Modern life tends to pull us away from the simple routines of home. Many of us spend hours each week commuting to work, school and shops so we can come home to rest. But the process of doing this removes us from our local communities and often burns fossil fuels to get us to where we need to go.
Spending so much time away from home means we’re often too exhausted or time poor to get the basic day-to-day things like cooking, cleaning and gardening done, so we need to outsource those. We turn to ‘convenience’ food and prepackaged products in an effort to save time. Then each year (at least), we need to get away from it all and take a holiday so we can regroup.
Is this cycle sustainable for ourselves and our planet? Does it honour our needs as individuals, families and communities? Does it really save us time and money, or could there be an alternative?
It can take some big thinking, decision-making and leaps into the unknown, but bringing more of our lives close to home can help us slow down and spend more time together, make our homes and gardens more productive, save us money and time, strengthen community connections and help create a healthy balance so we’re not putting too much strain on the planet.
Increasingly, we’re seeing a call for a shorter working week, with evidence that a four-day working week may be needed to reduce our impact on the climate; while boosting productivity significantly and improving our mental and physical wellbeing. Spending more time with loved ones is a wonderful thing! More and more workplaces are supporting flexible working arrangements, so it may be worth looking at your household budget and analysing if working from home is feasible for you.
Make sure to consider the cost of working outside the home, including transport, food and drinks you might regularly purchase during the working day, and wardrobe expenses. Consider what an extra day at home might allow in your week. Can you shift to growing more of your own food or foraging on your extra day off? Or preparing a week of meals so you’re less likely to rely on pre-packaged meals or takeaway food, saving you money.
You may find that working (and commuting) less, affords you time for slowing down and doing the simple, practical pastime of living, gaining new skills, spending time with your favourite people and giving back to your community.
Working From Home
Used wisely, technology can connect us to our workplaces without the need to leave the comfort of home. Workers in many industries can find the freedom to work almost anywhere and be able to avoid the daily commute. Others might find self-employment in a home setting suits them best, saving on rent, electricity and overheads. Meetings can be attended online, avoiding the need to travel, saving carbon emissions, time and money.
In between work tasks, you can turn the sourdough, feed the chickens, put on a pot of soup or weed the garden. Even if you’re working long hours, flexibility in a working-from-home day means we can move our bodies more, eat the food that makes us feel good and care for our homes and loved ones with a little more freedom.
Although a home-schooling life usually means anything but school at home, it allows a flexibility that many families whose children attend school five days per week may not have the opportunity to experience regularly. Daily packed lunches are a thing of the past and, while life can be very full and busy, there’s the ability to slow down and take things easy, if need be.
Instead of rushing out the door to be at school on time, you can ease into the day and attend to household tasks when it suits your family. With technology bringing information to our fingertips, we can learn about the world while gaining practical life skills. Friendships can be forged within the local homeschooling community, and in the broader community as we encounter people from a diverse range of ages, backgrounds and life experiences. The time spent together in education can create a strong family bond, formed while exploring the world together.
Clockwise from top: Easing into the home-educating day; Between work emails, mixing bread dough and passing on bread baking skills; Taking a moment. Family morning tea, in the middle of the working and home-educating day.
Holidays At Home
With many of us taking the flight-free challenge in an effort to reduce carbon emissions, there is increasing motivation to take holidays close to home. Creating home environments and lifestyles we love means we have fewer reasons to escape from our day-to-day lives. Instead, we can shift our thought process to use holiday time doing things around the home that we never get to.
Take your time each day. Learn new skills, look for local events near you to enjoy and nature to explore. Support local cafes, visit second-hand shops and tip shops or create artwork or furnishings to make your home feel more comfortable. Spend time with loved ones and make your little corner of the world more beautiful.
What you gain is a comfortable, functioning home space throughout the year and you’ve reduced your expenses and environmental impact. If an escape from your regular space is needed, you might like to try home swapping or housesitting. You continue to enjoy the benefits of a home-based life, gaining experience living in someone else’s corner of the world. You can care for their pets and water their garden and know that your pets and garden are being well cared for too.
Bring The People To You!
Shifting your lifestyle to be more home-based doesn’t mean living in isolation. If you’re spending more time in your home, enjoying it, working in it and learning in it, you may feel inclined to share your space with others more often. What a wonderful thing! Spending time closer to home creates a wonderful opportunity to get to know your local community.
You could help organise a local skill share, clothing or produce swap, community food plantings or a street party. You might start up a reciprocal childcare system, or find friends close by who can provide meals or support when you’re in need. Bringing our lives closer to where we live can help create resilience for all, strengthening our communities and enriching our lives for a more positive future.
An Action Plan For Creating A Home-Based Life
- Create some regular time at home each week. Can you make more time for the things you love doing at home? Is there anything you can let go?
- Develop practical interests and skills. When we learn how to do practical things like making our own food, growing a garden, sewing clothes or building, we become more self-reliant and valuable within our communities. Acquiring and sharing new skills can be lots of fun and keep us active and nourished.
- Make your home a beautiful place to be. Take a little time to create a comfortable home environment that works practically and feels inviting. If the whole space is too much to tackle, focus on a little nook that brings you peace, enjoyment and a sense of sanctuary.
- Consider the time you spend away from home each week. How many hours do you spend at work, commuting, shopping or at play? Is there room to shift any of those activities closer to home?
- Look at your financial budget. Can you save by spending more time at home or shifting your lifestyle? Can you travel less, grow and/or make your own food, or start or
- engage in local community actions?
- Talk to your employer. If you’re in paid employment, you might look into flexible working arrangements that allow you to take more leave, work less or work from home. If you are your own boss, explore whether working from (or near) home is feasible.
- Look into alternative schooling options. Home education, either full or part-time, can be an excellent option for creating family flexibility and togetherness.
- Look for local options. What foods and services can you access near you? If options are lacking, investigate what you can help create.