The amount of landfill waste that her and her family of four produced last year could fit into a small glass jar.
A. small. glass. jar.
I’ll come back to that. First, a bit about me. I’m a mum, wife, daughter, sister, aunty, friend, teacher, and, as is perhaps obvious already, list-maker. I work, I study and I am attempting to repaint our house (cue months and months of undercoated walls and doorless cupboards). Please don’t misread this. This is not me fanning out my schedule like a peacock showing off its plumage. Once, yes, maybe this was me. But now, no.
Over the past year, busyness has come to feel less badge and more burden. There’s been this swelling sense that the chaos of the schedule and the chaos of the stuff is an investment with no return—or more truthfully—one that is operating at a loss.
Then, it was in the excited chatter about my son’s sixth birthday party that this feeling went from a lingering sense to a transformative truth. He said to me:
I’m sorry Mumma about my party. I know you are really busy.
Ouch. Even now, weeks later, these words still reach out, wrench the breath from my lungs and leave me aching. Brutal. Of course he said this with no maliciousness. These are just the honest observations that only a child can gift us. Being kind to myself, there was nothing that I said or did that should have made him feel that his birthday was in anyway an inconvenience. In fact, I’d worked bloody hard to try and at least provide the kids an appearance of work-life balance (lesson planning after they go to bed and rising early to finish uni assignments before they wake).
But clearly they’d seen through the façade. I was exhausted and they knew it. They were probably exhausted too.
The point being: My son’s words were the wallop I needed to move from just pondering over how to unburden and un-busy our lives… to actually getting started.
I began listening to podcasts about real food, mindfulness and minimalism. I became motivated to destress and de-stuff our home. It was while listening to a podcast about slow living that I came across the woman with the jar. She spoke passionately not just about the green benefits of reducing waste and wastefulness, but about how enriched her family’s life had become. Free from the stuff—and the maintenance and money of stuff—they’d been able to live a life rich with experiences. I was captivated.
But as I continued to listen to her talk about minimalism, less waste and her family’s annual garbage fitting into a small glass jar, I thought…
I’ve got a jar like that. It’s full of buttons.
I have one filled with marbles too. And another with cute novelty pegs I was given at my baby shower. There’s some funky mason jars I snapped up on sale and some empty ones (just in case I ever need them?). I have boxes too. Boxes of cards, boxes of magazines and boxes of dinosaurs. There’s a box of ribbons and a box of cords-that-belong-with-no-idea-what. I have cupboards full of boxes. Cupboards full of clothes. Toiletries. Random crap. Stuff.
I have one room so full of stuff that I don’t know where to begin cleaning it. (This pic is for the girls at work who, despite my protests, believe I have my shit together all the time).
So you see my dilemma. When I hear about a less wasteful, more mindful, simplified life, it seems wonderful… but so far removed from my reality that it overwhelms. How does this apply to a working mum, living in the suburbs, swimming in stuff? What’s possible? Where to start?
Which brings me to the purpose of this little blog: To document my petites steps to a healthier, happier life, with less.
At this stage I don’t have a lot of knowledge on this topic and very little experience, but I hope this adventure provides some useful morsels, or at least some amusement, as I march forth with enthusiasm regardless.