Life in a large family can be crazy at times. There’s always a bustle of activity, and plenty of stuff. In our efforts to simplify life in a large family, we work a lot on purging and decluttering.
It seems like we always have too much stuff. I’m learning that more stuff equals more cleaning. More stuff equals more stress. More stress is just bad. So some of the stuff has to go.
But, as I work through the process and try to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, I’ve also discovered that there are some things I already own that really help make life simple.
These items may not seem like much, but they do help simplify my life. With a busy family, a growing business, and life in general, simple is good!
A word of warning. These things may not simplify your life. Thus, don’t go out and buy one of each thinking that these five items will solve all your problems. They certainly haven’t solved all of mine. And they might not even be useful in a different season of life. But they are useful to me right now. How’s that for a rather random disclaimer? 🙂
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Now that we have those disclaimers out of the way, let’s dive in and check out five things that simplify life in a large family.
1. The Toilet Seat
Okay. I know what you’re thinking. How in the world can a toilet seat simplify life? Just hear me out.
I was skeptical too. In fact, we recieved this as a gift from Bryan’s older brother for Christmas several years ago. And it sat in the box for a long time. I wasn’t really seeing the need for it back then.
But now that we’ve been using it through several potty training kids (with a couple more to go…), I’m sold.
This toilet seat is different. See that fancy insert that my hand is holding? That snaps down and provides a training seat for the kids. That way they can’t fall into the toilet. (Important stuff!) You know what is so awesome about this seat? It allowed us to get rid of the small potty chair we used to have. Those are horrible to clean and take up space that my small bathroom just doesn’t have.
Another bonus? Because my kids are learning on a normal sized potty (except for the smaller hole), they aren’t scared of sitting on potties in stores or at other houses. That has been a huge blessing!
You can pick up your own special toilet seat like this at Amazon, or at a home improvement store like Home Depot. I’m sure they sell them elsewhere…those are just two spots that I know from experience sell them.
2. The Apple TV
My children, especially the toddlers and my disabled son Owen, love pulling DVDs off the shelf. And in the process, it never failed that a disc we really enjoyed would get scratched. Then it’d be unplayable.
So when we bought our Apple TV, it really helped to streamline life and simplify things. I don’t spend any time now picking up DVDs or worrying that they’re going to get scratched. That’s because we have converted our DVD collection to iTunes and have placed all the DVDs in the basement.
We use a program called DVDFab to do the conversion. Whenever we get a new movie, we create a digital backup immediately. Then, we drag it into iTunes. Once it’s there, we can use the Apple TV to access it.And I can take the DVD down to the basement and store it, where the kids won’t damage it.
One downside is that this takes a lot of space on our computer. But, we have a computer that we basically use just for this, so it works for our family. We’re talking about buying a portable hard drive to store them on, but haven’t done that yet.
Another bonus of the Apple TV is that it takes my photos from my phone and uses them as a screensaver type background for the TV. We often just sit and look at these pictures together, talking about memories.
3. The InstantPot
When I got an InstantPot for Christmas, I wasn’t sure how much I’d use it. But then I tried it. And once I got past the learning curve, I was hooked. I now use this regularly. It even made the trip to Missouri with me this summer, because I knew I would want to use it while we were at Missionary Acres.
I use my InstantPot regularly for:
- Mashed potatoes
- Bone broth
- Making yogurt (way more reliable than my previous method!)
And so much more. It is probably my most used kitchen appliance.
It doesn’t always save a ton of time. In fact, somethings (like mashed potatoes) actually take longer when you factor in the time coming to pressure and getting rid of it once it’s done. But, there is one thing the InstantPot does well.
It cooks food without me babysitting it. So I don’t have to worry about the potatoes boiling over and making a huge mess on the stove. Or the rice scorching on the bottom.
4. A Planner
I absolutely am thankful for my Clever Fox Pro planner. It helps me keep everything from my to-do list out of my brain. The simply process of writing things down has definitely helped to free up brain power.
It has both a monthly section, and a weekly one. This allows me to quickly see what dates are available for appointments and things, while still providing space for more detailed planning. It works really well to organize my business tasks and personal ones.
I do a weekly planning session on Sunday, and then each day I can see what needs to get done. If something comes up, I can quickly use arrows to rearrange tasks.
And as an added bonus, the planner is easy to find if I misplace it. It’s so much easier than trying to track down random pieces of paper or post-it notes with ideas and tasks written down.
If you aren’t writing things down, I highly recommend trying to do so as a way of clearing your mind. Your brain can only hold onto so much before it starts purging! 😀
5. An Audible Membership
Let me preface this section by saying that my son Owen has Pica and regularly destroys books to eat them. Having books set out or baskets of books isn’t something we can do, because they all get destroyed. We have had to toss so many books because they lost pages and got ripped up.
But, I still wanted a way to make our house more of a literary environment. Audio books to the rescue! We can listen to a book while folding laundry or cleaning up. I use air play on my phone to listen to it on the TV. Then we can all hear it.
Often the kids get engrossed in the story, which motivates them to go read the book.
We are on the two book a month subscription. Some of our family favorites are:
- The Ramona Qumiby Audio Collection
- The Henry Huggins Audio Collecion
- Father and I Were Ranchers (and other books by Ralph Moody)
- The Princess Bride
- The Roald Dahl Audio Collection
- The Penderwicks
- The Ralph S. Mouse Audio Collection
- Running Out of Time
- The Sign of the Beaver
We’re currently listening to a new (to us) collection, The Adventure Collection. This one has:
- Treasure Island
- The Jungle Book
- Gulliver’s Travels
- White Fang
- The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
We’ve listened to so many great books. And I don’t have to worry about Owen destroying them.
Simplify Life in a Large Family
There you have it – five things that are really helping to simplify life in a large family right now. What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.