No-Shopping Update

I started this challenge on the first of February. It has now been two months, and I guess I’m proud to say I have stuck to almost all my rules.

There have been no clothes, no new material belongings.

I have given a few books away as presents.

It hasn’t been that easy. I’m no big shopper to begin with, but it is definitely a change of mindset. When we talked about it recently, my husband told me he didn’t think it was a hard challenge for me at all, not shopping. I told him even though I was never that indulgent to begin with, purposefully not buying anything is not as easy as he thinks.

“Oh I have about an hour more to go till I have to go home/there, let me just wander around the shops for a bit” changes to “Ok I will just go straight home” or “What gallery can I go to that’s close by?”.

Last month an “Oh look, little tornado has started to have ‘tea sessions’ with his soft toys” automatically drew a “Oh I should buy him a toy tea set”.  I kid you not, it was so automatic. The consumerist brain – so quick, so determined – is such a dangerous thing. Doh! Why the heck would you buy him a tea set, woman! He is doing perfectly well there using the washing liquid measuring cup!

Tea parties with friends can be free you know, mommy


Don’t even get me started on the usual temptations. And the thought processes that have to do with ‘I need/I want’. I went to Paris recently, for heaven’s sake. It’s a mind fuck sometimes. I’ll leave that for another post, because it has to do with things I think are massive temptations for women. 
Notice I have written that I have stuck ‘to almost all my rules’. There have been a few lapses – although I do not place too much emphasis on them as they were not done purposefully.

For example, I have bought two bottles of water over the past two months. One was reflexive, i.e. I was chatting with our local newsagents nearby and bought it without thinking, only realising later what I had done.  The other was because I had forgotten my water tumbler and I really needed to have water by me for the work day. I guess I could blame my forgetful baby brain? Baby brain … it is real, okay? It’s like the brain shifts focus onto other things, like these feelings and emotions and shit. But like I said, I’m not kicking myself about these incidences because I really didn’t mean to. And this whale currently needs a lot of water.

We also bought take out once, from a local Indonesian restaurant. But this was because husband was ill and our household was in a bit of a state due to said illness. Otherwise we have been very good with our home cooking, sticking to our food planner and mostly making our own meals. For two months, that is a definite win. So one takeout meal is okay.

Random photo that I will pretend is about me feeling free from the shackles of consumerism. Kinda.

I’m feeling very good about this no-shopping thing, I must say.

It’s something to be proud of, and I am so much happier thinking I can spend more on travel and experiences without any of the usual guilt. Combined with Lent, where I have been giving up Facebook, fried chicken (a monster temptation) and soft drink, the whole month has felt very chilled. More simple. Clean.

I had lots of sweets in Paris though.

Oh come on, one has to live a little!

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Viva La France

We went to Paris for a long awaited family break just a week ago. It was supposed to be my birthday present from my husband last December, but too much was happening then. But I am growing steadily more whale-like as time goes by, and so it was time to do some travelling. And so off we went last Thursday, taking the Eurostar to this beautiful city.

At the Centre Pompidou

Hubby and I have been to Paris several times before in our previous single lives, this was our first together. But no romantic candlelight dinners for us or Before Sunrise-style walks in slo-mo, we were there with our little tornado. No complaints though. At 20-months old, he is now super active and chatty, and we delight in his company. (When he isn’t melting down) We had to confine ourselves to indoor activities on our first two days as the weather was unkind to us, but even then we had fun because the little one was happy to just run in available spaces, and found our hotel room hilarious somehow (‘Hiding Daddy!! Come hiding!’). Who knew a simple Novotel could please a toddler so?

Cy Twombly’s exhibition, where we saw many works that looked like our son’s masterpieces

How was travelling to Paris with a little one?

Well there were some revelations. The French were wonderful with the little tornado. Having experienced more un-smiley French or Parisians in previous visits, I was pleasantly surprised that they were always cooing and smiling and talking to our son. Older folks would say hello, one silver haired man even came to our breakfast table to just to talk to him. Many had a similar question – “Is it a boy or girl?”

Taking in the view from Sacre Couer

Saying a prayer for someone very special


With so much warmth and kindness for the little one, I was surprised then that the public transport facilities however, was not as friendly. We had a challenging time with our pram using the metro. I had forgotten my French friend’s advice to use our lighter travel buggy instead, and I soon saw why. The question is about buggy width. It was just ridiculous as we had to collapse it each time to fit through gates, and there were just so many gates. There were no dedicated ones for those with accessibility issues. It made me really feel for those with disabilities too – how were they supposed to navigate through all this? The Parisian metro has always been very intuitive – as in, if you are used to the London tube, the metro is not a problem at all to figure out. But for ease of accessibility, London’s underground is still heaps better.

Treats and hot chocolate at the lovely Angelina Cafe

I was nervous about restaurants – many have no baby chairs, but in the end we fared quite all right. The little one took a monster evening nap on the first day (quite unusual), and as I knocked out along with him, hubby took it upon himself to book a nice dinner at 9.30pm. When I woke up, that fact just shocked me a little! Bedtime for tornado is usually 7pm in London. But we went to the restaurant anyway, a quaint little restaurant not too far from our hotel. It was completely packed though, and we were the only ones with a child, no surprises there! I thought we would be so judged for bringing a tiny human to this elegant little restaurant, but we just got one or two curious but cheerful looks, and most just continued their dinner and chats. We got back to the hotel near 11.30pm (gasp), and our son just promptly passed out (phew).

We didn’t get to do the Louvre (hubby has never been there), and Jardin du Luxembourg (for son), but all in all it was a short but sweet little holiday. 

When attempting to do a family wefie, have an arsenal of distraction tactics to prevent child from melting down

Yeah, this is the kind of the blogging you do when you’re a parent. It’s all so fucking logistical and practical and with no oooh la la. Ah well, c’est la vie!

 

Monzo Tracking Begins! 


So happy that I now have a Monzo card! 

Monzo is a startup mobile-only bank that allows you, among other things, to track your purchases via an app, create budgets, and freeze your card temporarily if you misplace it. 

I must admit I had no interest in it whatsoever … until my husband got one. And then he kept showing me how the app showed all his spending, from groceries at Tescos to sandwiches at Pret. Best of all, and something I really wanted, was the tracking of travel expenses. Obviously we take the buses and tube all week, using the car only on weekends, so it helps to note it all down. 

Also, it was basically a case of FOMO, thanks to my husband. The card and app and listing of everything just seemed so neat and cool and attractive – I had to have it! 

I may not be buying things this year, but I’m interested to see how my expenses for everything else adds up. So I downloaded the app to apply for a card, but due to heavy demand they said it would be a wait unless you emailed three friends to join up. This would speed up delivery of your card. I duly did that, but nothing happened, though it could have been my friends not joining up … or I was just a little impatient. 😁

And so I went on Twitter and shamelessly told Monzo about my low-consumption/no-shopping goal and blog this year, could they help me out? 

They moved really quickly and asked me to check my app for a ‘surprise’. I think the real surprise was that the card arrived the very next day! 

It’s only day one, but I’m excited. I guess this could partly be the thrill of ‘getting something new’ that I’m not getting from shopping. Gosh I’m so pathetic! Haha. We shall see how it goes. 

Folding Philosophy

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My husband’s folded pieces of clothing. If you know her method – Marie Kondo recommends you folding your clothes in a way so you can see all of them. They ‘sit’ within their own space, and because you can see them, you can also lift them up easily – well, far easier than if they are packed on top of each other. The Folded-on-top-of-each-other method, as anyone knows, leaves you with a shitty pile of shitty messed up clothes all over again that makes you lose the will to ever fold clothes again.

Will they still be like this in a month’s time? A year? We shall see. My husband is lucky I never took a ‘before’ photo. He is pretty minimalistic and neat in general, but that is because he hides mess well. Oh what a beautiful roo-OMG WHAT THE FUCK IS IN THIS DRAWER?

Husband is all done (Damn)

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As promised, my husband’s new Konmaried wardrobe. Except for the fat winter jacket he has downstairs, this is everything he has. In the boxes are perfectly folded tees and other clothing.

Once he was done, I was a little dejected because I had so much more than he. I just couldn’t understand it – how and why is this? Is this a male – female thing, and why is it so drastic? I’m not even a very vain (I think) and I’m no shopping addict or whatever! (Though I obviously have had my moments)

But I persevered, and will show you my wardrobe soon. It’s done, and I’m proud of it. I’m not taking my time to show the results because I’m trying to perfect it – I just haven’t had time to write as I started working and Luca is getting used to nursery after our Malaysia holiday again. We are committed to the whole method that Marie Kondo has recommended – so we aren’t just doing a ‘take bits’ from her book. We have done our clothes and today we finished shoes, and now we are doing Luca’s clothes. Oh my god our living room is bombed again, and this is all from a one-and-a-half year old. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

This is Kondo’s recommendation for the order of tidying:
1) Clothes
2) Books
3) Papers
4) Komono (Miscellaneous Items)
5) Sentimental items

The Komono section is massive, HUGE. There are categories in there too, including kitchen goods, electrical items, skincare etc, so you can well imagine that will take quite a while.

Can we do this? My planned starting date for Not Buying Anything begins Feb 1. I was meant to sort out the entire house, figure out if we had to purchase anything else in preparation for the year ahead, and then ‘close the books (or purse!)’ for the year, as it were. Because of our daily schedules, we have only been able to seriously tidy during the weekends, and we only have so many left before Feb 1.

GULP.

Purge Update – Not Good

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It’s 10.50am, and it is still a jungle in our living room. Anh says he has finished his pile! Men! Minimalistic shits! (Just kidding, I love you, this was my idea, yes)

Have received plenty of feedback about tidying and Konmarie etc, which I am grateful for. I suppose everyone is looking for a tidier life?
I stress though that this year wasn’t meant to focus on tidying and Marie Kondo, it was meant to focus on changing my habits as a consumer.

The tidying is actually secondary, but yes, it is a related process. In fact, the main focus for this change has been the documentary The True Cost, which you can currently watch on Netflix. It basically encapsulates all I’ve been troubled about and thinking about since 2011, the year Anh and I went on a four-month adventure to China.

But more of that later. For now though, in order to work on how I aim to behave this year as a consumer and ethical human being (cue dramatic music), I need to know what we have. What I have. Because when I know how much I have, which is a lot, I will know what I DO NOT NEED in my life this year.

I realise that things are very different now that I have a child and a household. The reason why it is taking us so long is because we have a tornado of a toddler here with us. And now I have to go because he is about to stick a hanger into his eyeball.

Purge-ready

9.30pm. Our living room looks worse. It looks like a recycling truck took a dump all over it. We decided to take a ‘break’ to put our baby to sleep, and my husband is now sleeping soundly with him. We thought we could at least finish the clothing purge this evening. I would laugh but I am now so scared. At this rate we may have to spend Chinese New Year at somebody else’s house.

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