The Complexities of My Oh-So-Simple Life

by Katy on July 21, 2009 · 6 comments

Nancy Reagan

I love the idea of the simple life. Sitting quietly in my backyard enjoying a soft breeze, cooking beautiful healthy meals, and then maybe playing leisurely board games with my 11 and 13-year-old sons.

Reality is a hard hearted mistress.

Our Summer has somehow filled up with activities and commitments that leave me exhausted and unable to write until 11:00 P.M. most nights.

Today just about put me over the edge. My younger son had swim class from 11:10 – 11:40, my older son had life guarding class from 11:00 – 2:00 P.M., our library volunteer shift was from 12:00 – 2:00, I had agreed (happily) to do an interview in the afternoon, plus I had offered to help my mother clean out one of her guest cottages between tenants. Don’t forget, I still have to make dinner, do laundry and write something intelligible.

As much as I tried to puzzle this through, there was simply no way to balance everything. I contacted the journalist to postpone the interview, and felt like I was partially on top of my life again.

And then, while driving to swim classes I remembered that we were taking care of a neighbor’s dog and cat while she’s out of town.


I quick interrogation with my 11-year-old confirmed that the dog has a doggie-door to the backyard, and that it had been suggested to him to check on the pets around noonish each day. I knew we wouldn’t return home until around 5:00 P.M., but there was simply no way around it.

Swim classes, lifeguard training, soccer camps, family comittments and library volunteering transform what should be a carefree Summer into an exhausting jam packed mosh-pit of activities. Add one perfectly innocent dog, and I can be found scribbling out meticulous To-do lists.

How did I let this happen? Should I have taken a page from Nancy Reagan to Just Say No?

The problem is that everything we’ve filled our Summer with has its own merits. High level swimming skills are extremely important to me as a safety measure; volunteering gives the boys a chance to give back to the community; the soccer camps are beloved my 13-year-old who is a soccer fiend;¬†and the neighbor must have been in a real jam to ask us to watch her dog.

Helping to clean my mother’s rental houses? That’s just the price I pay for occasional staycationing in her lovely air conditioned cottages.

Luckily, the volunteering is just once a week, the swim classes end on Friday, the neighbor returns in four days and the interview was easily pushed forward a day. Dinner was grilled chicken atop a green salad and I’ll most likely even get this blog finished before midnight. (The dog was fine, and we’ll take him to the park tomorrow to make things right.)

Next week will be class-free and that’s when I can jump back on that simple living bandwagon again. I simply must learn how to Just Say No!

That Nancy Reagan, she may have been onto something.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela July 22, 2009 at 9:57 am

I think you wrote another post about how the activities are all worthwhile, the problem happens when they happen all at once.

That’s my experience- I rarely say yes to or try to do activities that aren’t important to me, the issue is saying no to some so I’m not trying to do them all at the same time. That causes stress and goes against the whole simple living lifestyle.

It’s a constant issue.


Kristen@The Frugal Girl July 22, 2009 at 6:16 pm

I just about went to bed without publishing a post today too, but I found an almost done baking post that I could finish up quickly.

We’re not even doing any formal activities, but we did go swimming today, and I had to drive an hour round trip to pick up milk from the farm, plus I had to teach two piano students, do laundry, and make dinner. So, I totally feel you!


Jill July 22, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Oh yes, I know this type of life well. You may remember that I also have 11 and 13 y.o. sons, and life with them has a way of running amok pretty quickly. I admire all the things you are doing with them, as well as your ability to stop and look at how crazy it makes you feel. I agree with Angela – you are doing things you feel are truly important for your family, but when they all hit at once, it pushes you over the edge. Next week will give you the space you need – and hopefully not too much space! But if I know you from your blogs, Katy, you always find awesome things to do with your kids, so I’m sure boredom will not be on your list this summer! Hang in there!!


Tracy July 22, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Indeed, hang in there, Katy! Nancy Reagan’s wisdom, hahahaha! Actually, your post brings to mind my potential dilemma about this coming Saturday, fitting in a volunteer stint for a local animal shelter, visiting with an elderly aunt whose birthday is that day, taking care of a cat for a friend on a business trip, and going to two backyard barbecues by close friends whose friendship means a lot to me. I decided to hold off the animal shelter, which pains me, but I’ll do better to go and help sometime in the next few days.


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