I’ve been thinking about minimalism. A lot. Every day. I think about it.
Yep. Thinking. Minimalism. A lot. About our minimalist journey and how I’ve lost my way. See, for a while I was a minimalist machine. During the move from Dallas to Houston over the summer I gave away, sold, and trashed way more than I moved. And then after the move I gave away, sold, and trashed even more as we unpacked. We were hot. We were on FIRE with our minimalist progress. During the summer, we rocked it. But not this past month. Nope. Not really.
In fact, in the past almost-two-months life has become increasingly complicated. Sure, the move is over and we’re mostly settled in, but now we’re in the life-building stage. New home, new town, new activities, new friends. I’ve got homeschool going full-swing. And it seems like virtually every night we have somewhere to go, usually in a rush. This is not how we’d envisioned living life together. Too busy. Not enough down time. And it’s making us grumpy.
But, here’s the question. What do we cut? We have one kid who is in a robotics program that started out the season meeting every Tuesday and Thursday evening, and then all day on Saturday. We knew that was a big time commitment, but agreed that it was worth the sacrifice. Our kid is meeting some great people and having experiences that contribute to real character building and skill building. She is flourishing. And it is totally worth the time. Three days a week. But now, toward competition time, they’re meeting every day, and we’re not getting home until after 10pm. Exhausted. Each day a little farther behind in everything else.
And then we have another kid who is buried in homework every weeknight. He comes home from school, takes a few minutes to catch his breath, and then it’s homework time for hours. Sometimes all the way to bedtime, with only a break long enough to eat family dinner. I don’t approve of homework. That’s a whole other post for a whole other blog. I think public schools need to do their job on their time and leave kids alone to enjoy their families once school is dismissed. Instead, we work on homework for HOURS. But, just as with robotics, the time spent is totally worth it because he’s started coming into his own in subjects that were more difficult for him a while back. Progress is being made. But, still, it takes hours away from family time. Almost every day.
Robotics. Homework. Both of these activities are important to and for our kids. But both use up precious family time. What do we cut? I don’t like the idea of everyone going their own way, doing their own thing, and not seeing each other for more time than it takes to wave hello and goodbye as we pass in the hallway. If we were willing to divide and conquer then we could get more done… but we don’t want to go our separate ways. We worked long and hard through eighteen months–seven of those months as a married couple–of a long-distance relationship before we were finally able to combine households. We want to be together. Not apart.
So, I ask myself again. What do we cut? How can we minimize our activities so that we have more down time at home? I know the extreme answer. Just do it. Just make it happen. Say no more often than we say yes. Find balance. Set guidelines and stick to them. Prioritize, and then follow that list of priorities. Just do it. Make it happen.
So much easier said than done! Especially the “say no more often than yes” part.
Whoa!! Wait!! I think I just answered my own question right there. I think I know where to cut!! “No” is where I need to start. I’ve been a life-long yes-sayer. That word yes just pops right out of my mouth before my brain even processes the request. It’s a difficult habit to have, and an even more difficult habit to break. But, now’s a good time since we’re new to town. People I meet now don’t need to know me as a people-pleasing yes-sayer. I can still be friendly, supportive, and generous without being a sucker. I need to be consciously aware that every time I say yes when asked to come early, stay late, or spend money on an extra-curricular activity I’m taking something–time, attention, energy, money–from my family and giving it elsewhere. I like to help people out, but I need to do so carefully and intentionally. My next minimalizing task needs to be learning to use the word yes carefully while at the same time learning to say no and meaning it.
Wow. This is gonna be tough. I’ll need reminders and support. Maybe even need some carefully placed nagging from time to time. Because minimizing yes will be easier said than done.