Thursday, November 3, 2011

Being happy with a single step

As part of my efforts toward simplifying our life while still living out our values, I have been focusing on buying whole, healthy food in bulk to use in preparing meals for my family. Great idea, right? I mean, why spend extra money for prepared food that contains lots of unecessary ingredients, when I can make it better, cheaper, and healthier myself?

Because, perhaps, at 5 pm, I will realize that I am exhausted, my kids are hungry, and my whole, healthy food purchases aren't easily made into a quick dinner.

In theory, we are moving in the right direction, but in practice, it's been difficult to find the time to prepare meals from scratch before all of this wholesome food goes bad. We have invested in a large freezer to accomodate our bulk purchases, but suprise of all surprises, the freezer fills up with delicious food that is completely unhelpful to me in a pinch. Really, when I have fallen behind on life, can I take a frozen beef roast and put it on the table in 30 minutes? What about those whole, uncooked frozen vegetables?

Not so much.

So today, I set out to conquer...or at least beat into submission...all of my frozen food. I pulled out all of the pre-made meals and put them in my inside freezer for easy access on those tough days. My outside freezer then became storage for un-prepared food, organized by type (fruit, vegetables, cooking basics, bread, meat, etc.). Once I managed to find all of the food that was tucked under and inside and between each other, I took an inventory of what we have. That inventory has now become the basis for this month's meal planning. Wow. I'm planning meals for the rest of the month. How about that?

As always in my constant battle between perfectionist urges and total chaos, this effort comes down to acknowledging what I ultimately want, then taking baby steps toward that goal while being happy with the good enough in the meantime.Ideally our freezer would contain wholesome, delicious meals to pull out in a pinch, plus the bulk cooking items we keep there (like butter, cooked beans, and cheese). But right now, my freezer is pretty full of unhelpful food, my house is a mess from a busy weekend, and I don't have a whole day this month to set aside for tons of freezer cooking. So for now good enough is going to mean knowing what is in my freezer and how and when we will use it. My first goal is simply going to be to finish up much of what is in the freezer. Why? Because even in the freezer, food has a lifespan, and due to my sincere lack of forethought, the lifespan of this food is dwindling rapidly. So we will prepare easy meals from the freezer this month to make sure that food doesn't go to waste, and then I will focus on purchasing and preparing our favorite meals to keep handy in the freezer. Today was a small step, but it was a step in the right direction.

As always, my journey consists of taking one step after another. What's a source of stress in your life that you can't completely conquer right now, but that could be eased with a long term goal and a single step in that direction?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Roadmap

They say that if you don't know where you are going, you're likely to end up somewhere else. I think that this is as true for family life as anything else. Goals, dreams, and plans for the future are all essential to intentional living, and I know in my family they are also essential to knowing if we are creating the life we wish to live. So after my husband and I spent some time talking about what is important to our family, I took our ideas and created our family mission statement. I've had this mission statement written and available to us for a few months now, but other than a pithy statement I look fondly at sometimes, I haven't looked to it regularly...until recently.

In an effort to streamline important information for our family, I have been working on a family notebook. This notebook includes much of the typical information of home management notebooks  - important phone numbers, information about school, church, kids' activities, family birthdays - any thing we need readily accessible. But as I was trying to gather this information, I struggled with knowing what information was important to include and how to organize it in a binder. The information I was gathering just didn't seem to include what was really important to our family. It was just stuff. Useful stuff, perhaps, but still stuff. 

Then I stumbled across our family mission statement.

In re-reading it, I realized that I had already laid out what is important to our family and why. In other words, I found our roadmap for this journey to good enough. Do I need to care about weekly cleaning checklists or meal planning guides? Only if it encourages our family to live according to our values. For example, our family has decided that what is important to us is to have a welcoming home so that we can foster honest and deep relationships. So, which is more important - keeping my house immaculate by using cleaning checklists...or allowing room in my week for friends to come over to my imperfect house for a cup of coffee? By weighing our decisions against what we believe is most important in life, I find I am able to create routines and systems that work for us, instead of me working for them.  More importantly, though, it allows me to decide how to spend my time according to my priorities - and not someone else's. It's not much, but it's one step further on my journey toward good enough.

What's one thing that has been helpful to you on your journey to good enough?

Our family mission statement

We as a family…

love deeply and honestly, showing the loving heart of God to the world;
laugh often and freely, encouraging an atmosphere of love and joy;
celebrate all for who God made them, trusting that He creates with a purpose;
 value our time together, placing our family above other responsibilities;
   pursue life-long learning, valuing passion, curiosity, and independent thought;
practice healthy living, stressing emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing;
     create a welcoming home, fostering honest and uplifting relationships;
  promote peace & tolerance, striving for compassion in a diverse & nuanced world;
          practice sustainable living, acting as good stewards of God's creation;
                     Enjoy simple living, allowing room for our souls to breath;
…embrace the fullness of life, delighting in both the beautiful and the difficult.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

a journey toward good enough

I am a mom, not a homemaker. 

There, I've said it out loud. So many women I know take pride in their title of homemaker. I chafe under it. As I struggle to stay ahead of the chaos in our house, I often think in frustration "I didn't quit my job for this." And I didn't. I was a child development expert, fresh out of graduate school, in love with public policy and child advocacy, making a difference in the lives of thousands of children through my work. But then there were these two children who are more important to me than any work could be - my children...who are so beautiful, so wonderfully made that I gave up my professional work to pour myself into them. 

I did not leave my work so I could clean bathrooms. Or do laundry.

And still, having three people, two cats, and a dog in a house all day does mean that said house gets messy, and dirty, very quickly. Over the last 2 years of staying home with my girls, I have struggled with the balance of maintaining a functioning home (homemaking) and living out the reason I am in the house in the first place - to spend this time with my children who are growing up so quickly. 

Out of this struggle, this blog was born. I have used it to write schedules, routines, and to do lists. I have used it to vent about the dirty kitchen and the crayoned walls and my inability to make any type of dough. Then today, I deleted all of those posts. They do not reflect my journey to good enough. They reflect my frustration with not having found that elusive place yet. 

Domestic Disarray is now newly redesigned and ready for me to share honestly and openly about the journey I am on. As others join me on this journey, I hope that this blog can be a place of hope and encouragement where we can find that we are already good enough.