The other morning as I was getting clothes for my daughter to wear to school, I opened her sock drawer and reached for her last pair of clean socks. Internally I told myself “We’ll have to get her more socks.” Immediately my mind started to debate itself: “Do you really need more socks or do you just have to do laundry?”
Ok. Stop right there. Before you picture piles of dirty laundry covering the floor and overflowing from the basket, we basically only have one large basket for all of the dirty clothes in our house and I very rarely have more than one load to complete at any given time–just one of the many perks of having a minimal wardrobe. So the likelihood of her actually needing more socks, short of me washing the same pair each night before bedtime, was a possibility worth considering.
Part of being home with my kids and being a “homemaker” (I think that word gets a bad rap, I personally am proud to be able to run my home in a smooth and efficient manner) involves anticipating and fulfilling needs. From not running out of milk to making sure everyone gets clean underwear, it involves a certain amount of planning and preparation to carry out; which I’m successful at some days more than others.
But sometimes between trying to provide for our families and plan for the future we become hoarders.
It appears that each week, based on the bold and expressive advertisements in my local grocery store for their sales, we’re on the verge of a mini-apocalypse and we must ensure that we can sustain at least one month of meals, personal supplies and toiletries. To counter this fear-based mentality of living and shopping, I’m trying to plan so that I have enough to avoid the panicked cry of “We’re OUT of toilet paper!” while still being able to open my linen closet without being buried by the stuff.
I’m asking myself these three questions while I strive to maintain this balance.
1. Do I have what I need for today? In the case of the socks, I could have started down the wormhole of “We’re out of socks! I need to do laundry: stat!” Rather, I chose to focus on the fact that I went looking for socks—and I found some. Simple, right? You’d think so. But how often do we panic because of something that doesn’t really affect us at all in the moment? “We’re almost out of milk!” or “There’s only enough coffee for one more pot!” When I find myself worrying about what I won’t have for tomorrow, I reflect on the fact that I have what I need for today and I give thanks. Sometimes though we really do run out. In those times we can reflect on how it must feel to be without what we need more often than not. I also try to think of those who may not have what they need and if there is anything I can do to help them.
2. Can I acquire more? This doesn’t just mean buying it, though that sometimes may be the case. If it means doing laundry, so be it. If it means running out to the store later, or asking our spouse or child to pick some up for us, great. I’ve also started trying to take advantage of living in a neighbourhood and asking those next to me if I can use it. This last one is the hardest for me, as I struggle with pride and the appearance that I have it “all together”. Our society and neighbourhoods generally don’t allow us the freedom to ask for what we need from those who live nearby, but I am trying to change this by creating a sharing-community with my neighbours.
3. Can a substitution be made? Back to the example of my daughter and the socks: can she wear tights today instead of socks? Out of milk for cereal? Have toast and juice. Out of time to go to the gym? Create a body-weight workout in your basement and run up and down your stairs for cardio. Sometimes it is our own inflexibility that creates stress [tweet this]. Children are notorious for resisting change. Unfortunately, many adults are not setting a much better example. Try to look at your problem from a different angle and it will become an opportunity.
Each day we have the chance to be thankful for our daily bread or to angry for what we don’t have. Which one of these choices will create the day, and the life, you want to have? Now, I’m off to buy some bread.