Showing posts from March, 2014

My default entry into the world of unschooling

Last week on 60 minutes I was watching a segment about 'Unschooling' with my two older girls.  They were fascinated and a little outraged, because they quite enjoy the learning that goes on at school.  You can watch the segment here if you're interested  I found it interesting.  Unschooling sounds like a lot less work than homeschooling and I'm always up for the easier option ;)

The girls and I were talking on the weekend about how little school Miss 11 has attended this year due to her illness.  She counted that she'd been to a total of the equivalent of five full school days.  We decided that she could now claim that she was participating in our own version of 'unschooling' because she sure hasn't done anything resembling formal education in the past two months.

We had fun coming up with vaguely educational outcomes for her efforts over the past few months.  Here we go:

- Watched the box set o…

My year of less is more: 'Is decluttering your new religion?'

One of the interesting comments that's stuck with me since I started my year of less is more, is that someone asked me if decluttering was my new religion.  As a Christian it saddened me a bit to think that someone would think I'd replaced my core beliefs and values with chucking stuff out!  But it has made me reflect on a lot of the articles and blogs I've been reading and getting the feeling that for many who are totally into this, it is a religion, a kind of salvation out of regular old enticing consumerism, into a controlled, strict, junk-free existence full of happiness and promise.  And some of it's true.  Getting free of the pressures of what we're told we need to live life to the full and replacing it with a lighter, less burdened by stuff life is transformational.

I guess my question is, what are you going to do with that transformation?  Becoming a true minimalist can make you pretty selfish I think. I know what I need, what I don't need, what kind …

My year of less is more: join in the fun of sharing your decluttering

This week I have started a facebook group called 'Making more out of life with less'.  If you're interested in joining this group so you can see what other people are up to with their decluttering, read and share related articles, discuss and ask questions, then send me an email and I can send you an invitation.  Or if you have a friend who might be interested ask them along too.

I have to declare that this facebook page serves two interests.  Firstly a genuine desire to get the conversation going online but secondly I'm doing a uni subject on social media so I'm going to use this page for one of my assignments.

But it's looking good so join in the fun.  My email is

The helpful (& a few not-so-helpful) things people have done while we've had a sick child

Last week I wrote about how our year hasn't exactly started off as we had expected with our daughter being very unwell.  The list below is completely drawn from my own experience and from what I've learnt from chatting to others with chronic illness in their families.  It's very personal so I'm sure some of you will look at some of these points with a totally different response.  But I still write it, partly for myself (so I can look back and learn from this time) but also so that others can maybe gain some insights from my experience.

The Helpful

1. Offering to pray for us.  It's been hard to pray when we just feel stressed.  I have really valued friends patiently texting for updates so they can pray, even when nothing's changed.

2.  Being understanding when we've just had to bail out of so many commitments.  Not just activities for her, but needing to have a parent to be a full-time carer has involved a 'spot' of rearranging.  We've had to bun…

My year of less is more: what to do with all your clutter (once you've decluttered it)

Here's the question that has challenged me the most regularly in this whole decluttering blitz.  What do you do with your stuff once you've sorted through it and decided that you don't need it anymore?  I think this is one of the big challenges of decluttering because you don't want to create more landfill.  And I have to admit that I am really hopeless at thinking creatively about the removal of my stuff (beyond 'that can go in the recycling bin') so I'm just starting to think carefully through this for myself.

In my head I have a list of questions I ask myself when I have things I'd like to get rid of.  Could I SHARE this with someone?  Could I GIVE it to someone?  Could I SELL this item? Can I REUSE this item for another purpose (and an immediate purpose, not a 'I might one day make something with that'), can it be RECYCLED, then landfill if desperate.  I have signed up for Freecycle to get rid of a few items but I am yet to try it out.  Of…

My year of less is more: what happens when the amount of 'less' goes out of my control?

Earlier this year when I started my Year of Less is More, I was anticipating lots of time for thinking by myself, coffees with friends, time to reorder my house, extra time for the kids.  I wanted my idea of 'less' to enrich our life, to bring 'more' to our lives.  And to a certain extent, slashing our schedule to almost irresponsible parenting levels has resulted in many positive outcomes.

But as I mentioned in an earlier post our daughter has been very unwell.  For six weeks she's been at home. Every week we tell people that 'We're hoping she can make some part of the school day next week'. And then another week sort of slips by and our doctor isn't confident yet that she's up for it. She's certainly improving, which is enormously encouraging.  But as the weeks have ticked by, her life has slowly been reduced to waking at 9am to eat breakfast watching the previous night's episode of 'The Block', followed by Minecraft on the iP…

My year of less is more: do they need their own bedroom?

Dear readers,

Every now and then I get the guilts about our kids being a bit squashed in their bedrooms (boys' room/girls' room).  It didn't help when the seven year old was yelling at me on Saturday because I hadn't provided her with her own desk and 'ALL the others have one' (not quite true - the second youngest doesn't have one and I don't have one, but ok, that probably wasn't the moment to point that out).

But then we get to Sunday afternoon and everyone's working on their homework and 4/5 kids are in the kitchen/dining room.  And two of those kids have their own laptops and desks to work at.

So I'm not convinced by the seven year old's argument, and especially not by the 'But when they're teenagers they'll need their own bedroom for study' argument that I hear from lots of adults. I haven't seen the teenagers using their desks (that are the envy of the younger siblings) for much more than dumping their clean …

My year of less is more: what to do with memorabilia?

My apologies if you're hoping for a clear answer to this question, but I haven't quite conquered this particular decluttering issue yet.  I think this is a hard one because it's often quite emotional.  And the big question I really haven't sorted out is what to do with living family member's memorabilia that is gifted to you (even if you might hate it).  But here are some thoughts I've gleaned so far.

One helpful suggestion that I read (somewhere?  On the inter web probably ...) is that a good way to decide what memorabilia to keep is to think about how you could display the items that are precious to you.  If they mean a lot then display them.  Don't keep them locked away.  You should select the ones that mean the most, the ones with a good story behind them, the ones that remind you of particular people or adventures.  Then you can enjoy them and so can others who visit you.

The challenge then, is that you can't display everything that means a lot …

My year of less is more: decluttering kids' clothing

Even my blog is becoming rather less than more as the year progresses but that's mostly due to the fact that having a sick child appears to be draining any kind of creative energy out of me.

However, I have been thinking a bit about how to manage the childrens' clothes.  One of the wonderful things about kids getting older is that their clothes can often last more than one season.  When they were younger there was a lot more sorting and storing and shuffling around that needed to happen.  I used to have two big plastic tubs in the garage which were full of girls and boys clothes.  When I went through the boxes in January I discovered that the younger kids were too big for a lot of the clothes or they'd perished and weren't useful anymore.

When storing clothes for younger kids, my advice would be to really selective about the quality of the clothes you're keeping (ie. keep the good stuff and clothing bin the rest of it).  And if there's a bit of an age gap b…