Saturday, October 24, 2015

Green & Simple Living, Part 3

(Find Part 1 here and Part 2 here)

So those two things were kind of the big things that spurred us on toward a more simple lifestyle.  We started talking about living simply, what that meant to us and how we would do it, and we started reading blogs that talked about simple living.  We talked about our goals and the steps we needed to take to achieve them.  We talked about the values we wanted to be intentional about instilling into our kids, and how to go about that.  These conversations led to more changes.  Our new desire to have less stuff led us to buy less, and to be very picky about the things that we did buy.  We wanted to make sure that we were buying things that we truly needed, and things that would last a long time, so we weren’t constantly replacing them.  We also decided that Seth should change jobs, from his stressful job that after our move also included a long commute, to one with less stress, much less driving, and that would provide him with more time for his schoolwork and to spend more time with us.  We wanted to spend less time running around doing errands, so we just started eliminating those.  As we simplified, we found that we didn’t want or even need as much, so we didn’t even miss those errands.  I started changing some of the ways I thought about frugality.  I had always considered frugality as buying the cheapest thing possible, which meant that I would run around to several grocery stores every week to get all of the best deals, which was time consuming and stressful with several small children.  I started to do one big grocery shopping run a month, and while that meant I might not be buying every single thing as cheaply as possible, it did mean that I saved time and sanity, which was more important.  We have a small house, which we didn’t really intentionally set out to buy; we just bought what we could afford at the time, but now we’re really thankful that that is what we ended up with.  Even with a big family, we love our small house, because it allows us to live on a smaller budget, and it takes less time to clean and maintain.  It also fosters our family value of closeness and doing things together.  So for us it works great.  Something that I’ve really always done, but even more so as we pursued simple living is to find ways to let the kids do things for themselves.  For example, for a while I felt like I was constantly getting someone a drink of water.  There was always someone asking for water.  So I got one of those lemonade (or picnic) glass drink dispensers, filled it with water and put it on the counter, and then they could get water themselves. That change alone has made a big difference in my day.

So those are some of the things that we have changed.  We continue to have conversations and find more things to work on all the time.  Simple living is one of our favorite topics of conversation.  For us, living simply means being really intentional in how we live our life.  Like everyone, we have limited resources, limited time, money, and energy, and we want to make sure that we are actually purposefully choosing how we use those resources.  To live our life in a way that reflects our values, instead of just going through the motions.  There is an idea that I came across years ago, that talks about urgent things versus important things.  Some things in life are important, some are urgent, and some are both, but we spend most of our time on urgent, unimportant things, doing the little things that come up in our day that need to be taken care of right now, like a phone call, or fighting kids, or a mess that needs to be cleaned up, and those things can take up so much of our time, that we never get to the really important stuff.  And for us, simple living means fighting against that.  We try to eliminate as much of the non-essential stuff as possible, so we’re spending less time on that non-important urgent stuff, and then intentionally choosing to pursue the important stuff.  Sometimes, that means purposefully letting go of certain things for a while.  Let’s face it, as moms, we are never going to reach that magical moment of having “nothing to do”.  So that means, if I want to pursue something that is important to me, like playing a game with my kids, or having a little quiet time to myself, I have to intentionally choose to ignore the laundry for a little bit, or be okay with having eggs for dinner, so that I can have some time to do one of those things.  There is a quote by Annie Dillard that says “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”  And this, for us, is at the heart of simple living.  We don’t just want to say “someday I’ll do this or that”.  Someday might never come.  Instead, how can we live those values and dreams today?  Simple living has encouraged us to go for those things that we want to do but don’t always seem practical, like my husband going to grad school for creative writing.  Or having a big family.  Or getting backyard chickens.  Sometimes we ask ourselves if we will be disappointed if we never get to do whatever it is that we’re thinking about doing, and the answer to that can be an indication of whether or not that is something we want to pursue.  And this is going to look different for everyone.  Everyone has different things that are important to them, and only you can decide what that is for you and your family.  

To Be Continued....

1 comment:

PUPPPsMom said...

Really thoughtful and wonderful. It is freeing to be free of so much stuff.