Naomi, would you write about time and energy management? With all the activities that my family feel are important to do and participate in for our family and our world, I and my husband feel perpetually behind and tired all the time. In my family, my husband and I share unschooling our two daughters, we try to prepare healthy food for I and my daughters who have many food allergies, and we share a college position including being performing musicians. We also spend time trying to build a community of like-minded families. Sometimes when I receive Mothering, I can feel overwhelmed by the suggestions to make your lifestyle more "green" or more healthy, or more kid-focused. So many articles also talk about "slowing down". I don't see any other major way from what we are already doing (giving up) to slow down without quitting my job, and that seems like a pretty stressful option given that we have limited skills to make money another way, and are not presently capable of "living off the land". I welcome your comments about this issue.
Dear mother who needs time,
Being creative with time is crucial in our days. I have helped many families simplify and gain time to be with their children. When I do so, it is in a phone session when the couple share with me all their financial needs, income, and costs, and the way they use their time as well as the ages and needs of their children. Time is money. Saving on costs, means freeing yourself from having to work and therefore having more time.
If you want to keep being a student, a working person and a mother, I truly don’t think you can have much more time. But, if you must, here are time and money savers (money is time as you can work less when you spend less):
• Go to sleep with your children at the same time and place; two hours of “putting them to bed” will be eliminated and replaced with a slumber party ending with a good night sleep for all and much cuddling and time together.
• Eat raw and save time on cooking and cleaning: The primal diet is raw but not vegetarian and is extremely easy, fast and clean. Nothing to make. It has nothing in it one can be allergic to. Allergies are another word for saying that the body rejects what is toxic to it. Healthy bodies often refuse cooked, processed and unreal foods. Eating whole raw foods needs no preparation. Bread does not grow on trees. Pasta is not gathered or hunted. When milk is raw and not cold it very rarely causes reactions. Eat whole foods without preparing and without causing a mess. It will also save greatly on your gas or electric bill.
• Wash children’s hair with: Water, save money, time and aggravation.
• Your hair has been trained to over produce oil in response to drying shampoos. Wash hair with eggs, lemon and water, vinegar and water or coconut oil, or try and invent other nature given cleaners.
• Use the avocado pit to put some oil on your face and clean your face with lemon. Raw butter is a fabulous cream as well.
• Use lemon as deodorant, counter cleaner and more.
• Shower only when you are dirty. Daily showers dry the skin. When sweaty or dirty rinse with water. Use organic soap sparingly in crucial areas.
• Shop only on the way home, no special trips.
• Don’t buy toys. Get rid of some, so you have less mess to clean. Most of them harm your children anyway and the few good ones can be bought in garage sales and second hand stores so you save money.
• Even in the city, you can grow some food on your window seal like sprouts and tomatoes.
• Instead of putting toys each on the shelf, dump them all in a basket or a box at the end of the day.
• Clean your house less. Children’s souls are more important.
• If you have an extra room rent it out for extra money so you don’t need to work as much. Children don’t need to have their own rooms till the late teen years (even then it is cultural and not a must.)
• Stop all shopping other than essential whole foods and second hand clothes. Anything prepackaged in bottles, cans, jars and boxes is costly and often unhealthy. It ads up fast. Skip the ready juices, cold cereals, shampoo, creams, lotions, etc. (See above for substitutes.)
• Skip restaurants, movies (rent them later), and other money bought pleasures that are easily enjoyed at home for less.
• Make your pleasures those given for free by nature: Enjoy nature walks, music, play, story telling, swimming, hugs and kisses.
• Cancel magazine subscriptions.
• Be frugal with electricity and water usage. Hang your clothes in the sun whenever possible. Turn off the dry button of the dishwasher if you use one. Minimize heat and AC.
• Minimize driving and possibly number of cars. Have one of you shop for food on the way back from work. Use a bicycle if possible. Combine errands, work, and food buying. You can save hundreds in gas and other transportation costs.
I am sure you can find more areas to simplify and save you money and time.
In reality it is not about all these tips but about priorities. Being with the children is the highest priority in my eyes. Nothing else will be remembered or has real significance. Even your studies fade by comparison and can wait. The amazing learning you make when with your children is not replaceable at a later time and is crucial for their development; it is now and only now, for a very short time.
If you reverse your priorities, you may discover that in reality you have no time to work or to study. If the children and time with them is a priority, then what isn’t will have to be dropped, or you will find a way to fit it in less time. Therefor my main guidance is; take the time to be with the children no matter what and let reality dictate if you can do other things. You have time for the children. You may not have time for other things.
You may feel overwhelmed by the idea of quitting your job or studies, but can you imagine the joy and freedom you could have? Wouldn’t you pay anything to have time with your children while they grow?