Busy Thoughts

19 Jul 2007

I have lots of thoughts buzzing around my head this morning. I have been doing the housework and it has taken ages, mainly because I am being thorough rather than giving it a lick and a promise. I read Rhonda's post early this morning and then Natalie's and Jewel's and since then things have been whirling around.

I made sure I was out of bed a little earlier this morning as I wanted to bake a cake for school lunches and also make pikelets for breakfast. My plans all turned to dust, or should I say omelettes, as yet again a dozen eggs hit the decks. I managed to save one and with some saved egg whites from the fridge cooked the pikelets. It wasn't my fault, Badger who is now a very gangly over excited teenage cat was trying to play with his mother, Maggie, and part of the game was to jump up onto the kitchen bench and then ambush Maggie as she passed by. He miscalculated, grabbed onto the egg basket and then everything plummeted to the floor. What a mess, what a waste, I only bought them yesterday, the full dozen , all gone but one.

We are buying eggs because we are chookless and if we had some hens they probably wouldn't be laying anyway in the depths of winter. Our last geriatric hen died some months ago. I had put off buying any new hens because I didn't want to traumatise the old girl too much. I'm not sure when is the best time to get new hens, advice happily taken on that from anyone who knows these things.

Anyway with time on my hands this morning I slunk into the playroom and did some pre-breakfast blog reading.

While I am happy with my life I feel sometimes that people think the choices we have made are based purely on financial constraints rather than informed choice. When Stephen went to visit his family recently he and his siblings had some rather heated discussions about lifestyle choices. I wasn't there so I only have Stephen's account by I know he felt isolated and beleaguered as his family united against him. He felt that they thought he sought a non consumer driven life because we don't have much money, mainly because I don't work.

Three years ago I was working, all be it only 12 hours a week. It was good money, a flexible job and close to home. Basically I was working to pay the school fees. We send our children to a private school. That was our choice and I always vowed I would never complain about the fees. Our children were lucky enough to receive scholarships but still it is a financial strain. I worked just enough to pay the fees but there was a constant pressure from my workplace to increase my hours. There was more work than could be accomplished by a single person in the time I was prepared to give. I thought about increasing my hours and wondered what we would use the money for. I decided maybe we could save for a big family holiday to New Zealand. Then I started to think how stupid that was - to be trying to think of something to spend money on. I never even thought about extensive home renovations or a new car or what? What do you spend your money on when you have more than you need? I don't know how I came to think this way. I realise it is somewhat peculiar. I didn't see that money would actually make my life any better than it was. The thing that would make my life all I wanted it to be was to become a full time homemaker again. So I quit.

Without that extra income we do sometimes struggle but we make it. I could only see that my job out of the house would want more and more of me and I didn't want to give it. I wanted my life to be here, in my home. I wanted to make a home for my family, to be truly tuned in and not torn between the two. I couldn't do both properly so I quit.

When Stephen came home from his family he felt confused and I think a bit bruised by some of the discussions that had gone on. It was a difficult time for him with the worry about his mum, lack of good sleep and concern about the cost of the trip on our budget. I think he felt misunderstood and harshly judged. The thing is we have always lived this way since we have been married.It has always been a choice. Many times we have had to choose between our little family and increased wealth and we have always chosen our family. It feels right to us, I don't know if it is but it feels right.

15 Responses to “Busy Thoughts”

  1. I'm sure you have made the right choices Jenny, some advice given to me when my first was a baby and life was challenging me was, if it works for you and your family, do it! But it's always hard when anyone, but especially family gang up and make us have to defend our choices. If it has no impact on them then what do they hope to achieve?


  2. Why do people have the right to judge how another person spends their life? I work full time as my husband made a lifestyle choice 5 years ago, that the corporate world was slowly killing him emotionally and personally, so he walked away and works for a giant hardware chain now, earning considerably less but has never been happier. We had friends treat us as though we were loosing our mind when he walked away from such a high paying position. The problem was, that every dollar he earned, I lost more and more of him. I don't like working full time, but to have my husband happy, whole and back to the man I married, I go off to work every day knowing this is our choice for our lives at this time. Never feel you have to justify your choices, the fact your family is a complete and whole unit tells the world that your choices have all been correct. If the world had more faimilies like yours what a better world it would be!
    ps: sorry for such a long rant, but I am reading few eggs, no oranges and cannot put it down!

  3. Oh no, the eggs! You should get your new pullets in Spring, Jenny. If you buy pullets they be almost ready to lay.

    I think you sometimes need a thick skin to live simply. Everyone seems to have some opinion on it. Although I think they have the right to voice an opinion, I don't take much notice anymore. I must say though, most of our friends are now thinking we've made a wise decision to live as we do. T'wasn't always like that though.

  4. It must have been a bit rough for Stephen having to face that kind of judgment when he was at a low ebb. I think we've all faced it, in one form or another. When I announced to my lot that we'd bought a car they were happier than when I announced my second pregnancy. Seriously.

    But the tide is turning for us simple livers...it seems that more and more are joining our ranks.

  5. Isn't it strange that nowadays, at the beginning of the 21st century, social pressure is as strong as ever? I think you are very brave to "stick to your guns" for what you believe is right and I sincerely admire you for that. It is also true that some people have heard the wake-up call and are starting to change their life. So keep spreading the message and show us it can be done...

  6. Jenny, I think the fact that you are happy means you have made the right choice - many people work long hours and have lots of money to buy things, but I bet they are nowhere near as happy as you - nor have such a good family life as you do.

  7. For the most part, there is a stigma attached to living a simpler life. For the woman who chooses to care for her family full time, it's twofold. First, we don't have the showy material things: fancy cars, summer homes, four car garages, pleasure boats, etc. (and that's what life's all about... ;-) ) And secondly, homemakers don't have the the job title and paycheck, the outward stamp of approval that, according to mainstream thought, proves to others we have some value as a human being- somebody is not handing over CASH for our contribution to the world...cash compensation= value. No cash? Then....

    How can you be rated, how can people determine where you should be placed in society, when you're not playing by the rules? It's downright annoying. ;-)

    The sad part is that most people don't realize there are choices. Their view is- you made it (big job, big car) or you've failed. The idea that there are other ways to live, other paths to follow, does not enter into their thinking.

    Happily, you took a step back, and have a larger view of the possibilities.


  8. Hi Lenny, I think perhaps they feel they are being judged because we do things differently and that makes them defensive and so they attack. That's my theory anyway.

    Hi Jan , thanks for the encouragement. I'm glad your husband is happy again. Sounds like you are enjoying a few eggs and no oranges. its great isn't it. I loved it.

    Hi Rhonda, thanks for the chook advice. We have owned chooks for 15 years but they have always remained a mystery to me. I think perhaps it is the fact that we have made a choice away from the norm and they have chosen to follow along with the rest of the mob when they know in their hearts that they could be doing so much more that brings such a reaction.

    Hi Natalie, yes I felt so sorry for Stephen when he told all about it. Poor man. I can quite believe your family's reaction to your car ownership. My sister is constantly telling me to pull my head out of the sand and either get a bigger house or build on as though we are an embarrassment to her.

    Hi Francoise, thank you so much.

    Hi Jane, I know we have made the right decision for our family, my mum said the other day that when she visits she can feel the love in our home. Wasn't that a lovely thing to say.

    Hi Maire, I think you have hit the nail on the head. Because we are not playing by the rules we can't be given a score so people don't know which box to put us in so by default we are put in the "rather strange" box. Its quite nice in here though.

  9. When u die, its not about the lifestyle u led or how big ur house is, or how much money u had in the bank or how much of the world u have seen........its about the lives u have touched!!!!

  10. I always wonder why people feel the need to question the choices of those of us who have made the decision to live a simpler life.
    I get it a lot from people I work with, why don't we have satelite TV, a dishwasher, a tumble dryer, go abroad for a "proper" holiday etc etc, but it must have been particularly hard for Stephen to hear it from his own family.
    Your description of your Sunday with your family all enjoying each others company over the meal should be enough to prove to anyone that you've made all the right choices.

  11. re the hens, it's definitely better to get hens in the spring, especially if you're looking to get some point-of-lay pullets, around April or May would be the best bet.

    I find that people judge too quickly, when really it is none of their business - opinions should be kept to themselves, something some members of our family are having problems with too - your choices are yours and how you choose to live, as long as it doesn't hurt or impede anyone else. And living the non-consumer-driven life is actually a very positive step to take, don't feel bad for it!

  12. I haven't suffered too much pressure in this area because I still have a preschooler, but I'll be interested to see what happens in 2009 when he goes to school. Everyone assumes I'll get a 'proper job' then. (Is raising 4 kids not a proper job?)

  13. I admit to being a bit envious of your country lifestyle. We have also chosen a slower-paced, family-focussed life. I'd love a little cottage in the country with space for gardens and fruit trees and clotheslines. And your woodstove makes is just dreamy!

    We get our share of unsolicited opinions about my staying home and our choice to homeschool the children. People really think it's odd that we do not have two vehicles.

  14. About the chooks -- buy chicks in spring and they'll be ready lay in 5 months. We have very severely cold winters here in Montana, USA and I still have eggs all winter. Just keep a heat lamp in the coop and add lots of straw/hay/bedding to the floor to keep their feet warm. Also, the light helps hens to carry on laying -- something to do with stimulating the pituitary, so I've read. I've been raising hens for 25 years and learned well from my mom-in-love.

    Stick to your guns to live simply. It's simply BEST! I'm enjoying your blog very much.

  15. Thanks Rose for the encouragement.

    Hi Willow, I know you have felt isolated before with the choices you have made. Stephen is OK now that he is back with us.

    Hi Tash and thanks for the hen advice although our spring starts in September of course.

    Hi Kate, yes it is certainly easier to stay at home when you still have little ones or if you are homeschooling. It seems to be assumed that once the children are all at school that you are free to go for all the things you did without by not being in the workforce. I think your children have given you so much more than any material asset that you gave up.

    Hi Dannielle, its funny isn't it because we would never think of challenging a person on why every family member needs their own car/TV/phone etc.

    Hi Jody and thanks for the hen advice. Don't worry we have no intention of changing from our simple lives.


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.