Have you heard of the concept ‘lifestyle design’?
It’s this idea that a person can take control of and design their own lifestyle, a concept that is supposed to have garnered a lot of interest due to an inspirational book ‘Four Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferriss. Basically, the idea that you can change how you think and what you do in your lifestyle in order to find fulfilment in your routine and way of life.
When I heard this, I thought as parents, we had no such luxury available to us.
Our lives, whether intended or not, will revolve to some extent around our children. I’m not speaking about child-centred parenting vs parent-centred parenting. I simply mean the presence of our children. We feed them, and whether home schooled or public schooled or private schooled, they receive some sort of instruction, learning or guidance from us. They need a place to sleep, and so on. The basics.
I felt that while we were parents, we could not implement a ‘lifestyle design’.
Then our car broke down. There I was in the midst of school holidays, with three lively children at home, car-less. I soon realised we did, in fact, have a lifestyle design. The life we designed involved quite a lot of reliance on having a car!
There were many adjustments that needed to be made. Logistically a lot of activities were no longer possible. We needed to be more efficient in our mornings in order to arrive at morning appointments. We needed to plan to catch an earlier bus in case of a missed connection, order Smart Riders, and so on.
The adjustment began with a lot of frustration, disappointment and so much tiredness.
We were walking everywhere! My suburb, which I love, is very hilly; a feature that is less appreciated with a pram and grocery shopping and a toddler resistant to being buckled in tow.
Slowly, very slowly, there were sweetnesses.
A friend that lent a car for a while, a friend that offered a lift, a friend that offered to change her plans to suit carelessness; little receivals of grace.
It was humbling.
Also, one day I realised the hill was not so difficult; I’d gotten fitter. I realised my children were not complaining about long walks, they were also getting stronger. We were outside, a little more than usual. This was nice.
I evaluated my needs vs my wants.
We do not need a car. There are many, many families without cars. In fact, there are more families without cars than with cars. Yes, some places are more conducive to a car-less lifestyle than others but even so, we had created a social lifestyle within our lives that relied on a car. Without one, our perception of our needs was redefined.
A car was a convenience, a little luxury that we relied on to achieve the schedule we chose. If we had a lifestyle planned that did not involve a car, its absence would be less felt.
This may be a small thing. I have learnt a lot though.
I have learnt to be a different kind and level of flexible. I have learnt to allow God to redefine my needs and wants. I have learnt to be more efficient. I have learnt to extend grace to and even appreciate public transport. I have learnt or at least partly learnt to not allow self-pity to darken my perspective.
And maybe there are no small things, only perceptions.
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Gabriela Antonini chronicles snapshots of her moments on her Instagram @g_and_tribe, in between racing one of her three lively children, sharing chocolate with her theologian husband, feeding her ever-hungry progeny or singing lyrics wrong with the hubs. She is often found with her nose in a book, at the beach, up a tree or carrying around a teapot. Born in Slovakia, a childhood spent in Melbourne, she now lives in Perth heartily appreciating its exquisitely mild weather.