Simple Living

Thursday, July 4, 2013


05/31/2013: A few moments of beauty in our front yard.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a parenting book called 'Simplicity Parenting.' Alex and I have been talking a lot about ways that we can make our life simpler, so we had discussed plenty of the ideas that this book presented, but reading them from someone else's perspective was really encouraging and motivating. Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a list maker, so naturally my house has been scattered with lists and pens lately. I've basically been dissecting this book and trying to implement the words that spoke to our dreams for our family into our daily lives. I thought I would share some of what is going on inside our heads, the changes I'm trying to make as an individual and in our family.

The book starts with the words, "Parents are the architects of the family's daily lives." I didn't even have to read past the first few pages before I sat down with pen in hand and started 'building' an image of daily life for us. You can see what is important to a family by observing their everyday lives and I knew that we needed to do some rearranging. We've been letting too many things that don't matter rule our schedules and household and are ultimately unsatisfied with most days because we spend too little time doing the things that allow us all to feel whole. We've been distant, unloving, and impatient with each other too often. There have been too many days in the last few months that have ended with burdened spirits and tears, and while most people say, "Well, that's life," we don't want that to be life for our family.

I created a list of priorities in each area of our lives: home and family, Evie, personal, and marriage, then I thought of ways we could be sure to give these things the attention they need each day. The things I want to focus on for our family and in our home are cooking and enjoying meals together, having regular family 'dates,' and creating a simple and comfortable home space. The things that I need, personally, are relaxation breaks throughout the week (yoga, read, take a bath, etc.), time to invest in a creative outlet, a consistent exercise routine, and time to spend on something that will give me a feeling of accomplishment. Evie needs more explorative play and time outside, a calm, predictable rhythm to her days, and more exposure to other kids. Alex and I could really use a date night each month, which will probably be the hardest thing for us to accomplish on this list. It's not easy for me to let just anyone watch Ev and a lot of our friends already have children, so I feel guilty asking them to take on another one. In the realm of paid childcare, the cost of a babysitter usually matches the cost of a date and we aren't in the position to afford a $100 night out every month. Regardless of these things, I want to make it happen because our marriage is important to me and lately it's been getting the leftovers from each of us.

In all honesty, I feel discouraged just looking at this list. I find myself trying to manage all of these things already and fail. Being a stay at home mother in today's society is hard - Alex is busy and tired, there is no family around to carry some of the burdens or give me a break, and I have so much to do at home that getting out of the house usually turns out to cause more stress than it's worth. But I press on and try to see the beauty in each day and extend grace and patience to Alex and Ev because, well, what is the alternative?

Another thing that helped me determine what changes need to be made in our schedule and lifestyle was to imagine a typical day and ask myself what difficulties arise and what times of the day are consistently stressful? Meal times have been hectic and unnerving for awhile now. Evie is usually running wild, destroying everything I spent all day cleaning, pulling dishes out of the cabinets and scattering them everywhere, pulling on my leg and asking for food, and flopping herself on the floor in a fit of rage because it isn't done yet. I've tried giving her snacks between meals and we just go through the same routine and then she won't eat her meal, which is equally frustrating. I've found that the one thing that helps lessen the stress is to have unwavering meal times, especially dinner. An early dinner time usually works to our advantage, so I'm trying to make an effort to make a more detailed meal plan and start on dinner around 4 or 4:30. This makes it really hard to get out of the house in the afternoon, but has made meals a little more enjoyable.

The next stressful thing in our house is keeping up with work around the house each day. I've been trying to find the best times to fit in housework in regards to Evie's mood without compromising nap time because that is the only time that I get to spend doing things solely for myself like blogging or sewing. Lately I've been trying to accomplish a lot of the cleaning in the morning, between breakfast and nap time and that's worked pretty well, especially if I take her for a bike ride or walk after I've finished. I've also been attempting to wake up a hour or so before her, which sounded like lunacy before, but I've actually started looking forward to this time now. I usually make myself some coffee, do yoga while it's brewing, then sit down and journal or read. It's been a nice, quiet time to wrap my head around all the thoughts floating around up there that reduces my stress level on most days by half. I'm attempting to sit down and write out a rhythm (I can never spell this word write no matter how many times I write it.)

Have you read any parenting or family related books that you really enjoyed lately? What kind of rhythms do you establish with your child(ren) that help your days run more smoothly?

I realize this post might have been the most boring one in the history of this blog to most people. Brain vomit is my specialty. You're welcome.

2 comments:

  1. Love it. I too have been doing what you have said and have made my and my little families happiness a priority. I used to try and meet everyones expectations and found that i wasnt happy and that it didnt really matter to 'them' whether i met them or not so making us a priority was a winner all round. I havent read any books but i definitely find being prepared for dinner really helps, getting out in the morning works well for us and getting home for a nap then pottering around outside and cleaning/washing in the afternoon generally results in a very happy little home life :)

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    1. I think realizing that our family's happiness needs to come first is one of the best realizations we've had as far as having more peace in our home. My husband's job is important to him, but we are more important and he lets them know that. Our friends are important, but we are more important to each other. It's hard to say no to things sometimes without feeling guilty, but that has helped our relationship as a family a lot.

      Getting outside is a must for us too. My patience wears thin and Evie gets cranky the longer we stay inside.

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