Everyday ways to help your future self

Everyday ways to help your future self - simple living

Do you keep biscuits (cookies for North American readers) in the house? I like to have them as a treat when kids come to play, but I don’t normally keep them in the house. Rather than saving the biscuits for guests, we (and by “we” I mean my husband and his 6-year-old accomplice) invariably end up eating them right after we buy them.

Instead, I keep the ingredients for biscuits ready to go and whip up a batch before someone comes over. Except, that’s just another thing to do, is useless for impromptu guests and we end up eating all the leftovers. At least, that was the scenario until I discovered slice-and bake-biscuits . Problem solved. Every so often, I make a big batch of dough that sits in the freezer, ready to slice and bake when needed. No dashing about before friends arrive, no eating too many biscuits.

This is very much at the trivial end of the spectrum of world problems, and finding a solution is hardly world changing. But I thought it was worth sharing as there are a lot of trivialities in everyday life and when added up they’re not inconsequential. Freeing yourself from little everyday annoyances and dilemmas can make a big difference.

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For me, right now: May 2019

For me, right now: May 2019 - what I've been doing, reading, listening to, making and thinking about
It’s been a really mild Autumn and we’ve been trying to make the most of it

Some of you may have picked up that I’ve been a bit absent around here lately. I decided to take a bit of a rest.

We had some very sad times as our dear wee kitten Lenny passed away. He was a very special young cat who became a big part of our family so quickly. For a few weeks, the only post I could have written was a whole page of “I miss Lenny”.

At the same time, I took on a big piece of work in a new subject area. My brain hurt. With the new work came a new, more demanding schedule and I needed to recalibrate my usual routines. I just didn’t have the bandwidth for blogging.

I took a different approach than I would of a couple of years ago. Rather than letting the words “do blog” languish unchecked on my to-do list and feel guilty about it, I got real. I looked at the time and energy I had available and made a choice to hit pause. Instead of feeling bad about not blogging for six weeks, I’ve been looking forward to getting back to it for six weeks. Big difference.

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Why to join a toy library – even if you already have too many toys

Why to join a toy library - even if you have too many toys already. Minimalism and decluttering for families.

Somehow, we ended up in the toy aisle, probably something to do with it being located right next to the kids pyjamas. My son was examining a display of dinosaurs from a well-known movie franchise.

“I’d really like one of these,” began his spiel.

“My friend Johnnie has one of these. He has lots of cool toys; way more than me”.

This was the first time Mr 6 had volcalised a difference I was wondering if he’d notice – most of his friends have more toys than he does, some have a lot more.

A forlorn expression sets on his face. Is he just putting it on or is my minimalism harming his self-worth? I stop freaking out and give him the facts, he likes facts.

“Johnnie does have more toys than you,” I tell him. “But, did you know those are the only toys he gets to play with? He doesn’t get to go to the toy library and choose new toys like you do.”

“He doesn’t get to go to the toy library?”, my son replies in concerned disbelief.

“No,” I explain, “You’re lucky you get to go to the toy library. What would you rather have: all of Johnnie’s toys or go to the toy library?”

“Toy library, definitely” is the firm reply.

We’ve been using the toy library regularly since the wee guy was six months old (not that he had any interest in toys then – just as well we didn’t buy any!). He loves the toy library – every couple of weeks he gets to pick out new toys to bring home. I love it too. If there’s a toy library near you, I highly recommend using it – even if you have too many toys already.

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For me, right now: February 2019

What I've been doing, reading, listening to, making and thinking about in February 2019 #slowliving
This month, I saw a flying pig and got tangled in a giant purple octopus

And just like that, summer exits and chilly autumn mornings arrive. While I enjoy a slow summer, the season ahead it shaping up to be more of a test of my slow-living principles.

Last month, I mentioned my intent to do more to lessen my environmental impact. So as not to feel overwhelmed, each month I plan to set myself one small action to incorporate into my life.

A big thank you to all the readers who said they’d like to join me in giving this a go. I’ve set up a Facebook group – Small action, Big difference – where we can support each other and share our progress. The idea is, we each pick our own action for the month, but you’re welcome to use mine as inspiration.

My action for March is one that’s been on my list to investigate for a while – buying packaging-free meat. I’m looking forward to getting started.

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How to simplify getting dinner on the table

How to simplify getting dinner on the table - four tips to take the drama out of cooking for your family

At school, I was a diligent student – a “brain strain” as my brother liked to call me – but the only subject I ever came top of the class in was home economics.

I’m no gourmet, but cooking is fun for me, a creative outlet and a way to relax. Or at least it was. Parenthood kind of ruined that.

These days, cooking is mostly a utilitarian activity. Preparing dinner is a precarious mission to get something palatable and vaguely nutritious on the table before someone has a meltdown (usually me).

Cooking dinner for kids may not be a walk in the park, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare either. Here are four things I do to make it easier.

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For me, right now: January 2019

 

For me, right now: January 2019 - what I've been doing, reading, listening to, making and thinking about #slow living
Living here, we’re not desperate to get away for a holiday

School is back and all of a sudden, it’s stifling hot – it must be the end of January. I’ve had a very chilled-out month, enjoying the school holidays and opportunity to forgo my usual routines.

Introducing Holly and Lenny - two recent additions to our family #slowliving
Introducing Holly and Lenny – they’ve already grown so much since this picture

After Christmas, we welcomed two new members to our family: Lenny (he’s black and white) and Holly (she’s the tabby). We’re enjoying getting to know them and watching them get up to all sorts of mischief. It’s like having a toddler in the house again.

The summer holidays were one epic staycation. We took advantage of the beach being only a stroll away. The wee guy went on a little holiday of this own to my parent’s farm. Mr More Time and I had three nights at home by ourselves. It was quite a shock to the system.

The only big “it’s easier without the wee guy” task we embarked on was clothes shopping. It confirmed that wandering around the shops is not a pastime I miss, not that I was ever a great shopper.

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Nine ways to feel less busy in 2019

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Imagine you could repeat 2018 – carry the same responsibilities, meet the same commitments, achieve just as much (maybe more), but feel less busy. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Plenty of doing, but no more feeling rushed or overwhelmed. No more feeling like a little mouse on a wheel, legs frantically moving but not getting anywhere. Well, I think you can. In fact, I know you can, because I’ve done it.

Roll back the clock four years and my life was a frantic mess. On the outside, I was the poster-girl for work-life balance – superstar in the office for three days a week and supermum at home with a toddler for the rest. On the inside, I felt like I was being chased across a tight-rope. Eventually, I fell off.

Following the fall, I scaled my life right back. I got myself into a pretty good place. With time, I found the courage to give things a go again. Fiercely protective of my newfound peace and calm, but equally determined to make a bigger contribution to the world, I went about adding things back into my life.

In 2018, I ramped things up. I tripled my working hours, throwing myself into challenging projects. While exciting, it was also terrifying – amplified by the fact I was back working at the scene of the fall, around the same people and on the same projects.

But this time, it was different. In the intervening years, I developed a set of strategies to help me feel less busy and, under pressure, they held up well. They got me through and I’m looking forward to doing it all again this year. Here are nine strategies to make you feel less busy too.

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