Ok, so we’re a family of five and we live simply when compared to most families in the West.
What does that mean in our case?
- We have one family car.
- We don’t have a clothes dryer.
- We wash dishes by hand.
- We cook from scratch at home (ok, we don’t make our own bread, but freezer meals and takeaways are treats, not every day occurrences).
- We don’t use heating.
How do we do it? We’re not superheroes. We’ve simply learnt to live with and adapt to what we have.
So, here goes how we live with each one of these “limitations”, which actually end up being blessings. 🙂
How To Live Simply As A Family Of Five
1. Live simply with one car
To be honest, we’ve only ever had one car as a married couple, so when the kids came along, we learnt how to live with that.
How do we do it? Well, first-off, we walk! I’ve never been fond of driving, and because my husband needs to take the car to work (no public transport), I just walk to get my kids to school, and then walk to the shops, library, cafe, playground.
What about after-school clubs? You may be asking. Well, part of living simply is not hustling around with loads of after-school activities. At the moment, the kids only have some extra clubs at school a couple of days a week, which just entails walking down to get them later in the afternoon. (We live a 10-minute walk away from school.)
How about shopping? I do the bulk of my weekly shop online and then I just pick up bits and pieces from local supermarkets during the week. Often these are just quick shopping trips, which I make on my way back from the town centre.
2. Live simply with no dryer
I’ve lived most of my life without a clothes dryer. Sure, someone gave me a second-hand clothes dryer once, but it only lasted a few months before breaking down.
So how do I do all the laundry? I wash and hang dry all our clothes and I follow the one wash a day principle (except Saturdays as it’s the day we celebrate Sabbath). When it’s sunny, the clothes racks go outside. When it’s rainy, I put them in the bathrooms or basement with the dehumidifier on.
Then I gather all the laundry (only ironing bare essentials!) and get the kids to fold and tidy theirs. As there isn’t too much in one go, this works really well for our family.
3. Live simply with no heating
Ok, so we have heaters at home, but we rarely use them. This Winter, I’ve turned the heating on three times. While we don’t exactly live in the Artic, the north of Portugal can be cold in the Winter (between 2 and 8º C in the daytime) as well as really rainy and damp.
What’s our solution? Clothes, blankets, and slippers! 🙂 It’s a simple way of reducing energy costs.
4. Live simply with no dishwasher
I used a dishwasher for years. Ever since my husband and I got married, in fact. (The main reason being that he hates washing dishes haha). Then a few months ago our dishwasher broke.
So now we wash everything by hand. We make time in our daily routine to wash and dry the dishes. We all help out as a family. And that’s it. It helps that we’re not rushing around with extra-curricular activities before and after dinner.
5. Live simply by cooking at home
Ok, so we don’t have land, I don’t grow my own vegetables, and I don’t bake my own bread (I did during lockdown, though!). But what we do is that we make food at home without resorting to freezer meals and take-aways.
The way we do this is that we make simple dishes that only take 20 to 30 minutes to cook at dinnertime. In terms of lunch, the kids eat at school and my husband and I either eat leftovers, or simple things like soup or sandwiches.
Then on the weekends, we make a bigger cooked meal at lunchtime (Saturday’s meal is cooked on Friday!) and have leftovers or sandwiches for the other meal.
My husband usually helps me with the cooking at the weekend too. Occasionally, we will get a take-out, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
How to live simply – our routine
During the week, in the daytime, the kids are at school, my husband works at the office, and I work from home and the local library.
The kids go to bed at 8.00 in the evening and me and my husband work or have church things until 9.00/9.15 and then we rest until bedtime at around 10.30.
(This is during weeknights. On Saturday and Sunday nights, my hubby and I have date night and spend the evening relaxing together!)
On Saturdays, we have our Sabbath rest day. Then on Sundays we see friends, family, and meet the church.
As we only have one car, we do lots of things together at the weekend, and if we’re just in our city, we often walk down to the park or shops, instead of driving.
Living a simple life as a family of five in the West is doable when you live in a city or close to good transportation and learn to make time in your routine for slower living.
The truth is, simple living begets simple living, and complicated living begets complicated living.
If you want to live more simply by washing dishes by hand, air drying your clothes, cooking at home, or using just one car, you may need to make some major changes to how you spend your time, but I can guarantee that it’s worth it!
The main benefits of slow living are: less hustle and rush, more family time, healthier lifestyle, lower electricity costs, and family teamwork.
Is simple living perfect? Of course not! But for me and my family, it works. 🙂
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