Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Time Saving/Parenting Tip: Consider Limiting Your Options

The first thing I am going to have to admit in this post is the fact that I am not very good at following the advice I am about to give. That is actually one of the reasons I wanted to write this post though. I need to remind myself that limiting my options is always a choice and sometimes it is a very good choice to make!

So what am I talking about here? I am talking about how life is so complicated these days. Many families have
2 parents working full time, 2 cars, a big house, kids in multiple lessons and activities, expensive gym memberships, BIG bills from eating out or buying lots of prepared foods etc. Many of us find ourselves saying "There just aren't enough hours in a day!" Newsflash people: If you find yourself saying this often then you are probably trying to do WAY WAY too much each day. I am guilty as charged myself

One of the reasons I love the Little House books is the thought/example of a simpler life.

Ma got a few pieces of mail a month, if that, and they were usually letters from family far away. Dang I would kill for a mail flow that small! The amount of paper coming into my house each day from the kid's schools and my mailbox is ridiculous and don't even get me started on e-mails!

Ma had horses, getting to 17 places and back in one day was not even a option. I am not lying when I say that some days I am ready to give away the keys to my van and see if the Amish will let my family join them.

Kids went to school for part of the year and that was pretty much it. The rest of the time they were helping out around the farm and in the house or they were out just having some good old fashioned fun called "free play". Many kids of today would probably look at you like you were nuts if you sent them outside to just "play".

Ma lived in little houses. Many of them were built by Pa himself. Everyone did not have their own bedrooms. There was no living room, family room, den, dining room etc. Of course they had a lot less "stuff" back then. Computers and T.V.'s take up a lot of extra space these days. I am also not lying when I say that some days I want to take my computer and throw it in the canyon. Not so much for the room it takes up but for the time it takes up.

Gym? Ma would probably have no clue where she was if she time traveled to a modern gym. Back then living life use to be enough. Ma was definitely not sitting in a chair all day like many of us are now forced to do because of computers and desk jobs.

Eating Out? Ma had no options but cooking all the family meals. This is actually one thing I am happy to have access too. We have a lot of good options living in a big city. This still doesn't mean I should overdo it and rely too much on restaurants or prepared foods. Its not good for my familie's budget or our health. 

Some of you might be thinking: "Jenn what is the point here? Life is never going to be like Ma's we have to drive cars, we have to work at a desk and pay the bills, my kids LOVE all the activities they get to do, and there is no way I can cook every night like Ma did!" I hear you! I feel like saying that exact statement many days. It still is not really the truth though and it cannot be a daily excuse. We have choices to make and we need take a closer look at what is really going on in our lives and reevaluate often.

Do you really NEED that BIG house and the BIG mortgage that comes with it that requires you to own two cars and have both parents working full time? Think about what NEED really means before you answer that.

When I talk to my mom about her childhood she tells me stories about how her family of 7 only had one car and her mom would drive her father to work on days where she needed the car for other things and then she would have to pick him up later. Her mom did not allow anyone in the family to be in extra curricular activities or clubs that required any extra money or driving around. My mom said you just knew not to ask about any of that because the answer was going to be no. They only had one car and one working parent, it just wasn't practical. Did my aunts and uncle suffer much from this? I think not. They probably had a lot more time together as a family and they probably had a lot more free time to spend with friends or on their own doing whatever pleased them. My mom loved to read and she has fond memories of going to the library in the summer and bringing home big stacks of books to enjoy. Life for them was definitely a lot simpler than the chaos I live in.

It doesn't have to be this way, we can make different choices but many of us (me included) seem to just keep moving along and warp speed and we never slow down long enough to stop and ask ourselves if we truly are living our best life possible.

I challenge you and myself to consider limiting your options as a way to get more out of your life and family time! Start small and pick one thing to cut back on or limit and see what happens. I will do the same and then post the results in about a month.

What am I going to choose? I am still deciding so please post any ideas you have in the comment section. I would love to hear from you!


Jenn said...

Update on what I decided to limit:
Anyone have a guess?
If you guessed computer time you are correct!
Hence the silence on the blog recently. I have to be on the computer 8 hours a day for work so I decided to stay off the computer after work during the weekdays most of the time. Setting that limit has given me more time to snuggle next to my hubby and/or my beloved dog Ruby while I browse cookbooks and magazines or enjoy a good book.
The new plan is to do blog posting on the weekends and maybe once during the week for my Abundant Harvest Meal planning when I can sneak that in. If I do write more than one post on the weekend the plan will be to schedule them out so they don't all go on here at once. So if you see me posting new entries during the weekdays do not be fooled! It probably means I have written those on the weekend and scheduled them to publish during the week.
Did anyone else give it a try and limit something from their busy life? What did you gain? I would love to hear from you!

Monica J said...

Smart phone usage

Naomi said...

This is a great reminder. We are always so busy, and mostly it is our own doing. I often feel like if I have a free minute I have to fill it with an activity or the time will be "wasted." How ridiculous. I will say that have limited my extracurriculars, but I'm addicted to my iPhone...so many apps, so little time. I'm going to spend less time on time-wasting apps (Angry Birds, anyone?). Great post!

Jenn said...

I have experienced the "must fill every minute!" dilemma too. I am working on teaching myself to value down time and take a deep breath and enjoy those minutes no matter how few they are.

It is ok to just close your eyes for a bit and daydream or get out of your car or house to take a break and enjoy the view and fresh air.

It is also ok to just sit with your child and be there together touching or not touching. We don't always have to be reading to them, baking with them, crafting with them, exercising with them, talking with them etc. Sometimes you just need to BE.

When I think of some of my favorite memories of spending time with my grandma or my mom two always pop up.
1. Sitting with my grandma on the couch with her arm around me gently caressing my arm. No talking, just being together comfortably.
2. Laying next to my mom in her bed on the early weekend mornings watching her read her own fiction book. I used to be amazed at how fast she could read and I would try to read along sometimes and see how far I could get before she turned the page. No talking or reading together, just being together.

In today's chaos of unlimited options its easy to forget how simple spending time together can be.