Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Simple Living

I was complaining to Tom the other day about who-knows-what, and somehow he mentioned this thing he has heard about called "simple living". He said I should check it out. I want to... and perhaps I will after this post, but I need to "judge it" before I check it out.

In a nutshell, I am pretty sure that is how I lived growing up. We didn't have a lot of extra stuff. I had one doll, just enough clothes... probably 3 or 4 pairs of pants. Our house didn't have crap all over - there weren't things (I'm not going to attempt to spell cha-ch-keys) all over, it was simple. Don't get me wrong - I had a great childhood, filled with love, fun, an awesome house, and an imagination, just not a lot of stuff. Jump forward 20 or 30 years and now I have A LOT OF STUFFF! It looks like I run a daycare center with all the toys my kids have (I'm still looking for the one that keeps them happy and quiet). I don't have 1 of anything... I have 10 (man, I can hear my mothers voice in my head!). Because of that, I feel completely out of control, I feel like I don't appreciate anything I have, my kids don't appreciate anything they have, and my house is in constant chaos.

I read an article once where a mom said she felt like she was always doing dishes. So, the whole family went to a paint your own pottery place and personalized one cup, one plate and one bowl. Then, they put the rest away (for company, I guess). That is all they used. Okay... cool concept, but first, I couldn't afford that (well, maybe I could if I sold all the CRAP I have here first), and it seems like a lot of work. Oh, she did this so they reused their stuff, and washed them right away (or something like that).

I want to scale back... I think. I wonder if the reason I hoard stuff is because I didn't have a lot, and want my kids to never feel like they couldn't "trade stickers" because they only had 50 while their friends had 5000. Oh, and the one doll I had used to be my sisters (she is 8 years older than I am, and was done w/dolls by the time I was starting)... she, Nancy, came with a name (hated it) and my sister had cut her hair, so she looked like a boy. I want them to have their own things... and lots of them. Sorry, perhaps that was better suited for a therapy session and not a blog :)

I do need to mention though, that I try not to buy more than one of things so they actually DO have to share. I don't want to have 3 strollers for their dolls, or multiples of other prized toys. I think it is important to share.

Anyway - so, what do I do now? I am thinking that I am just going to stop shopping. But, what about all the stuff I have. I truly don't think my kids value their things because there are so many there isn't one... or two or even 10 things that are special to them.

Getting back to the more work part now... if, let's say, I got rid of (or put away) a bunch of my kids clothes, or towels, or whatever else, then wouldn't I be constantly doing laundry? If I scaled back to only a few pairs of shoes, would I really have the perfect pair for that one outfit? Would my kids hate me because we couldn't (or didn't) "keep up with the Jones's"?

Any suggestions? I am truly scared to research "simple living"... not sure why... perhaps I don't want a lecture or to hear how horrible I am for have too much. Hmmm... therapy again.


  1. You haven't seen our basement lately... we live in Toys R Us! And my kids do not appreciate anything they have. One day, J kneeled on R's back. When she came upstairs bawling because he had hurt her, I asked him why he had knelt on her back. He said he did not realize he was kneeling on his sister, but rather on a toy! When we then had the discussion as to why it would be ok to kneel on a toy (that would then probably break) I received the 'deer in the headlights' response... a common one with my 10 year old.

    I feel the same way. Way too much stuff. But I think it is the way society has shifted over the years. We are definitely the "ME" generation... we want everything. We want the bigger house, the better job, and the more toys (whether we are 4 of 40).

    I think as we get older we start scaling back and I personally look forward to something called simple living. Let me know what it is when you find it! I think we get smarter as we get older (well, most of us anyway). We start to appreciate what is truly important, and what is filler.

    As for our basement of filler... we're having a major garage sale in June! How to solve it in the future when there are birthday parties around every corner??? Who knows. I'm working on that.

  2. I'd think there are ways to simplify without going to the extreme of one plate, one cup, etc.

    We moved from a 5-bdrm, 2 bath house with lots of closets to a 3-bdrm, 1-bath house with 3 closets and none on the first floor. I've had to dump alot. It's aggravating, since sometimes I've found out that I *did* need something I got rid of.

    I usually judge by how much it costs to replace the thing I'm considering chucking. I found I didn't need 4 cookie sheets, and cookie sheets are relatively cheap, if all of a sudden I start doing more baking. But the juicer I kept, since even though I don't use it all that often, it's an expensive thing to buy if I find I really starting needing it alot.

    Can't help you on the toy thing! Sparkle's got 1/2 the toys her cousins do and we're still drowning in them. Be glad you don't homeschool - you add all the HSing books and stuff on top of the toys!

  3. I have decided that my goal in life is to become a minimalist. Unfortunately, I decided that over three years ago, and am making very slow progress. In addition, my hubby does not share my viewpoint. Don't get me wrong, he's all in favor of me downsizing MY things, but I better not even think about touching any of his or our son's things.

    I tried a trick my Mom told me about. She said to take all of the clothes in your closet and turn the hangers backwards. After you wear something, then launder it, put it back in your closet with the hanger facing the proper way. After a few months look at the hangers that are still backwards and decide if its time to finally get rid of those items that you obviously don't wear.

    Oh, yeah, 3+ years ago we downsized our house also (4,000 sq foot + huge unfinished basement down to a 3,200 sq foot including finished basement) and hubby can't bear the thought of getting rid of anything. Talk about cramped. Did I mention I'm a bit clausterphobic? Hence my desire to become a minimalist, I'm sure.

    My personal belief as to why the current generation is so "stuff" focused is that as a society we deny God and the gifts He has promised through His word, so we try to fill our lives with gifts through our own means. One of my favorite sayings, "If you're full of yourself, then you can't be filled by the Holy Spirit." If I surround myself with things, am I leaving any room in my life for God? What am I trusting to fill the empty void in my life, God's promises or stuff?

    Life use to be so much easier when I was a kid. Of course that was before cell phones, internet, digital TV, etc. Not only do we fill our houses with stuff, we fill our brains with all this electronic traffic. No wonder our society is veering so far away from the values that this nation was founded upon.