Thursday, 27 May 2010

Just don't

Our last holiday not only encouraged me to expand my horizons, it also proved to me that there's no need to live in the complex way I have been doing. I've already talked about how I am trying to pare down the number of items I own. I am also clearing head space and examining different spiritual paths. One of my latest plans is to try to live more simply so that I don't feel so overwhelmed and stressed. The idea is that I will feel as though I have more control over my daily life, and I will be able to prioritise and make decisions better. I will then be able to make room for the things that really are important.

A recent read called The Art of Extreme Self Care by Cheryl Richardson has been helpful here, particularly the idea of a To Don't list (the opposite of a to-do list).  

Here are some of mine. I no longer ....

1. keep things I never use or even look at, not even if I think they might "come in" some day.

2. feel guilty about picking up new hobbies/interests and dropping old ones.

3. remain on emailing lists which don't benefit me in some way, especially if the emails make me feel dissatisfied or that I should buy something.

4. eat when I'm not hungry.

5. waste my precious me-time on twitter and facebook.

6. feel guilty about not being perfectly organised and buying a few items at a convenience store rather than traipsing to the supermarket to save money.

7. drink more than two gin and tonics.

What might be on your To Don't list that would help you live more simply and look after yourself better?

Monday, 24 May 2010

Get Rid of Stuff

Perhaps it's because of green guilt, or my dad's make do and mend mantra, but I really do struggle with getting rid of things, be they necklaces I haven't worn for five years or empty cereal packets (mine lie flattened out under the bread-bin, waiting  for a school project or craft afternoon).

A bonus about going on holiday recently was  the fact that we all lived out of suitcases and we really didn't need very much stuff. It was liberating to take only a few changes of clothing and a minimally stocked wash bag and it made me think how much stuff I have at home that I didn't even want, let alone need.  

Because we have been given lots of hand-me-downs or get things from freecycle or charity shops, our house is very cluttered despite us not having gone out and spend lots of money. The children have too many clothes to fit into their chests of drawers for example, so there are always two washing baskets full of ironing waiting to be re-housed.

On returning home to the stress and frustration of our cluttered house, DH and I agreed to try and cut down the amount of things we own by half. I began ebaying in earnest and have probably got enough stuff to keep me selling for the next 12 months.

Here are some tips for getting rid of stuff:
A much nicer pendant. Accessorize £7
  1. When you buy a new thing, get rid of the old thing it is replacing. Freecycle it or give it away to a friend; as a last resort, you will have to throw it away.
  2. If charity bags come through the door, use this opportunity to find items to donate to charity - at least a bag-full a week will help.
  3. Maybe you get lots of tempting mail order catalogues through the post? These not only take up space, they encourage me to buy more stuff. I have started returning them to the sender and asking if they will remove my address from their database.
  4. Try not to be too sentimental about chucking stuff out. Sometimes it is good to let things go. I recently sold on Ebay a pendant that I was given by some colleagues when I left a job in a recruitment agency. I hated that job and I thought about that bad career move every time I wore the necklace. I quit that job in 1998! Time to let go, Al!
  5. If you are feeling unsure about getting rid of some items, bag them up and put them in the loft. Mark on your calendar a date in six month's time. If you haven't been up to get anything out of the bags, give them all, still sealed up, to charity.
  6. Getting rid of make-up, earrings, bath products, shoes etc is another way of moving on and re-emerging as a New You with an updated look.
  7. Think about how many things you actually need - for example, you may well not need ten bath sheets, 22 mugs or 15 pairs of tights. Work out how many you really use and get rid of the rest.
  8. Do you actually need all your CDs if you listen to your music collection on your PC? Maybe you can free up some space by carbooting your CDs.
  9. Even if things were given to you as gifts, it is okay to pass them on now. I am still hanging on to some tops my husband gave me about 8 years  ago, even though they don't fit, just because they are from him. It wouldn't even hurt his feelings, I'm sure, if I gave them away -  I might check first, but I'll bet he says yes. Maybe it'll encourage him to buy me another top!
  10. The less stuff you have, the less there is to clean and put away; go on, get rid of as much as you can. Nearly all of us have far more than we need.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Yesterday's Club Meeting

Prima and I are sticking to our regular club meetings on Saturday mornings, and yesterday's was one of the best.

After missing three hours' sleep due to Secundus being too hot/ lonely/ a 3 year-old, I didn't feel too chipper in the morning but the King kindly did breakfast duties and I had a lie-in til 8.30.

The sun was shining, the (fake) grass was green and if we'd had orange and palm trees in Harrogate, they'd've been swaying. Just the day to head up Kings Road to Queen Bean. Fear not, I wasn't planning on spray-tanning my five year-old; we were there for the beverages and cakes.  We skipped up Skipton Street (I gave up before she did - pelvic floor) and already Prima was saying "It is nice to have time together, mummy."

Queen Bean's decor is French-styled shabby chic; Prima chose the table in the window with arm chairs and we looked at the prints and clocks on the wall whilst waiting to be served. We felt very ladylike and smart. I hit on the cupcake and drink combo for £4.95 and Prima chose the cupcake. It was so beautiful we took a photo of it with my phone - glitter, a flake, lots of icing and definitely big enough to share. Prima sipped orange juice and we played "What Is the Odd One Out?".

Part-way through, Prima got off her striped armchair to give my the biggest longest hug I can remember ever having from her. I felt myself falling in love with this dear little girl all over again.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Bon voyage.

2013 Summer Survival CalendarFrance? No! Northumberland.

Got back on Friday night and am now back down to earth in unsunny North Yorkshire. We had a lovely week, so I thought I'd share with you a few tips that made our annual family holiday work.

1. Consider going away with your parents or another family. This might be utter torture. Or it might spread the load and give you a break. You don't have to spend every minute together.

2. Limit your journey time. We found that two and a half hours in the car is long enough for any of us, even with a break. So, just don't go very far. Bet you can find somewhere great within a three hour radius. If your kids still have naps, fit the journey around them.

3. Stay on the ground. Ash. Strikes. Stay in Britain.

4. Bring new story CDs and compilations in the car, as well as some of the old favourites. Roald Dahl's stories are popular with our two, as is My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards.

5. Plan the food in advance if you are self-catering. This avoids the usual nightmare of trying to work out what to eat every day of your holiday, especially if your parents don't eat rice or pasta and your kids don't really like Meat and Two Veg. It also makes packing and shopping easier.

6. Remember to sort out
Ebay selling/buying and any other internet/ email commitments before you go, whilst not announcing to all and sundry that your house will be unoccupied for a particular period.

7. Research your destination before you get there so you know where the supermarkets are, and the nearest leisure centre. Find out what's showing at the nearest cinema or theatre; there might be something on for families. It's good to get the chance to go swimming at a local pool even if the sea is baltic, and there might be special family splash times. Have some plans up your sleeve in advance, for bad weather, rather than trudging about looking for places to go in the rain.

8. Take back-up medication, such as spare inhaler or Prozac (if you are me) and keep it separate from everything else.

9. Keep to the routines you normally do, if that helps you. I find the kids are less settled if mealtimes and bathtimes go out of the window, so I carry on with the usual bedtime routine. Yes, no lie-ins, even on holiday, but we are used to that. If your kids share a room on holiday and don't normally, just accept that they will talk and mess about for a couple of hours. It isn't worth going in and moaning at them to go to sleep, unless they are upsetting each other. They'll catch up on sleep in the end.

10. Book yourself a treat; it's your holiday too. I had a re-balancing facial on my holiday at the
Ocean Club in Seahouses- felt like I came home with a new face (in a good way!) - make sure everyone gets a chance to do something they like.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Finally off my trolley.

Scenario: daily walk to school with 5 yr old and 3 yr old, followed by play school drop-off.
Urban environment.
Time allowed :10 minutes.
Buggy not really needed to transport 3 yr old and mum wanting to encourage purposeful walking within a time limit.
Things to carry: Potty and wipes, Thomas rucksack, two coats, lunch bag, drinks bottle and book bag, handbag and shoes for the gym.
Answer: a shopping trolley. Mine was about £26 inc. P and P from marketeer. I think you might like one, too.
Yes, I get funny looks.
But what's new?
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