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En Route Simplicity

a journey to become a minimalist

If you lead a minimalist life, what does your day-to-day schedule look like?

This is THE question I’ve been grappling with for weeks now. Right now, my day job requires me to stay home with my children – now before you get all these images of me eating Bon-Bons in front of the TV – please note that because of this simple fact, I need to do everything else when most of the world is home from work.

Case in point, my hubby and I have had some stresses pertaining to our (ok, MY) schedule. He goes to work Monday through Friday, at least a normal work week. Many times there is sprinkles of overtime thrown in just to make things extra fun with the things I have going on. (He almost always takes the overtime because we aren’t exactly in a position to turn money away. And I’m okay with it, even when it makes things challenging on my end because I either a) don’t go to what I had set up or b) have to find a sitter when our families are at least 45 minutes away.) It’s a good thing his schedule is pretty straight forward.

My schedule, on the other hand, looks like this:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday evenings: School.
Wednesday evening: Work. (The kind of work that my schooling is in.)
Friday evening: Suppose to be my hubs night off for relaxation but something ALWAYS comes up.
Saturday mornings: Volunteer-ish work. (This is the kind where you sometimes get paid but almost always benefit from the situation because you are learning.)

The rest of Saturday and all of Sunday is usually filled up with family obligations, birthdays, and the like. Sometimes its all family stuff (meaning not me, hubs, and kids… it’s our parents, brothers/sisters, etc). Sometimes it’s ME putting stuff in there – like this past weekend there was an event I was able to go to and it was a volunteer-ish situation. Networking and making contacts is what business is all about people!

I see my kids all day. My hub sees them in the evenings. The problem is we don’t see each other. And that’s a very big problem. I know it won’t always be like this but we are literally passing in the night at this point. While it might be working for me, I feel more energized. My career is going places. I’m graduating soon. I’ve spent the last four years at home and now I’m having adult conversations!

This is clearly not working for my husband.

I try for alone time after I get out of class but at that point it’s just too late and we don’t have the energy to do anything but go to our respective corners, do mindless stuff online, until we are near passing out. It’s the only down time we get.

Finding a sitter is also a challenge for us. Our nearest family is 45 minutes away so it doesn’t exactly make it easy for a quick bite to eat or a night out together.

I’d love to hear other minimalist thoughts on clearing “schedule clutter” when almost all of it is needed for some reason or another?

My family and I have been MIA in the Great Northwoods of NH. This is Day 7. Only 2 more days to go.

In true Northwoods fashion we are tenting it. So far we’ve had a few fair days, a couple of scorchers, and a few downpours (one of which prompted us to purchase a 20×30 tarp to avoid flooding again).

While some of my friends have deemed me suitable for the “FuNnY fArM,” I have truly enjoyed my time here.

Now I don’t really want to be worried about river potential in my sleeping area on a regular basis but I am very much drawn to the simplicity of living outdoors. We have a set amount of clothes, supplies, and entertainment. And boredom is not an issue because that’s when we get to talking or going for a walk. Or playing in the waterfall.

Our little ones have adjusted quite nicely too. Our tent is home. I wish we could be here longer. It has really given me insight into what I’ve been needing at home. It’s enforcing my decision to pare down and bring things to a simpler level.

As a family of four with two little kids, it’s easy to feel frazzled with the amount of plastic that can creep into your house. My kids have their own cabinet where we store sippy cups, bowls, plates, plates with sides (for easy scooping), and a wide variety of kiddie eating utensils. Every time I opened this cabinet it was like an avalanche. I’m sure the designers were too busy admiring the color and shape of their product and COMPLETELY forgot to consider that these things might have to be stored somewhere – which might include stacking.

After doing some reading on minimalist living… the blog names escape me but I’ll be sure to post links once I come across them… I have found there are other people out there ditching their dishwasher. At first I thought this was the craziest idea EVER. I have two small children, loads of dishes since they can’t seem to go away, and next to NO time (which is why I have gaps between posts). The thought of hand washing our dishes brought up old memories of standing at the sink after dinner in my younger years. You would have to hold a gun to my head to make me do it… and even then I might ask you to pull the trigger.

Upon further reading I found those that were laying off their dishwasher were also cutting back on the amount of dishes they had available. Each family member had one plate, one bowl, one glass, one fork, one spoon… well, you get the idea. The point being after you used your dish, you wash it.

In our home, dinner dishes tend to sit since I’m usually stuffing my face before rushing off to class and my husband is left to entertain the kids on minimal energy after working all day. Needless to say, dishes is the least favorite chore. I’ll finally get around to it the next morning after food has been sitting all night and is starting to resemble cement. I literately have to WASH the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher so they get clean.

Nothing like doing the job twice.

So as scary as it was and explaining all this to my husband with the emphasis on “we’ll try it ONLY for a week,” we decided to do it. We got to pick our bowls, plates, cups and the like and put the rest in a tote labeled “for emergencies only.” I will say we gave ourselves some wiggle room with the kids cups since one tends to go missing on occasion and while my three year old uses a Big Boy Cup it’s not exactly something I want to deal with in the car. So three cups each child is tolerable compared to the chaos we had. We also kept an extra setting and a few extra glasses in case we get a visitor.

I am happy to say we are on Day 3 and all has gone quite nicely – my husband even washes his own dishes which I thought was illegal or something. We’ll see how the rest of the week goes since we’ll be having dinners home and it’ll be more routine (as opposed to the craziness we have on the weekends). So we’ll see… but I’m feeling this one might stick.

I have a problem.

For starters, I’m living in a 900 +/- sq ft home with my husband, two small children (ages 3 and 1.5 years), two big dogs, small cat, and in some cases over-sized furniture. Of course, it doesn’t help that I have a side business, photography gear, art stuff, and more books than I can handle.

I’ll admit I have a fear of letting things go in case I might need them again one day. Which can be a self-fulfilling prophecy since as soon as I get rid of something, I will undoubtedly find myself in a situation where I end up thinking, “See? I could’ve used that.”

The lack of space and the headaches has brought me to my limit. I might not be a full fledged “pack rat” but there should be MUCH more breathing room – or at least room to walk from Point A to Point B without feeling like I’m in a corn maze.

That being said, I have decided to chronicle my journey toward a minimalist life. This will not be an easy journey but my intention is to let go of things that don’t serve me (hello, clutter) and hang onto things that matter the most (my sanity). Hopefully, you will be able to follow this process, take away tidbits that might enhance your own life, and give me a good kick in the pants when I need it.

I haven’t decided if I should set a goal – A time limit? A deadline? – for this journey. I’m sure it’s always a conscious effort to keep things balanced and minimal (out with the old, in with the new) but who knows how long venture like this will take? I’m open to suggestions if any of you veterans have them.

It might be a scary road but it’s time.

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