Sometimes I feel as though I was born into the wrong era. That perhaps I would have been better suited for another time, a simpler time.
I often think about the women of generations past who managed their homes and raised their families without all of the digital chaos vying for their attention.
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with the Amish way of life. In my opinion, they are the epitome of simplicity.
I especially adore this precious family who agreed to be filmed for a documentary (traditionally, the Amish do not allow themselves to be photographed for any reason, but this family “rebelled” in hopes that others would come to know Jesus, and I applaud them for that.) The video is about an hour long, but if you’ve ever wanted to take a peek into Amish life, I highly recommend watching.
Truthfully, when we decided to downsize, I fantasized about living more like the Amish. Call me crazy, but I actually wanted to live “off the grid.” Yes, I know it’s hard work. Yes, I know that technology, with all its wonders, has made us so much more efficient. But has it really?
I’ve been contemplating this a lot lately, and I’ve found three lessons our modern society could learn from the Amish:
Ditch the distractions
It’s a well-known fact that the Amish live without electricity in their homes. For most of us, that’s a bit extreme. But they are adamant about keeping distractions at bay in order to protect their beliefs.
When we think about what distracts us in a typical day, we automatically think of our smartphones, computers and televisions. But take it a step further and consider how even keeping the lights on well into the night causes us to neglect our sleep in favor of some not-so-worthwhile endeavor.
Today, we’re so dependent on the electrical grid for just about everything we do. Should any of us be subject to a long-term power outage, we would need to find alternatives for heating/cooling our homes, cooking, personal hygiene, household chores and entertainment.
I would challenge you and your family to take an intentional break from the grid and see how it goes. I don’t mean like when a storm knocks your power out and you count the minutes until your WiFi returns. But predetermine a time (a weekend? 24 hours? 2 hours?) where you purpose not to use electricity.
How do you cook your food? How do you light your home? How do you sanitize your dishes? What do you do for fun? In our experience, kids love this – it’s like indoor camping and helps prepare them in case of an actual emergency.
The Amish are a tight-knit community. Anytime there is a need, they come alongside one another to ensure that it’s met.
I especially admire the way that newborn babies are celebrated.
I once heard an Amish mother say, “I have never been lonely a day in my life.” And I couldn’t help but wonder what that felt like, as my own motherhood journey has felt so isolating at times.
Especially for a first-time mom, figuring things out can be so challenging. Often times, we don’t ask for help because we don’t want to impose on anyone else.
Not the Amish. They treat newborn babies as a blessing and not a burden. New mothers have a wealth of experience and support surrounding them in aunts, grandmothers and other family and friends. They know that it “takes a village” to raise a child and they embrace the concept wholeheartedly.
Their children learn a strong work ethic from an early age because they are expected to help with the labor and there is plenty of it to go around. They are taught practical skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.
As someone who had to Google “how to hand wash dishes” the first time my dishwasher broke, and who still manages to make clothes more wrinkled when ironing, I would say that these are valuable skills.
While, yes, we can learn how to do just about anything online (I learned to knit by watching YouTube videos), something tells me the experience is not the same as those that are lovingly passed on from generation to generation.
Eliminate Decision Fatigue
Many Amish still adhere to conservative “plain dress” standards. They dress in very simple clothing, do not wear jewelry or makeup, and they do not bother with stylish hair-dos.
How much time do we spend on a given day deciding what outfit to wear, how to accessorize it, and then fussing over our hair and cosmetics?
I’ve talked about how my day runs so much smoother when I’m dressed and ready for the day, and I’m not planning to forego my mascara or flat iron anytime soon.
But at the same time, I feel compelled to find ways to simplify my routine. I have already minimized my wardrobe by getting rid of clothing that no longer fits, but I feel like it may be time for another closet purge.
During the week, I’ve basically narrowed it down to two pairs of jeans and a handful of comfortable tops that I rotate. I used to envy my husband for wearing a uniform to work, but now I’ve created my “mom uniform” and I don’t have to waste time deciding anymore. I’ve also found it’s helpful to lay my clothes out the night before, even if I’m not planning to go anywhere.
What about you? Could you ever see yourself living more like the Amish? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.