|Activities don't need to be complicated or in order to be fun and memorable.|
My mother would ask me to clear the table and I would, but later I would have no recollection of it. She would go into the kitchen to discover that I had put dirty dishes in the refrigerator, trash in the sink, milk in the pantry. She couldn't understand why I would do such things, or how I could possibly be such a "space-cadet."
Oddly, when my teachers tried to tell her that they believed I had Attention Deficit Disorder (as happened a few times), she would become irate and deny it, refusing to have me tested. She had always been told that ADD was a mild form of mental retardation, and she seemed to take it personally. Untreated, I was left on my own to find ways of coping and unsurprisingly, I found simplicity was the key for me. In my youth, I hid myself away in quiet corners and empty rooms as it was the only way to keep my head clear.
Now that I am a mother, (and have more than a couple of children) I cannot simply hide out in order to keep my thoughts straight. And there is far more need to keep a clear head now than there was when I was 13!
Simple living, in the middle of a city with a husband, 4 kids, 3 cats and a dog can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, but if I focus on the main elements of my life and let the rest go, I find it quite manageable.
My husband and I strive to keep our monthly expenses to a minimum. The obvious reason is of course, frugality, but it's more that that. He's as disorganized and forgetful as I am! In 16 years we have been unable to come up with a bill paying routine that keeps us on track financially, regardless of our income - other than having as few bills as we can. This means owning an older car rather than maintaining a car payment. We don't have credit cards, and choose a debit card that is filled automatically and can be checked online rather than a checking account with statements and (often) unforeseen costs. We don't have furniture payments, monthly dues or anything that we don't need to have. We keep our utility services to a minimum, and hope to one day switch our gas appliances to electric in order to have one less bill to worry about. The fewer items on our monthly expenses list, the more easily we can manage it.
My husband says I get cranky when his work changes his schedule. Of course! I need the stability of a routine and when that routine is upset, I struggle. I have a lot to juggle. I need to know what to expect from day to day and consistency is important. With at least one of my children diagnosed with ADHD and another whom I am quite certain has it, my children need the stability of a routine as well. If I have them all enrolled in extracurricular activities at the same time and we need to be in a different place every night, I don't think any of us could cope.
When our kids are involved in activities, whether it be sports, choir, dance, etc. we try to have them take turns so that we're not running ragged trying to keep up with all of our to-do's.
We don't have so many things. We have what we need, and strive to keep it just to that. The reason is that less things means less clutter, less to clean, less to maintain, replace or upgrade, less to throw away. The more items we have in our house, the more complicated our household becomes. You'd be amazed how many things you own that you don't really need. All of that stuff has a huge ecological footprint. I also find myself feeling kind of heavy, as if my things are weighing me down. When we need something, we often look around the house to find something that will serve the task, rather than consider running to the store to buy something. Many of the things we own serve more than one purpose, allowing us to own less without feeling restricted.
We want our children to know what they can expect from us, at all times. We keep the house rules simple and spare and only have rules that are necessary for safety or integrity of property. Sometimes I feel like too many rules in a household can be overwhelming for children. They may become resentful because of it. Often, I see parents putting rules into place that have little reason and only serve the parents - to make their environment more comfortable for themselves, with little thought about what is comfortable for their children. Some parents may not feel that children need to be comfortable in their home environment, and subordination is more important to maintain.
However, I find that my children are more likely to respect my rules when they have less of them and that my rules have more gravity because of this. My children understand that I am flexible to the point that I will not allow them to put themselves or others in danger and I find them much more responsive to my requests. Cooperation starts with me, and that means being more empathetic and less totalitarian.
My husband and I are plain with each other. We say what we mean, we mean what we say. We don't ask or require so much from each other as to add undue pressure. I don't ask my husband if my pants make me look fat hoping to get a compliment, for instance. I don't drop hints or expect him to read my mind. If I want something, I tell him plainly. I don't automatically expect him to do what I ask either, and I don't bait him.
Relationship clutter is one of the biggest causes for marital discord, in my opinion. Partners put too much pressure on their mates to live up to grandiose expectations. So many people are unaware of their own needs, and have a hard time identifying what is not being met that they don't know what to ask for or why they may feel disconnected.
Take date night, for instance. It's not as important to get dressed up, go to a movie or a restaurant, trying to rekindle romance through gestures as it is to offer and receive affirmation from one another that we are still fully present in the relationship. The most romantic dates I have with my husband are when he is tired from work and he goes up to bed each day, I sit with him and we will talk. Sometimes I offer him a foot rub and he will listen to me intently as I talk about whatever I want. Sometimes we are intimate and sometimes we just lay beside each other, no pressure and no expectations, just silently articulating our continued devotion and love.
I could write on endlessly about simplicity, why it is important to my family and what it looks like for us. But why overcomplicate the subject? In every facet of my life, I strive for simplicity and it keeps me grounded, focused, centered and at peace.
How does simplicity work for you? In what ways could simplifying help you in an area of your life?
Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Continue your reading by clicking the links of this month's posts on what simple living means to our participants. We hope you will join us next month, as we discuss new beginnings!
- The Moments In Between - Amber from Heart Wanderings takes her yoga practice off the mat to focus on the ordinary moments which make mothering magical.
- Simple living - what it looks like to me - Does simple living mean we have to be selfish? And what does selfish mean anyway? Mrs Green from Little Green Blog ponders in search of a more simple life...
- A Simple Life is a Peaceful Life, For Me - Destany at They Are All of Me writes how simplicity is a very necessary part of her daily function and crucial for coping with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.
- Getting Back to the Basics - Minimalism was the first step toward living simply for Momma Jorje. Now she's got big plans on getting back to the basics of living in order to live a simple, healthy, family-focused lifestyle.
- Simplicity - What living simply means to sustainablemum and how it is woven into the fabric of daily life.
- Simply Living - Sophelia of Sophelia's Adventures in Japan writes about her reluctance to tighten her budget after years of living in poverty, but also her anticipation of the pleasures of simplifying her daily life as she and her husband prepare to adopt a child in Japan.
- The Simple Life: A Work in Progress - Joella at Fine and Fair ponders her idealized vision of simple living and discusses the steps she's taking to get closer to it.
- Simple Living is Simply Living - At Living Peacefully with Children, Bart and Mandy hope to help their children focus on what is truly important by simply living.
- Happiness, not Greatness - Lauren at Hobo Mama discovered that ambitions got in the way of simply being.
- Shifting to Simplicity - At Authentic Parenting, Laura shares a couple of ways in which she tries to simplify her life.