Summer is on the way. I can tell because I want to scratch my eyes out from all the pollen around at the moment. I’m pretty excited that the days are getting longer and I’m looking forward to getting back into regular evening walks.
September marks one year since my son started school. The time’s flown by, well apart from the first day. That first day seemed like the longest day of my life. Waiting and waiting to pick him up and find out how it went. I climbed up a bank so I could sneak a peek through his classroom window. I still love it when I arrive early for pick up and get to watch him doing his thing when he doesn’t know I’m there.
I am a bit bleary-eyed as I write this as I’ve just returned from Chicago. I took a short, impromtu trip to help out a family member. While the trip focused on practical matters, we also had plenty of fun.
I’ve visited Chicago before, so this trip was more about hanging out and appreciating everyday local gems than seeing the sights. I discovered Jeni’s ice cream and Dovetail brewery. I tried horchata and root beer for the first time. I ate at Chicago Diner and could do so every day and be very happy. But, the highlight was going to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, a smashing introduction to baseball … plus hotdogs!
What I like about the whole sparking joy thing is the acknowledgement that our attachment to stuff isn’t purely rational. What I don’t like is some of the practices I’ve seen it lead to – what I categorise as rampant updatism. Like getting rid of all your towels, which, until yesterday, were perfectly functional, but now no longer spark joy and must be immediately updated to something more joy sparking.
Well, this month I did some updating of my own and it sparked a ridiculous amount of joy. We have new bar stools and every time I glimpse them I smile. I’m now considering updating something else. Is this the beginning of the end?
Looking back at June, a clear theme emerges – letting go. At the start of the year, with my son settled into school, I decided to pivot towards more paid work. I told everyone I know that I was looking for contract or freelance work. I crossed my fingers and hoped some work would trickle in. Well, there’s been a steady stream. It caught me offguard. I still consider myself a stay at home mum who works a bit on the side. Well, that was until this month, when some crunching of the numbers revealed I was working virtually full-time and pulling in pay cheques equal to my husband. It isn’t a blip – I’m a working mum now and there had to be changes for that to be sustainable. I couldn’t add in more paid work without letting other things go.
The other day I was reading It feels good to be busy – that’s the problem on Tiny Ambitions when something struck me. In the post, Britt describes how she was drawn into some busyness-one-upmanship with a colleague. I could totally relate to the post. I started typing a comment to Britt, when the realised I can’t actually remember the last time this happened to me. While busy-bragging used to be a feature of my everyday conversations, it’s not anymore.
Regular readers will know that I’m making an effort to push back against the glorification of busyness – in my own mind and in my words. And it has made a difference!
Busyness – occasionally it’s is unavoidable, but mostly it’s a state of our own making. You don’t sit down and think to yourself, “I want my day to be so frantic I’m bent over in pain at 3 pm cos I haven’t had a chance to pee” or write on your list of goals, “Life so full, catch-ups with friends must be scheduled two months in advance”. You don’t have to. Busyness creeps up on you and is the result of a myriad a small, everyday decisions. In fact, it’s so insidious that unless you take intentional steps to avoid it, busyness weasels its way in as life’s default setting.
That’s my experience. I took a big intentional step to get out of the rat race. I quit my job. Rather than being a mother and a worker, I became just a mother. Problem solved. Except it wasn’t.
April has been about two things: school holidays and decluttering. Term 1 was long and we all needed a break. I get the feeling that as a parent, I’m meant to dread the school hoidays, but I like them. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had our moments, but I enjoyed not having to be anywhere by a certain time and having my wee buddy around more.
I just completed a round of the Minimalism Game. I did this for the first time nearly three years ago – wow what a difference.
I thought it was going to be more difficult than the first time around as I don’t have the same quantity of excess stuff. Gone are the days of finding a bag full of plastic takeout cutlery (that we’d taken when we moved house, twice!), 50 or more plastic bags and hundreds of old magazines. It was even difficult to find pens that didn’t work.
Who else is concerned with the pace of this year? It’s the end of March already and I’m still getting used to writing 2018.
February was a real whirlwind, but things settled down a bit in March. I participated in the Slow Your Home Podcast’sGet Outside Slow Experiment. I challenged myself to spend 45 minutes outside every day. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I know from experience that spending time outside does wonders for my physical and mental wellbeing. If you follow my Instagram stories, you’ll see my frequent #beachwalk posts. I’m fortunate to live five minutes stroll from the beach and I try to get there most days, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Buying a present for a kid’s birthday party, paying for a school trip and finding a new rubbish collection service. These are a few of the things that landed on my plate this week, aside from the usual buying groceries and returning library books. Thankfully, my husband pays the bills.
You think you have all these little jobs that keep things ticking along under control, then something new pops up. It’s constant.
I can’t make these jobs magically disappear, but I can share the tricks I use to keep on top of errands and household administration with a minimum of fuss.
After all the fun of January, February has seen a return to the ordinary. I could lament that, but I’m not. Holidays wouldn’t be such a delight if life was like that all the time.
The wee guy is settled back at school and loving it, but it’s been a big change for me. I’m working around 20 to 25 hours a week, mostly from home, at the moment. I’ve struggled a bit to find my rhythm with blogging, but I managed to post 8 easy tips to simplify housework. In the post, I touch on one of the real successes I’ve achieved through embracing minimalism: that my home is pretty much guest-ready, most of the time.