Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer to Simplify

The "Summer to Simplify" is in process at our house, a good time to catch my breath after the homeschooling year and go through the house top to bottom to get rid of the excess and give some thought to how to make things more manageable. With a family of 6, there just tends to be a lot of stuff....books, clothes, shoes, toys, craft supplies, sporting goods and the list goes on.

I want to make the most of what we have been given, including our possessions. What we do own I want to tend well and use and enjoy fully. If we have too much, we don't seem to manage much of it well, so this is my motivation as we make choices about what stays and what goes.

So how are we doing?

On the "stuff" front, I'm about halfway through the house and things are feeling better. I still need to tackle the garage, the basement desk areas and the kitchen. The kitchen is always a challenge with papers and random bits of the comings and goings of life. Our cupboards are quite full which makes putting things away more of a chore than it needs to be. But I do cook a lot so we need the equipment to be able to do that. So I'll tackle the kitchen next and try to find a balance. As we've gone through the rooms, we are selling what we can and donating lots because when I decide I'd like something to leave the house, I want it gone today, not being stored for months to sell for a couple bucks at a garage sale that consumes our family life for the better part of a weekend. Every time we drop a load at Goodwill, return things we've borrowed from others for a season, or sell something on Craigslist it just feels good to have a lighter load of stuff around to manage.

As far as summer activities go, we've also stepped back from activities for the most part. No organized sports this summer. No swimming lessons. No weekly commitments. No big garden. And it has been good. The kids have played and read and been outdoors a lot. We've enjoyed some outings in our area and hope to hit more of the things on our summer fun list before school is in full swing again. We've simply enjoyed a slower pace, with weekends where we are blissfully uncommitted to being at any specific location for any specific activity at any specific time. feels good.

Cooking has been rather basic, but we haven't gone hungry. I'm shopping far less and using things from the cupboards and freezer. No chasing down all the deals this summer. Frugality and simplicity seem to collide on the grocery shopping front. While I want to make my pennies scream for the way I stretch them, it requires a ton of effort to buy every single item for life at the lowest possible price. So I've found my happy medium with being content to pay good, not best, prices on basic foods and spend far less time bringing home the goods. I'm hoping we'll have some garden produce to use soon, too. I planted rhubarb, a few tomatoes and a pepper plant and we seem to have some volunteer plants growing, too, potatoes?, zucchini and watermelon. I'm evaluating whether I really plan to go back to the level of couponing I was doing a few years ago. For now, hitting Costco once every couple weeks and a grocery store about every week seems to be working out for us.

The slower pace is also allowing us to work on some things with our kids, namely training them to work diligently and cheerfully. Unfortunately I haven't been very good and patient about involving the kids in everyday household duties, but that is changing for the better. It is a process, but we'll get there. Just today I was encouraged by this post on children and chores and hope to implement many of the ideas. And even with all the unstructured time for play, I am finding a peaceful hour every afternoon when we all retire to our own spots for some quiet times while our little guy is napping. They balked at first, but it really seems to refresh us all.

So, while we may not be experiencing the "lazy days of summer" we are, in fact, enjoying the simple days of summer.

How do you like to spend your summers? What are you working on in this season?

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