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The Slow Family Project

One family's journey to slow down.

Category Archives: Ideas

On to something more positive now…ah. Got that out!

I’ve been stumbling across a crap load of fantastic blogs recently. Most of them geared towards Family Life, Ideas, Other Blogs that relate to this journey…

Since I can’t figure out how to post them along the side I will post here for now.

Early Bird Homeschool

Even if you aren’t Homeschooling, there are some great ideas for things to do with your kids. Really neat ideas to spend slow time together!

The Grass Stain Guru

Nature activities. Make your outdoor excursions fun again.

Free Range Kids

Absolutely, top of the list. Great author, great concept.

Lets Explore

Simple ways to create, discover and play.

Simple Kids

Just plain simple. Kids.

Simple Mom

Simple. For Mom.

Slow Family Living

And we all know of Bernadette Noll.

More to come!

Happy Monday morning to you all. Hope that your weekend was relaxing and you feel rejuvenated!

We had a lovely dinner with family yesterday evening. My sister-in-law cooks the best Indian food you’ve ever tasted. Joining us were another couple, friends of the family (long story the relations). We were filling them in on our pending move and down size and it sparked them to share with us their hopes to do the same thing! Wow, and I thought we were probably going to be an anomaly, trying to justify everything – why we were giving up our salaries, the stuff, the house. But they are completely planning to do the same thing. It was so enlightening. But it was also interesting because they are where we were at a couple of years ago, still in the state of fear. Fear of giving up, well, let’s just be frank here, Income.

So how do you balance this? I don’t know yet. But what I do know is that it does take a lot of planning to down size – especially when you’ve been living beyond your means normally. Trimming the fat is especially hard. We have all become accustomed to living with more than we need; it just makes it harder when you make a conscious decision to get off of a treadmill.

So how do you afford to live a simpler life if this means you feel to do this you must leave work, the salary and the career status? Well, I suppose it’s not so much about how do I plan to do this, it’s more about how could I afford NOT to do this? And that is just it.

I suppose there are a couple of lessons I can share that I have learned that have helped me get here.

A simple, easy to read and use spreadsheet

For many years, I’ve used a very basic spreadsheet to track bi-weekly expenses. I can forecast for months in advance. It’s strange – I guess this just came second nature to me because of the nature of what I do. But its been enlightening to find out that most people do not cash flow or predict more than a month or two at a time.

This helps you with peace of mind, especially when you are planning a way out. If you have a reasonable prediction of incoming and for a reasonable amount of time into the future, you are able to predict everything.

I don’t have a template I can direct you to, but if you are interested and running Excel, I can send you the one I use.

Pre-paid my bills

The thought of dumping money onto my electricity bill in excess makes me cringe. But at least for one year, I don’t have that bill.

Savings for a year: Priceless

Yes, this may be temporary (one year or so) but at least it will help me transition and by that time, we will have had time to reduce and therefore, prepare for being able to pay monthly bills normally again.

Canceled subscriptions that aren’t aligned with our new life

The day I cancelled cable, I honestly felt a weight lifted.

Savings for a year: $1200.00

We don’t need this in our life anyway.

Delt with the Cell Phones

Called both our cell phone suppliers and down-graded our plans and helped get everything back into check. I discovered they had added a whole crap load of features we never authorized and the list goes on. Basically, they are scammers.

Savings for a year: $1200.00

Meal Planning

We’ve been doing this for a while, but have slipped out recently. It was much easier to do when I was on Maternity Leave and since I will have this time, I will be able to do this more. A great site is Wovenfare. Two SAHM who have done an awesome job. The shopping list is organized by dept. – it’s amazing.

Savings for a year (prediction): $10-15,000

Consciously not over committing

I specifically told the bank NOT to qualify us for more than a certain amount when we go to shop for a new home in the new city. So we might have a smaller place, but it will be smaller to take care of (less time vacuuming and more time for my family) and less out the door every month allowing us to put our income into other places that will benefit in the longer term. I have determined that a good portion of Mortgage Brokers are crooks. Over qualifying (even lying sometimes about income!! Can you believe it) just to make their commission check. Disaster.

~

So there we go. A few little experiences of mine along the journey to live a simpler life. Stepping stones, I suppose. I’m sure there will be many more along the way as I re-jig the budget month to month to allow for this transition.

How do you trim the fat?

A little word about Community.

We had the neighbourhood over last night and I nearly cried when I did my last cheers to the folks we’ve grown to love over the last 4 years living on this street.

I just have to say what Joy you can find in connecting with others by opening up your door, and heart, to those around you. When you slow down and take a deep breath, stop to even just say hello – instead of rushing to and from your garage, in and out of your car, taking time only in passing – how beautiful it is.

Greetings! I hope I have some new followers and I am reaching you on a wonderful Friday afternoon in most parts of the world! At least, it is Friday in my zone. Hooray! So I wanted to use this opportunity to kick-off what I will be doing every other week, “The Weekend Slow-Plan”!

What has happened to the “Weekend” as we knew it?

I found this little beautiful comic online and I think it speaks to us in terms of our weekends in the fast lane: Mostly filled with tasks, time-lines, goals, errands, work that we never completed the week before, scheduled meetings with others…the list goes on and on! Enough already! Why was there Saturday and Sunday in the first place? Let’s not forget.

This weeks recipe for a Slow Weekend

This weekend, here are 3 rules to live by (more next week!)

1) Sleep-in. Or if this is practically impossible because you have kids that wake before the sun comes up (99% of us), then change your mindset around the wake-up routine for just these two days. How about incorporating elements of the regular routine with new discoveries (if with young children). Like allowing them to eat breakfast in bed (with you or without you) so you can squeeze in that extra “connected” time with extra cuddles and stay warm under the blanket together.

2) Plan all your weekly prep for a dedicated time slot and allow yourself. Allow just two hours to get it all done.

3) Plan to somehow have a nap. Allow yourself. May be Mom does this this weekend, while Dad covers, and Dad does gets his turn next weekend, while Mom covers.

What tips can you share about planning a less stressful weekly prep routine on the weekend?

Magical Earth Hour

There was something very exciting to our family about the annual “Earth Hour”, which comes only once a year in most households. Last year, during Earth Hour, we decided to have our own Earth Hour more often. Since then, we have done this all but once, since that day. Gotta love how plans get away with you!

There is something very special about living by candle light. The eyes mellow, the smell of the wax…somehow all the mess and clutter vanish under this beautiful orange glow. It’s quiet. It allows you to reconnect with whatever is at hand in a different way. That is magical.

Making time for this

If you live in a madly hectic weekend schedule like we do (and are actively trying to get out of) try to schedule in an evening, once every couple of weekends. A family date night, by candle light. Plan activities like…

Activities

Shadow puppets: Prepare a list ahead of time of different types of animals to try

Tent building: Lots of sheets and laundry clips

Grab some books from the library that you’ve never read with the kids before

Build a play dough birthday cake (add candles of course!)

If you play an instrument…get it out and play! Set the venue up like a Dinner Theater with table side candles and all.

…you can pretty well do anything without electricity or conventional lighting…the sky is the limit!

It will help you slow down and connect. Really connect.

How do you spend your Earth Hour?