One Small Change That Gave So Much Freedom

One Small Change

There is one tiny thing that I recently changed that gave me immense amounts of freedom. Freedom I didn’t realize that I’d lost. Time that I didn’t realize was missing. Joy in the little things that had slipped away.

I wonder sometimes, if all the technology around us these days is making life easier, or just more complicated.

Think about it. Yeah, our washing machines help A LOT. We no longer have to spend an entire day scrubbing and line drying the family’s clothes (and cloth diapers). Dishwashers are nice (although I’ve lived the last five years without one). Oh and central heat, I’m not giving that up! (Ours went out last week and it was COLD.) There are some aspects of technology that I don’t want to lose.

But what about your TV? Your tablet? Your smart phone? Uh oh, I’m stepping on some toes!

There is definitely room for allowing entertainment and enjoying technology for sure. And access to the internet brings in a whole new world of learning and communication, and a world of opportunity! It’s hard to complain about that.

What I find complicated is the distraction that some of these things cause. I’ve talked about Unplugging. That can help tremendously in reducing the interference our devices cause in our relationships. But I found that one or two hours in the evening wasn’t enough.

Want to know my secret? I turned off ALL notifications on my phone. ALL OF THEM!

Oh. My. Word. You have no idea how FREEING it is!

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I somewhat tried this before. Most of my notifications were off. But slowly as updates came, I allowed them back on. And I was suddenly sucked in to keeping up with the notes across my phone or the red dots alerting me that something had “happened”.

Once I turned them all off, and I mean all, no emails, no Facebook, no Instant Messenger, nothing on my lock screen, nothing telling me that something somewhere out there was going on, my life became my own again! Wow.

The ONLY exception is text messages and phone calls. (I should go back to an old school Nokia! Ha!) The reason for that is to keep in contact with my husband and close friends. A ding or beep now means that someone is specifically needing my attention. In my circles, most all other forms of communication are not time sensitive or can wait until I have sit down time at the computer.

The reason that this works for me, is if I have to intentionally unlock my phone and open an app to find out what has “happened”, then I’m going to think twice about that action. Is this something that I have to do right now?  Most often the answer is no.

I’m breaking the habit of picking up my phone and letting it distract me from my day. That is the freedom that I am enjoying. I have time to finish the tasks on my to-do list. I’m finding joy in the little things in life again, like a quiet moment right after Little Man falls asleep. And when he’s awake I can give him my undivided attention when he needs it.

I just have to say again how freeing it is. Maybe I have a problem with my excessive phone use, but I don’t think I’m the only one. I’ve read about other’s that struggle with this, so I hope this one simple change can give you freedom too.

If you find yourself distracted by your phone, tablet, TV, or whatever device that becomes your vice, turn it off for a while! See if you can find some freedom and take back your time. Enjoy the day to day aspects of life. Be in the moment with your kids and spouse. It brings a renewed level of satisfaction in those relationships. It keeps you connected to the things and people that really matter.

Do you find yourself distracted by technology?


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Saving Time (and Money) in the Kitchen

Saving Time in the Kitchen Part 1

Growing up, our home was a “Foodless Starvation Camp.” It was either my brother or I that coined that term at one point when we were younger, we can’t quite remember who said it first. But it became quite the household phrase.

Obviously, that is a bit of an exaggeration. I don’t recall a time when I ever went hungry. But because my mom was adamant about cooking real food, it often felt like there was nothing to eat. When you opened the pantry it wasn’t full of all the bright fun packaging of premade snacks. There were no goldfish or Twinkies or animal shaped crackers. We actually had to make our snacks and meals from scratch! gasp!

And I must confess (and I know my siblings agree) that every now and then there were twinges of jealousy when we were at our friends’ houses and they had all sorts of fun snacks. It is convenient and easy to open a pack of fruit snacks and munch!

At the time I didn’t truly appreciate the effort it took for my mom to feed three kids, a husband, and herself. It just seemed a part of life the way she cooked dinners from scratch, baked bread, and made sure we ate plenty of fruits and vegetables. But it is hard work feeding a family healthy food from scratch, especially in the fast-food, convenience-centered lifestyle of most Americans.

I know that now.

There are a few things that I learned from my mom, picked up from the many real food blogs I read, and figured out for myself that help save a lot of time in my minimalist kitchen. Many of these will also save you money too. And who doesn’t want to save time and money?

To start off this series on Saving Time (and Money) in the Kitchen here is the first step you need to take.

Menu plan

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Making a menu plan is the number one key to running a successful kitchen.

It helps tremendously to have a plan. Time, sanity, and money are saved. There are a few ways to make your menu plan. You can plan a whole month at one time. Or two weeks. Or just one week. Set aside a small amount of time to look through your recipes and write down what you want to feed your family this week.

I’m best with the one week plan. I’m usually terrible at menu planning but I’m starting to get a good system set up. Organization and setting aside a little time on the front end really makes a difference for the week as a whole!

My week goes so much smoother when I write down a plan of what meals to eat on which days. I often include lunches for my husband in this plan as well. My brain is not very creative in the morning. I don’t want to send him with the exact same sandwich every single day and eating out is expensive.

As long as I remember to thaw the meat, the menu plan is wonderful. I’m not stuck racking my brain at 4 o’clock wondering what I can possibly scrounge together. It’s also nice to have a ready answer when I get that afternoon text from my hubby wondering what’s for dinner.

It’s really rather simple, but it makes all the difference when you have a plan.

To find out the second step in saving time in the kitchen come back next week for the next part of this series!

As a bonus with this series on Saving Time in the Kitchen I am offering a free printable each week for my newsletter subscribers. You aren’t a subscriber?

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How do you save time in the kitchen?

 

View the rest of the series:

 

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Full Loads

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Frugal Friday Tip!

Oh, Laundry. It never ends. Will there ever be a day free from your presence?!

Most likely not. Unless you just don’t wash your clothes. That is an option.

But for the rest of us, it is here to stay. Thankfully we have modern machines to help us!

My tip for the day is to make sure you wash only full loads of laundry. There are a few reasons why this is good.

For one, it saves water. If you only have a few items in a big basin of water, it only wastes the extra water. If you are in the city you may have to pay for how much water you use. We have a well so it doesn’t cost us anything extra. But I’d rather save the clean water for other things instead of pumping extra dirty water through the ground again, waiting for it to filter out.

You will save on detergent. Most likely if you put a few things in a big washer, you will use more soap than you need. Don’t waste your money on more detergent by over using it on half loads of laundry.

Another thing that may be an obvious save, is energy. A washer doesn’t use tons of electricity, but it adds up. A little here and a little there, equals a lot. And if you wash on warm or hot it will use more energy from your water heater. Then there’s the drying too. That will use a bunch more energy. If you have a full load of laundry to wash and dry you will save energy.

Lastly, a not so obvious save would be time. It takes time to run the wash cycles. If you do one big load rather than a couple small ones, you will save time. If you get to the folding of your laundry (admit it, sometimes clean is just enough), it will save time if you go ahead and fold a bunch rather than split it up. You can get into a folding groove and knock it out, rather than a little here and there.

Hopefully this will help you utilize your time and resources just a little bit. Again, it may not make a huge difference to your bank to make this change, but it could add up and over time make a difference. If not to your wallet, then maybe to your time. And that is valuable too.

 


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