Day 8 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Reset Your Habits

In another tip from her post, The Time Jar: 5 Time Management Tips That Will Change Your Life, Ruth of Living Well, Spending Less says:

“I read another book recently called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business that has also greatly impacted how I structure my day.  One of the many interesting points the book made is that our brains are wired to form habits.  These habits can become good or bad, but once something has become a true habit, a different part of our brain takes over and we begin to perform that particular habit on autopilot.  This means we no longer have to use mental energy to perform the task, which leaves our brain free to focus on getting other things done.

I used to get frustrated with myself because it seemed like I would start out my day so well, but at the end I would just fizzle, with no energy left to put towards any sort of productive endeavor.  After reading this book, I realized that because my willpower in a given day is limited, the more good habits I create for myself, the more willpower and energy I will have leftover to use towards other things.

I decided to make a list of the things I wanted to do automatically every morning.  My list included drinking a glass of water, planning my day over a cup of coffee, having personal devotion & prayer time, then writing for at least 90 minutes.  After several weeks of doing this every day, I finally stopped thinking about it.  I would find myself in the kitchen drinking my water before I was even fully awake.  It takes almost no effort to get my day started off right, and at the end of my writing session, when I take a morning break, I still feel refreshed and ready to conquer the rest of my day.”

I find the idea of limited will power interesting. I had never really thought of it that way. I definitely know I have limited resources, and I can’t force myself to do everything on my To Do list.

The morning isn’t the issue for me. In the morning, I have to get out of bed. Things get moving pretty quickly in our house most mornings, and while I’m definitely the slowest one to roll out of bed (or usually close to the slowest), I still have to get up right away and get started. There isn’t much space for new habits in the morning, as my morning habits consist of some work, usually (checking the social media streams for different businesses; or checking emails for my different jobs); making coffee; and getting breakfast for myself and sometimes other people. I’d love to add yoga into the mix but for the most part, I think that it’s best if I just leave that for another time of day. In the past week, I have added the habit of setting an intention at the start of each day, and I like that and want to keep it up. I’ve also started drinking a jar of water kefir before I have coffee, and I’ve found that that makes me feel good as well.

So, today, I thought about some other habits I’d like to build, that wouldn’t just stress me out more; and when I could build those habits.

One time of day when I tend to be a bit lost, and have time but not a lot of reserves, is after I’ve picked up the kids from school. I only pick them up three days a week, so it’s not like it would be a daily habit, but maybe I could meditate in my office for five minutes right when we get home. Even on the days that I don’t pick them up, I tend to be around home and winding down right around 3 pm.

So in closing, I will continue and/or start the following habits:

  1. Set an intention for the day (before getting out of bed).
  2. Drink a jar of water kefir (right when I get up).
  3. Meditate for five minutes in the afternoon (around 3 pm).
  4. Write down five things I’m grateful for (before dinner).
  5. Choose my outfit for the next day (before bed).

I’m excited about tomorrow! I’m going to finish reading Slaughterhouse Five so I can start Day 9 of this experiment: Read Walden by Henry David Thoreau! I even own it! And I’ve never read it! But The Paleo Mama recommends reading it as one of the tips on her list, 72 Tips to Simplify Your Life, so I took that as a great nudge to get going on it.

Check out the Pinterest board for this series.

Advertisements

Day 6 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Do One Complete Load of Laundry a Day

Here is what The Stressed Mom has to say in her post, 10 Habits For a Well-Run Home:

Do one complete load of laundry a day. From start to finish. Build a habit of grabbing everyone’s clothes after bathtime and tossing in wash. and then toss in dryer before bed. Or in the morning when you get up. Take 5-10 minutes to fold and put away that load (or have your kids do it!) One load a day may or may not be enough for your family, but doing at least one load every day will help you stay on top of the pile.”

I actually kind of started doing this most days before the week even started. I tried to wait until today, but it appealed to me so much (it makes me feel like a real weirdo to say that) that I just did it most days for the last few days. I didn’t grab everyone’s clothes after bath time, I just grabbed the laundry from upstairs whenever I thought of it, and I usually washed a load based on a piece of clothing that one of us needed or something that should be washed right away, but then collected everything else I could find to maximize that load.

The clothes that belong to the adults are being folded and put away the same day (only a few items a day, so it doesn’t take long), and each child’s clothes get deposited in their room for them to fold and put away (or shove under the bed, whatever). Things like towels or blankets that go in the linen area near the laundry room get folded while the kids bathe, since the big tub is right in the next room.

I’d say based on the past week or so, I like this system. The laundry never feels overwhelming and there is far less searching for the things we like to wear most often. I call this one a win! Thanks, Stressed Mom! (And I hope you’re a little less stressed now, too.)

The pin is here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/174092341821037097/

And the full board, of course.

Day 7 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Move Every 45 Minutes

Today, via Buzzfeed, we have “Get up every 45 minutes and move around. When you sit back down you will feel greatly re-energized.”

This is from the post 23 Ingenious Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder. Not bad. I do agree that it’s a good idea to get up and move periodically if you have a desk job. I only have a desk job 1-2 days per week, but on those days I do need to remember to move in some way at least once an hour. In fact, some days at work, I get up and hula hoop for five minutes every hour. That’s fun! I’m lucky enough to work in an office in a heritage building, with wood floors, high ceilings and large classrooms in which to hoop.

Hula hoop... check!

Hula hoop… check!

I went into work today intending to get up and move every 45 minutes. But then I noticed that between coffee trips, bathroom trips, walking up to the store front to check a product, and searching for my boss to have a quick chat, I was moving far more! I got up and walked around at least every half hour. I do think it’s important to get up and move, and it does help, but this tip didn’t change anything I was already doing. Oh well. It could still be useful for someone else! Maybe try hooping at work!

Original pin is here.

And once again, the dedicated Pinterest board for this series.

Day 4 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Eliminate the Unessential

So far this experiment is going well! I am enjoying setting an intention each morning (today’s was: React out of love, not out of fear), and setting out my clothes the night before is definitely helpful. I think it saves me about two minutes (hey, every minute counts), but more importantly, it helps me to wake up less anxious and makes it easier to get out of bed (which is saying a lot!).

I love the idea of today’s task. Here is the original idea, from a post called “Five Time Management Tips That Will Change Your Life” on the blog Living Well Spending Less:

“I think for me getting rid of the things I don’t really need to be doing is probably the hardest part.  Everyone has a few time fillers they could probably eliminate from their day, whether it be baking something from scratch when it could be store-bought, spending an hour watching TV or drooling over Pinterest, or even taking on a few too many commitments.

This is where the priority list and goal setting becomes so important!  If when you look at your day, you find that much of your time is filled with things that don’t match up to your priorities or your most important goals, then something has to give.  Start small–eliminate 3-5 things in your life that are taking up time but not adding much value.  Just stop doing them.  Yes, I know it is easier said than done, but making a conscious decision paves the way for change.”
Read more here.

This is a great blog post, and one that I’ll be revisiting over the course of the 28 days.

This particular tip is difficult for me. I’m sure most of you can relate when I say that it feels like every task I do is essential – otherwise, why would I be doing it? If I’m working, I’m making money. If I’m watching TV or surfing the net, I’m enjoying leisure time. And all the household chores, and parenting tasks, well of course those are essential!

First, I looked at my To Do list. Everything on there is pretty essential. That’s why it’s there. Grocery lists, work tasks, homeschooling goals, fitness ideas – all things I want to be doing. I felt discouraged – if everything on my To Do list is crucial, what the heck am I going to cut?

My To Do list

My To Do list

But that’s the thing. It’s not those items that I need to cut. It’s the things that aren’t on the To Do list. I’ve been working on making my To Do list better – only listing the things I really need or want to do, so that I don’t get overwhelmed, and shuffling items to a later date as soon as it becomes clear that I won’t be able to get it done by its scheduled deadline. The items on the list aren’t the problem.

What else am I doing during the day? Driving. A lot. I would love to eliminate some driving. There are at least 2-3 days each week when I spend about four hours in total driving (and guess what is my least favourite activity?), and usually at least two more days when I spend at least two hours in the car. I do try to make these times somewhat productive or relaxing by riding in the passenger seat when we take the kids to their dad’s (a two-hour round trip) or by listening to the CBC while I’m in traffic. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m driving.

But how do I eliminate driving so much? I live in Calgary! It’s what we’re known for. Calgary’s downfall is that you have to drive everywhere, and not only that, but we have some of Canada’s worst drivers (seriously. They are terrible. I say “they” because I swear I’m a good driver. But we do have an absurdly high percentage of d-bag drivers here.). I can’t remedy the driving at this exact second; however, I can keep an eye on the amount of time I spend driving and work to cut down.

Other than driving, I would love to eliminate housework, tidying up after the kids, washing dishes and doing laundry. Obviously I can’t eliminate these things, so I plan to look into ways to cut down on each in the near future. Some of the upcoming blog posts will be about just that.

The last thing I would love to eliminate is having to go over to the other house (where I lived up until June), which Justan is holding on to for dear life because he loves it and sees it as his sanctuary, to feed the chickens and our old cat every two days. We don’t want to move the cat, Harley, because we need to have him checked out by a vet first to address his urination issue (and until then we don’t want to move him into a house with a bunch of carpet), and because we’re afraid it will be hard on him to move and we want to decide where we’ll be living in six months before moving him into this house. It’s essential for now that I keep going over to that house to keep an eye on things. Luckily, Justan will be home next week. He has been working out of town for months, only coming home for a day or two here and there, and so we have had to go over to the other house at least every other day. Once he’s back, he can start taking care of that responsibility.

All in all, I would say that I found this exercise really challenging. When you have four kids relying on you to drive them around, and feed and care for them; two houses to look after; several contract jobs; fitness goals; two partners; and a homeschooled child, finding the unessential tasks is difficult. I think the moral here is that our life is currently a lot to manage, and that teamwork is key. I do look forward to cutting back on my driving time, streamlining my household chores, and having Justan back in town so I no longer need to worry about visiting the other house several times a week.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to “Work Fast,” another set of tips from the same list that brought us “Start the Day.” After my experience with the Start the Day tips, I admit I’m skeptical. But we’ll see. Click here to see the pin.

And in case you want to check it out: the board for this series.

Day 3 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: “Start the Day”

The real name of this tip is “How to… Start the Day,” and outlines the things that different very successful people do first in their day. Pin here.

“How to Start the Day” – part of a life-hack pin by Anna Vital.

When Day 3 came around and I looked at this a little more closely, I realized that this tip is actually six different tips, two of which I will be doing on other days and one which is not applicable (no opportunity for customer service this morning!). I chose Steve Jobs’ quote: “Every morning I asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?'”

We were having a snow day, and didn’t have anything to do or anywhere to be. The plan for the day was to stay in bed until about noon and spend the morning drinking coffee while watching New Girl on Netflix. If today were the last day of my life, is that how I would want to spend my morning? Yep.

Not a real goldmine of a tip here, but given that I fulfilled my plan for the morning and it felt great, we’ll call this a win.

Tomorrow, I’ll be identifying what is unessential in my life, and eliminating it, apparently. I am not quite sure what I am going to eliminate… hopefully I can come up with something. Pin here.

Once again, the dedicated board for this series is here.

Day 2 of 28 Days to Simplify my Life a la Pinterest: Pick Out Your Clothes and Shoes the Night Before

I liked day one, and this idea for day two seemed great. Although really, do you save that much time? Either way, you have to pick out clothes. Five minutes in the morning is just being moved to nighttime, right? Oh well. Mornings are tough – maybe the point is to start the day with as little stress as possible and set a positive tone. Sounds good to me!

This is one of those suggestions that came up again and again in my Pinterest mining, but I took it from Stylecaster, where author Perrie said:

“Pick out your clothes—and shoes—the night before.

We realize that you’re not an 8-year-old girl, but laying out tomorrow’s outfit tonight, intuitively, is a huge time-saver. Be sure to iron, steam, lint-roll, or treat anything else you need to the night before as well, and hang your outfit on a hanger outside your closet, so all you have to do in the morning is reach for it. It helps to keep your shoes out, too, since digging through your footwear collection in the morning could get distracting (the “this shoe or that shoe” game can be a massive time suck, right?).”

Check out all Perrie’s tips on getting dressed more quickly in the morning here.

Pretty standard - tunic, tights, legwarmers, cardigan. Add some wool socks and sneakers and I'm out the door.

Pretty standard – tunic, tights, legwarmers, cardigan. Add some wool socks and sneakers and I’m out the door.

The verdict? I think I’ll try to do this on a regular basis. It did save me a couple of minutes in the morning, and I actually got out of bed more quickly because deciding what to wear was one less thing to dread and feel anxious about. I really did used to do this when I was eight, and reinstating this habit doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all. We have another winner!

Tomorrow, I’ll be trying this slightly more complicated set of suggestions for how to “Start My Day.” Pin here.

And of course, the dedicated board for this series is here.

Day 1 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Each Morning, Set an Intention

Here is the task that I chose for the first day (from Headed Somewhere’s blog post, 10 Ways to Be Happier in Your Own Home):

“Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day.

In The Art of Happiness, the Dali Lama says ‘Every day, think as you wake up: today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.’ Wow. What a wise man. I tend to wake up with a strong visceral reaction that says, ‘Attention human beings: Be afraid of me before coffee. Be very afraid!’ Setting a daily intent makes a huge difference. Your daily intent could be something like ‘be productive’ or ‘enjoy today’s delicious moments’ or it could be something more specific like ‘say thank you to my loved ones today.’ But it should not be another ‘to do’ item on your list.”

(From http://headedsomewhere.com/2012/10/12/10-things/)

Image from “Headed Somewhere” blog (click image to view original post).

Well, I did this on day one. I woke up feeling pretty darn good, took a bit of time to gather my thoughts and let my brain and body wake up more, and then I set my intention for the day. It was, “Find your centre.” To me this meant that if things got harried or I started to feel anxious or stressed, I should try to remember to find my centre, that calm place I can go to, to remember who I am at my core and stay focused on what’s important.

This ended up working really well. There were a few minor wrenches thrown into my plans throughout the day – locked out of the house when I needed my swimsuit to get in a workout; late picking up the kids from school. Andi, my girlfriend, also received a couple of pieces of bad news. A good friend unloaded on me (as she is welcome to, and I was happy to be there for her), and the other drivers on the road were being real jerks. Each time something threw me off, I remembered to find my centre again, and over the course of the day, things went more smoothly because of this and I felt better overall.

Then Andi and I went on a date to a concert, in a bar, and the main act didn’t go on until 12:15 am. We were up until 2 am or so when all was said and done, and ended up with a total of about four hours of sleep. So when I woke up this morning, I could not for the life of me think of any other intention for my day than, “Nap.” My brain would not even function at 7 am when I was still trying to drag my butt out of bed. I tried to think of something meaningful, something that would actually help me throughout the day. Nothing came to me. Even mantras I often use for meditation didn’t seem to hold any real meaning.

While I lay there, our kitten (she’s over a year old now, but she’s still our kitten) climbed up beside me and started to hardcore snuggle me. She showered me with love and purrs, and I felt great. Suddenly I thought to myself, “What if my intention for the day somehow related back to this? What could I say that would remind me of this moment?”

We have strange kitties, who like to be all covered up in blankets.

We have strange kitties, who like to be all covered up in blankets.

And what did my poor, exhausted brain come up with? “Find the kittens.” It’s pathetic. That’s all my poor little mind could muster. What it meant to me was either, “Find the bits of your day that are as precious as this kitten,” or “Literally look for kittens.” I wasn’t sure but the minutes were ticking by and I needed to get myself and the kids ready to walk out the door.

The really funny thing is, my day was filled with kittens. My colleagues at work shared photos and stories of their cats, I enjoyed some kitties on Instagram, there were plenty of kitten cuddles throughout the day, and cats seemed to show up everywhere. I also had a few moments of random beauty that made me think “Is that a kitten?” Like, are the mountains a kitten moment? What about a Chinook arch? A hot cup of tea? Sure, why not?

In the end, my really dumb intention still worked. I mean, probably because it was about kittens, so it couldn’t really miss. But I’d say that so far this strategy is working. I look forward to continue using it.

Tomorrow, I’ll be checking out how different it is to start my day with my outfit already chosen. Pin hereblog post here.

And of course, the dedicated board for this series is here.

28 Days to Simplify My Life… a la Pinterest

I’ve spent the past couple of years in a series of major transitions, something that I have to remind myself of fairly regularly. I beat myself up a lot, or feel down about some of the things I haven’t been doing lately. I haven’t gardened since 2012; I haven’t felt my love of canning since 2012; I’ve stopped running now because my knees have started crunching (I know what I need to do to remedy the situation and start a moderate running schedule again, but I haven’t done it yet); and I’ve barely been writing at all. Meanwhile, Neko and I have moved in with Andi and her kids (Justan mostly has as well, but he insists on keeping the other small house because it’s clean and quiet, unlike a house with a bunch of kids in it); I’ve switched jobs; I’ve taken on a parenting role to a few more kids; and we’ve embarked on this new relationship which doesn’t exactly have a roadmap (I’ve looked in the Relationship section at Chapters for the Triad book, with no luck… which means I’ll just have to write it).

Of course, life is a series of transitions. I don’t mean to make excuses. But I also think that I need to remember what I am doing and not focus too much on the things I’m not currently doing. Just because I barely canned a thing this year doesn’t mean I never will again or that I’ve forgotten how. It’s been heartening to feel the urge to write again, very recently. I’ve set up an office and workspace for Andi and myself, and it’s gorgeous. I want to be in it all the time (I’m in it right now, listening to Basia Bulat, sipping red wine and sniffing the bergamot and jasmine diffusing on the desk).

IMG_3838 Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Part of my struggle now is setting up new routines and habits for myself within this new life. I find myself wasting a lot of time wondering what to do, where to sit or work, and getting distracted by laundry, dishes, and all those messes that the kids are constantly making. I make endless lists to organize myself – To Do lists, grocery lists, schedules, meal plans, workout regimes, learning plans for homeschooling… Some of them are helpful and they stick. Others get relegated to the List Pile. I look at those again later and think, “Boy, that was a good idea!”

And every day I kick myself for not working out, not writing, not focusing well enough on homeschooling Neko. Every day I pick out the ways that things could have run more efficiently. I could have premade the components of that meal, or realized there wouldn’t be enough time to cook it in the evening before the kids (and we adults) became rangy. I could have spent less time doing laundry and more time working for money. Items get shuffled to the next day or later on the To Do list. I revisit all the other plans and adapt them.

Lately, one of my tasks at one of my jobs (in wholesale sales for a local skincare company) has been developing and managing social media profiles. Most recently, I set up and propagated our Pinterest page. I spent hours and hours slogging through the Pinterest pages of our clients and repinning. And then saving some pieces just for my personal page. After a while, I started to notice all the pins about productivity, efficiency, time management, life hacks and money- and time-saving techniques. I wondered, “Do any of these actually work? Do they make a measurable difference? Does anyone try these, or do they pin them, feel better about their life, and go have a beer?”

29 Morning Shortcuts That Will Save You Time - Pin

29 Morning Shortcuts That Will Save You Time – Pin

Well, lord knows I could use some more time, be a little more efficient, use more time for things I love (right now I’d love to add 15 minutes of yoga and 5 minutes of meditation to each day). I’d love to spend as little time as possible tidying, washing dishes and doing laundry and spend more time creating freely, walking in the woods and, well, taking baths, really.

So here is what I propose. I am going to spend the next 28 days testing some of the techniques I’ve pinned on Pinterest. Each day, I will try something new. Some are recipes or kitchen hacks. Some are work habits. Some are cleaning tips. When I try a new daily habit, I will do it for the remainder of the 28 days. Each day, I’ll report back on the results.

I need to disclose a few things, first. For one thing, I am already a pretty organized person. I’m a Virgo (there I go again with my crazy astrology talk!). I make lists, I make schedules, I make meal plans and fitness dates and then I get claustrophobic and overwhelmed and my Libra side rebels by hiding from it all and doing nothing scheduled or planned for weeks at a time. But the lists and plans are always there, easy to find, ready to pick up again (I’ve built in parameters for this rebellion, you see).

I use a GSD (oops, I mean GTD… Getting Things Done. Please disregard my own personal version…) system on Remember the Milk. I obsessively log everything there, from my grocery list to my car registration to homeschooling events to work tasks. I check it constantly. Until I don’t check it for six months. But the beauty of the system is that it takes less than an hour to bring it up to speed after that long gap.

My To Do list on Remember the Milk - organized using a GTD system. AKA my lifeline.

My To Do list on Remember the Milk – organized using a GTD system. AKA my lifeline.

I make meal plans. I’m not strict about them, but I do use them to build my grocery lists.

I do practice several habits which I ran across again and again as I went through the pins on time and space management, including purging my closet often, meal planning, making lists, prioritizing my lists, and quick, efficient tidies. Because of all this, there will be several fundamental tips that I will not be testing. It dawned on me as I curated the tips that I’m starting from a pretty good base here.

I have, however, picked out 28 tips to try. I can’t wait to see which ones stick! If I can find time for yoga, walking or running, and writing by the end of the month, I will be so happy.

Watch tomorrow for the first post: Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day. Pin here, Blog post here.

And please feel free to follow the dedicated board for this post! I will add the source pins as I add posts!

What We’ve Learned Lately: Compound Words, Regrouping, Harvest, Dewey Decimal

Compound Words

This week, one of Neko’s favourite games has been Compound Words. We’ve been having a lot of fun playing it in the car. I don’t remember how it started – for some reason, I explained to her what a compound word is, and before you knew it, she was brainstorming compound words. We chucked around compound words for days! Some were confusing – they seemed like compound words, but were actually two words. Some were only one word, but didn’t actually contain two words within. Others, I was unsure of and had to look up. It was actually fun to see how many we could come up with, and we congratulated each other regularly on our brainstorming. Compound words – check!

Regrouping

Neko also had a really good time with a worksheet on regrouping numbers in subtraction – what you do when you try to subtract 18 from 23, for instance (steal a one from the 20 place, creating a 13 from which you can subtract the 8…). She was confused at first but soon she was really pleased with herself and did the whole page. Regrouping – check!

Harvesting Root Vegetables and Winter Keepers

We were lucky to attend a free harvest at a local CSA. Neko and some of her friends spent a couple of hours digging potatoes, pulling greens, plucking carrots, playing hide and seek in the dill, and more. They had more fun that we expected, and we came home with so many pounds of produce! We’ve been eating them all week. I consider this a very important part of her education – knowing where our food comes from, what grows here, how to store it, and how to prepare it.

Dewey Decimal

At the library on Monday, I gave Neko an introduction to the dewey decimal system and the electronic catalog. I know she doesn’t get it yet, but she knows the basics of searching by subject, and a general idea of how to use the dewey decimal system to search for books on the topic she’s interested in. She’ll need help with it for a long time to come, but it’s nice to have introduced it!

Kitten Care

And lastly, our other ongoing project is kitten care. We adopted an 8-week-old kitten named Olive from my parents’ ranch last week, and Neko has claimed her as her own. She is a very sweet little kitten, but of course keeps us busy. Neko has seen her vaccinated and has seen deworming medicine administered, she has been attempting to litter train her, she has fed and watered and snuggled her, and learned how sharp those claws and teeth are. She has also learned a lot about kitten proofing, and facilitating a friendly relationship between a kitten and an older, very grumpy male cat.

Screen-Free Week: What We’ve Been Up To

So far, at the halfway point (Thursday afternoon), screen-free week has been going great! I’ve obviously written a couple of blog posts; I also have to check email and Facebook for the store; and have had to check Facebook as my friends and I are organizing a getaway for this weekend via Facebook. However, I haven’t watched any TV, nor has Neko, and I’ve drastically cutback my time online. I have only been checking essential Facebook notifications (not groups, etc), and have only gone on Pinterest to plan activities for today.

This week, instead of staring at screens, we have:

  • gone for walks, in the sun and the rain, to the library, the grocery store, the park and the fire station (unfortunately all the firefighters were out on a call, so we couldn’t get a tour).

Neko and Mairead on the way to the playground on a rainy Monday.

  • made oil pastel trees – this kept the girls occupied for a full hour while Finn napped on Monday! I love the way they turned out.

Making oil pastel circles to cut out.

Neko with her finished tree, and mine.

  • played with friends, every day.
  • had a bath, with hot chocolate, after a long bus trip home and transfers in the rain.
  • read lots of chapters of Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
  • baked a cake in the Easy Bake Oven (TM).
  • listened to music and danced.
  • drawn pictures.
  • made cornstarch/baking soda modeling clay.

Playing with modelling clay.

  • cleaned the bathroom (Neko. Seriously. We decide not to watch TV for a week and you volunteer to clean the sink and bathtub? Do you think we’ll ever watch TV again? She did a decent job, too.)
  • packed for the weekend (Neko is going to my parents’; I’m going on a girls’ weekend.)
  • made rock candy! (It was easy to entice friends over to do this one with us.)

Our vats of very sugary solution – to become sugar crystals clinging to a bamboo skewer! AKA, “rock candy.”

  • learned about the letter ‘X’ (via Jolly Phonics).
  • built marble runs out of wooden train track (much trickier than it sounds, and yet, it kept Neko amused, both with Mairead and later, solo, for at least a couple of hours – and she didn’t even get frustrated!).
  • put up the backless, window-mounted birdhouse. Hopefully some feathered friends will decide to call it home so we can observe them!

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent whining to watch TV (Neko, not me). These three days confirmed to me that screen time is, in fact, a habit. I mentioned way back when that we used to have a routine in the mornings – Justan and I would stay in bed far too long, while Neko watched far too much TV. It was really negative, with negative behaviour to go along with it. We cut that out and it was immediately apparent how much of a habit it had been. Cutting out TV for even these few days has confirmed that it’s a habit for Neko, and for us. It’s been nice to do other things instead.

However, I’ve missed Facebook. I had a relapse tonight. I get a lot of joy and laughter from my friends on Facebook. I also get a lot of news from Facebook. I have very politically aware friends, on whom I rely heavily to keep me up to speed on certain issues. I, in turn, keep my friends up to date on the issues I follow closely. I was on Facebook a few times a day, for very short periods, to take part in the planning of the event this weekend. I also have to keep tabs on my business page (though my business partner has done most of that this week). However, I wasn’t checking any non-essential notifications. I did have a relapse tonight, though. And it was great. I do need balance with social media but generally I feel I have it. Also, I’ll be off Facebook for the most part, all weekend, as I’ll be at a cabin in the mountains with good friends and plenty of wine and food.

Tomorrow morning, Neko leaves for my parents’ place. She probably will get a bit of screen time, however they don’t watch much TV there, and because it’s spring, they’ll spend a lot of time out in the woods and pastures. If it rains all weekend (like it has most of this week), I’m sure she’ll get more TV – but I don’t feel right sending her to my parents for free childcare and then demanding they keep her amused on my terms all weekend!

I hope you’re all having a great Screen Free Week (or a great week, screen and all).