You take in your surroundings as you crash on the couch after getting the kids in bed. There are dirty dishes in the sink, a messy table, toys all over the living room, a full calendar of activities staring you in the face, and a to-do list a mile long. All you want to do is have five minutes to yourself, but duty calls. Every parent has been there at some point; but raising your kids doesn’t need to be this hard. You must find ways to simplify your life, bringing your family closer together and easing some of your daily burdens. These parenting tips will help you achieve the life that currently feels like a pipe dream.

1.   Condense Your Schedule

A full calendar isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – it leaves you frazzled and pulls you away from family time and independent play, especially when you have more than one child.

To clear some room in your schedule, decide how many activities each family member can be involved in. Help them choose and cut out the rest. You’ll be amazed at the time you can get back when you’re not driving around town every night. Plus, your kids need at least one night of downtime a week for development and family bonding.

2.   Pick Three a Day

Once you’ve tackled your calendar, turn your attention to the infamous to-do list. Toss your hundred-item monstrosity right where it belongs – in the trash. It isn’t serving you well and only leads to overwhelm when you reach the end of another day and see you still have so many things left that you wanted to get done. Live your life with some Costa Rican pura vida – or pure life – with less busywork and more family time.

Set yourself up for success by selecting no more than three things to get done each day. Create time in your morning or evening routine to choose essential tasks. Everything else can wait. If you accomplish those things, congratulations! You’re all done. Stop there and enjoy some rest or tackle another item if you’ve got plenty of time left in the day.

3.   Simplify Meals

Streamlining your family meals will free up your time and help you get dinner on the table painlessly. Spend one night each week prepping your menu and ingredients. Rather than creating a new selection of recipes each time, keep a list of meals your family loves and go through them on a rotation.

You can even prepare your ingredients ahead of time so you only have to pop the dish in the oven or set it on the stove when you get home from work. Slow-cooker meals and leftover nights are also great, saving you lots of time in the evening. TOP TIP: Make a double batch and freeze one for a future week’s meal.

4.   Create Family Routines

The most important of these parenting tips to simplify life is creating routines! Kids – and adults, too! – thrive on routine. Getting ready in the morning and for bed at night are hectic times for most families. Toothpaste everywhere but in mouths, PJs scattered across the floor, and the same reminders on repeat without results. If you’re tired of the chaos and yelling, work as a family to create simple routines.

Start with one new routine at a time, letting your family make it a habit before adding another. Bedtime is an excellent first choice for an overhaul since it helps you get everyone to sleep with less hassle and prepare for a successful morning. Everyone should have some responsibilities in the routine so you aren’t carrying the entire burden. Even little ones can help pick their outfit for tomorrow and a bedtime story.

5.   Downsize Your Stuff

It’s far too easy to let “stuff” pile up in your home, like junk mail, clothes you never wear, and your kids’ toys. Holding onto everything will only complicate your daily life, bringing down your mental health and making housework a challenge.

Go room by room and let go of anything you haven’t used in the last year and don’t plan to use next year. Get rid of trash and donate unloved items to someone who would appreciate them. Pay special attention to clothes and toys. We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time, so why hold on to the other 80%? You’re only overwhelming yourself with too many options.

Your kids feel the same when faced with a room full of toys. Children are much happier when they have fewer items to choose from. Otherwise, decision fatigue kicks in and leaves them unable to focus, bouncing from thing to thing or incapable of independent play. Get the kids involved, going through their playroom to declutter.

Make Your Simple Family Life a Reality

Enacting even a few simple living practices will significantly impact your daily life. As a family, you need to zero in on your priorities and values so you can create a reality that reflects them. Reducing your possessions, narrowing your activities, and working together to maintain your home will help you focus on what’s truly important to you and regain control of your life. Sign up for our family newsletter for more parenting tips.

About The Author

Cora Gold is a mother and writer who aims to connect with other moms through her experiences with navigating motherhood. Cora is the Editor-in-Chief of Revivalist magazine and writes for sites including For Every Mom, MommyBites and Playground Professionals. When she’s not writing about style and beauty for her magazine, Revivalist, she loves to share her experience with family life. Follow Cora on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.