdough starter.  These things can easily dominate our time and our thoughts, and as we talked about last week, that defeats the purpose!

If you take a look at the rest of our Living Naturally Series, you will see that we are firm believers in returning to the basics and bringing everything back HOME; from  nutrition, to herbal remedies and frugal living. However, the key to remember is that this is your HOME and FAMILY – they are the reason you are doing all of this, and if all of this “simplicity” is taking you away from them, then something is out of balance.  The seasons will ebb and flow, and of course there is work that has to be done. However, snuggling with my kids is worth the trade off and if that means that I sometimes dry my clothes via machine instead of line, then so be it.

Find the “simple balance” that works for you in this season of your life – not “simplicity” like you see on this blog or any other, and not your “someday fairy tale life”. Find the rhythm and strategies that work for YOU, NOW –  and balance your time; ask yourself “Is what I’m doing worth it?”  And if the answer is no, then that’s OK!  Don’t be afraid to change it up and prioritize.

What changes have you made? Was it worth it?

originally published March, 2012

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21 Responses to “Simplicity Can Be Very Time Consuming”
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  1. We live in a funny world were simple has to be hard. I really liked you thoughts on how that differs for each of us.

  2. I’m betting the bunny likes your lawn because it’s not sprayed with chemicals. You probably have clover growing which they love. I am glad you didn’t step on him, for both of your sakes!

  3. This was very timely. We have been out of town, so I didn’t get all of my weekend cooking and prepping done. Now I’m sitting at work stressing out about how behind I am, and what on earth are we going to eat for dinner, and oh my gosh we’re out of homemade laundry detergent, and I forgot to start the oatmeal soaking….It is so easy to get caught up in it all and forget that being stressed out and tense about it, is probably worse for you than just ordering a dang pizza.

  4. fcbama

    There are a lot of bloggers out there who would never admit to any of this! Thanks for be honest and sharing these thoughts with us! I’m sure there are many others who have thought these same things, but have been afraid to share those sort of thoughts. It is important not to compare ourselves with others. We need to find what works for us, not against us. The simplicity patrol will not knock on our doors and drag us out for using our dryer or not soaking our oatmeal! Who are we trying to impress, anyway? Balance will simplify our lives! Blessings from Bama!

  5. I think I’ve discovered your blog at just the right time! I’m just starting my own homesteading adventure, and it is easy to stress about the simple. It has been hard for me to compromise on my dream of a 100% organic garden, but it has also been necessary. Now that I’ve made the decision to, ah, break a few rules, it is a big relief! I’ve prioritized – all organic, heirloom seeds and all heirloom plants, no chemical herbicides or pesticides… and if the compost I start with isn’t certified organic, it won’t completely undo all my hard work, and there’s always next year!

    I look forward to following your blog… I’m so new to this it helps to have a place to go for both tips and comfort!

  6. I work full time from home, which is a small 938 sq. ft. condo in the downtown area of our city, and can only garden on my patio. I can only hang clothes inside, I don’t have time or a place to make my own soap, or handwash my clothes, or knead bread every day. I can, however, control what ingredients I put into the bread machine, hang some of our clothes inside as space permits (Hey, at least I am making an effort to save energy!) and grow tomatoes and jalapeno peppers on the patio. No, I can’t keep a compost bin, but it doesn’t make me any less of an earth loving mama than those with big pieces of land and farmhouses in the country. Even though I don’t have a huge garden in my backyard, I can still feed my kids healthy, organic foods from farms just a few miles outside the city. What makes me shake my head is that I seem to see some who are always trying to one-up each other on who lives the greenest. This is not what it is all about.
    My mother gave birth to me 2 weeks after she attended the Woodstock Festival. I’m sure that gives away my age! Nearly everything I do today related to eco-friendly living, my mother did as my siblings and I grew up. “Green” and natural living is not a new concept to me. I lived it before it became “cool” to be green once again.

  7. it definitely takes time, lots of time(and I live in the city too so sometimes its tempting to be “normal”)

  8. Love this! Thanks for posting–I passed on your link to my Facbook readers. Come on over anytime–we blog about much of the same things! Many blessings to you! Thanks for being real with us!

  9. It is definitely a balance. I am not into drying my clothes outside… I have a really energy efficient dryer. I make sure my loads are large and I use cold water. This is as frugal and environmentally sound as I get. The fact that you think about what you do and make the effort to tread as lightly on the Earth as is possible for you is what is most important… I think.
    I would love to hear your comments on my post on simple living:

  10. What a great post..that I needed. It is hard to find that balance. I struggle with wanting to learn from others, by reading other homesteader blogs, which equals a lot of time on the computer which equals less time with my family. Thank you for the reminder.

  11. Robin

    I find each year intentional clean and basic living AKA waste not want not, as we define our lifestyle is becoming easier. And we make decisions that to some would be unacceptable but were comfortable with. I grind my own flour, but I do it in batches. I pretty well know what I use in a month and once a month grinding is “fresh” enough for me. I soak most of our grains but have a few well loved recipes that did not translate well and we just eat the old standard when we want those foods. Remembering to soak the oatmeal, make whey, kvass, sauerkraut and other fermented veggies are no longer a big deal. Menu planning to use or process all the bulk items. I cook and freeze alot more. The frozen items become thaw and serve dinners when other task are taking our time. My pantry is very simple now, I know what I really use. Clotheslines all linens, towels but dryer or hanger dry for clothing. We started 5 years ago stopping standard grocery foods, finding local meat, egg sources, bulk buying, etc. I grow some of our foods but keep my garden at what is most cost effect for the labor, I still work fulltime. At times it was overwhelming but we had some major health goals. Lost 20 pounds, no more purple pill, thyroid tumors resolving, we do more together in food preparation, processing, enjoy our life more than ever ever imagined as were at the empty nest stage of life. For me it was returning to my younger hippie roots and the desire to improve our health.

  12. I have such big plans for turning our property into sustainable gardens–and so few years left to me to accomplish so much! Spending all day outside digging in the dirt (literally), moving rocks, chainsawing, etc., and putting up what I grow, making bread and most everything else from scratch–well, some folks are amused that this grey-haired older lady does all this. I’ll keep at it until I simply cannot anymore. In the meantime, you are so right about about a simple life style taking more time. For something as basic as bread, you have to remember to take the sourdough out of the refrigerator the night before so you can bake. I’m apalled at the junk that stocks store shelves now; food, toys, time-saving gadgets. I’ll take the hard work and the satisfaction that comes with it. Join me at to see what I’m up to.

  13. And we wonder why all our modern ‘conveniences’ were invented! Haha! I am just starting out in this business we call ‘simply living’ and I find myself in awe and yet overwhelmed sometimes. I try to focus on one thing at a time and build layers. When one thing becomes second nature, I add a second – and no more – until that too becomes second nature. I am now making my own yogurt, whey, and granola. I’m buying fresh produce in bulk and freezing or dehydrating and I’m menu planning almost all of our meals. Next up – beauty products! I’ve already made my own tooth powder and I’m working on getting the ingredients for face and hair soap. Whew! Yet, I have a long road ahead…but I’m looking forward to it! Thanks for this post!

  14. I loved and needed this post today…thank you. What’s funny is we also live next to a school, and are smack in the middle of a busy area of town, and I’m often found rushing out to the clothesline to hang a load up(though I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting a rabbit on my way, just a few stray cats), and i find myself thinking the very same thoughts, why do I do this? I always come back to, because I enjoy it, but when life gets hard, it’s easy to blame it on thinking your overcomplicating life with these sort of things, but in truth, life is what is overcomplicating the simplicity of slowing down and enjoying the every day. Part of the joy I get out of these things is keeping my children close, and sharing the joy that I get out of doing things like hanging clothes on the line, and baking bread, and just slowing down and taking in the beauty of life around us.

    Thanks again,

  15. Sally R.

    As one just starting this simplistic journey, I really enjoyed your post. It allows me the freedom to pick and choose what is important for myself and my family. Thanks!

  16. It has been my experience that we stand back congratulating ourselves too much and rewarding our “busy selves” that uses up precious time. The most over used and meaningless phrase these days is “I’m so busy” but if you took away TV, computer and doing coffee all of a sudden. I just don’t get the “I’m so busy” thing. What did everyone expect life was going to be? This is life. The notion of “Gap years” “Me Time” and other somesuch are a modern fabrication. I only have two children and I never felt I had the right to say how busy I was because my mother had five. Whatever choices you make for what ever benefits the planet and your family, do it with the understanding that this is just life, nothing heroic, nothing extraordinary, otherwise your children and their childrens children are going to grow up expecting a lot more self congratulation than is healthy. Sounds a bit harsh but I think someones got to say it. In no way am I having a go at the reader or the comments, I think we have to just bring in a bit of perspective. My mother always says, “if you want something done, ask a busy person”

  17. Yes- you’ve hit the nail on the head with this one and have always wondered how bloggers manage the time to blog and live simply with their children- it’s one I am really struggling with right now as the blog has encroached on the time I would have spent with my family-like right now! This is real food for thought, thank you so much for sharing this with us on Seasonal Celebration Kelsi! Happy Easter to you all!, Rebecca x

  18. Amanda

    I stress out at sooo much needing to be done and done quickly. My 2 YO loves to help, but she is such a hinderance and there’s always so much to do that I usually tell her to stop and go play (I know it sounds SOOOO horrible, and after reading this, even more so). Of course I also have a 4 YO that likes to help and fight her sister over who’s helping (i.e. taking the handful of laundry I can easily throw in the basket and tossing it in there for me. I do usually give them this bone and have them take turns). But when the 6 YO and 8 YO also get into the mix, I trip over alot of feet. But I’m learning, if I let them help now, they can take over and be ahappy about it down the road. My 6 and 8 YO’s love to feed the chickens, one chore I can scratch off my list now that I’m confident they are not starving or dehydrating them. I also put the new chicks out in the small coop during the day and inside at night (it’s still kinda cold) and they proved to me that they could handle getting them back and forth on their own. The little ones would ‘babysit the babies’ (which is what they like to call watching the chicks get transferred from one bin to another).

    So, the aggrivation of having them all under feet is worth it. I’m learning to let them learn and be patient about it.

    I’ve also found that getting up earlier and staying up later than them helps me get the things done that I can’t have them underfeet for such as sewing etc.

  19. oh my goodness! You do sound like a busy momma and having FOUR willing helpers is always a challenge, wonderful – but a challenge none the less! I totally agree – sometimes the hardest part is LETTING GO and allowing them to take 10x longer than you would to complete a task. They’re learning skills, but also character, and I have to CONSTANTLY remind myself of this! Kudos to you! Don’t get discouraged! it’s slow going but SO good for them! Thanks for stopping by! – kelsi