Contemplating the simple life

We have returned from our short break on the coast and have since enjoyed two child free days. We had prearranged to have Lottie and Emmy in care for the Thursday and Friday of this week. Yep parents of the year eat your heart out!

It has been bliss!

I questioned our decision thinking it was unfair to pay others to look after our children while we kicked back and relaxed or got some of those pesky jobs around the house done without the kiddies underfoot. While questioning it, I was secretly thinking how nice it would be to be at home by ourselves without having to tend to anyone else’s needs and do whatever took our fancy for once instead of what the girls wanted to do.

worth-celebrating

Of course I sounded out a few people about what their thoughts were surrounding this idea –

Husband – Hell yes why are we even discussing this – it’s a no brainer

Sister in Law – Hell yes – what are you waiting for?’

Carers – Excellent idea – have you booked them in yet?

So with that resounding approval I went ahead and booked. Yes in the back of my mind is still the thoughts of the beautiful parents who love their children more than life itself and couldn’t stand to be away from them for more than a moment and then I remember that I am not one of these parents. I work part time to fulfill my need for a career, I enjoy sleeping in my own bed with no intruders, I look forward to sitting at the hairdressers for 3 hours by myself and I don’t mind if they don’t talk to me – silence is delightful.

I still got the guilts and have done some sewing for them during the day but it got me thinking of how life could be if we didn’t have to work all the time. I started contemplating the simple life.

Back in the day, Mums never worked outside the home and the Dads only worked 9-5 Monday to Friday and enjoyed their weekends. They lived in a comfortable house (not with a cinema room included) and possibly only had one car. Kids played outside all the time and their parents didn’t always know exactly where they were. They also weren’t fearful that they wouldn’t return as soon as they got hungry.

Nowadays, Mum works a paid job too to help meet the bills. Everyone wants a brand new house for their first house and it must meet a huge list of minimum requirements (what do you mean we can’t fit a cinema room??). Two luxury cars in the driveway and how many months wages are those engagement rings supposed to cost now?

Unfortunately in our quest for the biggest and the best we have had to sacrifice so much without even knowing it. I would love the freedom of sending the children off to school and only needing to bake and clean the house for the 6 hours they are gone. And don’t doubt for a moment that my husband wouldn’t enjoy kicking back more often.

I fear we have over complicated our lives and become so wound up with being busy and needing to have everything that we have lost sight of the bigger picture. We never have time to ourselves, we never stop to smell the roses and we keep trying to outdo the Jones’. Maybe if we all took a step back and asked ourselves what we really want out of life we might be surprised by the answers. They won’t have anything to do with material things. They will have things to do with time. We need to buy our time back and not be a slave to the Jones’. We need to evaluate where we would be content. Where we would be happy.

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Decluttering

Some nights my dear husband and I end up discussing world problems and how to fix them if we had a magic wand and last night was one of those occasions. Somehow we ended up on the topic of decluttering and how we as a society accumulate ‘stuff’.

Each year at Christmas time I have four weeks off work as we shut the office down and it is a great break. Every second year we head up north to the coast and family however this year is one of the ‘off’ years where we will be staying home. Each Christmas I try to undertake a ‘declutter’ of the house as we have both the girls birthdays and Christmas all within a month and our house seems to explode overnight with new toys, wrapping paper and food.

The first year I went on an all out war on my house we filled 10 garbage bags full of ‘stuff’ to take to the Salvation Army. I was ashamed! How had we possibly accumulated so much stuff we didn’t use, had outgrown and the waste! Waste of resources, waste of money and waste of space! Crazy, crazy, crazy!

So the following year I set about setting some boundaries on the gift department as this was certainly one area that could use some improvement! Given their birthdays were so close to Christmas I had always set about purchasing smaller gifts for Christmas (probably more about quantity) and making a bigger deal out of their birthday so purchasing the bigger more expensive item for this (Bike, mini tramp etc). I regularly make some items for Christmas as handmade gifts from me as well. The grandparents however were presents on steroids!

My girls effectively have three sets of grandparents as my parents are separated and living with new partners (not so new but you get my meaning…..). So grandparents presents x 3 was amounting to a rather large influx of items at Christmas time. Now speaking to grandparents about presents is a delicate thing. Not wanting to offend anyone I set about asking if they could limit the quantity of items – No need to tell anyone what they can or cannot spend or what items I specifically want them to buy, just if they could slow down on the number of gifts. Consolidate for want of a better word.

Well last Christmas was our best one by far in this department! I undertook the decluttering process ‘pre’ Christmas as I my holidays started a little early with the timing of Christmas. I had managed to get through all of our bedrooms before we had Christmas day and we went on our holiday to the north coast. The grandparents had all complied  (I even swindled some new towels from one set rather than toys!) and we (I) had reduced the quantities at home. It was wonderful not to struggle to find new homes for all these toys.

We still managed to take a large number of garbage bags to the Salvation Army but there was only one toy bag and the rest were clothes that no longer fit or were unsuitable so that was a far better outcome than the 10 garbage bags we began with. I also went through our linen cupboard and downsized in that department as well.

It is so refreshing to have a thorough clean out of stuff!

So in our discussions last night, my husband can be quite pedantic about efficiency and downsizing the number of ‘jobs’ you have to do and I can only agree that decluttering reducing the number of jobs. When there are less things to put away or find homes for it is so much easier to keep on top of things. Unfortunately over the twelve month period stuff accumulates again on you! I am starting to get the itch again already to cleanse the house so it may come early this year.

I incorporate the ‘spring clean’ into my declutter process so it can be time consuming as I wash walls, wash windows, dust every possible place and vacuum every floor surface within a room. Pull everything out of each cupboard and re order them, move all the furniture around to get all the lingering dust and really give the place a workout.

Maybe I should stop writing about it and start……

2 weeks and counting…..

Sugar

Two weeks ago our family started on a new journey – I joined up with the 8 week program ‘I quit sugar’ with Sarah Wilson.

A little background – I am an avid coffee drinker. I drink anywhere from 4 to 10 cups of coffee a day. I have my coffee with milk and 2 sugars. Equate that to 8 – 20 teaspoons of sugar a day. Without even eating anything. It is recommended to only have maximum of 6 teaspoons of sugar! I love lollies and chocolate and can happily devour a block of chocolate without blinking. Actually I don’t blink cos the girls would notice and ask me for some.

So after spending plenty of time reading up about cutting sugar out of our diets I decided to take the plunge.

I have been rather strict on myself and not quite so much with the family. I have had one cup of coffee in two weeks – amazed that I have survived with no headaches. We had one slip up on Friday night and we ordered pizza in but other than this I have loosely followed the meal plan. I eat Weetbix for breakfast – no sugar – as I am allergic to eggs by themselves and we have had plenty of left overs so have skipped a few meals just to use up the leftovers!

Some of the meals have been really yummy and some not so much. There are quite a few different vegetables within the meals to what we usually eat. We are a meat and three veg – potato, carrots and beans – kind of family so to have capsicum, sweet potato, eggplant and zucchini as the vegies part of the meal has taken some getting used to with the girls. The standard ‘I don’t like that’ before they have even tried it has made for a few early bed times this past 2 weeks.

I have been feeling good and have lost 2 kilos in 10 days.

We went out for lunch with friends today and the girls got some lollies from a local lolly shop. I couldn’t help myself and had a couple and felt awful this afternoon. It was really strange. There was no sugar rush – just drowsiness and an ill feeling in my stomach. So my body must be noticing and rejecting the good old white stuff. Yay body!

Official second week weigh in tomorrow – wish me luck!