Thursday, 23 March 2017

An Intentional life

It's been months since I've written. Actually that's not true- my blog feed is filled with un-published, half written posts. Perhaps thats symbolic of life right now. So busy and full and no time to sit and mull over ideas. Time only to get the crude ideas down and no time to refine. 

This is a reflection of life generally. Somewhere between having no kids and having two, I've started living life on a 'minute by minute' basis. I do things, they have to be done, I work, I cook, I drive, I sleep, but none of it is done with much thought. It's like living on autopilot. 

I've become so overwhelmed with multitasking to get everything done, that I never stop and pause to think of the 'why' behind everything.

Lately though, in those moments when I am feeding the baby to sleep, or have 5 minutes on my computer, I've been reading blogs from other mums about intentionality.

Intentionality comes out of the minimalism movement. The minimalism movement is based on the idea of controlling your 'stuff,' not letting your stuff control you. De-cluttering, getting better household systems, freeing up your time, mind, money and worry to focus on better things.

Out of this comes the idea of intentionality- doing things on purpose. With purpose. I've started incorporating this idea into different areas of my life

Parenting
Recently Matt and I have been discussing the bigger picture of our parenting. Our vision for our kids, our values which we want to impart. For example, we want our kids to be self disciplined. At this age, (3) that means encouraging Ada to do some of her own care- putting her shoes away, brushing her own teeth and doing her own toileting. We want our kids to be kind, this means being kind ourselves and showing kindness in action.

There is still so much more I want to think and mull over here, but the irony is that parenting means I'm so busy I barely have time to. I do want to make this a priority, as I've found that having a clear 'big picture' can help in those trying 'little moment' times.

Finance
The biggest area of change for us has been finance. I'm not going to get into too many details, but last year because of the way our bank accounts were set up with our mortgage, we couldn't really see how much money we had left till pay day, this resulted in overspending.

We asked out broker to change our accounts so we can clearly see how much money we have. This has resulted in much better finances! I've also started reading Dave Ramsay's baby steps and thinking about the future of our finances, rather than just living week to week.

Money is so tight with two kids and a mortgage, and now is the best time for us to start being careful with every dollar. I am trying to cut down on needless spending. A friend had a good saying. 'Every dollar costs you three dollars. The dollar you spend, the dollar you have to earn to get back to where you were before spending, and the dollar you need to earn to get ahead of where you were.'
This certainly helped me think more carefully about money- especially those small purchases like coffee or chocolate milk (total addict to milk here!)

Food
We want to be more frugal and clever with our eating- throwing away less food. It's almost impossible to achieve this at the moment, with a 7 month old who loves to try food but doesn't always eat it and a 3 year old with a varying appetite. I guess we recognise that food waste is at an all time high right now, but this will change.

I'm aiming to be more intentional with leftovers- using them instead of chucking them (the book 'Love your leftovers' has helped me be creative around this.)

I meal plan every week so we can budget and get the exact food we need. I have even made a spreadsheet of 'cheap/easy, easy/gourmet, gourmet/slow, cheap/slow' meals (!!) so we can have a balance of food quality through the week.

As for lunches, I am trying to make sure that we all eat well. It's so easy to pack a lunchbox with peanut butter sandwiches, popcorn and fruit. But I am trying to be more creative. I don't have heaps of time so I try and cook some lunch food while making dinner. This week our lunches (adults and kids) have included banana oat pikelets, baked pikelets, chicken sausage rolls, chocolate brownie (side note, these are the BEST brownies, and I've tried a lot, second side note, the baby did not get this in his lunch) and fried rice cakes (made with leftovers- win win!).

I follow a lot of kid cooks on Facebook for ideas, and I have a chart of ideas on the back of our pantry door, to give me inspiration.

For dinner- we are not able to eat as a family, as Matt is home too late, but like lunch I try to cook the kids something healthy, yet easy (I can't be bothered cooking two separate full meals!). I try and freeze little portions of meals for dinners, or I whip up something quick like an omelet with noodles, courgette and chicken.

Household
A lot of what I have mentioned above comes into this category. Setting up household systems (meal planning, lunches made the night before, clothes ready to go etc), to intentionally make life simpler and less rushed. I am always looking for new rhythms (it's the cool new term in the minimalism world) to make our family life easier. My new area of interest is time blocking- I'm hoping to use my time more effectively, but this is so new I can't write about it yet.

Under household is the area of clutter (where the concept of minimalism was born). I am constantly looking at areas of clutter and mess in our homes and asking if these items are really worthy of space in our home. I often take a boot load of items to the second hand shop. I am not following a specific program like Kon Marie, but taking it slower. I would love an instantly clutter free house but I simply don't have the time! So bit by bit we go.

Clothing comes under this heading too and I have written a post on kids capsule wardrobes- this has made life so much easier, and I have been able to be so much smarter with buying winter clothes for the kids.

Work
I work as a freelancer, so I can accept as much or as little work as I like. I am also constantly getting texts, emails, messages and calls about work when I am at home. In the past, pre kids, the only consideration around accepting work was 'am I free at that time?' 

Now it's 'am I free?' 
'will that make a crazy busy week even busier, with more time in care for the kids?' 
'Is it worth getting everyone out of the house at 7.15am to arrive at work for a 1 hour job at 9am?,' 'Was last week busy, and would it be fair to put my kids in car again for lots of hours this week?'

Basically I am trying to be more intentional and mindful of my family (especially my baby!) when accepting work. I also need to set up better systems in terms of not needing to check or be on my phone all day in regards to work. I am still thinking on this one! Perhaps only checking work related messages twice a day?

Phone/Technology
This is a biggie, and the area I am definitely least intentional in. I keep having thoughts that I need to really make some decision around how much I use my phone or my laptop, but I have yet to get time to really sit down and make myself some boundaries. I get so little down time that when I do I often end up mindlessly scrolling facebook or instagram. This is not how I want to spend my time and I know I need to be more intentional.


***

I have re read this post and it reads like a mash up of half thought out ideas- which is totally where I am at right now, so I'm going to leave it as it is. I hope this post will be something I can look back on as a beginning time in my thinking around intentionality. I also hope this post is helpful to others who are feeling frantic and busy with no time to actually think about the 'why.'

Some blogs that I have read and found really useful in this area are:

http://alliecasazza.com/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/

https://nosidebar.com/

(They are great and explain the heart of minimalism, rather than the 'aesthetic' of extreme minimalism that is also popular, but unattainable.)

Here are some of the kid recipe Facebook pages I follow:







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