I know that the title to this post might be a little confusing since the core of what I talk about is Simplicity and Minimalism. But I have a little pet peeve that I want to air out because both of these things are lacking when applied by themselves and nobody talks about it. Let me explain.
When I was in my twenties my only focus was to work, make money, and to shop. I can’t emphasize how true this was for me. I worked waitressing jobs from morning until night 5-6 days a week, and then “leisured” away my days off at the mall buying clothes.
Then I took a sharp turn, became a massage therapist, and moved to Colorado. Suddenly I was confined to a certain number of hours I could work by the fact that I couldn’t physically perform more than 20- 30 hours of massage a week. Suddenly, I was living in a place that seemed to value leisure and the outdoors more than anything else, and my entire paradigm shifted.
So for years, instead of living to work, I lived to leisure about. I became a Minimalist. My days were long and slow. And here I want to say that it was beautiful to a point because Simplicity is a beautiful thing. But it also can be a vapid and self-centered existence if you simplify just to simplify.
It took me a long time to accept this fact. I didn’t want to. I wanted to float around and read and take long walks. And by the way, I still do a lot of reading and walking and they will always be 2 of my favorite things. But they aren’t how I spend the whole of my days anymore, and it’s not just because I have a kid.
I came to understand that we humans are made to do good and meaningful work and that is what our days should be filled with. And hear me out because I don’t mean that we should be slaving away from morning until night or that we should never have a bit of leisure. No way. I believe that our lives can and should be uncomplicated and fun and deeply, deeply, fulfilling.
Let me try and explain this another way: when I was living only for simple and slow days, I was swimming in so much space and free time that sometimes I didn’t even know what to do with myself. I finally realized something obvious: When you clear stuff out, there’s a void that appears and doesn’t go away. Haven’t you ever heard moms complain of being bored to tears? HOW CAN THAT EVEN BE A THING?
It’s a thing because we don’t fill the void we create with good and meaningful work. We clear out, tote away, slow down, and let go, and then proudly pat ourselves on the back and go on with our lives. We neglect to realize that we have an innate drive to gather, forage, nest, and create and that by not doing any of these things we are fanning the flames of frustration and unhappiness. Of course we’re bored to tears.
I mean, think about it: think back on days you spent doing some kind of real work- not a corporate day job or anything like that- I mean days that you spent outside planting a garden or painting cabinets in your kitchen or spring cleaning your house.
Think about the days where you got your hands dirty and became so sweaty your shirt painted itself to your body like a second skin. Think about the snow days that you spent outside building forts with your kids and shoveling pathways to the car and mailbox.
And then think about how good you felt at the end of those days. Tired, exhausted maybe, clean from a hot shower, happy and fulfilled and cuddled on the couch with your little ones and partner, and feeling like life couldn’t be better.
That’s what I’m talking about. Not just any work-but the meaningful work of a mom with a home and a family. And this is where Minimalism plays a huge part in lightening the load of cleaning and organizing and mess in general. I’m all for making life as easy as possible so that we have time for the most important things: our families, walks in nature, making things by hand, creating a safe and cozy home, and celebrating life.
We simply need to be creative. It’s a basic and innate human need, and the home provides the best backdrop for that expression. There is no end to what we can create there, and no reason for us to ever be bored again.
And this serves another purpose as well- when we work and create, we give our kids things to observe and do and learn from. In Montessori education this is essential, stemming from our human history of mothers wearing their babies and keeping their little ones close by while they carried out the work of their daily lives.
Think about it: Our little ones learn from what they see, and we are supposed to be their main teachers. When we carry out meaningful work in our homes, we are replacing the “need” for extracurricular activities that we enroll them in for stimulation and education. There’s no need when they can get that at home.
Of course, by all means, keep your kids involved in activities that they genuinely like and benefit from. But whatever programs you keep them in, consider them to be sprinkles, or accessories, to life and not the bulk of it.
Motherhood should and can be simple and uncomplicated. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we go a little crazy when we spend our days lounging around changing diapers and making dinner. We need to do a little more. We need to expand our minds by learning new skills. We need to express ourselves creatively by making things by hand. We need to fill our beautiful, simplified, and uncomplicated lives with the beautiful, simplified, and uncomplicated work of motherhood.
And if we do it right, we’ll never be bored again.
And like always, let me know what you think in the comments below :)