The Only Constant is Change

As I told Brooke on her podcast, we seem to like regular big changes in our life yet, I wouldn’t say my husband or I are great at adapting quickly to new places and routines. Our move and transition back to Canada from the Isle of Man last year left me feeling like a bag of hammers. It took me quite a few months to feel settled and not so drag my ass tired. Yes, that’s my truth about big life moves with three kids: I find them exciting but also incredibly draining and tiring. Of course, now that we’re settled in Vancouver and in a routine, we’re blowing it all up again.

My husband is starting a new venture overseas and will commute back and forth for the foreseeable future. I’m using the term commute because we will see him at least a week every month. Also I can’t really admit that he’s living so far away from us. We’ll be FaceTime-ing at breakfast and making the most of the 7-10 days a month he’s home. To add to our love of change, my oldest son is starting at a new school this fall and our younger two are starting part-time daycare. And you know just to throw a little more on us our amazing babysitter is moving away (do you know how hard it is to find a babysitter that can handle three kids six and under with grace and skill and fun?).

So, I’m practicing what I preach here on the blog and in my books and planning a quiet year work wise, asking for help from family and friends when I need it and trying to keep things really simple. My oldest isn’t doing outdoor soccer league this year. Dragging all of us out to an evening practice and Saturday morning outdoor game all winter – something my husband did most of the shuttling and standing in the rain for last year – felt like a recipe for making me frazzled x 10. Instead our oldest is trying out a casual once a week afterschool soccer lesson that’s walking distance from us. The commitment is only seven weeks at a time so if he loves it and it works for our schedule we will keep going. If not, we just won’t sign up for another term.

My super awesome kids are also often super exhausting. Not having a partner to spell off can be tough. I’m feeling full of commitment right now for the things I know will help: sleep, more sleep, less screen time, time outside, sleep and eating well. Oh and sleep. Yes, one thing that keeps smacking me in the face with its truth is that I am a better and happier person when I’m getting plentiful and regular sleep. Put the computer away, don’t start a home project after the kids are in bed, don’t tell yourself ‘just one more chapter’, put the book down and just get thee to bed.

Simplifying Back-t0-School

I’m not having a back-to-school freak out because I knew a month in advance that all three kids would be doing something new, that the supply lists for daycare and the new school were long and that I am TERRIBLE at doing it all the week before. So I’ve been picking off jobs like completing the daycare emergency kits (foil blanket, family photo, emergency contact list for out of town family, garbage bag with arm and neck holes cut out and child’s full name across front), ordering five 4×6 photos each of the two in daycare and collecting the ‘two boxes of kleenex, two packs of disinfectant wipes, labelled water bottle’ for school since early August. Know yourself. I would be staying up until the wee hours packing and sorting all this stuff, freaking out – and not getting the sleep I need – if I didn’t admit to myself that I’m just not that good at checking off long lists of small tasks in a short period of time.

Me on a podcast and Kiwi radio!

In case you missed it, I’ve been on a few podcasts and radio shows lately. Chris and Alain have an interesting and inspiring podcast called Everyday Revolutions and they asked me on to discuss minimalism, how to get started and what my new book is all about. Some great questions from these guys and if you’re new to simplifying, or feeling stuck after a few attempts, have a listen. And just yesterday I was on a New Zealand radio program talking about families and minimalism. I had a total nerd out that I was on a program in the future: it was afternoon for me on a Wednesday and it was Thursday morning for the radio hosts.

Happy September to you!

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  • Good luck and best wishes for a successful year for all of you. I look forward to reading about how you simplify life in order to cope s a one parent family for much of the time. As a single parent myself with no car, much of our life is organized around logistics and keeping me sane. xx

      • What potential disaster would necessitate a garbage bag with head and arm holes in it? I’m intrigued. I thought it was to protect their clothes during art classes – thought i thought it was a bit dangerous to be putting plastic bags over your head even there are holes cut in it.

        • Earthquake is most likely. We are on the fault line so very likely to have a bad earthquake in Vancouver at some point.
          The daycare is very good and provides smocks for kids for art class.

  • Whoa! That is a ton of change right now…we just lost our best sitter to college, and our two oldest will be in school this fall so I decided we could finally afford to put the younger two in daycare two days a week as well…but sending your husband off overseas, probably not for the faint of heart! Grace and best wishes to you as you transition :)

    • Babysitters: you always have to have one in the wings, right? I learned this in the Isle of Man but just didn’t pursue it here in Vancouver because our sitter is so so good and it felt like a lot of work to find someone else that great and have them get to know the kids. There are two teen girls in my building that I am going to try out and see if they can basically keep the three of them alive for 1.5 hours while I go to the gym.
      Happy happy to you for having some kid-free days! Thanks for the good wishes. :)

  • Oh wow, tough times ahead. For two years, my husband worked abroad and I had a full-time job and our baby to take care of, and it was tough! (He did come home every weekend.) I cannot even imagine doing it with 3 kids… Simplifying everything is really the weapon of choice in such a case.

    And I just got to ask: what kind of emergency is your daycare preparing for??? “garbage bag with arm and neck holes cut out and child’s full name across front”. Wha?? We were never asked anything beyond emergency contacts from the daycares our kids went to.

    • Please tell more about the trash bag thing, I have never heard of it or an emergency preparedness kit for school. Is this a northern thing or maybe a Canadian thing? I live in Florida so cold climate emergencies are very foreign to me.
      Last fall my older two sons did soccer practice and games so we were at the fields 4x/week. It was during work hours so I did it alone, no more. Now they do soccer afterschool, at their school, one day per week. They are 7 and 5 so it’s perfect for this time of life. There will be plenty of time later in life for practices and games. And with 4 kids I secretly hope at least one of the kids isn’t athletic because I’m not sure how I’ll juggle for in sports :/
      There is a special place in heaven for single parents, prayers for lots of good sleep, patience and healthy eating :)

      • 4 kids! Maybe they have their own mixed age team you coach yourself? :) Yes, the outdoor soccer league is a big commitment and while I am glad my son did it last year – definitely improved his listening skills and helped him understand working as a team – it sounded kind of miserable to be dragging the younger two to all of it for six months.
        Trash bags: they are quite serious about disaster planning at this daycare. It’s one of 15 run by a nonprofit and they are excellent – but the supply list is extensive and long! We are in the earthquake zone so I imagine this is real worst case scenario planning for if the city is in a state of emergency/rubble. Each child has to bring a ziplock containing a family photo, words of encouragement, snack bar, bottled water, emergency blanket, list of out of town emergency contacts/family, and the ‘garbage bag with head and arm holes cut out and child’s name on a piece of tape across front’ for their first day. Cannot even think about my two little guys wearing them :(

    • They have extensive disaster planning at this daycare. I believe the name garbage bags to wear are for the worst case scenario of an earthquake or the likes hitting the city. It’s one of 15 daycares run by a non-profit group. They are excellent but the supply list for first day was very long. They need a full set out of outdoor gear that is kept at the centre, several changes of clothes, etc. I’m still feeling incredibly lucky that I got our younger two in at the same centre, walking distance from my home and on the same days!!
      Oh wow. Working full-time with a baby and your spouse was away all week? I bow down. I would really struggle to hold down a ‘real’ full-time job in our current scenario.

  • I got up early this morning for a change…I retired around 3 years ago at the age of 63 from a job that I had hated but needed (15 years…yiks). I was cleaning up the emails and ran across yours and stopped. A delightful site and you are a delightful woman. You brought back memories of living in 800 sq. ft. with two boys ages 8 and 3. We gave them the ‘master bedroom’ and my husband and I took the other. It only had room for our mattress and frame. This was a move (we moved every three years living in diffrent states in the US) to San Diego. A move from Arizona in 1989…long time ago. Sticker shock on rent sent us scrambleing on what to do…Fortunately we had hardly any furniture. We found a small townhome with around only 10 units. The smallest was our little 800 sq. ft niche for $800.00 a month. Affordable for us…everything else was just out of our reach. The neat thing was that our oldest son was in the Poway School District (at the time…an perhaps even now in 2016 the best in the nation). The other neat thing was that everyone that lived in these townhomes were owners and long time residents not to mention great neighbors. The elementary school was down a hill from the back of the house. Having no extra room was not much a a problem because in San Diego (Rancho Bernardo) one was always outsite. My boys were always out playing…and after school I would pile them into our car and drive to the beach (30 min away) to wear them out before coming home to make dinner. Ahhhhh, a simple life. Then my husband was transfered to Minnesota. I thought ‘holy shit’ I have no idea what this is going to be like. But a move to ‘corprate headquarters, incresed income, and the chance to put some roots down trumped my tenuous attitude…and speaking to your moves Rachel…I found it always took me around 3 to 6 months to get adjusted mentally to all the changes.
    Minnesota has been a love/hate relationship for the past 25 years. Rent was so high and not many choices so we bought our first house (age 43)…the ugliest in a wonderful neighborhood we had found. My husband traveled 3 weeks out of the month so it was kinda like a single parent at times. I had a degree in Fine Art and one in graphic design and advertising…career non existent…I locked it in a trunk somewhere and threw away the key. With my husband gone and my sons in elementary school by this time I got a job in the school district as a para professional. It was a rather demeaning job but I had the same schedule as the boys and with my husband gone so much and needing the extra income it was what I did. Minnesota, I had heard before moving here, was supposed to have such a fine educational system…not so much…but you can get around that if one is creative and has children that are smart, curious and resourceful.
    The house had no furniture…we only owned beds an antique table for our kitchen (found in an old store when living in San Francisco, refinished it…I bought it for 200.00 back then), a few lamps and a couch…oh, and a 13 inch TV) The dining room was empty…the living room was empty and became an office for a while…the ‘family room’ became a favorite ‘fort’ making room. The boys would empty the linen closest of EVERYTHING and build forts or Lego towns. Thus begins ‘the gathering’…though slowly.
    When my oldest son started making friends and going to other peoples homes he realized that we didn’t live like ‘other’ people. They had coffee tables, dining rooms, huge kitchens with all the gadgets, big TV’s (and more than one), computers, big sofas and chairs with side tables and lamps…etc. etc. This actually turned out to be a valuable observation on his little soul…he knew we didn’t have a lot of money, And/or rather we didn’t spend it like other people and he excelled in school and started working part time starting at the age of 14 years old. We went in half on college and he did the other half…(we made him go out of state to school…to Colorado where both my husband and me were born and raised and had family…and we loved Colorado). He is now a pilot in the AF flying the F-35,
    Well this got long. So the point of all this is that now our sons’ are 28 and 33. My husband retired last year. Our house is bursting with STUFF. My mother, 95, can’t throw anything away and sent a lot of it to me (COULD HAVE USED IT A BIT EARLIER IN MY LIFE BUT REALLY!!!! One time she sent me 30 pairs of expensive high heel shoes she didn’t wear anymore (I am a jeans and t-shirt girl and the only time I wore a high heel was for a very brief time on the day I was married and she knew this) They immediately went to the goodwill. But I digress…I have all her crystal (who uses that anymore) China…no use for, pictures…no use for. I am so purging here, or trying to. WHAT HAPPENED!!!
    I have tossed all the boys things that they didn’t want. Kept only one box for each son with mementos I couldn’t part with (notice I said “I”). In the process of unloading most everything. The lower level looks like a ‘POD’…and will hopefully be empty soon. We’d move but it would probably cost us more than our house would sell for to find a nice town-home somewhere in Colorado or SW Utah or Northern AZ…or Fruita Colorado…or???? Oh…let’s rent! Back to a simpler life…having ONLY what you need…and maybe less than that. Just give me my bike…a beautiful place to ride. Just give me a soft place to lay my head. Just give me my art supplies (unlocked the box and found myself inside of it)…Just give me some nature. I will be a happy old woman. Too long…gotta go…love your site.

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