There were quite big changes in my life in the last period which challenged my minimalistic approach. And that was the reason why I did not wright for so long. All the time I tried to structure my own thoughts and ask myself: what is important and what is not, how to organize, what works and what doesn’t, what is right and what is wrong, what do I want, need and what do I miss. Of course the process have not finished yet but still I have some observations which I would like to share as it might be useful for somebody.
After a year of lonely life with my son during which I’ve especially deepened in simplicity philosophy I moved to another country and finally united under one roof with my partner half a year ago. He has three kids on top of our small son. The oldest daughter is studying and living separately so she is barely influenced on the complexity of our life style but two other boys are still relatively small. Means over the night my family grew up 3 times 🙂 Of course with such amount of people simplicity and slow life need to be reviewed.
Each kid has it’s own plan of activities and my partner sons have to travel twice a week between their mom house and ours. Everybody has it’s own rhythm and habits. My partner has to run to office, from office, pick up kids, go for training with them, business trips, meetings, presentations. I’m running the house, bringing up our smallest son and taking care of the rest of the family, trying to learn language, new country and find out myself professionally. Mutual time we try to spend together with all the kids and have fun. On top of all that me and my partner have our individual needs and needs as a couple. On a daily base it’s just two of us leading this race trying to align our speeds and remember about quality. Sometimes we feel stressed because of time pressure and quality trade offs.
During this period I had the following observations:
- The first thing which slap me in the face was the aim of perfection.To the tips of my fingers I love organization, structure, theories.. perfectionism. I have a lot of views and ideas how certain things should work. And of course I have high demands to myself to be ideal in all the spheres which are important for me and my family.And the true which I discovered for myself is less responsibilities you have easier to be perfect and when demands to yourself are growing it becomes more difficult to perform perfectly in each of them.With the scope of roles I have today on a daily base: to be a partner, parent, warm friend for step kids, daughter and good house runner who is still trying to develop mentally, impossible to perform those roles all the time ideally. All the roles connected with emotions as all of them represent social interactions. Feeling of satisfaction from the performance of the role needs quality interactions which demands time.More precious people we have and more spheres we want to be perfect in cause more time pressure. Time pressure together with perfectionism drive to frustration. Incredibly simple example: How to cook dinner for the family by certain hour with the crying baby around? There are two crushing interests: to be a perfect tender and caring mother from one side and perfect lets say wife who is cultivating family traditions and creating warm atmosphere around. The problem is limited time. Of course there are a lot of ways to calm down child quickly: cartoons, threats or bribes. But these all are short cut solutions as they quickly solve the problem at the moment but not correlating with the principles of qualitative conflict handling with the kid. From the other side to solve the case you can give up with the time ambitious about dinner. Both solutions will cause stress and unhappiness with the outcome in case of striving for perfectionism. Probably nothing can be perfect and each situation is a trade off according the priorities. The point is to let the situation go and not make yourself stressful because you had to compromise with something. If the priorities meet the inner values the feeling from the decision should be good.I have not conclude to give up with the ideals and perfection. To aim is good. Just now I try to keep in mind the nature of balance in everything.
- To be conscious and to try to minimize short cut solutions. Sometimes we might not even notice how often we go for short cut solutions trying to catch few things at a time and move on. But the problem is that such solutions lead to dissatisfaction in the mid and long term prospective as they drive us far away from our principles. It happens because of amount of duties, ambitious, time pressure and sometimes emotions. It happens when we don’t have a chance even for a second to think consciously what is right to do in the situation and we just go for instinctive automatic reactions and behaviours. I have to admit that with the amount of duties today I started to use short cut solutions more often and I can tell you that I feel awful with this. When I behave to my child or partner the way which contradicts with my views or principles but forced by time or emotional pressure I feel devastated. The way out of it for me so far is: planning, keeping some realistic time buffers (with kids usually it’s good to put double buffer), correction of expectations, balancing instead of striving for perfectionism in contradiction situations.
- To be realistic about ambitions and needs. Again the ordinary example from life: We don’t have babysitter and our grandparents live on a distance from us. So the only way to go to fitness is to back up each other with kids. Of course it’s not easy scheme, you need to plan everything and always run. But such challenge was driving and energizing us. So we started to use not each but quite a bit of opportunities when we are home together to go to fitness. What we received in the end? We were missing our mutual time and our fun together. At certain moment we just asked ourself what do we really want? And both of us, me and my partner, had the same answer: “Yes, we want fitness in our life. Yes, it’s important part of our life. It allows to feel good, to release stress and by the finishing be healthy and look good. Means we need it for good physical and psychological conditions of our family. To play with kids, to show them example, to motivate them, to excite each other..” Aiming for this we got lost on the way and the tool became an aim itself and we did not have anymore family time (of course not to that extent but still). As a family we were not fully satisfied as we were spending less time all together. After having clear answers “WHY we do” we defined for each of us how many times a week we need to go to fitness, optimize our schedule and left all the sundays just for the lovely one rather than challenge our olympic ambitions:) That’s why never forget about your goals, clearly identify your needs and try not to lose among your own ambitions.
- Don’t run till tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. Sounds as a simple rule: slow down and enjoy the moment. Today there are pretty much talks about it and people really try to follow, to feel emotions of the moment and live in it. But still each of us from time to time thinking about tomorrow. And there is nothing bad with dreams, plans, expectations. But there is one tricky thing: sometimes we live with the expectation that one day will happen something and everything will be better, then life will start. And a lot of people around including me and my partner have thoughts like “today I’m working hard to provide one day financial independency that all of us can enjoy” or “Relationship with my wife/husband will be different/better when kids grow up” or “I will have time for work or fitness when something happen”. Then when all these things happening we continue to live the same pattern and wait for something else finding new excuses. And the true is that we simply run the routine which we get used to. For some people it’s marathon without the finish “to try to get more and more that one day finally we will enjoy it” and for some people it’s constant waiting for the occasions. We can already have enough money to spend two hours in the evening with kids and not doing extra work, we might have adult kids and still be unsatisfied with partner relationship and so on. For myself I noticed following ways out of the circle of dissatisfaction:planning and taking needed actions. Life is not a nice vacation twice a year, life is everyday and every moment including work, home, family, friends, bad and good emotions. Does not make sense to wait for “WOW”. “WOW” happens and goes and we stay with the new challenges and we have to continue the daily routine. understanding why and for what we are doing certain things. Sometimes we get so much involve in the process itself that we forget to stop at certain period of time as we actually did not define where we should stop (mostly because the initial aim was vague or because of growing desire for more). For some people race might be a lifestyle and it’s ok if for example they want to prove themselves only professionally and not seeing how their kids growing or building close warm relationship and caring of parents. Everybody choose it’s own way. As far as person is satisfied withe the route means the way was chosen right. I think we should remember that some things good to plan and reach it step by step and some things need all the time investment of efforts (like relationship). For some things you have to wait like wealth, shape, education. But for example in a relationship warmness, trust, fire will be gone if to wait till tomorrow and don’t invest yourself everyday and enjoy it.
- Walk the talk. Each of us on a daily base has many roles: to be a partner, parent, son or daughter, brother, sister, friend, a professional.. So everyday there are a lot of things to think about, to plan, to solve or fix something. We might discuss it with a partner or think to ourself and then run further following the daily routine. At the moment of discussion in the head we tick the box that things were discussed, conclusion reached and actions agreed though actually later on nothing is moving. It happens because of amount of daily issues due to which some of points and responsibilities are simply missed.To avoid an effect of ongoing discussion about something, get the things done and more organized in my family we agreed to put notebooks and pens in the places where usually the discussions happen to right down the important issues. For us such places are living room and car as every time we drive somewhere we might start to discuss something then I’m righting down the things which need to be followed up that later on we will not miss it.
It’s a long post so to sum up (and save your time in case it’s written in a boring way:)) CONSCIOUSNESS PLANNING BALANCE.