When less is more
One of the best things that ever happened to my family was the time that I was laid off when I was 8 months pregnant with my son. At the time I was terrified about how we were going to pay the bills, especially since I didn’t qualify for Employment Insurance (EI), but now safely in the future I can look back and see how this event changed the course of our family life forever.
It was absolutely wonderful to have a whole month to myself. I read every day, and really got a chance to get to know myself again. I loved the time to connect to my pregnant body and the baby growing inside of me. But those were just perks of not having a job for the first time since I was 12. The really good thing that came from the whole experience was learning the importance of simplicity. For the first time in my life I learned how to live on a lot less. I had less stress, and less to do, less things, and yes also less money. My husband and I had to really budget to make our money stretch, and we had to be really conscious of the purchases we made. Gifts were carefully planned, and given with real meaning so that the monetary value would not seem as important as the thoughts behind the gift. We got really creative on how to be frugal, and we learned that we could just say no to spending money we did not have. We really did a good job keeping our spending down, especially at a time when most people start to spend a lot more. It also taught us to really shift our focus on what our priorities’ in life are; not what we have purchased.
I wonder to this day what would have happened to us financially and just holistically in our family life had I not been laid off, and had I received EI. I am not saying I would have spent us into debt, but I definitely can confirm we would not be as responsible as we are now. But I don’t want to make this a blog about money, because we really are not perfect with our money. In fact I do still feel we spend too much, and the idea of being mindful of what we buy does not seem as much on our minds as it was in days gone by. In fact lately I have been feeling a large amount of anxiety and I just can’t seem to get ahead of this feeling. I feel there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done, and I am working hard on my priorities, yet I am having a very hard time of making a “clean house” be one of those. I feel it is mostly because I have too much clutter. My house is filled with crap I do not need, and I spend my day cleaning the clutter, so I can’t get to the actual cleaning.
Which is why I am so glad that I got laid off 3 and a half years ago, because it taught me the art of enjoying less, and being able to be happy with less. I don’t just mean less money,
I mean less of everything. No no, let me rephrase, I mean being happy with the things that matter and having less of the things that don’t. This is something I have forgotten in the last little while. I have been getting caught up with our culture of consumption and the “need” to keep up with the Jones. Lately we have not been as conscious of what comes into our house, and our house is a half-cluttered chaos which is a constant form of stress for me. This is resonating in my entire family life, including in my children’s behavior, and I have been looking for ways to get back to a homeostasis. Things have felt very crazy here over the last couple of months, which has really been sucking the joy out of the parenting role for me.
That was until I picked up “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne from the library. I saw a review for it in another blog, and the “using the extraordinary power of less to raise calmer, happier, more secure kids” really spoke to me. Although I am not the biggest fan of how this author doesn’t heed his own advise when it comes to writing (really the power of less could also be applied to fluff metaphors, and long winded explanations too), this book is helping me get back to basics.
Over the last few months I have been having a really hard time with making time for all my priorities. So as I begin to pare down and get rid of things, I am actually really looking forward to having less. Instead of constantly trying to tidy up stuff, I can have time to play imaginative games with my children, make healthy meals, exercise and be mindful of what I eat, connect and build my relationship with my husband all while living in a house that is still clean and tidy (although maybe not spotless). I love that this book has reminded me:
- that I can get rid of those toys that make obnoxious noises that DRIVE ME CRAZY,
- that my son does not need hundreds of cars,
- that I can throw away broken toys,
- that I can control what comes into our house.
I have to power to say no to the fad toys and the pressure of “I want, I want, I want”. By saying no I am teaching my children about delaying gratification, about working hard for your things and then appreciating what we have. Sometimes having less means more imagination, more time to be creative, and more happiness. I am happy to spend less money, and spend more time on my family.
Oh and by the way, if you are wondering if there is less of me after two months, the answer is Yes! I have lost 18 pounds in the last 11 weeks.