So I shared with you about three weeks ago that I’m on a shopping ban for the next three months. Three months to simplify my life, reduce the amount I spend and enjoy what I have instead of always wanting more.
Since I committed to this way of living, I’ve found myself challenged a few times but have so far managed to avoid spending anything off my list of unallowed items.
The first time I was super keen to buy what I didn’t need was in Dubai airport on the way home from our travels. After five weeks of mostly no coffee (caffeine + breastfeeding = 🙅🏻♀️) I came across so many cafés selling the beautiful elixir that is decaffeinated coffee. And I wanted one so badly. To be honest, I could have bought one – it wasn’t on my banned list (I only said no to buying coffees when at work) – but it felt wrong so soon after my commitment of living on less to buy one. And so I did without one and felt quite smug until I walked past another café which brought new temptation. But I stayed strong, I resisted and then Gregg found something so wonderful…free ice cream given out by Emirates. It was better than any coffee I could have ever bought (and, I won’t lie, I may have had two of them 😬).
In the lead-up to my return to work I went into a frenzy of simplifying my life which I might write about in more detail at another point. I reduced my wardrobe to 25 items of clothing (the thought being that less choice leads to less anxiety), got rid of so much clutter in my bathroom cabinet (moisturiser I have had for years, make-up I have bought but never used) and put away the many pieces of jewellery that I have but rarely wear.
I found myself wanting to have different clothes – ones that were more ‘professional’ or ‘smartly-quirky’ to go back to work but my determination to not buy clothes made me dive into what this desire was about – wanting to be more (what ‘more’ is I’m not sure) and wanting to pin my confidence on my external appearance instead of knowing that I am enough just as I am. I know these thoughts of ‘not enoughness’ are perfectly normal for a returning-to-work mum so I’m not sharing this to berate myself. I found it good to notice what was going on for me and to remind myself that I am enough as I am, that I am not just what I look like.
On my first day back to work I had another stumble. I needed to buy a new tupperware container to store my milk expressing kit (sorry if this is TMI) and suddenly found myself in the kitchen aisle picking up a pretty new mug. It had a lovely geometric print on it, it was fairly large for a lovely big cup of chai or peppermint tea and I felt I needed it. I was putting it in my basket before I remembered that this was not something that was on my list of approved items to buy and so I put it back on the shelf. In that moment I felt disappointed to not be buying it – it was so damn pretty – but I knew it was the right thing to do.
And this was a pivotal moment for me where I realised how much I have a ‘disposable’ mentality.
Let me explain more.
Because I bought things with such haste and ease in the past, I was ok with the possibility of losing them or mistreating them so they fell apart. But I don’t like this way of being, such little care shown my possessions. I’d never buy real quality items – sunglasses would be cheap £5 ones, clothes would be what I could find in the sales. Part of this comes down the thriftiness – not wanting to part more money because of the item having a recognisable brand name – but it also comes down to my disposable mentality. Not wanting to buy something I knew wouldn’t last long.
One fear I had was that I’d feel restricted during the weekends or times where I’d usually potter around the shops (although those times have pretty much melted away since having my son!). But instead I’ve found this ban to be refreshing. We’ve enjoyed time in the park as a family, scrounged a picnic together from left-overs, spent time together just enjoying each other’s company. Taking shopping off the table has made more time in my life.
Almost a month into my shopping ban, I feel really good. Positive that this is the right step for me, happy with the level of challenge it is bringing me and sure that I will be able to complete this three month challenge – and even extend it to six months or a year!