I could feel the sweat starting to bead on my forehead and my heart began to race. My palms felt sweaty and my chest tightened. What was sending me into full panic mode, you ask? Well. I was creating my baby registry.
Most normal mamas to be would probably feel excited doing this but for me, I found it overwhelming. You see-our society seems to think that babies need everything under the sun in order to function once they slide out of the womb. It’s a falsehood I tell you! FALSE. I plan to write a blog post on a minimalist baby registry and the things we have found essential in these first months of baby boy’s life. Also-I felt this way with my wedding registry. We tried to keep it simple and I really appreciated my very practical mother in law being with us when we registered.
I think our journey into pursuing a simple, less is more lifestyle was something that evolved. Our first year of marriage we lived in a shoebox. It was what we could afford. I think it was less than 400 square feet. I could be wrong but it was TINY. We loved it and to this day it remains as my favourite place we have ever lived. We hit a bump in the road when we moved into a 3 level town home. We filled that townhouse with so much stuff.We found ourselves in an awful position when our land lord suddenly needed her home back, ASAP. We moved within 2 weeks and downsized to our current place but it was one of the most stressful times of my life. We had accumulated so many useless things that much of which ended up on the curb for the junk guy to pick up. (not our home in the picture above)
Fast forward to the present. I went on a rollercoaster ride in the last year or so of emotions. I struggled with feeling ashamed of where we live, in a small basement apartment we rent in a very modest brick home. I wrestled with the comparison game, seeing how most of my close friends lived in these beautiful homes. I didn’t want to invite anyone over and I certainly wasn’t proud of my home. When we shared that we were pregnant a few people immediately asked us if it was planned, followed by the question of when we were going to purchase a home. Talk about insult to injury. I doubt people meant to make me feel this way but I felt so inadequate. It made me feel like we were irresponsible for starting a family because we didn’t have everything set up the way society pressures us to. I felt like I had to apologize for our home the rare times people would come over. Instead of being grateful, I had really lost sight of what was truly important and valuable. I needed a good kick in the bum from one of my favourite writers-Matt Walsh. He writes a great article on the statistics of young people, money and having a family in today’s world. He says,
“I’m talking about people who harbor the faulty but common belief that marriage and parenthood should be the culmination of young adulthood, rather than the cornerstone of it. What my generation has decided it “needs” is to live a luxurious, fashionable, Instagramable life. And it’s too bad for them. They’re missing out. I thank God for my unfashionable childhood. I wouldn’t trade our humble family vacations in our Astro passenger van with duct tape on the door for a thousand swanky trips to Disney World. The sacrifice and simplicity ‘builds character,’ my Dad used to say, and you know something? He was right.”
Read the full article here.
I will share more about my struggle in moment but let me share some of the reasons why we are pursuing a lifestyle of having less things:
- Space. While we have a large garage that we share with the tenants upstairs, within our actual living space we don’t have much storage. I don’t have a linen closet or pantry, our closets are small but functional and there is no extra storage in the bathroom apart from under the sink. My living room is very small so there isn’t much extra space for lots of baby toys and I love this. Lack of space has made us be very intentional about what we purchase for our home.
- Money. The cost of living here is very high. I’m a stay at home mom so we live on one income. (That is the situation we agreed on so I could be at home with our son) My husband manages our money well and this is a blessing. We have to be intentional and practical about what we purchase so that we see our money go a long way. It’s decisions as simple as, do I get my hair done this month? Or do we invest in a new vacuum that we’ve been needing? That might seem silly or even sad to you but trust me, it’s ok! I’m not sad about these things anymore. I’m realistic about what I can afford, reguardless of how that fits into society’s standards of living.
- STRESS. Seriously. I have felt my stress level sky-rocket as stuff accumulates around my home. Did you know that clutter and excess stuff actually affects our brain function?! “A 2009 study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that women who described their households as “cluttered” exhibited increased fatigue and depression with correlating high cortisol levels, and a research project by UCLA in 2012 saw a similar link. Cortisol is bad news for healthy brain activity, as heightened levels of the hormone can cause lasting negative changes in brain function and structure.” Bad news.
- Because we love learning new skills that help us save money. We cloth diaper 90% of the time. Most of our clothing is second-hand (you read my post on buying second-hand clothing here) and we make most of our home decor. We’ve learned to garden and my husband’s family has taught us how to can. Our dehydrator has been a great tool in the kitchen. My husband goes hunting up north with his family, when he has the time. He’s literally bringing home the bacon (well more like bear meat which I haven’t learned to cook yet) so we have free meat to eat. These are just some of the many frugal ways we’ve learned to save money. You can read more about that here.
- We have financial obligations. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details of this but everyone has financial obligations and it looks different for every person. We don’t want to be bound by these things in the years to come so we are trying our best to be responsible now so we can have a debt free future.
Earlier I talked about feelings of shame and inadequacy with our current living space. It literally robbed me of joy, contentment, peace and made me jealous of others. I’ve needed a major attitude adjustment. Comparison really is the thief of joy. (Teddy Roosevelt) I am working on my gratitude and learning to love our family’s approach to life. You know what is so ridiculous? I live in such a nice place! The kitchen was brand new when we moved in and our landlords remodeled our bathroom last summer. It’s gorgeous! All that to say, there are standards of living in the world today that just aren’t realistic or wise. There can be really negative consequences of wanting to have it all or what someone else has. While we are nowhere near perfecting our simple way of life, we are learning how to invest our time, energy and money in the things we feel are worth it for us. These ideals are things we value and want to pass on to our son as he grows up.
Please don’t misunderstand me, in this. Living with less doesn’t make my family and I better than everyone else. We are learning some great things living this simple life. Having an abundance of things and money doesn’t make a person wrong, either. As long as we know what is important at the end of the day.
“Love people, use things. The opposite never works.”-The Minimalists
Do you take a less is more-minimalist approach to life? Or maybe you hate the less is more approach? I hope you were able to glean some useful information from this post and I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
*A great resource on living a minimalist approach to life are these guys, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists. They have written books and have a wonderful documentary out. Check out the trailer below.