Monday, August 29, 2011

Simplifying: making people happy

Guest Post by Alicia from Pearls

Hey, I’m Alicia from Pearls! Being the mother of three boys ages four and under, 
having two, teenage brothers-in-law living with me, and being the wife of an 
adoring, rock star of a husband - things around here can get a little hectic and our
general schedule seems full.  My life is pretty good though. I’m generally easy going and 
calm, though it definitely wouldn’t look that way if you were watching from the side lines
(which you would be). I maintain my “inner peace” by keeping my life simple. 
Simplicity keeps me balanced, and when I’m balanced I’m happier. When I’m happy,
it’s easier for everyone else to be content, and the bumps and blocks along the way
are easier to deal with because I’m in a pretty good place. When my kids fight or things 
get crazy (and they do!), I like to quote Kevin Flynn from TRON: Legacy, “You’re 
messing with my Zen thing, man!” (Yes, I really say that). I also want my children to 
realize that they don’t need the biggest or the best to be happy. Things do not bring 
I’ve thought about some ways I keep my life simple and avoid excessiveness and thought 
I’d share them in hopes that they will inspire you to look at your own lives and find areas 
that you can simplify by avoiding unnecessary headache and over-spending. If mama ain't 
happy, ain't nobody happy. =)
1. Toys. My three and four year olds have a million toy cars in all shapes and sizes, at least 
100 toy dinosaurs and 20 gazillion knick knacks. Star Wars costumes and weapons are 
scattered in every room of our home (yes, we have real light sabers lying around). I hate 
blocks (including Legos and our Jenga game). Personally, I love that they have such a 
great collection of children’s books… but I don’t love that they pull every.single.one of them 
out to decide which one to read before bed. I might despise you if you buy another card game 
for them, and who knew that little boys would have so many stuffed animals? Why did 
my husband think it would be a good idea to buy them a bench and plastic tools? Is it 
just me or do toys somehow reproduce? Where did they all come from!?

My four year old is a pretty good picker-upper. My three year old is an even better 
dumper-outer. My four year old sometimes asks me to kick the three year old out of the 
family because he is always making huge messes in their room. My absolute least favorite 
part of parenting is getting them to pick up those toys. Simplify: We now have three or four 
bins full of toys that we rotate. Now, the mess is tolerable, and it’s less traumatic for 
everyone. When they get to the point that they are no longer willing to clean up their 
toys, I threaten to take them into the basement… dun dun dun! If they won’t clean them 
up, I will load ‘em up and off they go into the basement. They are then toyless until they 
somehow earn a bin of toys back. It’s like Christmas every time they do, but I didn’t even 
spend a penny.
2. I love to read. Once upon a time, before we had any children and I had all the time in 
the world, I had an incredible library of books that I read once (maybe twice) and put up for 
display… or in a pile. We have moved 12 times since we’ve been married (6 ½ years) 
and by move #5 my husband refused to haul another box of books (at least 4 boxes were 
never even opened for 3 of the moves). I didn’t blame him. Simplify: I kept a few and got 
rid of the rest. I still love to read, but before I go out and buy the book, I borrow it from the 
library or a friend. If I love it enough to own it, I’ll first look into buying it used. If you 
really wanted to “go green”, you could even get a Kindle or something like it, but I’m 
pretty sure it still costs $$$. There’s something about holding the book that I love – 
especially when I didn’t spend a penny!
3. I love fresh produce. I want my family to eat healthy and sometimes I go grocery 
shopping and come home with 90% fresh stuff that I intent to cook with or simply enjoy 
over the next few days. 90% of the time it doesn’t happen and I end up with rotting lettuce, 
broccoli, tomatoes and celery in my refrigerator. I like to savor my strawberries and not eat 
them all at once, but sometimes I wait too long to savor them and next thing I know their 
nasty fuzz balls! We keep forgetting to cut open the cantaloupe for breakfast and now it’s 
mushy. You get the picture. Simplify: Now, I get freeze dried produce whenever I can. It 
maintains the nutrition and I only reconstitute when I need it and only as much as I 
need. Obviously, not everything comes freeze-dried, and I still get fresh produce, but this 
way I avoid some last minute trips to the super market (hate those!) and am much less 
wasteful (goodbye soft celery!)
4. I really do want to be healthy. I can’t afford the elliptical I want and even if I could, I have 
no where to put it. I hate running along streets and trying to exercise with my kids around 
totally messes with my Zen thing. Simplify: We got a family Recreation Center Pass. It may 
not be free, but I get to exercise in peace (in a variety of ways), there are classes for the 
kids, stuff for the teenagers and my husband, not to mention a daycare if I need it! We swim 
there as a family in the summers and with all of us on the pass, it makes it worth it. It also 
supports our city.
So, take that for what it’s worth. You have to give and take in different areas, “pick your 
battles” so to speak. There are so many ways to minimize the excess, stress, and 
over-spending, but do what works best for you and your family!

Alicia is the mother of three adorable little boys and enjoys blogging about 
things that make her happy, photography and motherhood.  

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