Showing posts from January, 2014

My year of Less is More: Cutting back on paid work

One of the changes I'm making in my year of Less is More, is that I've reduced my paid employment to  two days a week.  It was three days in 2013 and four days in 2012, so I'm going backwards at a nice, steady pace!

I like my job a lot.  I teach in a school with fantastic staff and kids - it's fun and a lovely environment to spend time in.  I feel smart when I'm there.  I'm always a bit surprised when my thoughts and contributions appear useful to others!  Being honest, I would happily work more.  I like it.  There's nothing much more to it than that.  The money helps us, but we've lived off one pretty modest income for most of our married life so it's not so much about the money.

However, I have found juggling work and family really tough. My energy bank seems to be smaller than other people's (or I have five kids and I'm way too optimistic about what can be achieved in a lifetime!).  Ok - it's probably just smaller than I would like i…

I've grown all the colour out!!!

I'm very excited.  It's taken 1 year and 9 months of waiting and waiting and I've now got just grey/white hair.  It might seem strange that this is exciting to someone with so few years under the belt (ha, ha), but after the skunk, two-tone deal I'm glad to get to the end of the process.  Now I'm hoping that my ageing will plateau (for like, about 20 years!).  The rest of you can catch up later!

I am really happy with the outcome.  I like the colour - it's quite white at the back and underneath so it looks almost blond sometimes (I tell myself …).  And I love that I don't have to do anything to it that involves hours of my spare time.  So many more books can be read instead!

You can read more about my hair journey: starting, the skunk stage and the half-way mark!

My year of less is more: Decluttering is NOT ...

So you've read the book, got inspired by my posts and you're all set to go.  You're psyched.  You're going to get ORGANISED.  At last you're going to get your stuff SORTED.  Unlike the last two times you got serious, you really are going to do it this time.  Because you went to IKEA this morning and got the right shelving and containers and boxes to help you DO IT!

Hold on.  Stop - STOP … Do NOT go to the shops to help you declutter.  Don't buy more stuff to help you get sorted.  You're meant to be getting rid of stuff.  And those containers = more STUFF!!!!

Storage containers help hide and tidy up stuff.  But they don't actually help declutter.  By storing my things I'm just hiding the clutter.  Sure it's not cluttering up my lounge room anymore, but it's still in my life and I still own it and will have to work out what to do with it at some point in time.  I'm actually just deferring a decluttering decision to another day.  It might…

My year of less is more: Book suggestion - Clutterfree with kids

"Our lives are, by definition, made up of finite resources.  Each of us has a limited amount of minutes, dollars and units of energy with which to live our lives.  Every passing day presents an opportunity to trade our lives for something else.  Unfortunately most of our lives are unintentionally traded down and lived in exchange for returns of limited temporal value.  We never set out to purposefully trade our lives for things of limited value, but in a culture surrounded by similar pursuits, our lives conform too easily" (Clutterfree with Kids, page 33).  
During my reading and thinking over the past few months that have led to 'My year of Less is More', I've been following Joshua Becker's blog, 'Becoming Minimalist'.  As part of his blog, he collects links to articles related to decluttering.  But not just decluttering possessions, but on living more simply.  I've found this reading enormously interesting and inspiring.

I've had the pleasu…

Book Review: Ender's Game - YA fiction

Time for a little break from the personal oversharing with my 'Less is More' saga! (You can catch up here)

'Ender's Game' by Orson Scott Card was written in 1985.  I didn't know this when I started reading it and assumed it was more recent because he uses technology like the internet and iPads (not called this in the books, but the same concepts) throughout the story.  Incredible really when you realise when it was written.

It's a science fiction book.  Not my genre at all.  But it had been recommended by so many different people that I really thought I should give it a go.  It ended up being my one of my favourite books of 2013 and I even convinced my 15 year old son to read it (unheard of that we'd enjoy a sci fi book together!).

The story is set in the future where, 50 years earlier, Earth has survived two invasions by an alien, insect-like race.  Now there appears an imminent threat of another invasion and children are selected to train from when…

My year of Less is More: decluttering the SCHEDULE

So I've started (in case you're not sure what I'm up to, I'm aiming for a year where we do/consume/own less so that we have time for more great, fun, important stuff  - check out my original post here).

Over the past few weeks I've been working towards make the very difficult decision to stop our kids learning the piano.  I know that for some of my readers will be like "Yeah, whatever", but others will be shocked.

I'm in a bit of shock and grief myself.   I really enjoy playing the piano and I so wanted my kids to have that same enjoyment and opportunity to learn.  It's pretty deeply embedded in my set of values that feel important to me which is why it's a big deal to let go of it.  Plus it's been a lot of hard work to keep them motivated, to get them to lessons etc. (8 years of it for some the kids!).

But … here's what made me rethink it.

1.  With five learning the piano it meant two afternoons a week were taken up with lessons.

My year of Less is More: what I want to leave behind

In the spirit of those reality shows where all the participant's humiliating secrets are revealed before they proceed with the rest of the programme,  I feel that I need to fully disclose what our life was like in 2013 so that you can see what I'm trying to do in slowing our life down a little.

I was truly confronted by the madness of it all when we were chatting to friends (with a similar number /age of kids) during the holidays about our timetable.  We were talking about what happened each afternoon of the week in terms of carting the kids around. Our friend said, "Well, our afternoons are pretty quiet because we have a lot on in the mornings before school". I laughed. "Oh, we haven't even started talking about the mornings yet. They're completely full too".  It was in that moment I suddenly thought, 'WHAT are we doing?!'.   I actually felt embarrassed to admit it all.

Do you want all the details of our timetable? I don't think s…

My year of Less is More: decluttering our books

While a lot of my thinking and headspace has been taken up with decluttering our schedule, I've also been thinking a lot about decluttering our possessions.

To be honest, I like getting rid of things and I find it freeing to declutter our house. But my house is far from a minimalist paradise. Seven people live in our three bedroom house and part of the motivation for decluttering is actually so that we can cope with living in our house.  I think if you can keep the clutter to a minimum it makes you more content with the space you have, instead of a constant feeling that what you have isn't big enough.

But I have failed miserably with our books. I'm a librarian. And I'm not just a librarian, I'm a children's librarian with five reading offspring. So we have A LOT of children's books. We also have a lot of other books.

I really wanted to do a cull of the books but I couldn't even consider downsizing our books. It felt sacrilegious. Having books ar…

My year of Less is More

Over the past six months I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking about how to simplify our family life.  Most people I speak to just tell me I'm in a crazy season of life with kids going in twenty different directions and it's compounded by the number of children we have.  And the season will pass.  Yes, it will pass, but then it will be gone.

What will I think about this season when it is gone?  I suspect I will look back at all that we managed to achieve (as I do in a collapsed heap every December) but will our life as a family be stronger for it?  Will our relationships be better?  Will we have enjoyed being together?  Will we have memories of a mum who was enjoying her kids or a mum who was just snapping out instructions to get everyone where they needed to be?

Here's a bit of personal processing for you.  I'm quite optimistic about how much can be packed into life.  I'm not a competitive person, or a perfectionist, so I don't feel the pressure…

'Look at the Nature!': Tasmania with five kids (Part 2)

Hey, you're still with me!  Well done.

We drove to Hobart on Christmas Eve, driving along the east coast.  There were so many 'Wow, look at that' moments, that I insisted the kids raise their heads from their iPods (sanity saving for a trip like this I have to confess - although the endless charging issues - grrr) and 'LOOK AT THE NATURE'.  Yeah, ok, they didn't love me for it!

We celebrated Christmas in Hobart with Rowan's sister and her family.  We had a quiet week in Hobart.  Hung out with the cousins, tried out three different churches, caught up with a few people we know in Hobart, went swimming in the Derwent, did some steep walks with my sister-in-law (I didn't realise how crazily steep Hobart is), watched the Sydney-Hobart yacht race boats coming in from the front lounge room.  We had planned to do more, but we ran out of puff and it was a restful week.

After leaving Hobart we drove three hours north-west up to Sheffield.  Sheffield is a small c…

"Look at the nature!": Tasmania with five kids (Part 1).

OK so this is a bit belated, since we left Tassie over two weeks ago, but I thought I'd give you a quick rundown of our time in Tasmania in case you're interested in visiting yourself one day.  It's in two parts, and feel free to skip it because sometimes people's holiday tales are like, yawn.  But here goes -  someone might read on!

I have to say that our kids were a good age for this holiday.  They sleep well at night, travel without asking for food every five seconds, no nappies/prams/cots are required and it was especially good they are old enough to walk - a lot.  The main point of having a bit of a look around Tasmania is it's natural beauty and that involved quite a lot of bush walks. And driving.  Which was hard for our 13 year old who gets terribly car sick.  I think we would have easily fitted in a few more day trips if she had coped better, but it felt a bit mean after she'd suffered patiently through a couple of long days in the car.

We caught the b…