Erin has been kind enough to share her story – after I asked/begged her to – with us. Fun fact: Erin and I had already met a couple of times as we are both downtown cloth diapering moms who Craigslist (small world!) before we connected here. My blog was linked to somewhere, she followed it, took a closer look and then realized she knew me in-real-life!
Take a read, get inspired and know this: it’s not a life of deprivation. Erin and her beautiful boys are well dressed happy folk. They’ve just made some great decisions and habits that the rest of us can make too.
Thank you, Erin!
“Myself, my husband and my kids are all content with less, and I can’t imagine living any other way.”
When we got married in 2003, the closets in our 500 square foot rental condo were already bursting. Later the same year, we moved into a brand new condo and brought all of our stuff with us. Our beautiful new home was just over 800 square feet and had lots of closet space, more than enough room for the two of us.
However, within 2 years of being married and having a baby, we were very quickly becoming a cluttered household. A lot of it was my doing – I loved the excitement of going shopping for baby clothes, toys and gear for my little one as much as I loved shopping for myself. Fast forward another two years and we were expecting our second baby and still living in the same small condo, but with even more stuff.
While I was still pregnant, we began to consider moving, because we felt we were outgrowing our space. While we hadn’t minded living in tiny spaces, we did feel ourselves overloaded with stuff, and the amount of stuff we had was disproportionate to the spaces we were living in.
Our embracing minimalism began in the fall of 2008, within three months of our second child being born, as we decluttered and prepared to put our condo up for sale.
While we tried to clear the clutter from our home, we did not get rid of it entirely. We sent quite a few car loads of stuff to go live across town at my grandmother’s house. My granny is a TRUE minimalist – at ninety years old, she was living in her 50 year old family home and the basement was unfinished and empty (so clearly a great place for all our junk).
I’m not really sure how all those trips across town didn’t stun us into the realization that all of that unwanted, unneeded stuff was really unnecessary to our daily lives, but the fact remained that it all went to live there for a whole year without us missing a single item. Bikes, stereos, tons of kitchen appliances, bed linens, table linens (never mind that we didn’t own a dining table!), and bins and bins full of other superfluous stuff.
Miraculously, when all that stuff disappeared from our home, there wasn’t the same sense of urgency that we needed to get into a bigger place. We were enjoying our small home, and not feeling pushed out by all our stuff. We never did end up putting our home on the market, because we had become more content with our home as it was – free of clutter and lots of stuff we weren’t using and enjoying.
However, when my granny decided to sell her home and downsize a year later in the fall of 2009, we were finally forced to deal with that pile of unwanted stuff. While some of it went to donations, most of the stuff was brought back to live with us. Trying to force an additional twenty bins of unwanted, unneeded stuff back into our home was the catalyst for the realization that we needed to be rid of it all.
I started donating, selling and tossing it all. My husband began to look at me like I was a crazy woman when he would come home from work in the evening and I had sold hundreds of dollars worth of baby gear on craigslist since he’d left for work that same morning. This process went on for months.
We finally got to a place where we had gotten rid of all the unwanted stuff, but then I came to the realization that there was a ton more stuff we were living with that was unneeded. And this brings us to where we are today – slowly letting go of all of the unneeded items. This stage of decluttering is a much slower process, because I do still own beautiful, useful things – but unless I am using them on a weekly basis or it is an item that I am truly in love with, they are making their way out of our home.
The benefits of continuing to live minimally have been huge for our family. Spending less money on stuff we didn’t need resulted in us putting more money toward our mortgage, paying it off in only five years. Having no mortgage and being conscious of what we were spending our money on resulted in us having a lot lower monthly costs, which in turn enabled me to stay home with my children after my maternity leave was up in 2009.
Staying home with my children has allowed me a lot greater flexibility in my own life as well – I have a great social network of friends in my neighbourhood that I see regularly (if not daily), and being home with my kids has allowed me the time to cultivate those friendships in a more meaningful way. I have more time to do things I enjoy, like reading, baking, working out, and doing fun stuff with my kids.
In short, my life got better by living simply. I feel happier, and more content. I don’t spend time worrying about finding another item of clothing to add to my wardrobe, or buying the latest toy for my kids, or getting the perfect Valentine’s gift for my husband – because we don’t need it.
I am conscious of the fact that purchasing items I don’t need is environmentally insensitive and that’s not the kind of person I want to be. Because we have less clothes, toys and stuff, I spend less time doing things I consider unpleasant, like laundry, cleaning and organizing. I enjoy spending my time with the people I care about, rather than trying to make myself happy by acquiring things.
Myself, my husband and my kids are all content with less, and I can’t imagine living any other way.
If you’d like to share your story – born minimalist, in progress or just starting out – drop me an email.
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