Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Doing Less?

I started blogging here because I wanted to talk about how I want to live a simple life with my family. But I'm starting to think that I'm all talk and no action.

For example, I heard a talk (Julie Beck, "Mothers Who Know" Ensign, November 2007) about a year ago about mothers. One of the things that the speaker said was that mothers who know do less -"They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all." I thought to myself - Yes, that sounds right to me. It fits in with my plan of living simply. Not to mention, we just don't have the money to do many outside activities.

But yet, we seem to have enough to have cable TV with many channels and a DVR recorder. Now we honestly don't watch it much, and the children don't watch anything but educational television, but we do watch it some. And the cable company is not stupid either. They offered us a "great deal" if we packaged our phone service, our cable modem, and the cable TV all together. But if we decide to drop any service (like the TV) then the prices for the other two services go up to more than the three together. So we keep it because it costs us less than if we didn't have it. And so we watch it. I can rationalize all I want, with any number of excuses, but we should still probably be watching less/almost none/more selectively and using that time doing something together.

However, although we could be watching TV, the thing that is really making me think lately is that we are doing too much. It started out innocently enough. The girls were both in girl scouts and meet a couple of times a month. Then Flower started going to church activity for girls that meets twice a month. And then Flower and Super wanted to do swimming lessons. I couldn't afford private lessons, but we could do parks and rec lessons, and it is only $25 a session. Oh, yea. Make that $50 for both of them. Oh, and a session is a month, so it will be $50 for November. And $50 for January. And $50 for February. And since Flower is homeschooled, it is extra important to me to have her get some exercise. Swimming is twice a week. O.K., busy, but we are managing. Oh, yea. it wouldn't be fair if Jelly Bean didn't do anything. So Jelly Bean is doing basketball. For $60 a session. At least a basketball session is two months instead of one month. Basketball is twice a week. Thankfully on different days than swimming. Flower wants to do 4-H. It's only once a month. It's o.k., I say. And Flower really should be learning the piano. She's 9 and hasn't taken lessons yet. But we can't afford it.

And that was when I thought "Can we afford what we are already doing?" Not necessarily financially, but in terms of the time that we are spending outside of the house? Do we need to do all these activities at once? And we need to do all of them right now?

Julie Beck told mothers the answer up there. I don't need to and probably shouldn't choose it all. So why do I always feel like I need to? Why do I feel am a bad mother when I choose less? And why can't I enjoy myself more when we do less? Because it always sounds good in theory to spend time "reading, laughing, singing, talking" but the reality is that my children fight. A LOT. And I can only stand so much togetherness before it erupts into me yelling and separating them and then there is no togetherness and I'm left feeling like a failure.

But again, I need to give up the excuses and just do it. Live with less. Do less. Because the benefits, one day, will be worth it.


The Queen Bee said...

I love this post! I completely agree with the less is more theory. I sometimes feel guilty because I don't have my kiddos signed up for everything, sports, music lessons, girl scouts, etc... but really it's very expensive and just takes family time away. With the church we have so many great programs that they keep us plenty busy.

Stacey said...

I am with you. I feel we are overscheduled. In England they were only in swimming outside of school and it was great. I think everyone was happier. They wanted to be at home and play outside with the neighbor kids. But, in the school they went to they were able to have piano, voice and dance lessons during the school day. I still had to pay extra for them but it didn't take away from family time. I loved it!

Mary said...

I hear you sister! We are running, running, running. I barely have time to look through my kids folders, etc. but I don't know what can give. Aah, cleaning, that's it.