SO, we’re in England now and we’re slowly adjusting to life in a new country, new culture, new house. We lived in the home we owned in Denton for over 8 years, we birthed two of our babies in that home, so it’s been quite a shift for all of us.
The move across the Atlantic was a good excuse for us to seriously reconsider what we owned, what was worth keeping, what we should gift/sell/recycle, and what we truly valued and needed to pack up. We spent several months sorting through the entire house and assessing literally everything – it was so good! While there were definitely some sentimental or practical items we held onto, we realized that much of what was taking up space in our homes and lives was very replaceable – or stuff we could happily live without. Having decided that we sold off or gave to others in our community a large percentage of our household goods, packed up a few things we needed ASAP, then sent the rest over on the slow ship (and lived without it for around six weeks.)
While it was hard and exhausting, and the kids were not so amused with the idea of not shipping their every precious possession, it’s been good.
Kit flew ahead of us with a shopping list of items we did need to replace (beds, a dining table, couches) and hit IKEA. He assembled like crazy and then came to pick us up at the airport and bring us to our lovely new home.
As we settled in we were receiving IKEA emails and one popped up that got my eye about the idea of LAGOM – Swedish for the idea of “the right amount is best.” You can read more about it here. It’s not a program being run in the US, but here in the UK it’s in their second year and I was intrigued. It required an application (and essay) and I really didn’t think we would be accepted but I wrote something up and sent it in – and didn’t even mention it to Kit since I knew the odds weren’t in our favor.
Then I got an email that we had been accepted – and hadn’t replied to their previous message – but would we like to join the program? Whoops! Yes, please! I wrote back immediately and we attended their orientation which was informative for all of us (there was a pop quiz!) and really fun – even the 10 and 6 year olds were engaged. Well, and they adore IKEA so it was basically a party in their opinion, they even came home with balloons and goodie bags. (We also found out that over 56,000 applied for this program, which made me even more surprised we were chosen – and very grateful!) It felt like a perfect way to help us with this major life reboot as we start from the basics and decide what our home and lives need, what we want to change, and ways we can be more aware of “the right amount” in what we use.
Then two of the IKEA team came out to our home for a visit and to talk over our New Year goals to make our lives and home more LAGOM. The idea appeals to us on many levels, though we didn’t have a word to describe it until now. In the home we own in Texas we had been doing many of the suggested practices already – low energy lightbulbs, keeping the thermostat low/high depending on season, having an energy audit done on the house and having changes made like extra attic insulation or weatherizing doors, installing new higher energy rating windows (than the original 1978 windows we had.) We also participated in the pilot composting program, stream and city clean ups, tree adoption programs every year, etc… as a family it was something we weren’t always perfect at (I used the dryer often instead of hanging clothes to dry, we only cloth diapered half the time, and I like LONG showers) but we try to install this value in our children to be mindful of our consumption, and a responsible member of the community and planet. (Yes, even in high school I was an officer in the environmental club. I think that means I’m officially a tree hugger.)
But part of what LAGOM wants to promote is that you don’t have to be a tree hugger to make small steps in your life that can be better for you, your finances, and your community. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming or boring – it can be rewarding, and fun! We’ve incorporated it into our home educating lessons as well, and had the kids write up their lists of ways we could be more mindful as a family. Their goals were:
* composting and herb gardening
* sewing/mending and making new items
* cooking more from scratch, and better organizing our pantry
* cutting back on the amount of paper we use for lessons
Next week we’ll make our shopping trip to IKEA to get started on some of these goals, and we’ll be writing more here (and on the school blog) about how we’re doing. We’ll also have a chance to attend some workshops at IKEA along this theme, which we’re excited to check out.
A few of the suggestions that our home visit team mentioned are relatively inexpensive and can make a big difference in older homes (though ours was built in 1925 – old by Texas standards, pretty new by UK standards!) – here are some we’re working on already that you can try, too:
* switch out your light bulbs for LED
* line your drapes OR add blinds to the window to conserve heat (and help you sleep when you have sunshine at 4am next summer – ha!)
* change out faucets to get similar flow but with less water
* use a shower timer to be mindful of how long you’re in there (I am so bad at this.)
* write a menu so you are more careful about shopping, baking, and planning leftovers for future meals; get reusable containers for leftovers and clear is great so you can see what you’ve got easily and less risk of stuff spoiling while you ignored it in the back of the fridge
* rugs, fuzzy socks, slippers, and soft throw blankets can make the winter more bearable without having to increase your energy use
* invest in rechargeable batteries
* windowsill gardening can be simple, inexpensive, and healthy for you no matter how small your space
After our store visit we’ll share with you what we are getting, and how it’s helping us towards our LAGOM goals!