Money. Minimalism. Motherhood.
Savvy tips to help you save money, declutter your home, spend time outdoors and thrive in your season.

Reflections in Spring Part 1

This month, I’ve decided to try something a little different. Teaching Brave posts monthly diary entries to her site which has inspired me to give it a go myself. Be sure to check out her wonderful pages for education, parenting and money matters content.

Like all months, September has been filled with ups and downs. There have been challenges and wins. I have been reflecting and learning. I am a work in progress, though I guess, aren’t we all?

What has been hard?

Sleep. Sleep has been difficult for a while. 6 years to be exact. The same length of time that we have been parents.

It’s to be expected but doesn’t make it any more bearable. I miss going to bed and knowing I’ll get a complete night of rest. Michael McIntyre famously once joked that before kids, couples say goodnight and ‘have a good sleep.’ Now they simply utter, ‘good luck.’

We have had almost constant sickness in our house this year. Opening Australia’s borders after 2 years have come as a shock to my family’s immune systems. We’ve had Covid, Gastro (x2), colds, RSV, asthma and viruses. It’s been a lot.

With sickness comes clingy children who want to be close. They need the extra cuddles. Extra breastfeeds. There always seems to be someone in our bed.

I know it’s a stage but it’s been hard. This month especially so.

Hubby and I have taken turns staying home from work. When he stays home, he feels like he’s letting people down (and is running out of leave). When I stay home, I feel like I’m letting the school down and making life harder for them (and don’t get paid). There’s no simple solution.

What am I grateful for?

This month, I’m loving the spring sunshine. It still feels quite chilly in Adelaide. Not Canberra chilly of course, but relatively speaking it hasn’t had the warmer days and nights that we come to expect at this time of year.

I don’t always realise how much cloudy days affect me. Like many others, I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Everything feels brighter with sunshine. I can feel my mood lifting.

I’m so grateful for sunshine, wildflowers, bees and butterflies. Perfect weather for walks, picnics, hikes and bike rides. Daylight savings means longer days and time to exercise after dinner.

The garden has benefited from the rain. My first go at a veggie patch seems to be going ok. The coriander has tripled in size and the parsley looks healthy too. My boys love picking snow peas while playing in the backyard. We’ve enjoyed baking kale chips and will soon try our spinach, pumpkin, broccoli and cucumber.

Our oak tree has grown new leaves, providing an abundance of shade again. Our fruit trees have gorgeous blossoms.

Money

We’ve definitely noticed a rise in the cost of living, particularly groceries, petrol and interest rates. We are more determined than ever to pay off our mortgage. We sent our tax returns and Family Tax Benefit payments to the mortgage, giving us a balance of -$168,000 at the end of September. It’s motivating seeing the numbers come down.

We have a strong emergency fund sitting against our mortgage in an offset account. This is close to $50,000. We will withdraw $4000 of this to pay for paving in our yard soon.

Hubby and I are investing in shares now, and money is debited from our account after each pay. (I have to be very careful what I say about investing as not to give financial advice, but just that it is index funds, buy and hold, not planning to sell but eventually live off the dividends).

We were slow to start and wish we had begun earlier. The beauty of hindsight. It is exciting to see our portfolio grow and approach the $10,000 mark. I am proud of what we’ve been able to do on predominantly one wage. We will continue to add to this, and plan to increase our fortnightly contributions as we can. You can get brokerage credits with Pearler here (affiliate link).

Minimalism

After successfully selling huge amounts of our items in August, this month has been quiet. I haven’t listed many items. Instead, I’ve been buying things from Marketplace including a ukelele and balance bike for our youngest.

I had a lovely friend help to organise our office bookshelf. I was so grateful for her help. I think it can be easier to see the mess in someone else’s house and know how to fix it better than we can ourselves. We were able to donate some titles we no longer needed, along with some old display folders and unused toys.

Going forward, I’d like to create a capsule wardrobe for each season. I’m inspired by Courtney Carver to be more intentional with the clothing that I keep and choose to wear. In her book, Project 333 she writes that when we have less items in our wardrobe, we have fewer decisions to make. It is quicker to get ready in the morning and we feel confident in our clothing choices.

I’d like to purposely buy a few more items that mix and match well to help with feeling put together for each day. This would help me pack more minimally when going away.

Motherhood

During the month of September, I have been trying to get the balance right between being there for my family, raising my children, homemaking, organising all the things and doing some paid work too. I want to keep my skill set up so that I will have opportunities for work down the track.

Having some extra income from my work helps to put towards paying off the mortgage quickly, buying shares and renovating our house. My side hustles go towards my spending account, shares and mortgage.

I enjoy being busy and earning money. Even a little bit does wonders for my mental health and feeling of independence.

I’m also aware that my beautiful boys are growing up before my very eyes. Trying to make the most of it while they still need me so much and desperately want to play and interact.

This has meant saying no to extra commitments and opportunities that have arisen. I’m learning that saying no can mean saying yes to what is most important.

Saying no doesn’t have to mean not ever. It can simply mean not right now, not in this season, but maybe later on.

What I am looking forward to:

This month, hubby and I are approaching our ten-year wedding anniversary. We both still feel incredibly grateful for each other. We are far from perfect individuals and our relationship is still a work-in-progress but we are in it for the long haul.

We still make each other smile. We still want the best for each other.

We both still play team sports and regularly have nights out with our friends. We are happier for it and so our marriage is better for it too.

We adore our children but gosh we need some time by ourselves. It’s almost been two years since we’ve had a sleep-in. We are looking forward to a short break away. Down the track, we’ll be able to take longer trips but for now, a night is just what we need.

Exploring a sea of wildflowers at a conservation park together. Toddler chasing a butterfly saying, “Come on! Come on!” as it kept flying away from him.

What have I been learning?

Sometimes listening is enough.

When I hear about a need, such as a friend going through a hard time, I want to help. It’s easy to say that I’ll think and pray for them, but I want to practically show that I care.

The problem is, I don’t always have capacity.

They don’t expect it. They don’t always need it.

Sometimes listening is enough.

I’m learning to sit with my feelings of inadequacy and stop feeling guilty that I can’t help.

Stop apologising for everything.

I don’t know why I seem to feel bad and take responsibility for everything. I can’t help but apologise for things, even those that are way out of my control. Saying sorry has become such a habit, and one that I’m working on.

Sometimes a person will walk into me at the shops and I’ll say, ‘oh sorry’ before I can stop myself. I then mutter, ‘actually I’m not sorry, you walked into me’ as I walk off.

I think this is a habit that others struggle with too. Surely it’s not just me?

I wonder why we feel bad and guilty so much. I’m more aware of it right now and trying to work on it.

Silence is golden.

Since having children, I’ve enjoyed rare moments of silence. Craved it even.

The temptation is to have noise on all the time. To fill our days with the radio, podcasts, audiobooks and music. This can be a wonderful use of time, helps us to learn things and simply makes us happy as we sing along to our favourite tunes.

It can also deprive us of any quiet time.

Our car stereo is on the blink which has meant that for the last few months, we have had silence in the car.

It has allowed breathing space. Time for daydreaming. Conversation.

It’s actually wonderful. It’s made me more intentional about seeking silence out each day.

Less talking, more listening.

This month I’ve been inspired by the book How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie. He discusses the idea that many of us talk far too much and don’t listen properly. I’m guilty of this. How easy it is to think about what we are going to say next rather than truly listening to the other person.

You’ve probably heard the phrase that we have one mouth and two ears for a reason. I’m endeavouring to keep my mouth closed a whole lot more and simply listen. We can learn so much from other people.

A little is better than none.

I strive to be better. My ideal self is different to my actual self and at times, it feels like I’ll never get there. I’m learning that a little improvement is better than none.

It’s better to go for a 10-minute walk than none at all. It’s better to do 5 push-ups than none at all. It’s better to start a basic veggie patch in the ground than none at all. It’s better to write for a few minutes a day than not at all.

We don’t have to wait until January to set goals. We can start where we are.

Little daily habits help us build bigger habits. I’m hoping that with time and more capacity, I’ll be able to grow.

What have I been reading?

This month, I’ve been endeavouring to read more at night (and the occasional lunchtime) rather than reaching for my phone. Sometimes while on my exercise bike, sometimes in bed and sometimes listening to the audio version. It’s been a good change. Here are some of the titles:

Money School by Lacey Filipich (reread)

The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape (reread)

The Joyful Frugalista by Serina Bird

Focus on the Good Stuff by Mike Robbins

How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie

It’s been a wonderful month for growth. I think spring can be good for that. I’m not where I want to be but taking some intentional steps moving forward.

I look forward to longer days filled with sunshine, friends and outdoor adventures.

What has this month looked like for you? Comment below or I’d love to connect with you over on Instagram or Facebook.

Melanie Wegener

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