My approach to life this month has had a definite theme – let it go.
As someone with perfectionist tendencies, June was both a challenge and a triumph. There was a lot to do and it wasn’t going to get done to my usual high standards.
At home, that meant accidentally leaving things off the shopping list and lunch boxes without the usual homemade goodies. At work, it meant submitting messy first drafts that actually read like messy first drafts. In the end, nobody starved and all deadlines were met. But that wasn’t the triumph.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.