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.
Almost 20 years ago, a 21-year-old me turned up to live in a house with strangers. A friend had told me the university let vacancies in their student flats for cheap over the summer. The only catch was you were randomly allocated a place – sight unseen, flatmates unmet. I had a fulltime job with a two-hour round trip commute and was about to start part-time study. The flats were walking distance to work and school, and the rent wasn’t much more than the cost of my commute. It was a no-brainer. I signed up.
Much more gungho in those days, I still remember how incredibly nervous I was meeting my new flatmates for the first time. I needn’t have worried – we went on to spend years living and travelling together and they’re still some of my closest friends. Years later they confessed they had some reservations about me when I first moved in. To start with they assumed I was just unpacking, but after eight weeks they realised having piles of stuff all around more room was just the way I lived. While they’d never have guessed from looking at me, I was the messiest person they’d ever known.
Fast forward twenty years and I have a new normal. A few months ago, some relatives were in town. We went out for lunch at a local bar and had a great time. They had some time to fill in afterwards, so I invited them back to our place. I simply gave the toilet a quick scrub and chucked a new hand towel on the rail while my husband got started making the coffee. Six guests, zero warning, no problem.
I love January in New Zealand. It’s summer and the whole place clicks into holiday mode. This January was the hottest and sunniest on record. I don’t handle the heat well, so yesterday, when the temperature dropped and rain finally came, I was relieved.
That said, I’ve enjoyed spending loads of time outside, swimming at the beach and school pool. The school holidays flew by. The highlight was a week-long trip to Auckland. We all had a blast, hanging out and making memories. The opposite to many people, while day-to-day we have a fairly relaxed life at home, when we’re on holiday we like to get out and about a lot. Now the wee guy is five he has the stamina to do a full day of activity and enjoy it. I came back excited to plan more family adventures.
At high school, I wore a uniform. It was hideous. An itchy brown jersey, yellow polo shirt and a brown box-pleat skirt. Maybe it was the height of style in the 70s when the school opened, but definitely not in the 90s when I wore it. At least we all looked hideous together. I remember my glee on the last day of school as I dumped the old thing on a desk in the school office and told them to pass it on to someone else. Finally free.
Back then, I didn’t appreciate the freedom that a school uniform gave me. Four years of freedom from deciding what to wear to school, trying to keep up with trends, arguing with my parents over what was appropriate, and spending my babysitting money on an extensive wardrobe. While my school uniform was terribly ugly, it was also beautifully simple. Twenty years on, I’m grateful to that gaudy uniform for making my teenage years simpler.
Each day, we face so many decisions. The vast majority of them are inconsequential, yet they add to our mental load. Simplifying everyday activities, like dressing, is easy, with a great payback in terms of reducing your mental load.
Imagine if you could repeat 2017 – 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.
Well, I’m a year older since my last montly update. I quietly celebrated my 40th birthday midway through December. For me, Christmas never starts until after my birthday. I managed to get the Christmas tree up by around the 20th. Christmas Day itself was my ideal – lots of food and family, but not too much. Now we are into my favourite time of year – the super lazy days between Christmas and New Year.