family time

The Flexibility for Family Time

I'm a little backlogged on blog posts, so those of you who subscribe to This Is The Little Life will get to catch up with me! Cheers!

As I became acquainted with other tiny house dwellers in the Pacific Northwest, I discovered that for several of them the ability to be present with family members is a key motivation for adopting The Little Life. Dee Williams explains that the passing of a dear friend was a big part of her decision to downsize and simplify her life. Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens noted that by right-sizing her life she was able to be present during a family member's illness. This week I, too, became grateful that my decision to embrace Intentional Living has freed up my time so that I can be present for my family during a hard time.

One of my cousins had to go in for surgery last week so I was recruited for childcare. When I first received the request to travel to the Seattle area to take care of my 8 and 11 year old cousins I went through my old thoughts of “Oh, no, I can’t do that. I have too much on my calendar. There are too many people counting on me here in Portland.” I told my family I’d see what I could do and I’d get back to them.

But as I looked at my calendar I realized that many of the things on it could be shuffled around to accommodate me being out of town. Most of the tasks and appointments that couldn’t be postponed could be done

remotely. When I contacted one of my design clients to ask about rescheduling she was gracious about it and she said it would actually be better for her to rebook because she’s was busy this week because she’s moving. When I talked to Joan of Portland Alternative Dwellings, she reminded me that one of PAD’s key roles is helping people to create the freedom to focus on family – in good times and bad. So I arranged a room for Raffi at Meowhaus, booked a Bolt Bus ticket, and told my auntie I was all set to come to Seattle for the week.

I was, of course, distressed that my cousin needed surgery, but I was grateful that there was something I could do to help. My aunt and another cousin were able to care for my cousin before and after surgery while I spent most of my week playing parent. Turns out I’m really good at cutting the crusts off PB&J sandwiches, I’m better at reminding kids to grab their homework packets than I am at remembering to grab the car keys, and when I make Annie’s mac and cheese it’s ALMOST as delicious as their babysitter Hannah’s. I also got to reminisce about middles school dances when I took my 11 year old cousin to her very first one! It was an honor to help her get ready for that rite of passage.

The younger kiddo was home sick most of the week, so I didn’t end up getting much work done remotely, but I got more quality time with her than I’d ever had before. She introduced me to Totoro and Animal Jam. She also taught me just what order all her blankets need to be arranged in when she’s tucked into bed. And when she woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me she was too hot, I suggested she take off one of her blankets. She headed padded back to her room. The next morning I asked how that had worked out for her and she confessed “Not very well. I couldn’t figure out which blanket to take off. I didn’t want any of them to get cold.” Fairness is very important to this child! How amazing to see how her mind and heart work!

These are the moments that make me remember that THIS is what it’s all about! Yes, I recognize that The Little Life isn't possible or even desirable for everyone. And yes, I know that it's harder to be a full-time parent than to stand in as one once in a while. But nevertheless, I'm glad that The Little Life I've created for myself allows me a flexibility that I've never had before.