Rejecting the Supermom Ideal

Source: via Cait on Pinterest


Photo: Super Mom Action Figure

I am so tired of it. Of pursuing it. Of coveting it. Of believing it is even possible. No more. From now I am rejecting the myth of everything. It has no place in my life anymore. – Capital Mom

On the weekend I read ‘the myth of everything’ from a fellow Canadian writer and mom. The blog post was circulating via Twitter from several writers/mothers/bloggers that I follow and admire. And though this was the first piece of writing I had ever read from the Capital Mom I immediately identified with her words.

There are only so many hours in the day, only so many days in a life, and I want to spend them pursuing happiness. My life doesn’t look like the pages of Real Simple or a handmade/homemade vision board on Pinterest. It looks like my life. Flawed, with windows that only get cleaned when company is coming (if that!) but filled with people and passions that I love: my family, writing, sharing, my pursuit of the elusive pull-up, travel.

A nice trickle down effect from rejecting possessions has been the rejection of a lot of things I once thought I should do. When I got rid of the stuff my dreams got bigger. Bigger dreams and goals equaled a more focused life. Focus sometimes meant smaller but deeper. More time and energy for the people closest to me. Lately I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes, a favourite hobby, and less time doing my hair (bit of a fail on the 2011 challenge but, hey, priorities change). Without all the stuff – the ownership of it, the pursuit of it, the stress of it – I have better clarity. I know who and what I want to spend my time on.

I really enjoyed reading Capital Mom’s account of her breakthrough. Who doesn’t love reading about someone passionately taking their life back? I read her post and nodded my head and thought, yes, this is it.

Capital Mom wrote that she is prioritizing three things in her life and letting go of the rest:

Smack is the sound of my clean house falling to the ground. Splat goes the list of all the things I think I should be doing with my life.  Boom can be heard as I let other’s expectations of me fall away. – Capital Mom

I thought I would share my three things, the things I embrace, love and that give me joy every day. Yes, I still have bathrooms to clean and at the moment a backlog of laundry, but these are the things I put at the top of my list


My mom just visited for a week. She left today and I had a few weepy moments this morning ruminating on the fact that Henry and I won’t see her regularly for the next few years. This is the hard side of moving overseas. Skype and visitors make it tolerable. We’ll also be heading back to Vancouver at least once a year for a two week stretch.

I have let some more casual friendships slip away, or go into remission you might say, to focus on family. I deleted my personal Facebook account back in January (still don’t regret it!) so most of my online contact outside of this blog is with a few very close friends and immediate family. Instead of surfing Facebook I lurk Skype in the afternoon hoping to catch my West Coast kin and friends before they head to work. I love it. The other day I chatted with my good friend in Seattle and our two boys said hello to each other through computer screens. Technology can do some beautiful things for us.


I’m back in the gym doing Crossfit workouts (and getting some strange looks as I do Burpees and Sumo Deadlift High Pulls), walking a lot (as we do with no car) and running a few times a week. I’m also getting great sleep and am in the process of changing my diet. I’ll probably write about it here at a later date but I’m trying to eat mostly single ingredient unprocessed foods. Vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and meat. I’m reading a lot about nutrition and trying to listen intently to my body to see what makes me feel best.


I confessed, actually kind of whispered, a while back that I want to write as a career. I want to earn a living as a writer but I also want to write every day. I want to make it a habit and a profession. It’s still a work in progress but I’m getting there. Slowly, day by day, word by word, I’m working at the craft of it and learning more about freelancing as a career.


I try and build my days around these three pillars. Some days I’m focused and efficient and at the top of my game. Some days it hits 4pm and I wonder where it all went. I’m not a Supermom. Just me.

Do you have a priority list like this? Anyone have a family mission statement or personal mission statement that they use to decide where to put time and energy?

Creating a 30 Day Buy List

Source: via Rachel on Pinterest


The jeans I bought almost a year ago have holes in the them.

This shouldn’t surprise me.

They are my only jeans and I wear them 3-5 days a week. They’re a lighter weight material so have probably worn out a bit sooner than a heavier weight jean might. I can now hold them up to a light and see right through the crotch. A bit concerning because I’m fairly modest and don’t want to show off my underwear.

I’m mulling over getting them patched up a bit at a place that repaired two of my sweaters. It will extend the wear a bit and hopefully not be too noticeable.

I’m also thinking about buying a new pair of jeans.

So I put it on my list.

And now I wait.

Delayed gratification was never my strong suit as a shopper. Similarly, saving was never my strong suit as captain of my own finances.

But I’m learning.

If you’re looking for techniques to curb buying things you don’t really need, if you’re looking for a way to avoid those quick supposed to be one thing IKEA trips that turn into ‘we need the handcart and will this fit on the roof of our car’, if you’re looking to be thoughtful, patient and less impulsive with your buying, I recommend starting a Buy List.

Thirty days is an arbitrary number but it’s good to give yourself a limit to work with. If you’re an impulsive spender you may need to start with a shorter limit, like a week, and increase it as you curb the urge. Most of the things we end up buying were discussed once or twice, added to a list and purchased a few months later. We also make purchases work within our monthly reverse budget. This means that if we put six things on a list we have to patiently tick them off over a few months. Chris bought new jeans and work shoes one month. The next month I bought a rain slicker. Those items had been on our list for a few months before they were purchased.

Pinterest has become my new go to for making lists or boards as they call them. My vision board  lists some short and long term goals and plans and my 30 Day Buy board shows the things I am thinking about purchasing. I’m finding it exceedingly helpful to gather my thoughts in a visual way. I’ve also added boards for minimalist styled rooms and fashion. I’m going to spend more time populating those boards during this long, dark and cozy Isle of Man winter.

Much like Twitter, Pinterest is a way to share information and have a conversation. You can get great ideas and links from others on Pinterest and share your pins with them.

You can also, like me, get completely obsessed with something from seeing it on Pinterest. The other week someone pinned a Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe. I could not stop thinking about having a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Brits aren’t into the canned pumpkin so I couldn’t find any in stores and real pumpkins weren’t out yet. I ended up ordering canned pumpkin online and, while it cost double what it would in North America for the cans, the lattes I’ve made with it have been really, really good. I think they may have even taken the edge off my first bout of homesickness.

How do you decide when and what to purchase outside of your consumables? Do you keep a list or purchase as soon as items are needed?


Sunday links: blogging for dollars and small wardrobes


It’s just after 7am here on the Isle of Man and PITCH BLACK outside. I can hear the ocean but barely see it out of my front window. Going to be a long winter…

I read some really good articles this week and wanted to share them with you here.

  • On blogging: Is Blogging your Santa Claus? If you haven’t read PhD in Parenting before this is a blog about parenting, feminism and social justice. I initially found it when I had a teeny tiny newborn and was looking for advice for new parents. Annie, the writer, is thorough, thoughtful and not afraid to write what she feels – even if it goes against popular opinion. Her writing this weekend on blogging and the infiltration of big business was quite timely for me. I’ve been considering putting ads up here for a few months. This is a place to talk about not buying stuff and living simply. Do I really want an ad for toothpaste running beside a post about living well with less? I’m still mulling it over.
  • On small, but fashionable, wardrobes: The Shopping Guide for a Comfortable Dressy Style. Rachel Meeks is one of my favourite bloggers. I lean towards a focus on the how and why of less – Rachel Meeks tells you how to live beautifully with less. I’m also thrilled to tell you Rachel wrote the foreward for my guide. This post gives an in-depth look at Rachel’s shopping strategy. Good stuff if you are, like me, still working on creating a versatile small wardrobe that works for your life. Sara also posted 12 pieces, 31 outfits on Pinterest that is a great visual for matching pieces to create different looks.
  • On buying quality: Poor People Can’t Afford Cheap Things. I’ve wasted so much money in my life on cheap things. What first comes to mind is clothing: cheap knits that unraveled or faded, sweaters that pilled after a few wears and clothing that was made to last a season, not a lifetime. The other thing: furniture. Now if we can’t afford a well made bookshelf, new or second hand, those books can sit on the floor until we can. Not that we have many books but you get the idea. I’m expecting that when we have an idea about our return date to Canada we’ll start saving for furniture. We might not buy all new, or all at once, but we will be buying a sofa to last a generation (not just the two years that are on warranty).

We had our Skype birthday party for Henry yesterday and I made a dairy-free, grain-free, Pumpkin Spice cake. It was actually a very tasty cake and the birthday boy ate so much of it he didn’t eat dinner. I just had a slice for breakfast and it goes very well with coffee.

Hope you are having a great weekend!




have less so you can give more


What’s your goal with all of this paring down and de-cluttering?

For me it’s more time, space and less debt and stress.

But I also want to give more. I want to be a better spouse, parent and citizen.

Those are lofty goals but I believe that small actions can help me achieve them. I can be more accommodating and selfless if I find the time and energy to take care of myself, to eat well and exercise. I find that time by having a small home that is easy to maintain and having less stuff that would require more hours of work to pay for.

It all fits together. Have less stuff so I can give more.

One of our goals as a family is to volunteer for causes that are near and dear to us. We’ve done a poor job of this since we moved overseas. Chris walked in a cancer research fundraiser (and Henry and I alongside him) but otherwise we haven’t joined any committees or volunteered our time. We need to get on that.

We also want to contribute financially to causes. Since getting out of debt we have started to set aside money each month to make an annual contribution to a cause. I want to give more financially. Sure, like most families we need to save for the future, unexpected expenses and our son’s education but I want to start giving now. Even if it is a small contribution.

Chris and I discussed it and settled on putting aside 100 GBP (roughly $160 CDN or US) each month. I know, it’s not a huge amount. But it’s a start. We’ll decide annually where to give that money. Cancer research is near and dear to us as both of our mothers have been treated for cancer. I’m also a big supporter of grass roots programs that encourage youth participation in sport. We’ve got some time to think about it and research where we want to send our dollars next fall.

We’ll continue to make additional financial contributions as they come up. At least every other month we have a request for sponsorship or donations for walk-athons or fundraisers. We’ll make those contributions work within our monthly budget.

As my sister wrote a while back, we’ve decided to open up our hands. Growing up in a family where finances were always tight, and debt was the norm, has often made me panic about money. While I want to continue to work on good spending habits, living below our means and saving, I also want to loosen my grip. I want to ride that fine line of saving for the future, enjoying life and not worrying too much if something unexpected comes up and we don’t meet a savings goal. Giving money away will help me with that.

It also just feels good. Money can buy happiness when you spend it on the right things.

This is a small start but it’s something.

This blog will also be a way for my family to give.

Available November 5th


The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year will be released on November 5th. I’m excited to have a launch date and even more excited to tell you about a wonderful cause that some of the proceeds will support. From November 5th to November 12th, $6 from each sale will go to Care.

Specifically the funds will go to support two maternal health clinics to serve women in the provinces of Kasongo and Masisi in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Why the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)? The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world. According to UNICEF, there are 990 pregnancy related deaths per 100,000 live births in DRC compared with 13 per 100,000 in the United States.  The lifetime risk of dying in childbirth for a Congolese woman is 1 in 26.

By building a new facility in each of these locations, Care can provide services for approximately 25,000 people who currently have no access to care.

  • $1,500 can buy a delivery table
  • $100 can buy a stretcher
  • $40 can buy a mattress
  • $25 can buy a bed frame

I’m hopeful we can meet several of their targets and support the development of a maternal health clinic for these women in need.

These are small beginnings to what I hope will be a long road of giving.

How do you decide which charities you support financially, volunteer for or donate goods to? For those of you that make regular financial contributions, how did you decide on a dollar amount to contribute?

One Simple Thing: No Juice

Source: via Fleur on Pinterest


Disclaimer: this article is anecdotal in nature and not written by a health professional. As always, refer to your doctor before making any changes to you or your child’s diet.

There are many mistakes I have made so far as a parent. And many more ‘learning experiences’ ahead of me. Of that I am sure.

There are choices we made when Henry was an infant that I would go back and have a do over on if I could. I would have actually slept when my baby slept in the first three months instead of propping myself up with quadruple Americanos. I would have asked for more help, particularly when my husband was working 50+ hours a week and traveling on weekends. I would have put my credit card on ice and stopped shopping online for useless and unneeded baby stuff. If there is a next time I’ll do a few things differently.

But there’s one simple choice I made that has saved us in many ways. Not just money, but time, less garbage and recycling and less tantrum-y toddler demands. Its lightened our grocery bill, the contents of our fridge and made travel with our toddler easier.

No fruit juice.

A former coworker of mine’s husband is a geneticist that works in the area of obesity. When my coworker told me about some of the influences her husband had on their young daughter she talked about his requirement that they never give her juice. Excessive juice consumption has been linked to obesity in children.  This made sense to me and, along with a few other reasons, I decided we wouldn’t serve fruit juice to our child too.

As a teen I was an in demand babysitter and saw the battle parents waged over fruit juice with their children. There would be limits and when the child had had their quota their would be whining and begging for more. I witnessed parents trying to pull the reigns in on juice consumption by giving watered down apple juice to their kids. Juice became a war.

Personally I recall being a big fan of juice growing up. With six siblings there was never enough to go around and if a jug was made up I would get my fill before it was all gone. My mother also tried watering juice down for cost savings and I recall many complaints about the ‘poor man’s OJ’ and why couldn’t we have the good, full concentrate, version. When I started buying my own groceries in my second year of university I was excited to splurge on orange juice in cartons. We’d only ever had the stuff from frozen concentrate when I was growing up.

Over the years I’ve mostly weaned myself off of juice. It’s empty calories, heavy to carry home from the grocery store if you shop on foot and never quenches my thirst the way a cold glass of water does. Diet Coke is another matter completely. I’ll write about my long standing love/hate relationship with that beverage another day. Currently 26 days sober from Diet Coke and feeling great.

Please note, I am not saying my child eats only organic unpackaged foods or that he never has a fit outside the ice cream shop because he wants a cone (and I let him have one). There are many more facets to good nutrition than skipping fruit juices.

But this is a simple choice. A simple, fairly small, choice that can save a lot. No juice saves my family:

Empty Calories

Henry can now say the word apple and will also eat one all by himself (including the core – calling him our little goat). Instead of fruit juice he drinks water out of a sippy cup during the day and drinks milk from a small 100 ml cup at meals. Also, if I decided to have juice in the house for my son you can bet I would start drinking it myself. Here is a nutrient comparison:

250 mls apple juice: 117 calories and 27 grams of sugar

3 inch diameter apple: 95 calories, 19 grams of sugar and almost 5 grams of belly filling fiber

Less Packaging

Sure, containers can be recycled but do I really need to clog up my recycling bin with portable tetra packs and big plastic containers? We also have a small fridge and keeping juice cold would take up prime real estate on our shelves. Choosing not to buy and consume juice helps in the clutter department too.

Saves Money

How much do juice drinking families spend on juice packs for school, family size containers for the fridge and juice drinks at restaurants? I’m betting that we are saving at least a two dollars a week by just sticking to tap water.

Tap Water is Easy

No juice to tote around means my bag is lighter and finding a drink for my son is a breeze. Henry can sip off of my water bottle if we’re out and he’s working on master bigger cups to drink water at restaurants. We live, and mostly travel, in areas that have potable water readily available. When we need a free thirst quenching drink tap water is there for us.

Forever or just for now?

I can’t predict the future. As Henry gets older and catches on that his friends are drinking more exciting options that come in colourful and catchy packaging, I can see we could have a rebellion to the water only rule. But I have hope. My brother’s children opt for water with meals and occasionally have soda as a treat. So I know it’s possible.

Anyone else have a very simple choice they have made that has saved them time, money and hassle?


Source: via Donna on Pinterest


I’ve been delighted to see how many people have downloaded A Rich Life With Less Stuff: Year One. Not only that but many of you have donated to my hosting/design/domain registration fund and I have enough to cover hosting and domain registration for a year. You guys are awesome.

At some point I’d like to edit the book and lay it out into an easier to read format. I’m mulling over the idea of investing in some software and learning how to do it myself. It’s good to learn new skills, right?

Michelle over at recently downloaded the book and had this to say about it.

… minimalism has been on my mind a lot lately. That’s been partly influenced by the recent purchase of The Minimalist Mom’s e-Book “Year One.” (Technically, the book is free, but I made the $2 donation.) Personally – it’s been the best $2 I’ve spent in awhile. I’m tearing through MM’s book like it’s the latest Diana Gabaldon novel and as good writing should, it’s expanding my mind.

I was blown away to read this – so excited that she is enjoying the book and getting a lot out of it.

Thanks again to all of you that are plowing through the monster of a book. Hope it’s giving you some ideas and inspiration on living with less.


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