Thursday, January 11, 2018

Doing Less

I am a habitual over-doer. I have always been that way. In years of observation I have learned I come from a family of over-doers. It used to drive me insane that my mother was never able to just sit down and chill out with the rest of the family, until I looked in the mirror one day and realized I was the exact same way. I was driving myself, and Mr. Mayer, to the brink of insanity. Last year I made a resolution to myself to do less. I was worn out, my anxiety was out of control and I didn't feel like any aspect of my life was getting the attention it deserved because I was stretched thin. It was difficult at first because I was used to having an over scheduled life that if I had free time I felt like I was missing something.
The first part of the year started by me saying no to requests for parties at my house and not scheduling "get together's" or "fun activities" every weekend. The kids rebelled at first. I had created little monsters that thought we should be doing something every weekend. Truth of the matter is that we were plenty busy without always scheduling extra things. Three kids in different sports and grades creates a busy calendar. Soon, I noticed that everyone would get really excited when there was nothing on our calendar or we had a free night at home. We had more time to watch a movie we had wanted to watch. We had time to play with our neighbors and have friends over.
This new plan of saying no more often and not scheduling as much continued for a few months. Summer arrived and I always let the kids pick two summer camps they can do. This kept use plenty busy this summer, and we had no other plans. We played, swam, had friends over, and would spend entire days doing nothing in particular. Just letting kids be kids. There were a few times I heard "I'm so booorrrreeeedddd....," and I would give myself a pat on the back because boredom is where creativity is born.
When school started again we had all adjusted to my new doing less lifestyle. Don't get me wrong-we are still busy, and I still fall into the wanting to do everything trap. I'm a work in progress and just taking things day by day. #1 is in competitive cheer so our calendar is pretty packed with cheer  practice and competitions. #2 and #3 did basketball in the fall which was every Saturday, and #2 does baseball every spring.
December is always the worst month as far as busy schedules go. Since I had #1 I have always felt the need to cram every tradition and "magical" thing into the month as humanly possible. I felt like my kids would be missing out on something if I didn't do everything. This year December turned into an awful month. In addition to #1 having out of town competitions two weekends in a row, my wheels were stolen (a major expense), my anxiety and depression were taking over, we moved my mother into a nursing home, and the general holiday chaos and expense that accompanies December, I was near my breaking point.
I have four oversized plastic tubs, plus various bags and trees in the attic filled to the brim with Christmas decorations. Every year I cover every inch of my house in decorations, and tell myself that the kids will feel cheated if they don't have a cluttered house. Every year by Christmas I feel suffocated in all the stuff and can't wait for it to be gone. This year due to the other things happening in life, and just a true lack of time, I did less. I put up our tree, hung stockings, and put a couple of wreaths on the door. That was it. I was sure that the kids would notice and throw a fit because we didn't have a nativity or fun themed coffee mugs. No one ever said a word. We had the unexpected expense of buying new tires and paying for my mother, so money was tight in December. I gave the kids a choice in what they wanted to do for their teachers for Christmas. All three wanted to make them candy and give. So, each child chose a candy and we made them and gave as gifts. I didn't make triple recipes and pass candy out to the entire neighborhood. Every year I have a dozen families over to decorate sugar cookies. I spend two days cutting and baking cookies for the kids to decorate (that no one ever eats after they are decorated). This year I asked the kids if they wanted to decorate. They did, so I picked one evening that we had free last minute, bought pre-made cookies and used last years sprinkles and let them decorate cookies. They all had a great time decorating.
Christmas Eve arrived and we sat our cookies and carrots out for Santa, we sprinkled our reindeer food outside, and opened our Christmas Eve pajamas. We had breakfast for dinner and watched a movie. There were no big productions or rushing around like crazy to cram one more tradition in. There was no stress. No one complained.
Over Christmas break I made no plans. Each kid got to invite some friends to do something. #1 chose two friends and we went and saw a movie at the movie theater one day. #2 and #3 had two of their best friends come over and play one afternoon. We went to Ada to stay with Aunt Margaret over New Years Eve and New Years, as we do every year. We hugged family, laughed and ate until we were delirious. It was pure bliss.
After a year of doing less I have challenged myself to continue the momentum. I don't know if it's age, experience, exhaustion, or a combination, but letting my kids be kids fills my bucket more than cramming in stuff every week. Piling in the living room and watching a movie with them is more fun than yelling at them to put on pants, shoes, etc. and get in the car to go somewhere. I have also given myself a spending challenge. The time challenge has gone so well, that why not carry that into other aspects? We do not need more stuff. The last thing we need is stuff. I'm striving to live with less this year. I don't need to buy that shirt off amazon that I may or may not like. I have a thousand shirts I never wear. What I need is peace, sanity and a little less stress in my life.

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