We recently took a family vacation to New Zealand. I had a lightbulb moment while we were there, of which there were three drivers for this epiphany:
We stayed at my sister and brother-in-law’s house, which is a 3-bedroom flat underneath another family’s home. Maybe about 1000 sq ft of living space. Not terribly small, but definitely smaller than any of the homes we have lived in recently. They are able to do so because of their recent travels and not having accumulated a lot of possessions, but also it seems that they choose to live this way. Their pantry has enough needs for the week. Their freezer contains a few basic backups for unplanned meals. Their baby has one basket of toys, not a full room of them. It seemed amazingly simple, easy, and wonderful.
And a lot of New Zealand was this way. Vacation homes we stayed in were basic and sufficient. Hotels were non-descript inside and perfectly located outside. Shopping was straightforward and not overly done. Fashion was simple – what people comfortably needed for their activities that day. There wasn’t a sense of judgement for what you were wearing or not wearing – it was almost as if it was of no concern to others. As it should be, mind you, but this is not a familiar feeling to us capitalistic Americans.
Lastly, we traveled for 2 and a half weeks with two kids and just a few suitcases. I would argue now we took WAY too much. But we were able to make it work. We took a few side trips and took even less – sometimes two small bags for the 4 of us. The kids were able to play with toys that fit into a small backpack – the rest of the time they made do with balls and sand toys that we purchased there, the baby toys, playgrounds, or things around us on our many adventures. It really forced us to get out more and enjoy the world rather than stay in and get annoyed that they were getting into everything!
So as we have come back into our “real world” we are inspired to try to live with less ourselves. We have been reading and become amazed at what “minimalists” are doing for their own lives and want a piece of that too! In the future I’ll share a bit more about the resources we’ve encountered on this journey.
What have we done so far?
For Mother’s Day, S & P went through ALL the toys and gathered a pile to donate that allows us to only have two bookshelves and a toy box full of toys (rather than overflowing all over the house!)
I’ve pulled clothing from my closet on almost a daily basis! My dresser of 10 drawers and 1 cupboard now has 3 empty drawers, and possibly one more on the way! I wear what I love the most, rather than what I feel like I should wear because I haven’t worn it in awhile. And I really feel this will continue to dwindle day by day as I find more unused or mediocre items.
Furniture – we have had a few pieces of furniture sitting around the house which we have not been able to find places for. Although we love the pieces, if they are not getting used, they are just collecting dust and getting in the way. They are worth something, so we can sell them and use the money for activities that we would enjoy! We are selling a kitchen table and a cabinet, and then eventually we will donate a leather chair and ottoman.
We are supposed to be receiving a piano from my parents soon, but we are taking another month to evaluate whether this is something we want to add to our home. We like the idea of the items that inhabit our home reflecting our values and interests. We definitely value reading and learning – so books take a prominent role. We value health, working out, yoga, and sports, so that means we need to bring our workout equipment to a more prominent role in our home. Family and friends are important – we feel we already emphasize space for socialization and quality time. So we will see if a piano is something that we want to add in order to emphasize the importance of Music in our day to day lives. I believe it will.
But there is so much more that needs to be purged! More clothes. Cosmetics and cleaning supplies. Dishes. Kitchen gear. Decorations. Books. Paperwork. All the crap in the Garage.
This should be a fun journey over the next year! It will be interesting to see how far we take it – whether it becomes simply a spring cleaning activity or a full lifestyle change.