I’ve been trying to think of the best way to start this blog, and like most things, I think it makes the most sense to just start at the beginning, and to tell the story of how we moved from a seriously chaotic life to a more slower and simpler one.
I would be lying if I told you that our life is no longer chaotic. Some days, the only word that can describe it is chaos. but, like most things life would be kinda boring without those chaotic days to keep us on our toes, and those days serve to remind us of why we are on this journey in the first place!
The image I have in my head of what slow and simple looks like for us as a family can still seem like a million miles away sometimes, but it’s all about progress not perfection.
Something I can struggle with sometimes as a serious perfectionist (working progress!).
So here goes.
When Anest was really small, she was somewhere between a year and two years old, Jac would have been 4/5 and Mali would have been 2/3 at the time, and things were kind of crazy, as they are for any family with three children under 5, and then when you add in a baby who has complex medical needs (Anest had a tracheostomy, fed via NG Tube at this point) who the doctors just couldn’t find a diagnosis for it means you have a LOT of appointments.
And by a lot, I mean A LOT.
I think that this particular February Anest had had 47 appointments with different doctors, with different community teams like the portage team and the physiotherapist and the OT, so we were juggling this with all the other things that we had going on with Jac just started school, Mali was a toddler, as well as all the usual house admin and house work you get as a family of 5!
Then in the March we had our first block of Bobath Therapy for Anest, where we had to travel an hour away everyday for a month for Anest to have intensive Physiotherapy.
So we decided to book a weekend at the end of March (which happened to be Mother’s day weekend) to go to Bluestone in Pembrokeshire for a few days to just de-stress and get over the most insanely hectic two months appointment wise we had ever had.
We all completely fell in love with Bluestone.
We loved the wooden lodges. We loved the way it was all in woodlands with lakes and surrounded by nature. We loved the openness and the simplicity of the lodges. The whole lifestyle of the place – we were sold.
I’m not sure whether it’s because we had had such a busy time that it made such an impact on us, or whether it would have done that anyway – but either way it made a massive impact on all of us.
The whole way of life there was just to slow down and enjoy nature. To get ouside and get moving.
Exactly what we wanted and didn’t realise we needed.
The whole weekend was amazing, and when we came home, it was clear that as a family, we needed that simpleness and slowness to balance out all the crazy chaos that was going to be an inevitable part of our lives.
So, I frantically began googling and that’s when I stumbled across the minimalism movement, how people are intentionally simplifying and slowing down their lives.
And so our journey began…
I began with simplifying our stuff. We still have a long way to go, but we have come a long way too. The mountains of toys and children’s books were pared back to make room for just the ones that they actually used and loved. Our clothes were decluttered to just our favourites. Every single drawer and cupboard in our house has been declutter probably 20 times, and every time I do it, there is always something that we no longer need and that can go.
I will say thought that, navigating minimalism while you have children who are getting older is definitely a learning curve!
What we quickly learned though was that you can minimise your belongings as much as you want, but you have to tackle the other areas of your life too for the ‘full effect’ – the mental clutter, the emotional clutter. It all needs to be looked at.
I think it’s important as well to realise that minimalism will look different for everybody.
You may come to our house and think that we are no where near minimalist – but I think minimalism is what is the right amount for YOU and YOUR family. We are all different and what is right for one family doesn’t automatically make it right for another. You just have to find what is best for you.
Once we had a few attempts at our belongings, it was time to move on to some other things – so the first thing was to just stop and ask ‘What is really getting on my nerves?’ – for me it was still the constant toy tidying, it was constantly having too much appointments and events on the calendar, it was never being able to keep up, never feeling like I was anywhere near the end of the todo list, the constant cleaning – I’m sure if you have kids you can relate!
Quite frankly, I felt like I was drowning.
Like I was on some sort of treadmill that every time I felt like I was nearing the end of someone put the speed back up.
Each area gets researched, and one by one we have been simplifying things.
Is it perfect? No. Have we tackled them all? No. But little by little things are getting simplified and things feel so much better for it.
It is a constant learning curve though. We go into different stages and different seasons and things which were an ‘issue’ may get replaced with a different one and things just change.
While we may not be living our dream of a cabin in the woods surrounded by nature, we are getting that little bit closer all the time!
If you got to the end of this, thankyou so much. It’s a bit of a long one.
I will keep sharing all the things we are doing to simplify and hopefully it will help you too.