Avoiding the urge to do too much

One of the biggest problems I’ve encountered trying to live at a slower pace is actually finding the time to be slow. Ironic right? As it turns out it’s actually really hard to slow down in the fast-paced modern life we exist in. Even with the best of intentions to slow down, I actually found myself doing more work. For example, baking every weekend, instead of buying processed foods, and planting a vegetable garden which needed my constant love and attention. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I was actually burning out while trying to slow down. I started to argue with my husband about jobs that had to be done, and offload my child more often so I could ‘get stuff done’.

I learned a big lesson. To slow down you must learn to outsource, say no and prioritise the things that bring you life. I came to the realisation that it’s just not possible to work, raise young children, have a sparkling clean house, enjoy home cooked, healthy meals, exercise, have a social life and spend time on hobbies all at the same time. Well not for me anyway, there just weren’t enough hours in the day and something had to give.

So even with the best of intentions, I found slowing down really hard.

Here’s how I am doing it. And I must caveat this with “I’m still learning”, so it’s likely in another six months I’ll be finding new ways to ‘keep the peace’ and enjoy a more laid-back lifestyle.

  1. I hired a housekeeper. I actually don’t mind housework, in fact being the perfectionist I am, I get a real kick from freshly mopped floors and an empty laundry hamper. However, it just wasn’t the best use of my time. As a manager and strategist in my professional life, I could see that spending my time on housework wasn’t providing a good return on investment. So I outsourced. Now my spare time is free to write, play, snuggle with my baby girl and do other things. I only have the housekeeper come once a fortnight for a couple of hours, so it doesn’t break the bank. For the jobs the housekeeper doesn’t do, I schedule them into my week so I can complete those mundane tasks as efficiently and infrequently as possible. For example, I schedule two days per week for washing, and one for folding/ironing, so I don’t find myself doing those jobs every day. And I only wash and pack the dishwasher, and tidy Elsie’s play area once at the end of the day, again, reducing the frequency of those pesky time-consuming tasks.
  2. I started shopping for groceries online. Living in a regional area I’m no stranger to online shopping, however, I wasn’t an early adopter of online grocery shopping. I had a bit of a trust issue with other people choosing my fruit and vegetables and other items. But I got over that pretty quickly (you can even specify preferences/notes on each item if you’re so inclined). It’s a big time saver and I don’t have the hassle of parking, pushing a trolley, loading and unloading. Yes, I pay a delivery fee, but I bought an annual delivery subscription so it’s much more affordable.
  3. I became best friends with my freezer. Baking every week just wasn’t possible, however, I still wanted to eat home-baked, nutritious foods. Now I always cook in bulk and freeze what I am not going to eat straight away. Biscuits, cakes, savouries and leftover dinners freeze and defrost beautifully, ready for lunchboxes and visitors. And if I run out of time to cook, there is usually something healthy waiting to be zapped in the microwave for lunch or dinner. I am a big believer in the ‘cook once, eat twice’ philosophy, again aiming for maximum efficiency.
  4. I simplified my morning routine and rise earlier. Two words: BB cream. I have simplified my daily make up routine to BB cream, mascara and an eyebrow comb. By doing this I still feel like I am taking care of myself, without the burden of half an hour of make-up application (now reserved for special occasions only). I rise earlier now so I have a bit of ‘me time’ before Elsie’s wakes. I am definitely not a morning person, so allocating an hour to rise slowly and have some quiet time makes me feel so much more ready to face the day.
  5. Last but not least I have been making a conscious effort to try not to overestimate what I can achieve in one day. I was finding myself feeling constantly dissapointed that I wasn’t ‘acheiveing’ everything that needed to be done. Now I look at what needs to be done in the week and break it down into realistic daily lists based on whatever else is going on that day. I am trying to prioritise the things that have to be done, i.e. prepping for dinner, over those things that I might like to do on a whim, i.e. scrolling my Facebook feed, or popping out to the shops, so that I am not trying to squeeze too much in and rushing in the evenings. It takes a lot of discipline, let me tell you! But I am surprisingly happy with my efforts so far in being able to control and limit myself, and let go of what I cannot fit in. A big mantra for me at the moment is ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ so I remind myself of this when I find myself lamenting on saying no to someone or something. If I want to be able to give to others, I must first I must take care of myself.

If, like me, you’re struggling with trying to be everything to everbody and live a happy, ‘slow’ life I hope that these tips will help inspire you to try a new approach and find peace within your home and yourself.

Until next time,

Emily xx