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15 May 2012

Simple life and homemaking

I get many emails asking my opinion on this and that. I'm sure you all know I'm not a counsellor or any sort and I not familiar with any of the specific problems people are faced with, however, I hope to help by replying and by giving our readers the chance to as well. For all I know, these problems may well have been already tackled successfully by someone reading here who might have the solution. Below are emails from two readers - "Kate" and "Emma". If you think you have something helpful to offer, please leave your comment.

"Ever since I saw "The Good Life" series as a kid I wanted to live sustainably and simply. I am now mother of two small boys and stepmother of four. I work part-time because I found a job I like. My husband has a busy job out of choice as well as to pay maintenance, and with six kids life can get pretty crazy.I'd love to simplfy my life but I am struggling to do so with so much on. Other people suggest 'just plant some vegies with the kids, they'll love it', but the answer isn't as simple as that.Does one need to put these plans on hold while small children are so time-consuming? Is it possible to simplify amidst a busy life?"

There are many ways to live simply. You don't have to live the way Tom and Barbara did; you don't have to change very much at all. My suggestion is to simplify what you're already doing and to put a bit of time and thought into how you organise your family and home. For instance, you could make laundry liquid - that would reduce the cost of your grocery bill and get rid of a few of the chemicals in your lives. Stop buying commercial cleaners from the supermarket and use bicarb and vinegar instead - this is another way to reduce costs and chemicals. You could cook from scratch one or two days a week. Buy your meat in bulk, menu plan, take time out for some alone time, start recycling and get the kids to help.

It will be a great thing to send everyone off to school and work with a lunchbox full of homemade food, not packaged snacks. Could you have a baking session on the weekend to help with that? About 30 minutes and you'd have a couple of cakes or batches of biscuits made for the week ahead. Children love baking, teach them as you go and they might take on that task every week. Organising everyone to clean their own rooms and take their own dirty clothes, sheets and towels to the laundry will help you today and them tomorrow (although they won't know that yet). Expect them to make their own beds and put their clean clothes away.

The children could set the table every evening and then get everyone around the table for dinner and talking about what happened today and what will happen tomorrow. And don't forget to just stop and enjoy it all. Spending time with the children, reading to them, playing games and just talking, shows them that you love them just as much as saying it does. There are many more things you could do that will enable you to live a simpler life and I am sure they'll flow on when you start doing some of these things. It might not be a quiet life with six children, but there will be a lot of helpers.


"I really enjoyed your last 2 posts on "Finding your value at home". I have also noticed that in a lot of your posts you talk about how homemakers seem to be judged or undervalued in today's society. My question is "What should I do if my partner is the one that does not value me being a homemaker?" I am a stay at home mum to my 5 year old son and I study full time at University, I now feel pressured to work part time just to be able to financially contribute to the household. However I know that in doing this I will lose valuable time with my little boy. Because of study I don't have a lot of time leftover to cook, clean, etc. but I still feel like I'm contributing in some way by furthering my education and being there for my son before and after school. I have also offered to manage the finances (I consider myself quite the good saver!) but he still sees his income as "his" money that he should manage by himself. How can I get my partner to see the value in what I do? (We are unmarried and my son is not his, so I'm not sure if that might be contributing to his feelings on the matter)."

Maybe I have got this wrong but if you're using your time to study and "don't have a lot of time leftover to cook and clean etc." then you're more a student than a homemaker. You say that you feel like you're contributing in some way by furthering your education and being there for your son before and after school. Both those things are very worthwhile and important but to be a homemaker, you need to be working in the home as well. I may come across as being too harsh here, and I don't mean to be, I hope by writing this, you'll benefit. I fully understand what you're going through because when I was much younger I studied part-time for a degree while I worked and cared for my family. It's tough, you never have enough time but if you can do it, it gives you a tremendous feeling of achievement and satisfaction.

People usually value those things that give them something they need or want. You say your partner doesn't value what you do and that what you're doing is looking after your son and studying. You say you're not married and that your son is not his son - so that leads me to think you've not be together for a long time. Maybe that connection with your son will develop over time. Will he value the work you put into the home? I know when I was trying to convince Hanno that we could live like this, I decided that I would just get on with it and show him what was possible. I stopped trying to convince him and just worked to make a comfortable home that suited both of us, I shopped for bargains, reduced our grocery bill and saved us a lot of money, I started recycling, mending and gardening. When he saw what was possible with his own eyes, there was no argument. He dived in.

You have to have your priorities clearly in your mind. They are probably, your son, your partner, your life together and your study. But it seems like you want to be a homemaker too, if so, take care of them and yourself well and if you don't have time for full-time study, go part-time instead. Sure it will take longer to get your degree, but you won't be putting your life on hold while you're studying. You can be  a part-time student and a homemaker, and that includes cooking, shopping and cleaning, it will just take more time. But you'll be giving your son, your partner and yourself a great gift and you'll be living in a home that supports and nurtures all of you.

But let me be very clear here. You don't have to do part-time work outside the home to make a financial contribution it. You will make a significant contribution simply by being an organised and efficient homemaker. When your partner sees you contributing to the partnership and the home he will probably value your contribution more because it will be impossible not to see it. You'll be able to provide home cooked meals and reduce the costs of running the home because you'll make a lot of what you use and you'll create a warm and welcoming home in the process of doing that. And what a bonus that will be for your son as well. I'm not saying to give up study. I firmly believe we need many more educated women, not less. But if you can study part-time and be a part-time homemaker as well, I think you'll get the life you're looking for and you'll still be working towards your degree, and the chance of a satisfying paid job is still in your future.

34 comments:

  1. In response to the first question: I would suggest just changing one thing at a time. I started by making a conscious decision to dispense with disposable kitchen towels/cloths/cling film etc - over the course of a few months I put systems into place to make that happen. After a while, the change becomes the 'new normal' if that makes sense? Once a change has been integrated into your family's lifestyle, then you can think about changing something else. Small changes made slowly are most likely to stick.
    I also find that I sometimes have to start over with things. Different seasons in life bring about different challenges - at the moment I'm looking at our shopping habits and realising that after five years of making all my own bread, the habit of buying supermarket sliced white has somehow crept back in (it started with a period of illness, followed by a period of laziness...)
    Raising six children (even one or two children) is hard work, so don't beat yourself up over not being able to do everything. Start small.
    (from another one who still harbours Felicity Kendal-esque aspirations!)

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  2. Thank you for giving us a chance to respond to these moms, Rhonda, although I think you pretty much covered it! To the first mom may I add that I really feel your situation as I am a mom of 4, we homeschool and both my husband and I work from home. We only starting growing veggies on any large scale since 2008 when the kids were then 12, 10, 8 & 5. Before that I only dabbled. With this came the need to rethink our lives, time management etc. We also began to eat organically and developed a "green" conscience. Where we ate today is a product of the last 4 years and now that our children are older we can embrace more. I always tell mums to not regret the season they are in. Do what you can for now, just as Rhonda advises and perhaps just journal
    Your thoughts of what you want to achieve overtime and take one thing at a time as and when ages of kids, money and time allow.

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  3. My advice is to start small. I also have six children and would really love to live the simple life, however I made the mistake of trying to do it all at once and promptly fell flat on my face. So now I'm just concentrating on reducing food waste and growing veg. Once I'm used to doing that I will add something else.
    Hope this helps.

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  4. Maybe just have the attitude that "every little bit helps". We all too often as Mum's feel that we have to do "it all"...but in reality if we just focus on a few small things, that can be enough. Work out what is important and start with those few things then gradually do more as it suit you...?

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  5. To the first mum:

    I agree with the above commentors and Rhonda - do what you can do (and what you want to do) in the time you have. As a mum of a toddler and another bub on the way in a few weeks, I understand how it can be frustrating to have plans and no time to put them into practice (I actually wrote about this kind of stuff in my weekend newsletter).

    What works for me is to write a list of stuff that I want to do, pick one at a time and take small steps (in the time I have) to work towards changing that habit / doing that project etc. Sometimes they are only two minute baby steps and it takes weeks or months to achieve what I want to - but that's ok.

    Involving the children to some degree helps (them and you) - it can be an exercise in extreme patience sometimes :) or sometimes it can be better to just try again later or distract them (homemade playdough or "go outside and dig in the dirt" is the cure all in our house at the moment :).

    Good luck. Wanting to do stuff is 90% of the journey.

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  6. Firstly, I have to agree with what Rhonda's post said and also the other above blogging comments. I would also like to say what great mums these are that asked the questions in the first place...these are mums that care about their families and their homes , so to them i would like to say, 'Hey you are doing a great job!'
    I remember when my children were small, then the garden was small...then the garden grew as they grew.When your kids are little you tend to put alot of pressure on yourself to be everything to everyone ...afterall you havent been a mum for very long and you are wondering who you are and where you are going next.
    For any mum with young children I would say , 'Just enjoy the moment ....do what you can and be the first person in the family to appreciate all the great things you do .For to believe in yourself means that others will follow.'

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  7. Sometimes the first thing to consider doing to go greener etc is what needs replacing...if you are down to no paper towels {or a bit before} start making or buying at the op shop cloth napkins to replace them and cutting up old worn out sheets etc to use in place of the paper towels and rags. If your detergent is running low think of gathering the supplies and making your own cleaners. You want to use up what already you have first. One tip I have used is to team up children. Some kids naturally are closer to each other than others are. Can you team up 3 with the other 3? Or start some teaming? Let them decide. When they learn to cook or clean or just do crafts etc they can team up. It will be perhaps more fun for them and they can have a buddy to help clean up after wards too. I have noted parents teaming up children as buddies to look out for each other. One is responsible for one of the younger ones in making sure they are dressed or get to the table etc. If an older one is watching out like this you have a second set of eyes looking out too. Teach them not to tattle on each other but to know when it is right to let you now there are problems that are important. My children had a little spot in the back yard for a crop of their own each year. They picked out the one or two crops they wanted to grow. They were responsible {once tenderly and patiently taught] to water and keep up with it while it grew. Naturally we went out together and worked some together too. Not over doing anything. Start slow and be patient with yourself too. Like anything new it feels strange and different for a while but these new ways of life will soon be so natural and you will be on to try another thing to add to it. My children feel strange using paper napkins, preferring the soft absorbent cloth ones they grew up with. Now they too use cloth ones their own homes. Sometimes in life it feels like you take one step forwards and two back. That is life,.. but go back to that one step and soon you will be taking a second step forward. Sarah

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  8. Our 'simple life' consists of one very busy husband commuting several hours a day in a stressful career combined with a stay at home mum of three keeping the simple life going until he gets to take part at the weekend. Ideally he would work locally but it just isn't possible at this point.
    I would say to the first question to start with growing your own vegetables - but get everyone involved and excited about it. This is how we started and every year we try new things ie chickens etc, but it was the vegetables which really was a very exciting starting point.
    To qustion two I suspect it will take time for your relationship to develop for your partner to get to the point of understanding the need for a homemaker. Time does change things but you both have to be on the same wavelength or there will just be resentment. I think you can make a lot of changes without becoming a full time homemaker at this point but certainly let your partner know that this is where you wish your lives to be heading.
    Rachel, ireland

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  9. I'm in a similar situation to the first mom, with five kids nine and under, and we homeschool. I would suggest picking whatever step is going to be the most interesting and the easiest and start there. It was easier for me to start composting than to learn how to sew (even though I would love to learn one day). My second suggestion is to keep a fairly consistent schedule - luckily, some days move along despite my dragging just because the kids and I are in a habit and so we move along without much thought. They know to clear the dishwasher after breakfast, to feed the dog after supper, etc. Finally, let go of some activities. There's pressure, at least in America, to have your kids in a billion different activities. We have cut way back and use the time instead to learn new skills and to spend time together.

    For the second mom, it might be time to have a discussion with her partner about their long term plans. If they are planning on being together for the long haul and she can rely on him and her main goal is to be a housewife, then her time might be better spent learning new housekeeping skills like food preserving and sewing. On the other hand, if things are iffy, it might be best to just focus on getting a degree in order to have marketable skills in case she needs to work outside of the home. I think it might be hard to prepare for full-time housekeeping unless the entire family is on board.

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  10. I agree with the 'one step at a time approach'. Choose one thing you wish to change and work on it, find a system that works for you then when it has become the 'new normal' and you are seeing benefits, move on to the next thing. Success builds on success.

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  11. Its seems to me that part of the solution for both of these ladies is to get the rest of the family to 'share the vision'.
    For the first question, I'd look to the kids (depending on their ages) and get them involved in the food prep. Littlies can help with baking the lunch box snacks (even though it can be stressful); older ones can make lunches; even older ones can cook a meal. It teaches responsibility and frees up some of your time to reinvest in the home. Also, if you begin to stockpile and get to a point where you only have to shop once a month, you can reinvest the time that you would otherwise spend shopping in the garden (or wherever you really want to start). VERY tricky not to let the time get swallowed by other demands.

    And to the lady who is studying, I'd say you have to be able to document and demonstrate the value of your homemaking. Keep a journal of what you've done (just a task list is fine) so at the end of the day you are able to say exactly what you did that day even it is just "washed the dishes, did a load of washing, did a painting with child" etc. If you are good at saving document that. For instance, if you have $100 a week to spend on house keeping etc, and only spend $80 keep the twenty dollars aside and each week add to it with you savings....Hard to argue with a whole pile of cash!! Also, as a student incorporate cooking and home tasks into your routine. For instance, begin a study session, by putting on a casserole and then reading for the 3 hours it takes to cook, listen to lectures on an iPod while you clean the bathroom etc.

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  12. I have studied part time for 8 years- yes, 8 YEARS!!! so I could be a step-parent, parent, student and homemaker whilst having some sanity to the whole theme. I do get frustrated when my husband comes home and wonders what I have been doing all day (studying) but in the end, I know I am doing the right thing. Your kids (including stepkids) will appreciate your effort and oneday will thank you for being a wonderful example. You can't get the afternoons after school back, and oneday your son won't want to stay inside with you... savour it while he is there, while he wants to. Your partner needs a to pull his head in!
    Chin up, little steps all the way will make all the difference.

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  13. To the lady with the first question: I think simplifying your life while you have small children is not only possible but positively necessary! Don't look upon it as adding more jobs though - you have enough to do already with six kids and a part time job!- Look for ways to make your life SIMPLER. That doesn't mean buying convenience foods or disposable wipes though, I suggest you take a good look around your home and ask yourself what is there that isn't actually necessary. And then put that thing away. Are you dusting ornaments, tidying around items furniture that are there just because you've always had them there? Box them up and put them away - they can come out again one day when you have time to care for them. The same with your routines - Do you carefully fold underwear, tshirts, do ironing, stack your towels according to colour and size (I did!) before gently filing them in the closet? Get the kids to fold them and stuff them in the drawers. In fact, a lot of the jobs around the house the kids SHOULD be doing. If they are old enough to carry something from one room to another then they are old enough to carry it back and tidy it away. We have a tidy-up-time where everyone is given a job (they volunteer for the good ones!) which can be completed in a moment or less - like bring out all the dirty washing, make the beds, peg out the laundry, sweep the kitchen floor etc and I put on a song (80's disco tunes seem to be particularly effective) and every body has to dance while they work and they have to finish by the end of the track. Also, I tell them that children who argue are demonstrating that they need more practice at getting along nicely- which they will get in our house when they are given a job which they have to do together IN SILENCE. This doesn't make me popular, but it does make my car lovely and clean!

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  14. Wendy, I love your comment on "not regretting the season you're in". I think it's so incredibly important to our contentment and satisfaction in life to understand and accept that there are seasons of life, and each has its good points and its challenges.

    I'm a full-time at home mum of a three year-old and a one year-old. I decided about 2 years ago that we could (and would be happier) if we simplified life. I started small - green cleaners, decluttering, giving homemade/handmade gifts - and have found that each small change leads to another small change. And to look back, I can see just how far those small changes have brought us.

    There are many things that I'd love to dive into right now, but I (am trying) to understand that this season of life makes it very difficult. And to me, simplifying is also about learning to say, "I can't do everything at once. I can't have everything at once." So it's about simplifying your expectations too.

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  15. In response to the second question, like Rhonda I don't want to sound harsh, but I think this lady might need to take a step back and look at the situation from another point of view - her boyfriend's. She says she feels that she contributes [to the household] by studying and looking after [her] little boy. But neither of these things directly benefit the home or her partner! In fact, she says herself she doesn't get much time for cooking or cleaning. While studying and childcare are both laudable and necessary they are NOT homemaking. And if her boyfriend is supporting them all financially, I'm not surprised he doesn't want to relinquish the reins on the money. Quite frankly, what's in it for him? I think an attitude shift might be order. Your priority right now is not making your boyfriend value your contribution - because you're not making one! Your priority should be valuing your boyfriend. If he's supporting you, your child and your studies then your job right now is to make him aware of how much YOU value HIM!

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  16. Incorporating one thing at a time is the way to go with kids and menfolk. If you make huge changes it confuses everyone, then you go back to your old ways. Small changes can reap large rewards. Work towards a goal.

    Also, study and research eco, simple living and homemaking. You may not be able to do everything now, but learn as much as possible. You soon get a list of things you want to learn/do when you are able. You can add the smaller/easier actions as you go along. Simple living isn't an "Ok, I'm done." kind of thing. It's a life-long learning and exploring adventure!

    Simple changes with kids can be spending more time outdoors, such as going berry picking either in the wild hedgerows or on fruit farms, then making something of the gathered goodies like jams or pies or freezing them for smoothies and/or to make pies and jams later when you have more time. Kids are thrilled when they can tell someone "I helped picked the _____ for this!"

    Grow a few simple fruits/veg like strawberries/spinach/carrots, ect. or allow each child to grow one of their favorite fruits/vegetables in their own little garden space or pots if possible.

    Baking day can be a special time either with all the children who are interested or make a set time to do it with one child at a time while the others are elsewhere occupied. Or a craft day as above making usable items, maybe with recycled stuff like knitting, weaving or crocheting with t-shirt yarn or strips of sheets. There are tons of recycling crafts online.

    If kids see people enjoying themselves, they want to join in as well. Your enthusiasm can inspire theirs.

    Crafting or baking are great ways to spend quality time with children AND to encourage simple living skills.

    Just RELAX and enjoy the time. Don't get all stressy or no one will enjoy themselves. Just realise there will be some mess. Learning how to clean up is as important for them to learn as the baking or craft itself. Overall, a little mess while creating wonderful, valuable memories is a small price to pay.

    Simple living and eco-friendly choices do not have to be hard or massive changes. It is a mindset of what CAN I and my family do now and in the near future, not what everyone else is doing. Once one small change is normal, add another. Explain to your children why you are doing things differently. Change creates a dialogue between generations. Challenge them to find ways to live more eco-friendly or simply. Ask them if they have any ideas.

    Even a small thing like making your own deodorant or toothpaste which takes less than a minute every few weeks is a positive change. Make little minutes, little tasks, little changes count.

    Gather up recipes that are quick and easy favorites for your family's meals and goodies. Make a folder for instructions of what you decide to make for your simple living- ie laundry detergent, deodorant, etc.

    Realise that the advertisements on the various medias are there to make you the consumer buy their products. They want your money and loyalty. Research ways to make your own- one product at a time. Mostly the replacements are ridiculously easy to make out of things we keep in our home anyway. The companies are tricking us into buying stuff we don't NEED! Our ignorance makes us gullable buyers.

    For the second lady, you need to decide what and where your priorities are. Homemaking seems to come after school, your son, etc. As a homemaker, you need to decide and enact upon what makes your ENTIRE household most content. Homemaking or studying? What about a better balance of child, home, study and partner? Sometimes sacrifices on a personal level will greatly benefit the household as a whole. Take a hard, honest look at your life. Get more organised. Use your time wisely. You must not be happy with the way things are going now or you wouldn't have written to Rhonda.

    Sorry this is so long. All the best, Holly

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  17. I'm sorry but I am going to sound harsh here too but I agree with Eclair;
    Number 2...I know quite a few people who study full time with more than one child who also work part time AND they cook AND clean. I also know mothers of several children who work full time AND they cook and clean AND they do P&F AND they do tuckshop....I think you get the idea. Life is hard, it is busy and it is about others. Lift your game. The very nature of contribution is by it's definition...giving and doing.

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  18. Hi Rhonda,
    To Kate. You must be a wonderful woman to be caring for 6 children and their Dad. Just go slowly in your walk towards the simple life. I agree with Rhonda, in that the best thing you could do right now is get them to help you. Even little jobs will give them self worth, especially when they get praise from Mummy and Daddy for a job well done. They could learn to do little jobs for Daddy as well. If you give them praise and tell them your basic plans to live a simpler life and how it will benefit them, then they will enjoy what you get them to do. Most of all don't rush things and remember to take care of yourself too. You're doing a great job.
    To Emma, Perhaps you and your partner need a little more communication. Life is give and take. This is a lesson I have learned over 42 years of marriage. Your little one needs his Mum and he is your priority. I agree with all that Rhonda has said and i feel if the gentleman wants you as his partner then what he earns is for the family not just for him alone. This may be an oldfashioned way but it is what has kept families going for a long time. Talk it out, because to not do so will just breed discontent and unhappiness. Enjoy your little son now, as he will grow up very quickly. You have the rest of your life to study if you want to.
    Blessings Gail

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  19. To the first mum. It sounds to me you are so busy that anything simpler would be good, and suddenly aquiring step children when you havent learnt with time, how to handle them would have been quite hard. I am a mother of 5 now all grown up and worked part and full time.
    First thing I suggest is get a cup of tea, pen a paper and do a "brain dump" of everything you wish to achieve or would like to do in the future, believe it or not this is very theraputic. Once you have your several pages of things then categorize them into
    sub headings and time lines, like this week, next week, month, year etc.Then you will have a plan.
    Really big ideas like build a vege garden, break down to smaller areas,like buy edging, put together in garden, buy soil, fill bed etc. etc. and plan a time even if it is every fourth saturday.

    Next thing is to research handy hints as some of the ladies have suggested to save time, and make you life much greener. Time and how it is allocated is the most important thing, no good rolling along with the day or things never get done.

    You have to be flexible and not turn into an Army leader. The old saying of Wash on Mondays, Iron on Tuesdays is so true I am sure invented by those mothers of 14 children back in the old days.So work out a roster for a month around the days you work.

    One thing I found helpful was to shop once a month,we all went and filled two trolleys, then we all helped unpack, usually followed by some special 'bought" dinner that we had at no other time and maybe lemonade a treat for birthdays and special occassions.

    It didnt worry me how messy the kids rooms were but every now and then we did a big cleanup. 3 boys in one room girls the other. I had a roster for jobs one week on one week off. Haircuts all at once. A big birthday party at 5,10,15 18. For me that meant a big party every 2nd year. Rest of time just family.When they were in high school taught them to cook a meal then they had one night a week to do it.They all learnt to make choc. balls with nestle milk and crushed biscuits from an early age. Dad always took them to odd things like little athletics so any activites were on the weekends,this gives you free time to get stuff done.
    All this makes for a simpler life that you can then grow veg, make bread, preserve, and just have moments to think.I did it, we all survived and the children are all very close as adults, have great jobs, and happy, what more could you ask.

    Good luck in finding your way.

    Chris at Coffs Harbour

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  20. I have been on both sides of the coin in simple living. I was a mother and wife who worked full time, ran home cooked dinner did the chores put the kids to bed and fell into bed with tons to do at the end of the day.

    I am now a full time mother and homemaker, and I still fall into bed with tons of things to do at the end of the day.

    My best advice is to first prioritize. Figure out what you HAVE to get done first. For sure feeding the kids and keeping the house reasonably clean (as in not germy and filthy) has to be somewhere near the top of the list. But other things don't have to be at the top. Does it really matter if I run the vacuum every day? To me it doesn't. So if I need to skip it today so I can save a bit by hanging laundry on the line, I do.

    Other things I do so that things will fall into place easier later. Take canning for instance. If chicken is on sale, I buy extra and can it (on the bone, the broth it makes in the jar tastes better that way). I have saved some money, and made cooking some meals easier. I can make a fast chicken soup or chicken and dumplings with that canned chicken.

    These things add up a little at a time. By saving money on the chicken when it was on sale, and saving money with a quick meal on a busy night instead of eating out, I have contributed to the home. I have saved money and that is contributing. If my hubby didn't understand that, and thankfully mine does, I would ask him if I kept the same grocery money in the budget and managed to feed us well and spend less if that extra grocery money would become mine? If he agreed I would ask the same of other things what if I find ways on us spending less to go out to eat? Amazingly, I think after a time, he would see the value! As far as adding these things, I agree start with one or two new things. If you try to do to much at once, you will set yourself up to fail. The trick is to see success, and then you will feel like you can add more in.

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  21. Lots of helpful advice here. I have not read it all so I hope I am not doubling up. To the first mum note that there were no children in 'the simple life' tv series. To the second mum it would seem the balance has been lost take some of the advice here and restore balance to your life. I admire both of you women it seems your are already achieving plenty. Rhonda thank you as always for the discussion and your timely comments.

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  22. The Second MumMay 15, 2012 12:35 pm

    Thank you Rhonda and to everyone out there who replied to my question. It has been a wonderful help! I must admit I did find Eclair and Tanya's comments a little harsh, but they have raised some good points. I used to be a homemaker before I went back to study and I would cook from scratch, make bread, make lunches, do the shopping, cleaned house, had a vegie garden, etc. and I worked part time but my partner still would ask that annoying question "what have you been doing all day?" So I went back to study for me even though one day I would love nothing more than to be able to focus again on being a fulltime homemaker. I guess what I'm finding difficult is having no access to any money (I lost my job when I took a day off to look after my son) but still wanting to be able to shop, cook, etc. but it's a little hard when I have no money to do so, hence why my partner is left to do it. We have been together for 2 years but I guess he's just got to get used to supporting a family and I have to get used to balancing my priorities. It is my first semester at uni so next semester I already have plans to become a lot more organised and I'm going to use my break to get the home in good working order again. My health hasn't been the best at the moment and I'm having difficulties with my ex over our son, which is causing me extra stress, but I am doing my best, and hopefully this rough patch is only temporary so I can get back to being the mother, partner and homemaker that I want to be. Again thanks for everybody's comments. :)

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  23. Do what you value and let the rest fall into place. A lot of people (myself included) start with the belief what you do adds value. But it completely side-steps the fact we need to VALUE something first, in order to "add" anything to it later.

    So work on what think you value - what is that? What do you think is a value and how can you make actions represent that value at home. I don't believe you can MAKE anyone value you - you can only value to what you do yourself.

    I've had some stressful times with my child and husband lately, and it helps me to see it's not their fault. By viewing it this way, I get to ease up on the stress I'm carrying around. So maybe they didn't do what I was "hoping" they'd do this week (maybe they didn't appreciate everything I did, or at least show it) but it's not a race where I give out ribbons for first prize to please me.

    If I cannot like what I do because "I" like it, how on earth can I convince anyone else in the family to like me for what I do either? I got caught on the belief (between 20 to late 30's) that approval from others meant success or "value".

    I was missing out on the best part though, and that was giving myself the tick of approval for daring to love what I do. I also think it helps to know when husbands don't appear to support us, it doesn't mean they don't value us. They just don't get what we associate with value. If you have a lifetime together, you've got the time to reveal yourself - all of you, not just the parts they can recognise to date.

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  24. To the first mum,
    I totally agree with the other comments about changing one thing at a time. I am a mum to 3 kids, 6,4,2 and baby due in 8 weeks,working outside the home 1 day a week, and the thing that has helped me most was to sit down and work out all the tasks i needed to do at home and all my commitments over a fortnight. Then I wrote a fortnightly schedule so I just do a bit each day. I also included sewing and scrapbooking time in there as well and I am achieving more now than I was with 1 child! Many thanks to Rhonda for inspiring me to take back control of my life and my role at home!

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  25. To Kate...you are probably already making changes without realising. Reading Rhonda's blog, gathering ideas and being interested in simple living is a start but starting with small simple changes is the way to go. I found it very difficult when my kids were young and really only dived in head first when they'd finished school. I just didn't have the head space. I still find it hard as I work full-time but I don't have the distractions of young children at my feet. You'll be ready in your own time and being mum to 6 kids and a husband is more than a full time load. You are amazing. Be kind to yourself.
    To Emma....keep up with your study whether full or part-time. It is obviously a very important stage in your life and will take you places you can only dream of, and I'm not necessarily talking about a career. As a woman your own self-value is the most important thing you can achieve then everything else will fall into place. You are doubting yourself as a homemaker because it isn't valued in our society as a career but every chosen path has it's value whether it's paid work or not. A small financial contribution may help your partner bridge the doubt in his mind so consider going part-time and pick up some part-time work. All the best.

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  26. Rhonda! I have the same cup as you - the one on the saucer. I live in the USA so i think it is funny we ended up with something from Luxembourg :-)

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  27. Just a small suggestion. I used to get really irritated by people who suggested we all sit down and eat together at the end of the day. When the kids were small and my husband didn't get home until 7pm this just wasn't feasible. Someone suggested to me that I have the kids eat together so I could eat with my husband later but that I sit with the children and have a cup of tea while they ate so I could still talk/listen to them. This was instead of rushing around tidying the kitchen up, while they ate (so tempting!). It worked for us and we ate properly together as a family on Sundays if at no other time, that was just the season we were in.

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  28. Lots of useful comments above, so there is not much more I can add except this. If you have any outdoor space to grow things you could use whatever you can spare to grow potatoes and onions (planted as sets) as you just bung them in and leave them to it, then dig them up some time later and get a lot of good filling, tasty food for little effort. Also you could grow some beans because kids enjoy planting them and they grow quickly enough to keep them interested, and eventually provide you with lots of green veg to go with your spuds and onions.

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  29. To purpleemma - I agree! It's one of those "in a perfect world" suggestions. My husband doesn't get home from work until after 730pm, and that makes it impossible for the four of us to eat together. (The kids are almost always in bed by the time he gets home). Most nights I actually eat dinner with the kids, as it just works with the flow of our home to do it that way. Plus I go to bed early most nights, so it's better to eat early when I'm in bed by 9pm.

    The advice is the same though - make the changes that you can, one at a time.

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  30. This is an issue that I know a lot of people deal with as "real life" gets in the way. I was really interested to hear your ideas Rhonda, as well as the thoughts of everyone else in making small changes wherever you can. As a fulltime student myself, I find it very difficult to fit in everything that I want to. There are so many things that I wish my day comprised of, but they just don't. However, finding rewards in the little things that you do have time/means to achieve is satisfying, and will help you build up to those bog life changes. That's what I believe anyway.

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  31. Hello Rhonda I'm so glad your photo is smiling back at me once again when I logon :o)

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  32. Staying home to save needing that second income is a fantastic way to contribute financially, as Rhonda said in her second response. One of the things I did when I stayed home was actually make a list of all the things we were no longer spending on by having me at home. Going green as someone else commented can be a big savings as long as you're not tempted to buy lots of green alternatives and learn to use simple means to achieve an environmentally friendly lifestyle. For us, it was by not buying into needing 'other' stuff to live simply, but just actually living simply that made all the difference. I saved a second income of about $12,000 a year (US) by staying home and could show it in how I managed the money.

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  33. Dear Rhonda and your wonderful readers, For obvious reasons it has taken me some time to respond, however I have absolutely devoured the useful and insightful ideas here. Not only did I realise that I am actually doing quite a few things already, but I was reminded that the simple life takes time to build, and cannot be rushed. First step was a composting seminar recently and addressing my sadly neglected compost. I felt so encouraged and my spirits greatly lifted. Thank you all so much,
    The First Mum.

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