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What is Simple Living?


Simple family room in minimalist home

Simple living, or minimalism, is a lifestyle of intention that invites us to hold only what supports a meaningful life and let go of the rest.

The simple part describes a conscious curation of family life and everything in it into alignment with your true values. 

While mainstream families are drowning in the rush of more, we are floating in the slowness of enough. We say no to the overwhelming distraction of clutter and busyness so we can say yes to quality time, treasured people, and fulfilling experiences.

The living part means that it’s not a one-time declutter, but an ongoing posture of intentionality that you carry through every layer and season of life. 

Can you be a minimalist with kids?

Not only can you be a minimalist with kids, but it’s hugely beneficial to kids. Simplicity is a big part of the recipe for helping children (and their parents) thrive. Kids need open space in terms of time, the environment, even parenting (less control and more freedom). I have many episodes of the Sage Family Podcast on minimalism but episode 49 with Kim John Payne on Simplicity Parenting is the best place to start.

minimalist tween boy's bedroom desk

Does being a minimalist mean you have to live in a tiny white house?

Minimalism doesn’t look any one way and it is accessible to everyone. It’s about being intentional in designing your “just right” and that will look different for everyone. Your brand of minimalism might be full of color, and that’s okay. 

We’re so busy, but isn’t that just life with kids?

Show me your calendar and your bank account and I’ll show you your values.

We’re all living out values, the problem is that most people are living out unconscious values, going through the motions of what they believe is expected of them and trying to keep up with a race that doesn’t even really exist. 

Life with kids is not inherently busy. If it feels busy, it’s because we have chosen to make it so. I want to empower you here with the reality that everything in that calendar is a choice. 

As a homeschooling mamapreneur with 3 kids, I choose to live an unbusy life, and if I can, you can too. 

glass mason jars and white mugs in minimalist kitchen

Our home is so overwhelming that I don’t know where to begin.

I actually recommend starting in your bathroom. It’s a small space without a lot of sentimentality that can be a quick yet profound win since you use it every single day. I have a post right here that will walk you through the process.

Self-care is so hard for me to find time for and without it I feel like I’m drowning.

You will never “find time” for self-care. It’s not something you stumble upon under a couch cushion: “Oh look at that! I just found an old hour of time to myself!” It’s something you make time for.

One of the biggest misconceptions I see sabotaging the success of mothers with self-care is the misconception that self-care and alone time are synonymous. If you need to be alone to meet your needs, you will not be successful.

Instead, focus on proactively meeting your needs while integrated with your family. My favorite way to help women do this is by designing a morning routine that fills you up, so you then spend the rest of the day mothering from a full cup. I have a fantastic workbook to walk you through this called 8 Secrets to a Nourishing Morning Routine over in the Sage Family Village.

minimalist boys bedroom

Money is so stressful, but I don’t want less of it. How can I simplify my finances?

Simplifying personal finance is a real passion of mine because money is one of the keys to unlocking the life of your dreams, though probably not in the way that you think. It’s not about “more,” it’s about “simple.” You can win with money when you align every dollar with your values.

I have a class called Sage Money that will change your entire financial life but for now, the episode 32 of the Sage Family Podcast on Debt Freedom is a good place to start.

Is minimalism a religion or a cult?

It’s a philosophy and lifestyle in the same way that gentle parenting and natural homeschooling are, though I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a spiritual component to my experience of minimalism. Shedding the heavy distractions that keep us from knowing our true selves and connecting authentically with others and the world around us—it lightens and brightens my soul. 

Reusable cloth napkins and towels in zero waste kitchen

My closet is stuffed with clothes but I have nothing to wear. Help!

This is a common phenomenon that comes from the stimulation overload and decision fatigue associated with too much, but for a mother whose body and identity have been reborn with each child, clothing becomes even more profound, for better or worse. Getting dressed can be an act of self-love and identity affirmation. I can show you how (I promise it’ll be fun) in the Minimalist Wardrobe class.

How do minimalist families handle gift giving?

Minimalists value experiences over things. That doesn’t mean we eschew gifts. 

For my birthday every year, I choose one new place for us to explore and I ask my husband to do all of the planning that I typically handle. This little trip is my birthday gift and it’s glorious. I keep a gift list for each member of the family that we can all curate throughout the year and I purchase things off that list for gift-giving holidays. I give gift-giving members of our extended family a small list of gift ideas each year that include memberships, passes, classes, and ideas for shared experiences (like wrapping movie tickets and a box of candy for the gift of going to see a movie together). You can read this post on celebrating winter solstice to see how we focus our holidays.

Minimalist women's closet with simple capsule wardrobe

When I hear simple living, I think of food. Is healthy eating part of minimalism? 

If we’re talking about making conscious choices for your life that enhance your well-being, that is likely to include sustainable, natural, healthful eating.

Episode 41 of the Sage Family Podcast on Food is one of my most popular episodes for good reason—our relationships with food can be complicated, but they don’t have to be, especially when it comes to supporting our children in developing a healthy relationship with food.

When it comes to mealtime, the best piece of advice I have to offer is to not say a word about food at the dinner table. Offer a healthy meal, with at least one thing you know your child likes, then simply enjoy your meal. Talk with your partner about a dream vacation, laugh at your child’s jokes, savor the flavor of the side dish you made and love. Make the food and then let go of your attachment to your child’s experience of it. Let them own that.

Food decanted in glass mason jars on open shelves in minimalist kitchen

How can we leverage our minimalism to save the planet?

Less, but better.

Living in harmony with ourselves, with the people we love, and with our environment is a core component of minimalism. Sustainability, in every sense of the word. 

This plays out in our choices for how we live, vote, and purchase. When my hair brush needed to be replaced, I bought a wooden one that would last longer. When the blazer I hardly wear but do occasionally need was outgrown, I replaced it with a second-hand version.

I actually choose to make one shift toward zero-waste living each month (You can read this post for 5 quick, sustainable kitchen swaps.). While these small choices might seem insignificant, they do add up. Part of simple living is focusing on what is within your control and every purchase is a vote for the kind of world you want to live in.

Minimalist bohemian teen girl bedroom

Simple living is the antidote to the chronic state of stress that is plaguing the modern family, pushing quirks across the spectrum into disorder. This is your formal invitation to consciously curate your family life. Aligning your choices, both big and small, with your values, is the path to a peaceful and meaningful life. 

Start by taking the Minimalist Wardrobe class. While a closet might seem insignificant, it touches on so many important aspects of personhood and life that it will change your trajectory.

Deep breath, my friend. More space, more time, and more peace are within reach.

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I work from an island in the Pacific Northwest, where I live wild and free in connection with my hilarious husband and three growing sailors in our fixer upper on the beach. I authentically live this healing work out loud raising my own neurodivergent family (inner child included) and draw on my decades of education and experience (I've done all the nerdy work so you don't have to) to guide a revolution of overwhelmed parents just like you to feeling at peace within yourself, consciously connected with your children, embraced by a supportive community, and enjoying a values-aligned life you love.

Gentle parenting, natural homeschooling, & simple living mentor

I'm Rachel Rainbolt

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