When I saw this daily post for Simplify I wanted to write a blog post in reply, my children had a different idea and the days rolled by in a blur of coughing, high temperatures and constant fluid refills. This post has played around in my head so much that I finally sat down to write my response today.
I don’t think there is a word that echoes across all aspects of my life as the word ‘simplify’. From parenthood to every day activities I really do believe that if I want my life to be less complicated then I need to strip it down to just the essential.
Simplify as Parents
Lately, my husband and I have been trying to balance some very hectic schedules while still being there for our children. As much as we try we always feel like we are failing at something. The thing is our kids are toddlers. All they really want from us right now is for us to play with them. It can be with cardboard tubes or the latest toy off the production line but they want our time more than anything else we can give them. The more we use our imagination and play with very little toys the more fun our kids have.
We spent the weekend decorating their room with things that have lived in boxes for far too long. I made bunting from the Sostrene Greene website and hung it over the IKEA Kura bed. We made a second one for their art wall so that we could hang all their precious creations in their room. They haven’t screamed with so much joy for a while and all from little bits of coloured paper. They had mammy and daddy for a whole day to themselves and a permanent reminder in their room of that day. We also made a tent from an embroidery hoop hung from the ceiling and sheer curtains and that is where the penguin guards live who protect their dreams. (yup, seriously) For our kids, the joy is in the little things and spending time together as a family, we just need to remember that the next time we are stressing around the cottage at night wondering if work is taking over from parenthood.
Simplify as Creatives
My life as a creative is hectic and the pressure to continue to create is sometimes overwhelming. When my schedule gets a little crazy, usually close to deadline weeks, I reminded myself that simple is often better. What can I take out to make something go from good to WOW. increase the white space, reduce the noise, take a series of shots from one styling session, the list for simplifying in my job is almost endless. From photography to writing the phrase less is more is always at the forefront of my mind.
We don’t need a lot to create but my tools are crowding my very tiny office. Do I really need everything that I have? I’ve started tracking what I use so that I can rehome that which I previously loved but don’t use anymore. While I can hear some creatives groan at that and the loss of a prop basket, there is only so much space that I can give over to my job and the confines of my office are it. 1 prop basket, 1 yarn cupboard, 2 bookcases, 1 computer desk and 2 sets of drawers. This is everything that holds my creative life. If it hits the floor it needs to go.
Simplify as Partners
I don’t know about you but between balancing motherhood, my job and hobbies, I sometimes feel like we aren’t doing enough for each other. Myself and Mr. Notebook chatted about this recently and we made a promise to have little moments each day just for us to show each other that we care even if those moments are fleeting. Each morning, J will bring me a cup of tea or coffee in bed before I have to get up and be ‘mammy’. He takes the kids and makes them porridge and as he leaves for work I step in after having 15 minutes of peace. I’m much calmer and my day beings without me stressed and shouting at my kids.
We also try to tell each other that we love each other once a day, another rule is Daddy always kisses Mommy first before the kids when Daddy gets home from work (Thank you for the idea Anne) and we try to end the day together. Sometimes we are just too tired and the other is working late but as much as possible we try and have moments in our day for us, even if it’s 2 minutes of a hug squeezed in while the kettle boils. The first few year of parenthood are like trying to herd cats, it’s madness but we realised like a lot of parents, that we never put ourselves first. We are trying to slowly change and make life about the little things that make us smile. Even if it’s a mini coffee with a side of chocolate pieces and a strawberry.
Simplify our Homes
I have been trying to declutter for about a year, ever since I read that Marie Kondo book. Since working on the cottage I realised that our possessions caused me stress. If I’m tripping over something or the house isn’t clean ( I don’t mean tidy we have toddlers that is insanity) then I get stressed. I can’t relax when I’m sitting down because there is something that needs to be done. So an enormous declutter happened and ever since I have been slowly saying goodbye to box after box so that we only have what we need. By reducing the clutter and surrounding ourselves with what we love we slowly grew a style and it takes a lot less time to tidy up because everything has a home.
I also started a Montessori method of chores for our toddlers. They dust the skirting and they put away as much of their own things as they can. We have a tidy up pre-bedtime and bath time and if you don’t think that a bubble bath can inspire toddlers to tidy, you should come visit me. Everything goes into toy boxes before a naked baby bum hits those soft bath bubbles. It falls apart when they are sick and we have to read our children. If they are sick or too tired then we missed our window but mostly we try to give them a sense of belonging and that it’s not just mommies job to keep our home tidy. I’ll let you know how this continues as our kids grow.
This post is longer than I wanted but I did say it is something that I am trying to achieve across all areas of my life. A type of minimalism that suits our personality and toddlers. I want more calm in my life and the only person who makes sure that can happen is me.That means making everything as simple as possible. I just need to remember this when my chest starts to get tight.
Does any of this ring true for you?
Simplifying my home has been and continues to be a frustrating battle. It does come down to too much stuff (of which very little belongs to me). I actually sat down to knit on Sunday, and the amount of clutter on the table in front of me was enough to make me cry. A gentle “please pick up your ____” was all that was needed to remedy the problem, but the fact that it had already caused me angst was unfortunate.
So good to hear from you. I think every parent has this conversation multiple times a day. I almost wish we had an adult only room where the kids could not go. Just one room that had a hope of staying exactly as I left it. One day they will understand. Even if I have to mess up their bedroom (insert evil laugh here)