Right now, I’m using paper plates and napkins for our daily meals. It happens sometimes that life getting hectic overlaps with there being paper plates in the house, and I can’t resist even though I know that the paper plates are not good for the environment and make meals feel less special. We have beautiful handmade cloth napkins and lovely hand painted dishes, but when things are busy the thought of having to clean them is pushes me to dig through the old party supplies.
Work has been picking up. My once-upon-a-time preemie just started full-day first grade. My two-year-old is on the verge of threenagerhood. And right now my bedroom, which out to be a comforting oasis of calm, is in a state that can only be described as chaotic. Let’s face it – motherhood is not exactly conducive to simple living. Yet the Zen Habits guy has, if I recall correctly, a family with kids, and has managed some encouraging feats of simplicity even so.
What’s the connection? A few years ago, I found Zen Habits’ Simple Living Manifesto, 72 ideas to simplify your life. This was before I had kids and I created a challenge. For 72 days, I (along with a group of friends and acquaintances) tackled each of the items on the Simple Living Manifesto – taking it one day at a time.
As you can probably imagine, this was much easier before I became a mom (and launched the premiere web app for moms to make mom friends). But the feeling I get is that I need some simplicity in my life now more than ever. Lucky me, recently a friend re-launched the challenge, I agreed to participate, and today is Day 1.
Today’s to-do is as follows:
Make a list of your top 4-5 important things. What’s most important to you? What do you value most? What 4-5 things do you most want to do in your life? Simplifying starts with these priorities, as you are trying to make room in your life so you have more time for these things.
See, the items in the manifesto start out easy enough. At least easy for me, a nut for introspection. One interesting thing about the challenge is that different people find different items difficult. Sharing the experiences in the group is part of what makes it fun. (And keeps accountability freaks like me on track.) I thought it would be equally eye opening to share my experiences with the whole wide world. I probably won’t post every day but will sum up the week’s challenges in a post.
Here are my thoughts on the first item in the manifesto:
The two most important things in my life – and they’re on equal footing in my head – are being able to care for my family and being able to spend time with my family. What’s interesting is that work can be a part of that. Leisure. Chores. Sometimes I think it’s the sheer complexity of family life that makes living simply so hard.
Next would be challenging myself. Again, it’s complicated. What does that even mean? Dance – is that an element of challenging myself or is it a separate ‘important thing’? Do I challenge myself in my profession? What would I make time for in that area of my life if I could? Is fitness a part of this, or is it part of caring for my family because exercise keeps me sane?
Finally, I think that creating an environment I can live in is important to me. I know that cleaning and decorating is not every mom’s cup of tea and that’s okay. Maybe for someone else, simple living means letting things go. But for me, it means existing in a state that is comfortable and that includes feeling good about my home and yard and community.
For Day 1, I wanted to invite all the other mamas out there to participate along with me. Even if you can only mull over each item, it’s still an interesting experience!