A Day in the Life: Then & Now

Mama's ShoesWow! I just came across an old guest post I did for Millie over at Real Food for Less Money | Homespun Oasis for her day-in-the-life series, Someone Else’s Shoes.

Things sure have settled down around here since then. Since I feel like that post set an unsustainable standard, I thought I’d go ahead and answer her questions again so you can see the difference.

We don’t have farm animals any more and I’m not working much outside the home. We’ve moved closer to TinyHands’s job and reduced our housing expense. I’m feeling a lot more focused and less pressured!

Millie:Describe your ‘typical’ day.

Our week has a rhythm to it, and depending on the day my life looks pretty different, so I’ll go with describing a week. Sunday mornings I get up and drive to pick up both the kids (ages 14 and 15) from their dad’s house, about 2.5 hours. While I’m gone, TinyHands usually starts breakfast. We get home, eat quickly, and head off to church. Sometimes I have a meeting afterwards so we stay a bit late.

After church, we all have lunch. I work with Kid2 on his schoolwork and make sure Kid1 has done her homework for Monday. We often have plans with family or friends, or Kid2 goes to his parkour class.

Kid2 is still homeschooling, but this year he is doing 8th grade using Connections Academy, an online public charter school. The system requires a lot more parental involvement than our previous more eclectic approach. Kid1 is a sophomore in public high school and is doing a couple after school activities. Either TinyHands or I make dinner, and we also loosely plan what we’ll eat for the week and what shopping needs done.

During the business week, TinyHands goes to work around 7 AM and comes home anywhere from 4 PM to 9 PM. Kid1 gets herself off to school as well. During the day, Kid2 and I either go to an activity we have planned with other homeschoolers or do his schoolwork on our own. He has 3-5 hours of seat work per day in addition to our activities. We participate in science club, park days, study hall, field trips, parkour, and have more coming up. Another mom and I recently started Salem Inclusive Homeschoolers so that we could coordinate more welcoming activities in our area.

I try to squeeze in housework, gardening, walking the dogs, and cooking around all that, which is a challenge. Everyone packs their own lunches and we almost always eat dinner together.

Kid2 goes back to his dad’s on Wednesday night, and Kid1 goes back on Friday night. So on Thursday and Friday while I’m on my own I try to get projects done around the house. I listen to podcasts while I work.

This schedule has just started so I haven’t made as much progress as I’d like, but already we’re seeing a difference. I also spend some time online, of course! I do still sometimes have landscape clients on those days, but I’ve been tapering that down dramatically. I’m basically a stay at home mom, now.

Saturdays TinyHands and I get the day together. We often go to the farmers’ market or do other shopping. Saturdays are TinyHands’s “introvert day” and she often goes in to work to be alone and get ready for the next week. Lately we’ve spent many of our weekends traveling for family obligations, often taking the kids extra days. That should slow down some.

Millie: Do you attach a label to the way you eat? Real, whole, traditional, paleo, gluten-free, etc.

We’re still 100% gluten-free, though Kid1 and TinyHands occasionally cheat or fail to worry about cross-contamination when they are out on their own. It’s a lot more serious for Kid2 and me, so we don’t cheat.

We still stick pretty closely to the GAPS diet but we do eat some rice and quinoa and the occasional black beans or starchy gluten-free flour blend. We are less strict about always getting broth and ferments, and sometimes buy ferments rather than making absolutely everything. We occasionally spring for a gluten-free boxed pizza or prepared sausages from Costco. We still buy a lot of farm-direct, free range and organic food, but we do buy some of our organic eggs and meat from Costco, knowing that it wasn’t pastured or from a heritage breed animal. We even eat ice cream and candy, or eat a gluten-free option from a restaurant on occasion. Basically, we still try to eat mostly real, whole foods, but we have relaxed the rules a bit.

Millie: What is your biggest obstacle to your food journey?

The sheer foreverness of it. While we’ve made some compromises, there are some things that just won’t ever work. We still have to carefully plan what we’ll eat when we travel, and pack cookware. If we eat too many non-GAPS/Paleo foods, we feel sick. Slipping on gluten is just not an option.

Millie: How do you overcome this obstacle?

Acceptance. We’re never going to be people who just eat anything served again, as much as I wish we could go back to that.

As you can see compared to the way things used to be, we have also cut back on the scale of our home food production and preservation. We don’t do as many bulk buys or as much gleaning. It’s just a lot of work to keep up and we are more selective about where our energy goes these days.

Millie: My family strives for a ratio of 85% real/whole/traditional foods. Do you have a ratio or other way of tracking that you strive for in your family?

We don’t track it, but we notice that we’re feeling off if things slip too far. That’s a sign for us to get back on track.

Millie: In your own food journey, do you consider yourself a novice, intermediate or advanced?

I think we’re advanced, though I don’t really look at it that way. I’m not and probably never will be a wonderful cook. I just don’t like cooking that much. But I do know what different foods do to my body in different circumstances, and I know what to look out for. What we need changes over time, so there will always be something to discover.

Millie: What is your one Standard food? The “must have” that you always keep on hand?

Meat. Beef, lamb, and chicken are our favorites. We buy farm direct and in bulk for these. We also really stock up on berries and stone fruit in the summer and keep the freezer full.

Millie: Do you have any final tips or tricks that you would like to share with Real Food for Less Money readers?

I still totally agree with what I said on this one last time!

I’ll add, though, that budgeting with YNAB has helped us a lot! It allows us to clearly see how our priorities impact our budget. Since I’m staying home more and our finances are tight, this is critical!

From the guest post: “Know what is important to you. Sometimes our food bills have to go up, but if you are clear on the reasons behind your choices and the overall benefits to your family, it will be easier to deal with and find other places in the budget to cut. If you just can’t afford to do everything you want to do right away, weigh the different options against your priorities. Think about the reasons you are choosing real food, and which aspects of your real food journey are the highest priorities. Avoiding allergens, other health issues, preventing environmental degradation, and supporting the local economy, are just a few of the potential reasons. Once you know where you stand, tough decisions will become easier to make.”

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