Sunday, July 25, 2010

Voluntary Simplicity - Work Smarter

As a side note, today is much better. I passed my test yesterday and the remaining three bunnies look healthy and good. I have to remember to stay in the moment. Not dwell on things that are yet to be, tackle each thing as it comes. Take steps forward but not engross myself so much in getting ahead that I forget where I'm standing. Thanks to all that gave your support. It was (and is, as I re-read the posts) so very much appreciated.

The girls and I are reading more of Little House on the Prairie 75th Anniversary Edition*. The life portrayed is so very close to what I want to offer to my family in some respects and it has has given me insight to how things got done before electricity and running water.

It's given me much to ponder. For instance, Pa got the bucket of water from the creek. Ma gathered up all the sheets and clothes and washed them in the water, rinsing them in a second tub. She laid them out to dry on the grass The water got drained out into the field, hydrating the land. There wasn't mounds of laundry to be done. There wasn't enormous amounts of water being used. Ma didn't spend time every single day pulling the loads of laundry through the line. Why is this?

I reason it's because they didn't have more clothes than they knew what to do with. Clothes serve a purpose, a function. They're not merely things to hang in closets, left to crumple in drawers, taking up space, sometimes never worn before they're grown out of. I speculate too, that the kids took better care of their clothes because of this reason. They knew they couldn't afford to waste what they had on. That they'd probably have to wear that outfit or those pajamas again before they got cleaned.

Then we read about Ma and her after supper routine. The family of five had four tin plates, four tin forks, four tin cups while they were out camping on the prairie. After they were used they were promptly washed. Ma didn't have piles of cups and plates and bowls stacked in the sink waiting to be washed. There was no dishwasher running excessively like it is in my house. She didn't waste money on detergent and heat drying her dishes. Why is that?

Again, here I ponder the simplicity of living with only what you need. How hated chores and overwhelming tasks break down to small, easily accomplished goals. But we must find a balance. I realize that getting rid of too much can actually make life harder. Though, knowing how things used to be puts a new glint in my gaze. I look at our posessions in a new light.

What is needed? What makes us happy?

For each person the answers will differ. For our life on the farm, we want to work smarter not harder. Less clothes = less laundry, less storage and less mess. Less dishes means the kids have to be concious of the items they dirty, less work in cleaning and less resouces wasted. I want less work in these areas to free up time to do things that make me happy. To ease the burden of housework that yolks me.

I've pared down the books and feel good about the ones that remain. This week I'm going to be looking at our clothes and eating utensils to see where I can make a difference there as I work -hopfully smartly- towards a simpler life.

What burdens do you have that discourage you? Is there a place in your life you can par down to lighten your heart?

*The link I provided is an associate link to Purchases made through this link help support our family.


Jessica said...

I loved the Little House on the Prairie series when I was young. If you have a need for it, I have a copy of the "Little House on the Prairie Cookbook" full of recipes and information on their daily life. Be glad to send it down to you or scan some pages, if you can wait a week for me to get it out of storage! :)

Crystal said...

We have a few little house companion books, I have to pull them out to see if we have the cookbook.

Oddly enough, I've never read the series! We have a few places down here that are pioneer centered and are planning trips to see how things were done. One place is really far but has a jamboree in November on our way back from our trip to NH.

René said...

I'm enjoying reading both this blog and your homestead blog. My desire for self-sufficient living actually started out as a desire to live more frugally. This post reminded me of something I read while doing my frugal research. It was in a menonite book (I think it might've been a recipe book) and the author was talking about her time as a missionary. She said that living in a village with such poor people made her self conscious about all the clothes she owned. Realizing this, she offered to give some shirts to one of the villagers and he declined, saying that he already had all the shirts he needed: Two shirts, one to wear while the other was washed and dried. I can't say it's stopped me from buying more clothes, but I think a lot more about the clothes I buy. I no longer buy something because it's in season or a good price. I only buy things that I love and know I'd be happy to wear any day and that won't sit in the bag of my closet for ten years until I bag them up and take them back to the same thrift store I bought them from. That's the other thing, I haven't bought a single new piece of clothing in almost a year and more wardrobe is better now than it's been my whole life. There's a lot to learn by stepping out of the norms of your current society.