Saturday, June 6, 2015

Week Four: One month update

Week Four: Saturday, June 6th, 2015: One month of simplification

Thanks Albert. Well timed. Today marks a month of doing Simplification Saturday as a family...even though sometimes it happened on Sunday, instead of Saturday. It was also an intense month for our family, with me choosing to accept a new job moving on from one that I have loved, having some health issues, Fiona finishing elementary school, Ella finishing middle school, and Joe supporting all of us through it all.

The greatest joy so far is seeing how our daughters are getting into it. Instead of 'chores' coming from me or Joe, they are participating in selecting how we do things and working to make their own spaces more awesome. Today Ella, age 14, elected to spend a few hours organizing, cleaning, and purging things from her room. When she was done, she came downstairs and declared"I'm so pleased with how clean and organized my room is!" She may be the first 14 year old to ever utter these words. Fiona, age 11, says its 'Simplification Saturdays are nice because I feel like we are getting rid of what we don't need, and make the things we do have (or keep) more precious...making it so that the entire house feels nicer."

Results of ideas tried so far:
  • 'Leave no Trace' kitchen (not leaving any trace after using the kitchen) has been working like magic. This idea is a simple one and has been sustained for 3 weeks. Our kitchen is staying clean all the time, with minimal effort. The sink is free of dishes. The kids are cleaning up after themselves without being asked (most of the time). We are cooking more meals instead of going out, and using up all the produce we buy at the grocery store or farmers market. We enjoy being in our kitchen.
  • 'Leave no Trace' living room (same idea) was started two weeks ago and the living room is remaining clean, again, with minimal effort. It has been nice to have friends over and they comment on how clean the house is (and I'm not still moping my brow from frenzied pre-guest cleaning). We have also tried to extend this to the dining room, but as this is the hub of the house (where I sit now, typing this out), that has been challenging.
  • One drawer, one shelf: This also works, but when we expanded it to a whole room, it became daunting. So, we are trying to still pull back to one small area of a room or one drawer/dresser/bookcase at a time.
  • Email/subscription list minimization: Amazing. Still ongoing, but already hearing less pings and have few piles of publications. 
  • Other successes: 
    • We seem to magically have more time all day long.
    • We are spending more time with friends, or having friends over (again, without either being embarrassed by the clutter and/or doing intense 'binge' cleaning before hand).
    • I've found enough time to meditate and go to the Zen center weekly.
    • Amid a few weeks of intense professional stress, my home felt more like a refuge than it has in a long time. 
Today we sat down with our remaining four books (we started with four, donated a few, but uncovered others while we have been cleaning) which we have decided are our favorite books: 10-Minute Housekeeping by Kennedy, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Kondo, Organizing Plain & Simple by Smallin, and the Simple Living Guide by Luhrs. We may eventually get the books down to a couple, but it has been fun to each pick a book and share an idea. Also finding inspiration from How to Train a Wild Elephant by Bays, which I've been listening to on Audible...but may get the book (I know, adding more stuff...but this book is amazing for a myriad of reasons, not just the simplification effort).

New ideas we are trying:
  • Creating a family wide budget (that the girls are a part of versus just having it be the parental budget)
  • Making our own 'orange' spray to combat the cat pee in the basement (trying Alice's Wonder Spray which we normally use anyway, but adding a teaspoon of sweet orange oil).
  • Avoiding winter storage bins (minimizing our clothing so that we can keep our year round wardrobe in the space we have, versus turning the closet and dressers yearly).
  • Shorter hair: I cut my hair very short and am contemplating shaving my head (I've done it twice before and loved it...but with starting a new job in two weeks I've opted to keep it pixie short versus Mad Max short...but hoping Charlize Theron looking as gorgeous as she does makes the shaved head look a little more socially acceptable for women. Think of all the time and shampoo I'd save!)

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