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Aug 10, 2022 12:00:00 AM

Back to the Basics: Family Activities & Ways to Simplify Life

In this day and age, it's hard not to get too caught up in a season of busyness that we forget to enjoy of some life's simple things.

Busyness is something Mason in "Mr. Manhattan" struggles with as a rising lawyer at a prominent law firm in New York City. When he unexpectedly becomes the guardian of his niece and nephew, he tries to fit all his responsibilities into his life without asking for help or looking to simplify things anywhere. His responsibilities to the kids make him realize that he needs to slow down and simplify his life in order to be present to his family.

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Life's busyness can remind us of the story of Mary and Martha from the Bible. In Luke 10:38-42, she is rushing to prepare for Jesus to stay in her home. While she is busy accomplishing what she believes to be the most important tasks, her sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet. Mary's only task was to spend time with Him. When Martha expressed her exasperation to Jesus, He said:

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

Another example of life's busyness needing simplifying is in “An Unlikely Angel." Janie, a toymaker for a big-time company in New York. She spends most of her days being busy – tackling the next project at work, competing for the top spot at her company, and seeking validation in the form of things she can add to her resume. But is this how we’re truly called to live? Is this the kind of lifestyle that is going to lead to our salvation?


At the end of “An Unlikely Angel”, we see Janie make the choice to slow down and simplify her life in order to spend time with loved ones. She reset her priorities and stopped seeking the approval of her boss and conquering the next big work project. When she took the time to get back to basics, she was inspired with a new business venture, a line of vintage toys. It was when Janie’s daughter discovered a treasure chest full of toys from a bygone era that Janie remember that simple pleasures are timeless. back-to-basics-unlikely-angel-list-pure-flix-blog-800px-450px

Reminiscing about our own favorite childhood toys and simpler times, we came to realize how much more fleeting these moments can be nowadays. Just like Janie and Mason, the digital age, technology and societal pressures have made it harder to have a healthy work-life balance and for us to “chose what is better,” like Mary did in the Book of Luke.

To restore some balance, we wanted to share a list of ways you and your family can slow down and honor the simpler times:

  • Make up a game to play outside - or play foursquare, tag, or jump rope - like Mason and his niece and nephew did in Central Park!
  • Get a spikeball set or pickleball paddles for a new after-work hobby.
  • Walk to the local park to play basketball, soccer or volleyball.
  • Take a bike ride around the neighborhood. Turn it into a game of “eye spy” game for extra fun!
  • Find a local trail or path for a nice retreat in nature. Bonus points if you take a trash bag to clean up as you walk!
  • Go to a lake and feed the fish.
  • What was your favorite toy growing up? Buy it for your kids and show them how much you enjoyed it, just like Janie!
  • Play a board game instead of having video game time at home.
  • Can you walk to the grocery store, library or pharmacy instead of driving there?
  • Ride your bike to school one day a week instead of taking the bus.
  • Stressed or feeling rushed? Take 5 minutes to take a deep breath, give thanks to God for something in your day, then reset.
  • Wash the dishes the old-fashioned way by hand with soap and water rather than using the dishwasher. 
  • Take it up a notch - make it a family event by adding some music and getting everyone involved in kitchen clean up!
  • Start a gratitude list. Make sure to write on it as much as you write on your to-do list.
  • Bring a water bottle wherever you go and remember to drink it!
  • Drive a full day without turning on the radio. Use the time to pray instead!
  • Go one full day without using social media and limiting screen time to important calls or texts only. Just like Reuben helps Mason do in church!
  • Make one full meal using only one pot or one kitchen appliance.
  • Pack a lunch instead of eating out during your lunch break.
  • Sit down as a family for dinner with no phones. Share the highs and lows of your day or week.
  • Have a family night: play a game, make up a new game, learn to play a song together.
  • Schedule to meet up with a friend or family member in person than using FaceTime or calling them on the phone.
  • Declutter one room of your house. Be strict on what you actually use to keep and what you can donate.
  • Take the closet challenge. Every time you wear something, put it back on the hanger facing the opposite direction as when you chose it. In six months, donate those that are on hangers still facing the direction you started.
  • Go a full day without having a negative attitude or reaction to any situation you encounter.

What else would you add to the list? How do you and your family remember to "chose the better part" of spending time with your loved ones, including God? 

And don't forget to watch "An Unlikely Angel" and "Mr. Manhattan" exclusively on Great American Pure Flix! Ready to start streaming? Sign up for Great American Pure Flix now

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Marissa Zimmet

I was born and raised just across the bay from Tampa, Florida (Go, Lightning!) and attended college at ECU in Greenville, North Carolina. I am a devout Catholic and am active in my parish in Charlotte, North Carolina. Outside of work, I love to run, hike, watch movies and hockey, and spend time with my dog, Rose, and my cat, Toasty, who are both rescues.