Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Simple Living

I was complaining to Tom the other day about who-knows-what, and somehow he mentioned this thing he has heard about called "simple living". He said I should check it out. I want to... and perhaps I will after this post, but I need to "judge it" before I check it out.

In a nutshell, I am pretty sure that is how I lived growing up. We didn't have a lot of extra stuff. I had one doll, just enough clothes... probably 3 or 4 pairs of pants. Our house didn't have crap all over - there weren't things (I'm not going to attempt to spell cha-ch-keys) all over, it was simple. Don't get me wrong - I had a great childhood, filled with love, fun, an awesome house, and an imagination, just not a lot of stuff. Jump forward 20 or 30 years and now I have A LOT OF STUFFF! It looks like I run a daycare center with all the toys my kids have (I'm still looking for the one that keeps them happy and quiet). I don't have 1 of anything... I have 10 (man, I can hear my mothers voice in my head!). Because of that, I feel completely out of control, I feel like I don't appreciate anything I have, my kids don't appreciate anything they have, and my house is in constant chaos.

I read an article once where a mom said she felt like she was always doing dishes. So, the whole family went to a paint your own pottery place and personalized one cup, one plate and one bowl. Then, they put the rest away (for company, I guess). That is all they used. Okay... cool concept, but first, I couldn't afford that (well, maybe I could if I sold all the CRAP I have here first), and it seems like a lot of work. Oh, she did this so they reused their stuff, and washed them right away (or something like that).

I want to scale back... I think. I wonder if the reason I hoard stuff is because I didn't have a lot, and want my kids to never feel like they couldn't "trade stickers" because they only had 50 while their friends had 5000. Oh, and the one doll I had used to be my sisters (she is 8 years older than I am, and was done w/dolls by the time I was starting)... she, Nancy, came with a name (hated it) and my sister had cut her hair, so she looked like a boy. I want them to have their own things... and lots of them. Sorry, perhaps that was better suited for a therapy session and not a blog :)

I do need to mention though, that I try not to buy more than one of things so they actually DO have to share. I don't want to have 3 strollers for their dolls, or multiples of other prized toys. I think it is important to share.

Anyway - so, what do I do now? I am thinking that I am just going to stop shopping. But, what about all the stuff I have. I truly don't think my kids value their things because there are so many there isn't one... or two or even 10 things that are special to them.

Getting back to the more work part now... if, let's say, I got rid of (or put away) a bunch of my kids clothes, or towels, or whatever else, then wouldn't I be constantly doing laundry? If I scaled back to only a few pairs of shoes, would I really have the perfect pair for that one outfit? Would my kids hate me because we couldn't (or didn't) "keep up with the Jones's"?

Any suggestions? I am truly scared to research "simple living"... not sure why... perhaps I don't want a lecture or to hear how horrible I am for have too much. Hmmm... therapy again.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Going Slovak

My mom is the Greenest person I know.

As “being green” has become more trendy, my family and I have started to make some changes… okay, I have made some changes, and my family is slowly following. I have been unplugging the tv at night, switched to cleaning products that are “green”, try to use rags instead of paper towels, use totes at the grocery store instead of paper or plastic. My husband just sort of rolls his eyes at me and (for the most part) goes along with it. He is quick to show me that unplugging the tv just saves pennies a month and isn’t thrilled that I am paying three times as much for “green cleaning products” that don’t clean as well.

One day after deciding to reward myself for doing a "green job" cleaning the kitchen by buying a $4.00 organic coffee from the coffee shop 5 miles away that I drove my kids to in our mini-van it struck me… this is ridiculous! I am such a creature of habit, and so spoiled that I take things for granted. My parents didn’t.

My mom doesn’t wear Birkenstocks, eat granola, and I don’t think she would be caught hugging a tree but she is “green”. As a child she used to annoy the snot out of my sister and I “saving”. She would carefully remove wrapping paper from a package so she could reuse it (and reuse the tape too), sit in a dimly lit room to “save electricity”, run all her errands all at once to “save gas”, reuse plastic bags, make her own cleaning solutions, she would never dream of BUYING water… trust me, the list goes on and on and on! At the time I would of told you that we “lived like poor people” and, in reality I am not sure if we really were or not.

We didn’t have excess of anything. We didn’t have lots of clothes, or toys, or food that was thrown away. We didn’t eat pre-packaged or prepared food, we had a garden. We played outside a lot. We played with dirt, and went on walks, and climbed trees, we didn’t drive to a park.

My goodness! My mom was one of the first environmentalists and I didn’t even know it. We used to tease that the things my mom did were “Slovak”. My grandparents were immigrants and saved to support their families back Slovakia. When my mom, for instance, would re-use wrapping paper we would call it “Slovak wrapping paper”, or if we wore clothes that were thrown away or given to us it was from the “Slovak store”.

So, today I have decided to “go Slovak!” I am going to make my own coffee, plan my errands and use less, just like my mom did (and still does). While being “green” seemed like something I would have to research (we never bought books growing up), going Slovak I think comes pretty natural to me, and probably most of us. Hmmm… I think I better call my mom and thank her for taking such good care of our planet.