Simple has been on mind lately. How to be simple.
When we set out on our trip nearly 5 years ago we sold and gave away the majority of our possessions. Somehow 2 kids and a house later we have SO MUCH STUFF again.
We have a bazillion kid toys, many snack choices in our pantry, enough clothes to go for weeks without washing AND a lot of stress and frustration that arises with too many choices.
In this age of advertising and Pinterest I realized that I’ve been feeling a major guilt over not providing my kids with many choices of toys, food and types of play. I recently observed that a lot of Theo’s negative behaviors were coming out when he had too many things to choose from. I’ve been trying to limit the choices I give him and it has been helping tremendously. For breakfast I offer him cereal or toast, nothing else. He might complain for a second and ask for a bagel (or even grilled cheese…ha) but once I reinforce it he is perfectly happy eating toast.
I’ve also noticed that a lot of stress and frustration about trying to get out of the house with two kids was centered around my wardrobe. Being a new mom, a lot of my old clothes weren’t fitting correctly and even though I had a closet full of many choices I wasn’t able to find things that fit and “went together”. In order to stay sane and not get angry before we’ve even left the house for the day that I needed to purge, purge, purge my clothes selection.
I went through and donated the majority of my clothes that were what I call an “occasion only” wear. Something that I might wear once or twice a year but wasn’t very versatile for everyday use. I then added a few colors of my favorite tank top and t-shirts which I can wear under simple cardigans. I invested in two pairs of good quality and well-fitting jeans (most of the pairs I owned were from the thrift store and didn’t quite fit right post-baby) which are easy to throw on and will hopefully last for more than a season.
This has helped me tremendously. I no longer rush around trying on things that don’t fit, but I instead throw on a tank, a cardigan and sometimes a scarf to change up the look. Perhaps that’s boring but I’m finding that my desire to be fashion forward is also dwindling.
We’ve been purging toys that I call “one use toys”. Toys that once their initials luster wears off find themselves stuck in the bottom of a toy box for all eternity. Instead we are putting a few things like simple wooden blocks, train tracks and legos in Theo’s play spaces. His imagination is growing and he no longer wanders around looking for something to do.
One of the biggest simplifications that we are about to embark on is the way we eat. I’ve recently discovered the “More-with-Less” cookbook which is a collection of wisdom and recipes from Mennonite families on how to eat healthier, less processed foods. They believe that getting back to basics in terms of cooking will bring more joy and satisfaction into our lives.
Last night I presented a challenge to Brad and he accepted. I asked him if we could use the 40 days of Lent to try this new type of cooking. That for 3 meals a day we would use recipes from the “More-with-Less” cookbook and set out to make our own cereals for breakfast and simplify the foods we eat for lunch and supper. There is so much that I want to share about this challenge so I will write it in another post. For now we are going to take the next month (Ash Wednesday is on February 13th) to eat through the “junk” and prepackaged foods we have in our pantry and refrigerator.
Being simple is more than just saving money or saving the environment. It is freeing. Once I realized that I am not under the control of our culture or what ad agencies are telling me, I also realized that I am smart enough to make good decisions for my family. We are perfectly capable of going through this life without the latest fashion, without the latest toys and without the insane amount of food choices that we have access to in the United States. In fact I daresay that we would be much happier and fulfilled that way.