Is it just me, or are options overwhelming? I’m glad we have options in this life, but too many of them make me turn into a fluffy-brained snail.
This becomes really evident at the grocery store when I am trying to buy some cheese or something. There are so many kinds, so many brands, so many options. I feel like crying, I feel like yelling at somebody to help me, and I feel incompetent. In short, I feel overwhelmed.
So I’ve been on a quest to pare down my options. There are two mothers I think about a lot: Ma Ingalls and Abraham’s wife Sarah. I’m not sure why them, except that they represent eras to me– a time when life was much harder and much more simple. It was kind of fragile and wild too, like the earth swallowing people and then special breakfast appearing on the ground. I think of Ma Ingalls’ era quite romantically, I’m afraid. Reading Little House on the Prairie, I’m always reminding myself how very hard survival was back then but my heart just longs to live in such a simple time.
I thought about these two women a lot when I was assessing the options I could remove from my life. I felt silly, because well, it seems like such a first world problem– to have too many options that you have to work hard to get rid of some. I think these women woke up every day and simply did what needed to be done in order to keep their families alive. That was their option.
I, on the other hand, get up in the morning and have 25 breakfast options and that’s not even counting the coffee options: French press, pour over, latte, cappuccino, cream, creamer, sugar (raw, refined, brown, white, organic, or full of GMOs). You know what I mean? It’s crazy.
Here I take a moment to list some of the things I did to reduce my daily, dizzying options.
- Only buy food that’s on sale. I go online to see the weekly ad, and plan my meals around that. If butter is on sale, I stock up. Even if butter isn’t on sale, I buy it because I can break the rules for butter. I just sounded like the Pioneer Woman, didn’t I?
- Have a weekly meal outline, then plan specific menus around that.
Por ejemplo, Monday night we eat pasta.
Tuesday: meat, potatoes and a vegetable
Wednesday: rice and beans/curry (I add chicken and subtract tofu)
Thursday: soup when it’s cold, salad when it’s warm (add spicy chicken to the salad for sure)
Friday: hopefully seafood and not leftovers
Saturday: pizza (most of the time it’s DiGiorno because I believe in a day of rest)
- Have a morning routine. I wrote about that in excruciating detail a couple months ago. Trust me, it’s not as hard as it sounds and it’s well worth the beginning effort, in case you’re thinking of implementing your own morning routine. I hereby give you creative license to be yourself and design a routine you really love. 🙂 The morning routine cuts out all the options of what to do when I wake up. Even if there are some demanding chores staring me down, I have my morning routine and that is what we do. Save the chores! (for chore time)
- Buy second-hand clothes only in April and October. Hj doesn’t adhere to the second-hand rule, because it’s rather difficult for a Dutchman to find used clothing in the USA. I have no room to store clothes and I am not very sentimental, so I consign all my kids clothes and use that money to buy for the next season. In between, I don’t even have to think about clothes.
- Go zero waste! This is more of a “long obedience in the same direction”; not an overnight change. I have always loved being resourceful and creatively making do, so this one is fun for me, as well as great for limiting options. When I decided to buy no new plastic, it cut down about 86% of my options in the store. Very freeing, I tell you.
- Ask God for a word and then stick to it. This has been enormously helpful to me recently. In YWAM we talk about the seven spheres of society and how the kingdom of God impacts each of these. I asked God which sphere I am to focus on right now and He gave me a clear answer. Now when I am asked to do things outside of that sphere, I immediately say no. I don’t even pray about it, no matter how tempting it is. It’s not an option. Last year, my word was to be a wife first and then a mother, and that is pretty much all God allowed me to do. It was great– I loved it so much. You would think it might be restrictive but actually, I grew. This year, I can be a wife, a mother and help run a school and I don’t feel overwhelmed. I’m suspicious I was enlarged, like on a Xerox.
- Be yourself– cut out comparison. “We have great capacity to be ourselves, but a very small capacity to be someone else.” I developed this very profound quote; how do you like it? It is really hard to try to be someone else, but it is 100 times harder to be 100 other people. There are so many different kinds of beautiful moms nowadays that I see on Instagram, but I have one option– to be just like Joy Fousert and that’s it. I believe it is the nature of God to just be yourself (the great I AM), but if you’re used to people pleasing, this can be a little icky at first.
And that! Is how I stay under-whelmed instead of over-whelmed.