The Simple Year

This is a guest post from Kerry Reifel of The Simple Year. Kerry is sharing her story of simplifying and offering a very unique opportunity to share yours. Read on for more details. Thanks, Kerry!

What makes life simpler?

Is it an organized spice rack?

Could it be wash and go hair?

Is meditation the answer?

Or maybe, it’s the perfect glass of merlot after the kids go to bed?

I think yes, to all of these things. Simple is different to everyone.

Our family is nearing the end of a year-long project in which we pledged to buy nothing new.

We call it The Simple Year.

As we wind up, I’d like to report so far we have all survived, in spite of my kids initial misgivings. And by misgivings, I mean complete horror. In fact, I might say our lives have been improved—overall. Although on any given day I might be pulling my hair out trying to figure out how I’m going to acquire a science fair presentation board; but those moments have been fewer than the wins.

I think it’s important to mention, in many ways, we’re a typical middle class family with busy school age kids and a working mom. I don’t view myself as extreme in any way. In fact I would say I appear pretty much like all the other moms in the carpool lane.

Before we started our project, while I wouldn’t say we were hoarders, we did our fair share of consuming.

But for the last few years, I have toyed with the idea of some grand scheme to reduce our footprint, live simply, and to demonstrate to the children that some of the best things in life aren’t things at all. So that plan sounds very noble, but somewhere in the back of my mind was a nagging fear that such a project would decrease the quality of our life.

It is a scary leap.

Suddenly, the right opportunity presented itself. My husband was sent on an all-expense paid trip to the other side of the world for six months by his employer, the US military. At that time, the kids and I decided to move halfway across the country to some familiar territory.

It was a perfect opportunity to take only a small portion of our things and box the rest up for storage, a trial run at shedding some of our possessions.

Then we started our Simple Year.

My self-imposed rules were that we could buy consumables, such as food, healthcare products and medicine but everything else had to be either purchased used, repaired or we had to do without.

In the beginning I was prepared and had plans for all of the major holidays, birthdays and back-to-school. I approached all of those on high alert and those went off without a hitch. It was the unexpected nonsense that tripped me up, the thumb drives needed the next day for school, lost swim goggles and tights for a business meeting.

Actually, they are still causing me grief, probably as you read this. But, it has been worth it. I think we all have learned to be satisfied with a little less. My kids recognize scarcity which is a new concept to them. And, I have learned to think about solutions other than buying my way out of problems.

I have been documenting our journey on my blog The Simple Year. It has kept me honest and given me encouragement at times when I just wanted to break down and buy new running shoes.

Now that our Simple Year is nearly over, our family will still continue to live in much the same way we have been for the last year. But I think at the end of April, I will have said enough on the topic, for now.

I know there are other people out there with a Simple Year in them as well. I would like to find someone with their own project to take over the blog with its readers and online community.

Kerry and her family

Do you have a Simple Year in you? I have more details here:

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