Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve started to write several posts only to be interrupted by a sick child, a sibling brawl, a mommy-time request, and general life obligations.
So let me try this again.
For the month of April, I managed to declutter and purge the closets and the upstairs bathroom. So heading into May, I decided to keep with the theme of decluttering and simplifying our life…
the "one bowl" challenge.
I read this and this and created”The One Bowl” Challenge in our house. Each person in our house can only use one bowl, one spoon, one fork, and one cup (plus a knife for the adults). I locked up the dish cabinet so no one would be tempted to grab another place setting if they hadn’t washed their bowls. I was beginning to notice that we were running the dishwasher daily and with our busy schedules, if the clean dishes in the dishwasher weren’t emptied, there would be a huge pile up of dirty dishes. I also noticed how the kids would grab a cup, fill it with water, drink, and put the cup in the dishwasher. Now multiply that by 4 kids and add in bowls and containers for snacks and I become a bus-boy of sorts. I am aware of the possibility that we could be using more water than if we just ran the dishwasher – this will eventually be confirmed by a higher (or lower) water bill at the end of the month.
It’s been almost 2 weeks of having only one bowl and here are some observations:
- The kids have taken ownership of their bowls, almost as though they were their own personal pets. They wash them with care and are just short of personalizing them with stickers.
- Life is simpler. Without 10,000 pieces of dishware and flatware to put away almost every day, dish washing has become an individual affair (with the exception of #4 and #5 who need a little help). There is no whining over who isn’t helping with the emptying-of-the-dishwasher chore. If you don’t clean your bowl, you don’t eat.
- Life is easier for me. There is never a mountain of dishes anymore for me to do. There is never a time where there are no clean forks (or spoons, or plates…)
- The only person who has had trouble sticking to this is Ever-Patient. (I have since had to tie up the handles to the dish cabinet to prevent him from grabbing yet another bowl. He is also unable to cook with one pot or pan. Apparently, this is tough to do. Obviously, I have no expertise in this area so I’ve let this one go.)
- Washing my own bowl has truly become a lesson in mindfulness and purpose.
I have extended this “one bowl” idea to their shoes, jackets, and bags as well. One pair of shoes should only be left in the front hallway and one jacket each should be left on the coat hooks. Though with our family of 7, our front hall still looks as though we are hosting a large gathering of people.
So far the kids are fully on board with all my crazy challenges and adventures this year and it definitely shakes things up at home by opening discussion. We’ve discussed why we are using only one bowl, the issue of accumulating ‘stuff,’ and things we can live without versus things we think we need. The kids are learning different things on different levels: #1 is learning that more does not equal better; #2 and #3 are learning responsibility and are thoroughly enjoying washing dishes; #4 loves eating out of her princess bowl at every meal – which has been her request before this challenge ever since she inherited the bowl from her big sister. Ever-Patient has learned that he needs to be more prepared and wash his bowl right after he uses it. I’ve learned that a clean, sparkling bowl gives me such an unexpected joy.
How was your Mother’s Day?
Traditionally, my mother’s days have been spent entirely or partially in solitude – reading a book, sleeping, doing something creative. This year was very different. I really really wanted to spend the day with the kids and Ever-Patient. He had made it clear that he could take them out and let me sleep in or let me stay curled up in bed and read a book. I told him I’d play it by ear and see how I felt when I woke up.
Lately, I’ve been going to bed early with the kids and waking up at the crack of dawn. I’m a night-owl normally and love reading or writing late into the night but this wasn’t working out so well now that #5 is teething and up again throughout the night. Without a good 6 or 7 hours of sleep, I am a little less patient and a little less there. And when you are in charge of the daily rearing of young children, the future of the world as we know it essentially, lack of sleep over a long period of time spells disaster for everyone involved.
I woke up at about 6:00am on Mother’s Day and tried my best to go back to sleep. And with everyone asleep still, I felt like I was cheating myself by being awake. I kept telling myself, “This is the perfect time to be in a deep sleep, damn it! Go to sleep!” But of course, the harder I tried to sleep, the more awake I became. Sandwiched between two sleeping children, I couldn’t even reach for my book to read with the light breaking between the thin sliver of my drapes because any slight movement would make them stir. Ever-Patient was kicked out of bed again, relegated to the couch downstairs or to the bunk bed – I wasn’t sure.
So I waited. I waited to hear the creak of the bunk bed and the sound of little feet jumping off the ladder (#2) or feet skipping to my room and a loud whisper of “Mom, are you awake?” (#3) or elephant-like stomps heading to the bathroom (#1). I waited to hear tiny grunts and whimpers (#5) and I waited to feel a little hand rub my arm and whisper “You need your glasses?” as if to signal it was time to wake up (#4). Just like the early morning animal calls heard on the African savannah, these are the sounds of my natural habitat. As sun rays flood their room, as if on cue, one by one they begin their morning ritual which lead to slipping back into bed with me.
But not on this particular morning. I hear the sounds but no one enters my room. Instead I hear whispers, tousled paper, and many feet moving about. Ah yes, it’s Mother’s Day. I can hear the older 3 debating whether or not they should come into my room. They elect the soft-spoken one to open the door and check if it’s safe to enter. #2 pops her head in and I wave them all in. #4 is still groggy and gives her sisters the dirtiest of looks for all the commotion and buries her head in her pillow. #5 wakes up grinning as usual. And like the three wise men, #1, #2 and #3 present the gifts:
my loot....they know me so well.
A simple bag. Simple Flowers. A simple necklace. Chocolate (not shown). A set of pastel crayons. Several handmade items including some handwritten love notes from #2 that said the following:
“I love you because you are nise to me.”
“I love you because you hug me evreday.”
“I love how you gress evereday.” ( I think she meant ‘dress.’)
I can see out of the corner of my eye Ever-Patient holding his breath as I open the box with the bag in it. Clearly he has chosen it and is worried. Only when I grin and express that it’s exactly what I need and want does he breathe a sigh of relief. He does not have to return the bag in defeat at the estrogen and know-it-all saleswomen-filled boutique he bought it from.
So after the multitude of hugs, kisses, and large displays of gratitude, I wanted to just be with them on mother’s day. Crazy huh? We headed for an early breakfast here and totally beat the rush thankfully. Then after breakfast, I wanted to show them how much I appreciated their appreciation (and their best behaviour at breakfast) so we went here. By the time we left, it was only 10am so we headed home for more family time. We met my mom, my stepfather and my brothers for a swanky late lunch here where the kids were more impressed with the washrooms than the food.
An early bedtime complete with a dozen bedtime stories and time for me to read for myself capped off a rather perfectly ordinary mother’s day….oh, except for #3’s gift to me which she insisted I wear all day:
Nothing says "mom" like an oversized ring with a plastic heary jewel and bright pink lips.
(And the kids ended up staying home on Monday…Why? Just because.)