Friday, 17 February 2012

Falling in love with Less

Image from here

At the beginning of the year, I remember reading about new year's resolutions and people who avoid making them. I was drawn to the idea of defining the year ahead with one word. A word to help you shape the year in your head. A word to live by and help you achieve what it is that makes you happy.

I didn't have to think about it. It popped into my head. Like someone had asked me my name.


I've been thinking it about it ever since. Notions of Less have been floating around in my head for the past two months, so I think it's time I put them down to make sense of it all.

It's no secret that we've been made to fall in love with More. More is better. More is, well, more... if you listen to all the messages out there.

Think about it. More money, more gadgets, more toys, more clothes, more presents, more food, more friends, more dinner parties, more days out, more organised activities, more friends at those parties, more Facebook likes, more Facebook friends, more blog followers...

Don't you sometimes feel like shutting the world out, covering your ears, squeezing your eyes shut and shouting enough!!

I did. It feels overwhelming. I sometimes forget and get sucked in. But then I realised that life doesn't get easier when you have more. It gets more complicated. It gets busy and it gets exhausting.

So Less is my little friend for the year. I've adopted Less, and if we all get on, then I'm hoping Less will stick around permanently after that.

It's not like Graeme and I have ever chased more of anything. We've always been drawn to keeping things simple, but like I say, sometimes you get carried away with the tide.

So far, Less and I, we're getting on famously. It's calming me. 

Less rushing around trying to fill our days. Fewer social outings. Less travelling. (We had to cancel a trip into Sydney in January to see Hairy Maclary at the Opera House, and as it turned out I was glad we didn't go in the end. You can really end up doing too much. Scheduling this and that in your diary and planning playdates, appointments and activities somehow makes it feel more worthwhile. More satisfying. Why is it empty diaries make you feel less important, less worthy? Think about it. Why is it so cool to be 'busy'?)

Some people don't mind dashing here, there and everywhere. Visiting places, taking in the sights, car journeys, dragging the kids to more 'experiences'. I've done it, and it doesn't suit me, or my family. So we're doing Less. I take the boys to a great music class in the week, because they love it, and they go swimming at the weekend. That's it. I'm not getting talked into anything else.

Toys. One of the worst traps. Like any mum out there, you want your child to have the best start in life. And you get sucked into 'the more toys the better'. But I've discovered, through Luca mainly, that simplicity and fewer toys are much more fun. The last two Christmases have taught me that too many presents is overwhelming, for my children at least, and it teaches them nothing. We were just as guilty. From now on, we'll be focusing on one special Christmas present and some books. And similarly for birthdays. How much nicer is it to get one very special present from each person? Special doesn't mean expensive. Just thoughtful and good quality. For Luca's birthday at the end of the month, we've specified no presents on the invitations. That way, all the focus is on having fun with his friends, playing games, creating memories. Not receiving stuff. Stuff that he probably won't play with.

As for toys at home, I now put away over half the boys' toys in a cupboard, and rotate every so often. I was amazed at the results the first time I did this. It created more space and more calm in their rooms. Less stuff to clutter their heads. They found more things to play with, and when I swapped things around, it was like Christmas again! Renewed interest in an old toy. 

There's still far too much in their rooms, though. And it's one job I must tackle. 

It's only February but I do feel like I've made quite a bit of progress with Less already. 

We go out less and we spend more time indoors (when Kian allows us!). Pottering. At home. Must be my favourite three words.

And when we meet friends at the beach, or go to their house to play, it's special, because we haven't worn ourselves out doing stuff beforehand. 

That's what Less does. Less makes everything more special.

I know it's all sounding a bit deep for a Friday evening, but let me tell you, I feel so much better now that's off my chest. 

I'm off to pour myself a glass of wine. Still not sure about Less when it comes to good food and wine, though...


  1. OH MY GOSH did you climb into my head?! I love this!!! Less is more, for sure. I too strive for less. I purposely don't overbook stuff on weekends ie if I have one thing booked I don't book anything else. I space appointments well apart and I am forever spring cleaning to create space and less stuff. On weekends we love nothing more than slothing about doing nothing all weekend, I am not one for dinners and drinks and sports and more sports. Ugh, tiring just thinking about it! Good one Vanessa, just brilliant.

    I feel more free just reading this. :)

  2. Less guilt about the food and wine, perhaps?

    As part of my 'better' campaign this year, I am also decluttering. Man, it feels fab. To be honest, I declutter most weeks... I don't know where it all comes from. Whatever happened to the paperless world we were promised for the noughties in the eighties???

    Good luck with your 'less' campaign. I think it's a brilliant word.

    Oh and 'grateful' for anything at all, of course!!


  3. I am completely on board with the idea of embracing less except for the wine in my glass!

    Life really does seem less complicated when we do less :)


    ps - so pleased to have found your blog!

  4. I LOVE this post, Vanessa. Food and won't don't count as More because they provide nourishment and fuel conversation :) Which brings me to Less - we were forced into Less (and Less) two years ago. And still living it. At first it felt like we were missing out. Our friends seemed to be 'getting ahead'.But then a strange thing happened. We started to talk more as a family. Enjoy simple stuff. Appreciate special treats. Complain less. As for toys, I've found if our daughter gets a piece of plastic for Christmas, she's over it so quickly and it's another thing that collects dust. So much nicer to get out of the house and explore :) Or 'potter' as you said. Thanks for such an insightful post :)

  5. Sorry that was food and wine, not food and won't :)

  6. I really do feel the same. Bravo. xx

  7. I love this post! Couldn't agree more. I also put toys away and rotate them for maximum value. It works so well. And same with preferring to enjoy slow days at home as opposed to rushing around here there and everywhere. Will be watching to see how you go with less over the coming months. Good luck! x

  8. Great post Vanessa, and I agree whole heartedly with all you've written. I've been on the 'less bandwagon' for a while now. I feel so much better when I've gone through our house and de-cluttered, something my husband and I started doing last week in his week off. We've got a whole bunch of stuff to list on Gumtree now. I've gone through Grace's toys and just kept the ones that she needs/loves, am sorting through clothes etc. As for doing less each day, we've been doing this since Sophie's arrival in October and it's been so nice. I've never been one for having 100 things in my diary but used to pop out each day with Grace somewhere. Lately, we have been staying home more too and it's been great. There's a book on my 'to buy' list at the moment actually which I think you'd like called 'Simplicity Parenting' - check it out here:

  9. This is fantastic Vanessa!! So many good points...I have noticed again and again how much happier kids are with fewer toys. Like if you are away and you brought just 3 little toys, they get really played with, real games emerge, stories, all kinds of wonderful imagination-tapping stuff, where as a kid in a room full of toys flits from one to the next, never really engages. Same with books. We have shelves full of books, yet I'm always going to the library and getting out more. Where as when you are in say an empty bed and breakfast and there's just one book of poetry in the whole you treasure it! Clothes -- much prefer only a few choices. Kitchen stuff -- much easier with only a few choices. And as for all the hopping around and busyness--I write about this constantly on my blog and yet I sometimes feel I am the only one who feels it's a choice and has made the choice to be less busy. How great to read your thoughts and advice here and find out that's not the case.


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