Wow, we’ve reached the end of November. I can’t say this is my favourite time of the year. As we move into December, everything happens at once, plus I do a lot more shopping than usual.
A year or two ago, we simplified our household finances. We now have two joint bank accounts – one for day-to-day transactions and one for savings. We have debit cards hooked up to the transaction account. It works well, but theee’s one downside to this simple set-up that comes into focus at this time of year – it’s hard to buy a present and keep it a surprise, especially if you buy online!
My not-so-little-any-more boy recently turned six. We had a party to celebrate. He wanted a big party, if he’d had his way he’d have invited every kid he knows. We compromised on 22.
I’m not going to lie, the prospect of hosting 22 three- to eight-year-olds was daunting! Plus, the timing was fairly awful. Both my husband and I were going to be away (separately) in the lead up to the party and I had a massive work deadline the day before. It could have been a perfect storm of my own making. The kind of thing you avoid if your goal is to banish busyness from your life .
What was I thinking?
I was thinking, “I’ve got this”. Because I knew I did. Over the years of adopting a slow not lazy approach to life , I’ve learnt tips and tricks that help me to cut through the chaos and avoid feeling overwhelmed. I marshalled them all into action to enjoy the birthday party.
Essentially, it comes down to an easy, three step process that you can use to simplify any activity.
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.
What’s simpler – picking up your phone and ordering a pizza, or making dough, then kneading, proving, shaping, topping and cooking it?
In comparision to our convenience society, the make-it-yourself ethos of the simple living movement is the antithesis of simplification. However, the judicious addition of a little bit of DIY to your life is worth the effort as:
it’s a counter-weight to the norm of consume, consume, consume
you can’t beat the satisfaction of making something yourself, and
it gives you a real appreciation of what goes into making things.
There are so many ways you can get a dose of DIY – cooking, crafts, gardening. One I recommend to everyone is making your own household cleaners. It’s something we all use regularly and they’re surprising quick and easy to make, plus they’re better for the environment and a money saver.
I’ve been making most of my own cleaners for over a year now. You can find good recipes on the internet and buy most of the ingedients you need from any decent wholefoods store, but I buy mine from Figgy & Co. Not because they’re cheaper (they’re not), but because they have great recipes. Ones that really work for my household. I’ve written a post over on their blog where I share how I got started making my own cleaners . If you’re curious about making your own cleaners, but a bit unsure, head over and check it out. If you’ve got any questions, ask away. While I’m not enthusiastic about cleaning itself, I’m very enthusiastic about cleaning recipes.
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!