Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Striving for Simplicity

Simplicity looks different for everyone.  Some will achieve simplicity by stocking up tons of clothing so they can shop their own personal thrift store in the spare room closet and others will find it in only having 4 outfits at a time for each kid and passing on all other clothing that comes their way.  For some simplicity is having a night or two each week when they eat out and take a break from cooking, and for others simplicity is going out once a month or less to save money for something else.  For some it means shopping once a month, for others, it's a peaceful trip to the store every week.

One thing is for sure:  I'm constantly bombarded by too much.  Too much clutter, too much laundry, too much on my to-do list, too many expectations put on me by myself and others, too many dishes to do, too many fights to mediate, too many deals calling for my money via e-mail ads, too many things trying to distract me from my priorities, etc. etc. etc.

This is why I'm always striving for simplicity.  It's not something you can achieve by doing a major de-cluttering of your house a couple of times a year or trimming down your commitments one time.  Life is busy, life is messy, life is complicated sometimes.  Simplicity is something that you have to continually work at, like maintaining a healthy weight or being fit and in shape.

Here are some things I hope to do this year in striving after simplicity for our family:

Guard our day of rest.
Too often we get caught up in a whirlwind of church activities on Sundays or home projects on Saturday and we don't have enough time to truly unwind or just kick back on the weekends. 
I would love to see Sundays become a media-free day in our home, where the internet and TV are off-limits for the day.  My hubby has recently become a football fan, but he usually watches it at his friends' house anyway.
I would love to ignore dishes, housework, and laundry on Sundays and be able to take a nap or read a book and relax. 

Examine my relationships.
Staying in touch is important to me and I have been blessed with many wonderful friends.
However, maintaining close friendships with all of the wonderful folks I know or even just the occasional phone call here and there with an old friend can eat up too much valuable time in my day.  Letting go of friendships is VERY hard for me, but I need to do so.  I have set a "time budget" for each day and allotted time to connect with friends.  I am also letting go of friends who have moved on or don't stay in touch and trying to focus on the people right in front of me whom God has put in my life to take priority.

Participate in a lot of activities! 
For some this may be the opposite of simplicity.  But for our family, life seems to be so much easier when we get out daily or near-daily and interact with people.  Maybe it's the scheduled activity and the break from my child for a moment or the fact that I get energized by some adult conversation or am more motivated to get my housework done if I know we have plans for the day, but I find that life is much easier when we are going to lessons/groups of some kind.  Ali is thoroughly enjoying her homeschool art lessons and homeschool ice-skating this month and soon I will enrolling the boys in preschool swimming lessons.  We will likely have Jer in rec soccer this spring and Ali in more art classes, and a "How To Use the Library" class too.  Of course it's easy to go overboard with this and have too much going, but I think we will seek to have at least a couple of activities a week, in addition to Play and Pray so that we can all find refreshment in the chance to get out of the house and into a new environment for a little bit.

Produce less trash.
Why am I concerned with this?  I am fascinated by this family and am inspired to look for ways that we can produce less trash too.  I want to start a compost bin and collect our paper scraps for burning at the wood shop where my husband works.  I want to buy things with less packaging wherever possible and do re-usable wrapping options for birthdays and Christmas as much as  possible.  I'm not, however, going to go back to cloth diapers with Katrielle (the Miralax she takes for constipation would make this most unpleasant!) or give up all paper plates and clorox wipes, but I can take baby steps toward improvement in this area.  Less trash means fewer runs to the dump for my hubby and money saved (since it costs him about $5 per time he takes our garbage to the dump.)

Plant a small container garden.
For those who think I can do it all, gardening is an area where I miserably fail!  I cannot keep a plant alive to save my life and I also realize that in our climate the growing season is incredibly short and in our town, where the roaming deer necessitate 10 foot high fences around gardens, it is cheaper to buy vegetables and fruits than to attempt to grow them, for the most part.  But, I can grow a container of lettuce and a container of herbs on the porch!  Baby steps!

Figure out what I'm going to do with facebook.
I have a love/hate relationship with facebook.  I love the way fb allows me to connect with sooo many friends and relatives I would otherwise lose touch with.  I love that I can share photos and what's going on in my life with my brothers who live far away.  I love making people laugh with funny kid quotes and sharing photos that I've taken that have touched my heart or bless my extended family members.  I love the godly perspective I get from older aunties and friends weighing in on my life problems.  I love that I can save myself 20 phone calls a week regarding church stuff, Pray and Play announcements, and playdate and homeschool get-together stuff by sending a quick message.  I love that I can post my clients' pics quickly, without having to pay for an online gallery site, and their friends and family can see them.  I love being able to check in with my close friends daily and see if they're doing okay.  But, I dislike the hypnotic distraction that fb can be.  I hate not being able to keep up with every post, knowing that the updates I do see are hit and miss.  I dislike the added drama/tension in my life that comes from interacting with tons of people minus tone and body language and the overload of information and causes to join and heartbreaking stories and tragedies affiliated with everyone I've ever known.  So, I feel trapped into staying on fb, for now...but am continually re-evaluating it and trying to avoid spending much time on it.

Shop less.
I would love to figure out how to shop once-a-month and be in a habit of this by the end of this year. At this point in time we don't have a deep freeze and I'm a little nervous about my family eating everything within the first couple of weeks.  If we don't have much for snacks, my hubby and kids will give up and not eat as much or ask for as much to eat.  So, guarding the groceries would be a challenge, as well as finding space for all the frozen items.  I feel that shopping less would simplify my life and schedule quite a bit.  But, on the other hand, we wouldn't get quite as good of deals, as we often buy from the mark-down shelves at the grocery stores, where the deals are even better than coupon deals.

I plan to check in monthly on my blog and post my progress with my goals for the year and my "striving for simplicity" goals.


Thia said...

I generally shop one a month, making two stops. If I have all the kids with me, it can take as much as 6 hours to do including a short lunch break. If I have none of the kids, I work through lunch and can cut it down to just over 4 hours. This includes all groceries as well as our paper products. I bring coolers and the whole nine yards. Then, mid month I will go to get some fresh produce and dairy as needed (although I generally keep a gal of milk in the freezer) We go through about ten doz eggs a month though and I do not have room for all that in the fridge (hahah). It's hard, after 6 hours out, it all still needs to be dealt with in the house! For us though, it has worked for the last several years, especially when we've lived further from the stores and can't just "run over." Menu planning is very important as is adequate storage. As far as snacks, I try to buy enough, but when it's gone, it's gone. If I get the chance to make something...then great. Otherwise, I generally aim for big bags of animal crackers and pretzels, stuff like that. I think I've taken enough room up...but if I think of more, I'll add.

Thia said...

Oh...I've been trying to use online shopping. With Wal Mart if you spend over $45, shipping is free. So I try to order our soaps and TP etc that way. Of course, for coupon shoppers, this isn't the best deal. But it saves me time and effort!

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