Thursday, 9 July 2009

Keeping it Simple

There's a lot of talk these days about 'Simple Living'. It seems to refer to doing things in a less modern way, finding our way back to the way our grandparents might have done things. Now, I'm an old fashioned girl at heart. I drink in my DVD's of 'Little House on the Prairie' any chance I get and find myself wondering if I wasn't born in the wrong era of history. Oh to wear pretty shirts and long skirts. I even love their boots. I love the very simplicity of life portrayed in that era. I love that they worked hard and truly knew the value of what they earned.

And then I remember what my great-grandmother used to say. "There was nothing much good about the 'good old days' ~ they were jolly hard work". Whilst I'm sure there was plenty that was good, I think she was referring to the advent of washing machines, electric lights, gas stoves, telephones and other gadgets and technical advances that really did make a housewife's life so much easier.

I find myself pondering the 'Simple Life' question for myself. I live in a modern era with plenty of gadgetry available, both useful and not so useful. In an age when we seem to live faster and harder, what does simple look like, without sending ourselves back 200 years and becoming completely out of step with the world we live in? For me, this question is all the more pertinent given that I've begun working four days a week. Certainly life in our house is somewhat more hectic than it has ever been. Working when you have children is a vastly different prospect than working when it's just you and your husband to think about!

I think the simple life idea has to be a bit of an amalgamation of taking advantage of the useful things and remaining committed to doing things that are truly important to me. I'm sure my great-grandmother would heartily approve.
  • We eat a home-cooked meal together around the table almost every night. I am so committed to this part of family life that I've spent this week adding some prepared meat to the freezer to facilitate easier cooking on busy days.
  • We mostly bake our bread ~ there is always a day or two in a week when I don't, when I'm not home in the evening. I use a bread machine to do this.
  • We hang out washing, rather than use the dryer. We have a dryer, but I am loathe to use it unless we are desperate. Even in winter, washing gets hung on racks set over heater vents.
  • I use the dishwasher and hand wash. There is always a sinkful of things that need a good scrub or won't fit in the machine. The girls take turns with the task each day. They dry and put away as I wash. We keep just a little of that huddle around the sink that resulted in precious moments together in my own childhood.
  • I've opted to keep the money in the family and I pay the girls to clean my floors. They love the opportunity to earn some money and I love not having to do the chore myself. In the process the girls are learning that work is a good thing and the value of what the earn.
  • I love my vegie pathetic as it is. Hot weather gets the better of it and rabbits beset the other half. One day I'd love raised beds with a watering system that is law-abiding and water-wise for this climate. In the meantime, I've bought a new parsley plant to add to my herb garden and will be satisfied with that for now.
  • I knit, albeit terribly slowly. I love to crochet and thoroughly enjoy making quilts. All those these activities appear at some level to be indulgent and fun. And they are. But at the end of the project, I have something useful. Beautiful quilts will be used, rather than hung on the wall (should I ever finish one!!!), knitting and crocheting gets worn and frivolous little stitcheries end up as decoration in our home, or as gifts for others.
I'm very blessed to have the kind of job that has me working school hours. It allows me the ability to continue with the simple things that are truly important to me.


Sandra said...

Tracy, thank you so much for the comment on my blog and the link, I really enjoyed this post and it thrills me to see so many others talking about living simply :)

I'm adding you to my Google Reader and going back and reading more of your posts too :)

Have a great day,

Crunchie's Mum said...

Hi Tracy,
Your 'simple life' is very similar to ours. I use modern gadgets but buy the best and most efficient we can afford and expect them to last. If a job can be done as easily by hand, it is done by hand. Clothes are air dried, some dishes washed by hand some in the dish washer. Most food is cooked from scratch but sometimes we buy pre packaged stuff when everyone is tired. I have a go at a number of crafts but like to produce a useful article rather than something that is just pretty. We recycle and try and keep waste to a minimum. I know we could do better and small improvements are sometimes made but we are happy and thats what really counts.


Rachel said...

I loved this post and love the simple life. I wouldn't trade it for anything! We aren't there 100% yet but we are working on it. :)

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Wonderful post, Tracy! I do a lot of what you do, except I use a dryer. I need a clothes line!

I do think that life in the old days wasn't necessarily simple, and I'm happy for my washer and running water in the house. But I'm always interested in which of the old ways work today. Thanks for the inspiration.


Tracy said...

Frances my SIL isn't allowed to have a clothes line (in Colorado). That completely befuddles me. I love my line dried washing! need a line...oh the smell of sun dried sheets. Mmmmm

Isn't it funny that we all thing we're 'not there yet' with living simply.