In the manner of more dedicated bloggers, I resolve to make every Wednesday my simple living tip day. Before I do that, I thought I would update a list of tips I wrote a year ago about simplifying life for those working full-time. I felt that post was a necessary addition to the myriad of discussions about the simple living because while the idea of quitting the rat race to raise chickens or make cheese on a farm can be quite inspiring, many people want to start a simpler life now, while still holding down a job.
Since that post is generating more hits lately, I thought I would update those tips and list what I am doing right now, as a working parent.
1 ) Buck tradition. I’ve heard that this is much harder with kids. At one point your weekends can get consumed by playdates, birthday parties etc.. I long for the old days when parents were not guilted out if they didn’t attend every sports game or ballet recital. For now, my husband and I are determined not to make too big a deal over birthday parties, Halloween and other holidays.
2 ) Use Technology Wisely. I limit my exposure to tech toys and social media like Facebook or Twitter but I have found that some tech tools are a busy parents’ best friend, like www.snapfish.com or www.shutterfly.com. You can easily upload pictures and then create albums, send photo cards/announcements and share photos. You can even go old-fashioned and get prints, which my parents really appreciate. At the same time, I stand by my belief that too much technology adds stress to your life. Sometimes you need to disconnect and just slow down!
3 ) Run Errands at off-peak hours. As I said before, learning how to maximize time is important if you want to simplify daily life. Nowadays I sometimes drop off my kids at my parents before work, so I don’t have much time to do errands in the early morning. However, I still try to run errands or eat lunch before the noon lunchtime crowds, which saves time and lessens headaches due to less traffic and shorter lines.
4 ) Find Some “Go-To” Friends & Acquaintences. I define a “go-to” person as someone who knows a lot about something I don’t — from computers to couponing to parenthood. While I will never be a social butterfuly, I’ve realized that it’s often much simpler to just ask people who are already parents instead of reading and browsing online for answers. I’ve discovered a community of working moms at my company, re-connected with mom-friends, and am beginning to make use of mom groups both off-line and online. After a while, you can always identify someone whose ideas/philosophies are similar to your own and provide the “best” tips. This applies to all areas of life, too.
5 ) Pick 1 Hobby (or none at all). Right now my “hobby” is playing with my kids. Their playtime is my playtime. Luckily they seem to think it’s hilarious if I dance around or do strange yoga poses.
6 ) Don’t Read About Spring Cleaning. Why don’t men’s magazines devote entire issues to spring cleaning? Because they know women will do it after being brainwashed into a frenzy by Martha Stewart, Real Simple, Redbook, Shine.com etc.. While I would love to be more relaxed about a messy house, and fully expect it once kids are running around, I don’t think I’ll ever be my sloppy teenage self again. I do plan to hire some cleaning help!
7 ) Work 40 hours a week. While I do have a major project at work and still have a long commute, I try to focus on the fact that I don’t have to work 50 or 60 hours a week!
8 ) Write It Down. I have so much more going on now that the only way to remember anything is to write it down immediately. If you don’t use an organizer, jot whatever task/chore on a post-it note or enter it into your online calendar as soon as you think of it.
I’m interesting in hearing other perspectives. Is simple living just not possible if you work 9 to 5 or live in a major metropolitan area?