Tuesday, July 22, 2014

living with less...

There is nothing in this world that will draw you towards minimalism like living in a house with small children.

The toys, people.  The TOYS!

And I consider myself to be fairly reserved when it comes to the amount of plastic that enters my home.

But still.

Several months ago, I was finding myself in chaos.  Not only with the toys, but just all the STUFF that had to be constantly put away and dealt with, stuff that would pile up all over and feel like it was suffocating me.

I wish I was a mom who is comfortable in the chaos.  Like the kind of mom where the house is an utter wreck, and she's still happily baking cookies in the kitchen with her kids.

That's just not me.  I just can't take it.  I know, I have problems.

For whatever reason, the more cluttered my house, the more cluttered my brain.  The more external chaos I see, the more internal chaos I feel.  I can't function at my best when stuff is screaming at me from every direction.

Ironically, though, when I walk into your house and it's a mess, it's awesome.  I feel like we can be real with each other.  Go figure.

But when you think about it, every THING we own must be maintained in one way or another.  The more THINGS we own, the bigger spaces we have, the more we are taking on the job of maintaining.

I was becoming overwhelmed with the maintaining.   One night Marc and I watched some documentary online about tiny houses.  (Have you seen those?  Fascinating stuff!  Although you never see any of them with small children...)  Of course, I'm not about to squeeze myself into an 80 square feet home, but in listening to the owners describe their life and their needs, it really got me reflecting on things like...

Do I need 20 coffee mugs in my house?  There's no way we ever USE that many in one sitting.

Do I need ten million books around our house that I know I'll never read again and are just taking up space that could function better?

Why do I think I need a gigantic pantry stocked full of cans and non-perishables?  What would it look like to free up space in my cabinets and only own what we will need until the next grocery store run?

Why DO I have 6 spatulas, or 4 sets of dishes, or 3 tablecloths that I never USE but they sit inside the cabinet just in case?  (I'm learning the words "just in case" don't line up with simplifying your life.  There's not really much we need "just in case."  Because when it becomes the case, then we can deal with it then, right?)  Why do I have so much tupperware that I'll NEVER use, or like 38 dish towels?

Why do I hold on to so much, and let it accumulate?  And bigger than that, why do I have the need/desire to continually accumulate anyways?  Why are people in poor countries statistically much happier than those in wealthy countries?  Is the stuff really making me as happy as it tries to promise it will?

What do I really WANT to do with my time, and my life- invest it in maintaining THINGS or invest it into people I love?  What value does the STUFF add to my life?  What do I absolutely need vs. what can I live without?

Moving to a smaller house afforded us the opportunity to scale down.  Maybe I should say forced us to scale down.  We lost 2 1/2 ROOMS that we had in our former house plus we lost a garage.  I'm such a suburb gal- I almost didn't know how we'd survive!

But now that we're here, and are almost settled in, it's amazing how we have more space than we actually need.

I suppose I should include a disclaimer here about minimalism, because when I use that word, all kinds of different ideas can be conjured up.  I'm just talking about intentionally living life with less, in whatever way that applies to your situation.  Some people will go crazy with that idea, and some people (like me) will just want to scale down.

But as Americans, most of us are living with a ton of excess.  It's the American way!  It's amazing what's accumulated in our garages, in our attics, in our closets, and maybe it wouldn't hurt for us to consider what value, if any, all that STUFF is adding to our lives?

So the question becomes: in what area of my life could I cut out the excess?  Where could I live more simply with LESS, in order that I might actually gain MORE?  (more space, more time, more money, more happiness...)   And how might that stuff actually be a blessing to others?

Want to see some of the results in our new place?

Might look too plain to you.  To me, it's peaceful.  And with the chaos of kids all around me, Lord knows I need some peace around here.  :)

Here's a few more pics of the house:

 The living room.
 Toys can quickly be thrown into baskets under the TV.  If baskets become too full, it's time to purge the toys and donate/sell them.
 Other side of the living room, where it opens up to the kitchen.

Dining room.  (already showed you this one, but here ya go again)  I'm loving the simplicity.

 This is where sweet Caroline wanted to start getting in the pictures.
 The kitchen.
My "mudroom" by the side door.

I'll have more pictures to show you soon, especially of how we solved the problems that arose from losing 2 1/2 rooms.

But I will say, in this process, I literally feel like I've lost weight.  The weight of all the extra STUFF I was carrying.  We have everything we need.  (And more!)

I love having less stuff to deal with.

Though we have fewer rooms and square feet, it feels like we have more open space than ever!

We have more time to spend as a family doing the things we enjoy together.

We have more money in our pockets from selling the excess things to which we were holding on.

And for me personally, I'd rather have all that
than all the extra Pyrex dishes in the world.

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