FIVE PHOTOS YOUR KIDS WILL CRAVE WHEN THEY'RE GROWN
AND HOW TO START COLLECTING THEM
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Immediately upon returning from five weeks in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with my kids, I stuffed a dozen jumbo garbage bags with our possessions and hauled them off to Goodwill. And it felt damn good.
Random, you think? NOPE.
Here’s why: The #1 thing I took away from our time in a cabin in the woods was this: WE HAVE WAY TOO MUCH STUFF. WAY too much. Although I felt a little panicky at packing so few clothes and just a few small toys for our five weeks away, it turned out that we didn’t need anything more. The toys we left behind were never once requested. The other 9/10 of our clothes were never once missed.
Instead, getting dressed in the morning was easy, because there were so few choices. Cleaning the kitchen (no dishwasher, by the way) was quick, because we just used and washed a few things, rather than grabbing a clean dish every time and leaving the dirty for later. Tidying up before bed was a breeze, because all the toys just got tossed in the one small basket we brought.
The "real life" thing I missed the ABSOLUTE LEAST, on our travels, was arguing with my kids.
We had almost no conflicts, no power struggles. We weren’t busy, so I wasn’t rushing the children a dozen times a day. We brought very little with us, so I wasn’t constantly lecturing and pleading to clean up a mess. There wasn’t much to play with, so when things got a little quiet, we’d just go outside. Simple as that.
We were incredibly lucky to be staying on a quiet country road where the kids could walk the dog down the middle of the road or wander out the back gate to the river without me worrying about, well, anything at all. Right under our fingertips we had an old railroad track covered in wildflowers, a creek, a meadow, a treehouse, and a big stand of aspens. We weren’t exactly slumming it.
But we weren’t overstimulated, either. We practiced braiding. We practiced the two-step. We pressed flowers in a book, then glued them onto paper and matched them with pictures in our book of wildflowers. We looked for bears, elk, and moose. We checked the mail for letters from home. We chatted with the neighbors. We watched the clouds. We cooked simple dinners on the deck while watching the hummingbirds and marveling at how Cottonwood trees seem to shed fluffy snowflakes when the wind blows. We fed chipmunks. We threw stones into the river. Sometimes, we swam. Sometimes, we hiked. But mostly, we did yoga, we dug in the dirt, we colored, and we took naps.
In the time since we returned I’ve done a lot of soul searching on how to make our “real life” more like our month away. Sweeter, slower, simpler. What’s the magic ticket? Although shedding our life of those twelve jumbo bags of stuff will help (and actually, three more bags since I started writing this), it won’t be a miracle solution. The bigger piece will be re-shuffling (and paring down) our priorities to make space for one another. For family.
In the spirit of leading a more simplified, unplugged life, here are my goals for the rest of this summer:
1. Slim down on the social. Although we’re a family of social butterflies, our life tends to get so booked with commitments that we’re always rushing from one thing to the next. We rarely have time to just BE. If I’m being honest, I think this habit is a relic of the days when I was a little scared to be alone with my kids for more than 20 minutes. Those days are long gone, and it’s time to start savoring our quiet family time.
2. Bye, Facebook! Is there a greater time suck? Honestly. I cut way down in January of this year, but it’s time to shift away from FB in my screentime – both socially and for my business (by the way, if you’re a FB follower of mine, you might want to shift over to my IG instead).
3. Pare down on possessions. Would one Goodwill bag per week be too much? How long could we sustain it? I’d love to get down to a point where we’re spending very little time tidying up – and worse, arguing over whose mess it happens to be.
4. Refocus. I’m as guilty of multi-tasking as every parent on the planet. If the children are playing relatively well unassisted, I’m tempted to sneak off to my office and do a little work. If we’re in the playroom, I might be replying to emails or checking To Do lists. On the flipside, I often find myself texting a friend or reading the news (or let’s be honest: a food blog) on my computer when I’m supposed to be working. What if I really tighten up on single-tracking my brain? I’m gonna give it a go.
In next week’s post, I’ll tell you a little more about our trip – the impetus, the logistics, what we actually did, and how we pulled it off.