Enjoy More With Less in 2014

I’m not a big fan of new year’s resolutions – I think if you want to make a change in your life, do it now instead of waiting for a day on the calendar to arrive – but I have some changes I want to make that happens to coincide with the start of the new year.

I’ve read 2 books recently, Simplicity Parenting and Buddhism for Mothers, which have really given me a renewed interest in living simply, as I feel it will benefit my whole family. I’m also a regular reader of 2 blogs I find really inspiring, Miss Minimalist, which shares stories from people who live a minimalist lifestyle (or are working towards it) and Zen Habits, which has practical advice for living simply. However the Christmas season and all its excesses have made me realise that I’m living far from my ideals.

So I’d like 2014 to be a year of less – buying less and doing less, in order to enjoy more. I live in a house full of stuff with a head full of distractions, with physical and mental clutter taking up too much of my time and energy.

I’d like to do The Compact again. This is a commitment to buy nothing new, for an entire year (with some exceptions). I’ve done it before, several years ago (for 6 months) and it really reset my attitude towards buying stuff. I don’t go shopping a lot, but since having K I’ve got into bad habits of buying too much stuff for her, too many toys, clothes, books etc, and often too much food (for some reason, having lots of food in the cupboard makes me feel secure). I want to teach her that materialism is not a path to happiness, and instead the way to contentment is being satisfied with what you have. It’s also partly down to environmental concerns, I just don’t think our constant need to buy more and more stuff is sustainable (watch The Story of Stuff). And it will make things a little easier financially, while I’m not at work and with another mouth to feed.

I’m also going to stop using distractions, which just eat up so much time, and as a mother ‘time’ is something that is in short supply, so I want to use it more wisely. For me, distractions include Facebook and blogs. I’ve already had to delete the Facebook app on my phone because I just find it too tempting and end up checking it on those long afternoons indoors when I really would rather be paying attention to my little girl. But often in the evening I go on it, with the intention of looking for 5-10 minutes, and end up on there for hours. Same with blogs, I use The Old Reader (an RSS reader) to keep up with all my favourite blogs, but I subscribe to so many blogs I never catch up! Another distraction is TV, I tend to plonk myself down on the sofa in the evening just out of habit, even if there’s nothing I really want to watch.

Instead I’m planning to prioritise my time, energy and money into two things, firstly working on my self (through the practices suggested in Buddhism for Mothers, and The Little Book of Contentment and other spiritual crap like that). Secondly I’d like to prioritise creativity (inspired by another book, The Rainbow Way, and a good friend of mine who blogs at Attachment Feminism, whose writing is going from strength to strength). I’ve *always* wanted to be a writer (when I started school I told my teacher that I wanted to go to university to study English and Maths, so that I could write books and then work out how much money I had made!), and although I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do it professionally right at the moment, I’d like to practise now to build up my skills so I can start working when I’m ready. I also love doing arts and crafts with K, and I like to do the odd craft project myself (currently crocheting a baby blanket). I’m also much happier and fulfilled when I have time to be creative, which I feel makes me a better mother.

What changes are you making in the new year?