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.
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.
I can’t quite believe I have been blogging for over over two years. I still feel like a beginner, finding my voice. I recently read a post by Cait Flanders on slow blogging. It prompted me to reflect on why I blog. For me, it’s about connecting with others. To increase connection, I want to put more of me into my blog. To date, I’ve shared a lot of advice about decluttering and slow living based on my experience, but not a lot about myself.
So here goes, I’ve put on my big girl undies and I’m going to get a bit more personal. I’m starting with a regularly monthly feature on what’s happening in life for me, right now. Let me know what you think.
It is spring, the days are getting longer, I’m enjoying my evening beach walks and I feel great.
Noticing how great I’m feeling now, I realised, I hadn’t been feeling so great through winter. Nothing was bothering me in particular, I just felt a bit flat and unmotivated. I was stuck in a rut.
Fortunately, a change of season was all I needed to switch gears and feel excited about life again. Lucky me. Lifting yourself out of a rut isn’t always so easy. If you’re searching for help to get going again, I’d like to point you toward three books I found really helpful when I felt blah and lost.
Each book guides you through a series of actions to reorientate your life. What I really appreciate about all three books is the emphasis on experimentation. Each offers some general principles along with a range of bite-size exercises designed to get you trying new things or thinking in a different way, rather than a blueprint to be followed.
“Help please. I feel like I’m a total failure. With working and trying to keep on top of things at home, I feel like I am dropping the ball all the time. Does anyone else feel this way? What is wrong with me? How do you mummies manage it all?”
So read the plea from a fellow mum. I could relate. Three years ago, I could’ve been the one posting this in the local mum’s Facebook group. I was giving it my all to be a good employee and a great mum, but I didn’t feel like I had a decent grip on either role. Life was a blur of one narrowly adverted minor disaster after another. I was a crap friend and a bitch of a wife. As for anything else, there wasn’t room, that would all have to wait for “someday”.
I was totally overwhelmed by my life. I had never worked so hard to fail so miserably. And not just miserably, spectacularly. Sobbing-loudly-at-my-desk-a-colleague-bundling-me-into-her-car-to-take-me-home type spectacularly.
What advice could I offer this fellow mum to helpprevent her becoming a burnt-out mess? Over the last three years, I’ve learnt a lot about how to live a full and meaningful life and push your limits without pushing yourself over the edge.
Ahhh, the joy of a child playing quietly in his room. I pop my head around the door, only to see tufts of white stuffing poking out from under my son’s bed. Hmmm, it turns out that ‘playing quietly’ was actually disembowelling the large, handmade red velvet bear his aunt had given him.
With my less-than-impressed-mum face, I admonished him for 1) using scissors on anything other than paper, 2) not caring for his toys. On the inside, however, I was beaming. The sweet relief of getting rid of an over-sized, slightly creepy toy your child loves, without having to be the bad guy!
The thing in my home I feel the most torn about decluttering is toys. Fewer toys to trip over and tidy, that’d be fantastic. Plus, too many toys isn’t great for kids, I get that. But, the toys aren’t mine, nearly all of them were gifts, and they all seem so beloved.
Mum guilt about too many toys vs mum guilt over taking toys away – wow, which great option should I choose!
Decluttering toys, a great idea, but in practice, just another emotional minefield for the modern parent. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can make a lot of progress on the toy situation quickly and easily, without having to play the bad guy. Here’s how.
So, you want to slow down? Where do you start? What does slow living even look like in the real world? You’ve got commitments and responsibilities! Don’t worry, slowing down doesn’t mean you’ve got to ditch everything and park yourself up in a hammock.
My approach is “slow not lazy” – slowing down doesn’t mean doing nothing. In fact, slowing down can help you to achieve more of what really matters.
My commitments and responsibilities used to leave me feeling worn out and overwhelmed, but today, I thrive on them. What changed? A lot, but the most important thing was my mindset.
“Everyone’s rushing around, and look at you – sitting there all calm!”. I was at a women’s networking breakfast in the lead up to Christmas. The meeting was due to start and everyone was rushing in flustered and fussing around as they took their seats. When a colleague leaned in and made this remark to me, little did she know the burst of pride and empowerment I felt.
I was calm. Not because of my schedule, commitments and responsibilities, I was calm despite of them. I’d just dropped my son to preschool. I had to leave the breakfast meeting early to tutor a class for a sick colleague (swinging past home on the way to pick up my husband who needed the car). After finding a ride back to my office, I had an hour to finalise my work for the year before back-to-back meetings until it was time to collect my son. It was one of those crazy days. Days like these used to leave me a frantic, frazzled mess. But there I was – calm, focused and present. Surrounded by a tide of busyness, I felt its presence, but it didn’t sweep me away. This is slow living in the real world. Continue reading “Taking your first steps to slow living in the real world”