In praise of doing less

I hate the phrase “having it all”.

It’s used to describe an ideal, usually for women, to show you can have a family, a career, a nice house, a car that’s full of crumbs and the faint smell of vomit, and so on.

But whenever I hear that phrase, I think: “I don’t want it all. I want less.”

I have a family and my own business and I’m very grateful for them, but each time I add something to my life, something else has to give.

When my business was getting started, it was money. I put every spare penny I had into it (apart from the money I needed to live on) so I didn’t have extra money to socialise the way I used to, or go travelling.

When I had my first child, I insisted on breastfeeding which limited the places I could go, the things I could do, and the amount of energy I had in the day (as I was the only one doing night feeds, obvs). I know you can take a baby lots of places, but the theatre ain’t one.

Now my kids are small, I hardly ever go on proper walks any more. My walks are slow, punctuated by many shouts of “come on”, “this way” and “put that down, you don’t know where it’s been.”

I see other people, mainly mums, who seem to have it all. They have their exotic holidays, they have proper jobs, they have time to take hundreds of photos, edit them and upload them to Instagram. They can train for a 10K run, they get their eyebrows done and they go out with their kids, without their kids, with someone else’s kids, and all kinds of stuff.

It looks great, I must say, but I don’t understand how people have the time or energy to have it all.  It looks exhausting!

I do try to do as much as I can, both in my job and for my family, but there is a lot of value in doing less.

In having less money, I am more frugal.

In having less time, I am more careful about who I spend it with.

In having less in my house, I have more time to tidy.

I have so far found no benefit in having less energy, but I have discovered that I can manage when I’m tired, even if I don’t like it. And the kids – well, it’s not as enriching as a trip to the museum or a walk in the hills, but sometimes they seem to like a day off, just playing with toys, eating cheese in front of the telly, and generally doing nothing much.

And I do too.

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