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Thursday, January 5, 2012

The green and simple life - as it actually is in a small urban house, with small children

Aurora @ Island Dreaming


 
I have to admit, I am at a bit of a loss as to what to write about this week.


It isn't that we haven't been doing anything. I have baked bread, I have started two batches of wine, a batch of from-grain beer. We have further  decluttered and redecorated the house, celebrated Halloween and Christmas, cooked almost every day from scratch. Nappies have been washed, laundry gloop made. But my own blog has been silent for two months now, because the wherewithal to coordinate doing something worthy of writing about with having a charged camera battery, time to sit at the computer and compose something and the brain capacity to write acceptable English more often than not fails me.

The reason? A six month old teething baby. The beautiful routine we had begun to get into? Gone out of the window, replaced by fractiousness, separation anxiety and broken nights. Broken nights for everyone, because her three year old brother in the next room often wakes with a jump at the onset of a midnight screaming session. We are not a well rested household.

Herein lies a problem. The main attraction of a simple life is to be more rested than those panicking to climb the material and social ladder. I feel not rested, I feel overstretched for the first time in many months. A steady diet of doctors appointments, preschool sessions, vet appointments, scheduled activities,work and study commitments on top of all our day to day frugal activities is interfering with a previously plodding, calm schedule. Life does not feel simple and deliberate. It feels slapdash.

The reason I tell you this? I have been reading a few too many beautiful blogs of families with small children where everything is rosy and beautifully staged and calm and organized and tidy - and this has been bad for my mental health. It is, I realise now, no different to looking at adverts for expensive cars and anti-aging creams and feeling angry and inadequate for those things that are beyond your reach. I know that many bloggers actively admit they show the very best of their days, their blogs are a medium for them to focus on the things they are most grateful for and this is not a dig at them. I may have been guilty of this on my own blog. It is a dig at myself for falling into the trap of comparing our life unfairly with those edited blog lives.

I have neglected to keep up with a few of those delightful blogs that unfortunately I cannot help comparing myself too at the moment. My own blog has fallen by the wayside a little and instead I schedule my fortnightly appointment here and look forward to it. Our allotment is still awaiting its autumn tidy up, the garlic and broad beans have not been sown. Dishes sometimes stack up on the side. The hoover sometimes doesn't come out for a few days. Knitting gets left out in the rush and unravelled by a passing three year old. The cat knocks a house plant onto the floor and I shout and use choice words that I would never dream of typing. The dining table piles up and we eat on a rug in the living room. I raise my voice sometimes and lose my patience and sometimes I just scream into a pillow, cry and feel sorry for myself. Mindfulness escapes me to be replaced by racing thoughts and deep seated feelings of inadequacy.

I have nothing practical to share with you at the moment; I can't share with you tips for soothing a teething baby, as none of the things that worked with the first of my children is working with the second; I cannot get my brain (and camera) together enough to write the wine tutorial I have been planning for most of 2011. Instead I just want to say go easy on yourself and enjoy the start of this new year. If you are struggling to keep your head above water right now, because of overtired small children or for other reasons, then let something go and do what you can with the material or spiritual reserves you have. Keep on keeping on. I'm off to find my camera battery.




29 comments:

Myrnie said...

Bless you, for reminding us we're not alone!!!

carly said...

I love this post so honest an real.

sawn48 said...

That's the good thing about blogging. You can get comfort for just saying how you feel to whomever is willing to read your words, and not getting a humongous bill in the mail for it. We are here to listen and sympathize with you as we are most likely going through similar scenarios of our own,if the truth be told.

Jenni said...

Remember to go easy on *yourself* too!

Is there anything you can let go of temporarily? Living a 'simple life' isn't simple if you're not rested and dashing around all over the place. Is there anything you normally make for yourself that you might be able to buy in for a little while, or get a friend to help with?

xxx

Jen R said...

The best posts are from the heart and I can feel your exhaustion :(
I think sometimes those 'rosy' bloggers may be really struggling too but feel they cant say so. Teething is tricky and tiring for the whole family...my kids liked to suck on a wet facecloth that I chilled in the freezer...might be worth a try? xx

Rita said...

Thank You! I do not have small children but I do try to live frugally which is more work than just going out and grabbing something from the grocery shelf. I like to mend. Give my dog a bath in the tub, make my own soap etc. So at times I don't get things done that need to be done. It is good to know you can honestly tell us you get frustrated too. I have learned through the years that many who seem to have it altogether have someone clean their home once a week or watch the children. A mother or mother in law that is a second set of hands and prepares dinner or does dishes etc. I have not had that. Like you I am happy with my life and the way I choose to live it but sure wish I could get some things done more often. Best wishes...as the children get older it gets easier.

Devonmama said...

Ah I hear you, real life never is quite as shiny as it is on screen! Nothing blog worthy going on over here either, I actually feel quite odd when I try to compartmentalise my life into bloggable pieces...give me *real* life any time :) Hope you settle back into a routine soon...if all else fails you've got the homemade wine to look forward to x

mary_smith said...

A wonderfully honest post. I too find it difficult to post when life takes a rough turn. I don't have children but spent several years as a full-time nanny to 2 tiny ones until they were 4. Hang in their Mom!

Anonymous said...

I remember when my two boys were babies. Always there were mountains of washing, and even higher mountains of dirty dishes. The kitchen floor was lucky to be swept twice a week! But 'it came to pass', now my house is tidy and clean and my sons are fathers themselves. And when I ask them what they remember from their childhood, they say, "We always knew we were loved". This tough stage of your life will pass, the children will become a little more independent and you will get to sleep all night long without interruption. Have you anybody who would look ater your babies for an hour or two so you can have some quiet time for yourself?

mainely stitching said...

Oh goodness - our lives are constantly slapdash, despite my ongoing efforts to achieve that Nirvana of calm, deliberate, mindful living. Kids! Animals! And demands from the 'outside' world. They all conspire against me. In my blogs, I try to put a best foot forward but of course by doing so, I rarely mention the days I shamble around with my head full of mucus from the cold the kids gave me, half exhausted because our 4-year old can't sleep when he has a cold, worrying about the fact that I'm behind with almost all my barn chores, and feeling irritable as h*ll because no one else "gets" it. LOL. You are not alone by a long shot!! I figure, it's real life - not a magazine spread. ;)

Heather said...

This post is spot on. I have a 3 1/2 year old and a 17 month old. I feel like the majority of 2011 I was barely hanging on. It is nice to see that I am not alone! I too struggle to compare my life to those lovely mama blogs, and throw in the green mama blogs and I feel like I might as well just shut the computer off for good :-) I am trying to take a little time now to myself each week now. My husband works 2 jobs, and it isn't easy, but having an hour to myself where I can take a bath, or read a book, helps to center me and keep trying for the simple life. And remember, just because you are striving for simple living, doesn't mean that it will be easy :-)

WeldrBrat said...

And you can count on that fact for the next 5 years, minimum! LOL Sweetie... let it go! Your day is coming. You will awake and the whole world will witness, yet, one more Phoenix arising from the ashes! Trust me. Teach them to clean and pick up after themselves. They can do it as toddlers. You'll hit a lull (teenagers). And then they become clean freaks in adulthood! And you get to go around the world pointing and saying, "I did that!"

Daisy D'Arcy said...

Breath. Of. Fresh. Air.
Thanks so much :-) needed to hear this.
Can send photos if you need proof!

Winter said...

a post from the heart, even one that is not riddled with coping tips and thankfulness, will touch in turn the hearts of others. as you have obviously done. It's not easy to live simply. It's a change in lifestyle for a better personal sphere that we hope to effect the communities we live in. It's habit and routine that can be fragile. It's real. Reality and honesty are beautiful though, even when they are a beautiful mess.

Karen said...

It's so good to hear someone finally admit that! I've spent the last three months starting my own business and working a second job to make ends meet. Between that and my attempts at suburban homesteading, my blog has also been neglected. Thanks for reminding me to stay in touch with reality instead of the blogs that make it look impossibly easy!

Emily D said...

Thank you. I too struggle with comparisons in blogs and FB, and need to just stop looking if t hurts. Thank you.

Kristy said...

All I can say, is 'I hear you'

And so do so so ~so~ many others.

I am sitting here at 12.37am with so much 'stuff' going on in my head and really hoping I find a way to make sense of it, and find some answers.

Contemplated typing it all up in a blog post but wasn't sure it would be coherent enough... lol

so yeh, 'I getchya'

xo

eta on the last poster - friend suggested face cloth soaked in cammomile tea and fresh from the fridge. Camm for the anti-inflam, cold for the cooling and slight numbing, and the camm for the tum too. There's a thousand other ideas out there I'm sure, but was just adding on from the other poster here.
sending happy gummy (+toof) wishes.

Kristy said...

PS the world verification when I did that post was 'cange'
I decided to interpret that as 'change doesn't have to be perfect, so long as you can 'see' it' :)

the word verification on this one is 'lopug'... not quite so inspiring lol

Laura Jeanne said...

Aurora, I understand you completely.

I too have been struggling this past year with a teething baby who never seems to sleep - she is 9 months old now and still never lets me sleep at night.

Our 3 year old is often up crying at night too, and we have two older children as well. We homeschool. We run an Etsy business from our home. Need I say that I am tired?

Lately I have been wondering why my simple life feels so busy and tiring. I never have time to do anything extra, like sewing and crafting. Cooking, cleaning, caring for the children, homeschooling, and shopping take up every second of my days.

I think the best answer is indeed to just let something go if possible...so very soon I am going to stop blogging permanently. I just don't have the time, and like you I often feel like I don't have much interesting to write about, anyway. Who wants to see the endless piles of dirty laundry or the sticky spots on my walls?

Frogdancer said...

This too shall pass.
I had 4 boys in 5 years and the early years were hectic. Now that they're all teenagers life is SO much easier. Seriously... hang in there.

Cameron said...

Your post was very refreshing. We have a child on the way, and your post really helped me to sit and think realistically about it for at least a day.

Jaime S said...

I've never worked harder in my life since buying this property. We are burnt out already. We need to take time to enjoy the serenity.

Erica/Northwest Edible Life said...

You may find comfort in knowing how NOT along you are here...in fact my post from earlier this week follows very similar themes. (And contains very brief strong language, as a warning for those who aren't into that kind of thing.) http://www.nwedible.com/2012/01/productivity-junkie-had-baby.html

Megan.K. said...

Aurora, thank you for this one. My heart reaches to you as I know only too well how wearing those first years with little ones are. Mine are 2 & 5 (today she's 5!) and a teenager and it can be such hard and relentless work . Sleep disruption is enough to sap anyone's blogging mojo. I'm amazed you have written this post at all!
I regularly stop reading "perfect " mummy blogs for exactly the reasons you describe. I go back when/if I'm ready.
Must admit I am guilty of editing out the mess from photos on my own blog :) don't want to see it in "real" life, don't want to see it on the blog either!!! Hope that doesn't make
me seem silly. My friends tease me about it :) as they know I'm a mess!
I read somewhere, if you make it through the day with little kids and they're fed and alive at the end - you've done well! It's true, so give hourself a (gentle) pat on the back for getting this far. Some days that's all we can manage, and it's perfectly ok.
Oh, if I could send a teething fairy to your home I would right now. And I would cook you a meal and send you to bed to sleep all day...
x
Megan

The Smiths said...

Hi Aurora,

You are doing loads, probably much more than I could - when our kidlets were young! We didn't have a computer or a phone back then either...

It does get easier though, home educating was one of our wonderful breakthroughs, that & job sharing shift work!

Hope your little one soon feels better.

Kay :)

PS. When you do get the time - we'd love to hear about your homebrewing...

Jenifer said...

Thanks for the post. My life is much less ideal most of the time, and I appreciate you honestly admitting that yours is, too. The temptation is to compare, and even though we all know that this isn't right, good or healthy, it is hard to resist. Your honest picture of life mimics some of the realities in mine too (my 23 month old still wakes to nurse twice a night), so this comparison (while I'm sure its still not healthy or good) is a much welcomed one.

Thanks for the reminder to breath and just embrace the here and now. Clean houses are just not a reality of a lived in life, at least not from my perspective.

simplelife said...

Amen sister!


cheers Kate

Amy said...

Hi Aurora,
Thank you for your post of honesty. My own life has been hectic, crazy, and exhausting too (I have an 18month old and have been studying and working part time). Have you considered homeopathy for the teething? We use calc carb, chamomila, and silicia together...it is the only way I've been able to get my boy to sleep when he teethes (when it is really bad, the remedy gets used up to 10x a day - it is safe to use like this and I am SO grateful for it! Still had a patch of about 2 months of illness and 8 teeth which were beyond my sanity and his but we have survived to tell the tale!).
You know, I think the reality for most of us with small children is that life simply isn't simple, or quiet, or peaceful, or calm. Unless you have picture perfect children (which most of us do not) or are a complete model of calm (which again, hardly any person really is when reality pushes and pushes for months on end!) then life is messy. Hang in there. Your baby will stop teething. All seasons do eventually pass. And in the meantime, thank you for sharing a snipet of your life and encouraging us to continue living as simply as we can.
Amy

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing this- I am guilty of comparing my life to other's blogs and feeling like I come up short. Always wondering why I can't be so organized, clean and creative as they are. Thanks for sharing that things aren't always as black and white as they look. :)