Thursday, November 12, 2009

Take my advice - I'm clearly not using it

So having written about the value of a simple life, I had to laugh at myself today when I realised how darned busy I have been the last two days. Pair this hysterical busy-ness with a week of appalling sleep from our teething 8 month old and voila - its 8pm on a Friday night and I am already in my pyjamas and writing this from bed. On the verge of collapse, or at least tears, from exhuastion. (Yes, my husband is probably right that I am a tad melodramatic).

Why do I do this to myself? Even with the best of intentions to simplify my schedule I keep saying 'yes' and finding myself in a flurry of playdates.

I could ... should .... have postponed the back to back playdates today given the complete lack of sleep. My friends wouldn't have minded. I could have walked up the road, got a really strong takeaway coffee and headed to the library. The day could have been peaceful.

But instead this morning I frantically baked a big batch of cupcakes, organised some activities for the kids to do and tried to do the days jobs before visitors arrived 9.30. It then seemed I spent the whole day battling with Munchkin who is in a phase where she wants to 'whack' everyone and everything that frustrated her. Now, I'm behind on the washing, I don't have bags packed for our outings tomorrow and after dinner I had to quickly cook up a kilo of chicken so that it can go in the freezer before it spoils ... with Little Guy on my hip. A peaceful day would have been so much better for all involved.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the company. In fact, I crave company which is why I tend to do this to myself. But we all pay the price.

So this time, I'm taking my own advice - I'm off to sleep!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

I remember when I was at university I saw the book ‘Simplify your Life' by Elaine St James on the counter at the university bookshop. Despite my rather meagre student finances I bought it immediately and read the whole thing on the bus ride home. I was hooked. The notion of deliberately choosing a life that is ‘outwardly simple, inwardly rich’ resonated deeply. Since then, voluntary simplicity has been a driving value for me. I haven't always succeeded, but I have always aspired to live this way.

Now there is (of course!) a book called ‘Simplicity Parenting'. I haven’t read it but Grace has reviewed it very positively, and having read the first chapter on Amazon it certainly looks like a good read. It has got me thinking a lot about what ‘simple parenting’ means to me.

An old-fashioned childhood

I want my children to have an old fashioned kind of childhood … to climb more trees and watch less TV. To take all morning to get dressed, to read the same book 20 times in one day and to make forts with sheets over chairs in the lounge. To have one special doll and love her, not a collection of 40 Barbies and always be wanting more. To take all day to potter in the garden, or bake biscuits in the kitchen.

A stay at home mum

My life is simpler because we actually stay home a lot, rather than fill our days with playgroups, music classes, toddler gymnastics, play dates, and coffee groups. Our mornings are much calmer as there is no pressure to be anywhere. I don’t need to pack lunches and bags. I don’t need to pay fees or organise resources or sit on committees. Now we only have one car life is even simpler … if we can’t walk there in the pushchair, we can’t go! Plus, getting kids into the pushchair seems so much simpler than herding them in and out of carseats.

Avoiding mall trall

We try as far as possible to avoid the excesses of todays commercial culture (oooh, that sounds terribly self righteous). We don’t watch TV with the kids so they don’t see the ads for all the amazing toys. We try not to take them to malls and department stores, so they don’t see things to ask for. We try not to clutter our home with plastic junk. The odd time we do find ourselves in a K’Mart and experience the pester-power of a 3 year old we are quickly reminded of how much staying away keeps our life, and our home simple.

Beware the supermums

You know the supermums don’t you … the ones whose 2 year olds are already ‘preccious readers’ and are heading off to gifted programmes. The ones who anxiously teach colours, letters and numbers, agonise over each developmental milestone, and phone Plunketline twice a day to check everything out. These mums will stress you out … I tend to give them a wide berth!

Let go of perfectionism

My life is complicated by my ambition to be some of kind of perfect Waldorf mom who cooks biodynamic food from scratch, sews and knits and needle-felts and has nothing in the house that is formed or synthetic.

But for me, real life isn’t like that. Friends and family have different values, and I’d rather spend time enjoying my children than fermenting yoghurt. My heart broke the first time I saw how much Munchkin loved Dora the Explorer. It didn’t fit the picture in my head of what she ‘should’ be into … but that is my issue not hers.

And so when a loving aunty gave her a Dora doll for her birthday, and my grandparents gave her a Dora book I chose not to worry. Not to try to ‘hide’ the doll, or have a ‘little chat’ to the rellies about why we don’t have those things in our house. Instead, I bought her some Dora stickers to go with it and decided that life would be a lot simpler if I let go of my Waldorfy perfectionism.

We have even started watching the odd DVD here … I have three DVDs for Munchkin. She goes through stages of being quite into them, and when she’s having one of those days and Little Guy is refusing to settle they are a god-send. I am glad I fought the battle for as long as I did, but for me the decision to stop being a TV Nazi has made life a lot easier!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What makes life at your place simple, or complicated?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Monthly Roundup - October

It seems that a lot of us found October rough ... and I've just heard on the news that here in NZ we have had the coldest October is over 60 years! So ... roll on November and the summer weather that we hope will come with it.

October was a frenetic month here at Domestically Blissed, two lots of overseas visitors (not staying with me but lots of get-togethers), two lots of grandparents arriving from overseas, a bunch of birthday parties, hubby putting his back out ... AGAIN and to top it all off the whole family came down with a gastro bug ... ick!

I am pleased to say that I still managed to get a fair bit done ...

My goals for October were

- write 2 more 'areas of play' posts.
Result: Half pass ... wrote a post of music, still working on one on creativity!

- stick to grocery budget - strictly.
Result: Half pass again ... I overspent by $60 but we had a few dinner parties and then when I got sick we used a bunch of sposies. I think we can make it stick this month!

- bring Little Guys' baby book up to date.
Result: Oh, you guessed it - another half pass. I wrote a bunch of notes, sorted the photos and glued them in, and have decided to wait for another season of my life to do the final version.

-write list of Christmas gifts and stick to a maximum of $15 per person for gifts.
Result: PASS ... now I just have to stick to the list. I nearly bought 'off the list' today but managed, just, to stop myself (I think the shoplady thought I was mad)

- organise spare room wardrobe
Result: PASS ... and it is great. Even got hubby to put up a shoe rack that we got really cheap on TradeMe, and bought some wooden coathangers. Wardrobe bliss is mine .... and I got motivated to also organise the wall unit in our dining room.

- get at least 8 more listings up on TradeMe
Result: PASS PLUS ... 8 sales on TradeMe, 4 sales on another forum ... making a big difference to the last vestages of the pregnancy/new baby clutter.

So onwards and upwards ....

Well my goals for November are:

- keep an exact track of where the 'cash' part of our budget goes. Each week I get a little bit of spending money out, and each month it all goes - poof - into thin air. Time to track track track.

- buy all our Christmas presents except for the children.

- make Christmas mince, ready for making mince pies

- re-organise little guys wardrobe for summer

- another eight listings of second hand stuff on TradeMe.

So, what are your goals for November?