Five Ways to Buy Joy and Simplicity Parenting in Action

Someone recently asked me how I ‘do it all’ with blogging and having young kids. It was an embarrassing email to read not only because I was reading it five days after it was sent but also, I had taken an unplanned two week hiatus from writing, blogging and most online activities.

If you’re a long time reader of this blog you know that I don’t do it all. My home is simply furnished, my kids are in just a few activities and we lead a pretty quiet life. I’m also fortunate to have my older child in part-time daycare so regularly get some hours of just me and the baby. It’s been four months since Wil arrived and I’m still having productive weeks followed by very slow weeks. Completely normal for this woman that doesn’t do it all.

Long winded way of saying: good to see you again, apologies for my unplanned offline time and thank you for continuing to read even when I am consistently inconsistent on the posting front. Have big plans for the next few months like creating my ultimate capsule wardrobe now that I am back in my regular jeans, and sharing some changes in our quest for the simple life. 

While I haven’t been writing for the last two weeks, I have been reading.

I even, shocker, picked up a hard copy of one of my favorite weekend papers. The kids and commitments didn’t allow me the leisure of reading all of it on a Saturday morning, post-workout with a coffee(s) as I did in my child-free life, but I did finish it over four days.

I love the easy pleasure of reading a great weekend newspaper. Even if it takes me longer than a weekend.

Just two reads for you today. Your time is precious so I’m just including the best of what has inspired me even more to live with less and spend more thoughtfully.

Simplicity Parenting in Action (via HoboMama)

I have extolled the awesomeness of this book many times. I was thrilled to read this account from a parent that put the book into action and saw excellent results. Another inspiring note from this post: after many failed attempts the author finally figured out a quick easy way to declutter her home.

If you are struggling to de-clutter your children’s rooms go read this post now. It will give you a little kick in the pants to get started today.

The Five Things You Can Spend Money on for More Happiness

We often talk about value spending in my house. It’s a constant back and forth between my husband I: what do we allocate our money to that gives back to us and others.

Travel, health and giving are currently at the top of our list. Things at the bottom: dining out and stuff (clothes, toys, housewares).

This article in the Globe and Mail gave me more insight into how we spend money to buy happiness. A lot of our decisions align with this list of five ways to buy joy:

  1. Buy experiences
  2. Make it a treat
  3. Buy time
  4. Pay now, consume later
  5. Invest in others

Travel hits both the first and fourth way to buy joy.

We love planning trips, scouting airfares, reading travel articles and discussing the possibility of taking our family to a new destination. Often we spend hours planning for trips we never take. That might sound disappointing but it’s actually fun. We get the high of trip planning without spending a dime. Someone once told me half the enjoyment from a vacation is the planning and day dreaming for it.

Are there ways that you buy happiness or joy? We spent on extra help when the new baby arrived and buying that ‘time’ was a great value spend for us.

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  • Simplicity Parenting is on my very short list of must need baby books (right after “The Pregnancy Book” and “The Baby Book” by Dr. Sears) and I love your list.

    As for spending money – we definitely try to spend money on things that can be shared. Toys that will be durable enough to be shared with sibling, clothes that will last thru multiple kids or be in good enough shape to donate when we’re done with them (adults and kids), books and movies that encourage family time, things to do at home and experiences that can be had together.

    • Simplicity Parenting: it is fantastic but I think you cant wait a year, or even a few on it. Most of the lessons/ideas are applicable for preschoolers, grade schoolers and teens.
      Enjoyed The Baby Book by Sears with our first (a classic high needs baby).
      Good luck! :)

      • I know it helped keep a good frame of mind when setting limits on “baby things” – helped me give some great reasons to family on why we didn’t need piles of new baby clothes in every size and every baby toys, bouncer, chair, etc. I used some of the examples to help my parents and in-laws understand why we wanted fewer toys in the house – now we have a 2.5 year old that can play most of the day going between his train set, dinosaurs and books!

  • Paying for help with the house buys me and my husband tons of time to enjoy our daughters…sometimes I feel guilty about it (why do we always need to find something to feel guilty about?) but after reading this I see it was a great choice!

    • Renata, Paying for help around the home is a great use of money for more time. I too get frustrated with the lack of open talk about this subject and the guilt thrown on women about this. Women that work just as hard as their spouses outside of the home and yet are expected to put the equivalent of another part-time job maintaining the home and cooking.. We’ve really lost that mentality that it takes a tribe to raise a family. And often in that tribe if the mother was out picking berries, her mother or aunt, or grandmother, was back with the kids cooking and cleaning.
      So no guilt! You are making a choice that works for your family on many levels. :)

  • Glad you’re back! I love your blog because it always makes me think about how I want my life to be. I have made some pretty big strides in de-cluttering this year, but I have a long way to go to be in the mindset area.

  • Ha ha, when this popped into my inbox I had to laugh after reading the first part cos I thought ‘I wonder if she means me’! :) You may not think you do a lot but I am currently ‘struggling’ to find the time to ‘keep house’, look after a nearly 2 year old, I’m 20 weeks pregnant and I’ve recently considered other options (like blogging, my own business etc) and decided if I want to keep my sanity I don’t have the time! So to me, you do it all! 😉 And when you said you have a personal blog as well, that just had me on my knees ‘bowing down’! :) (Oh and I also think it’s fantastic that you recognise the need to take the time to go away for a bit when you want to – see, you really do do it all! ;))
    HOWEVER I just want to thank you! I feel like the way I’m thinking about things is changing due to minimalism! My husband came home last night and noticed the difference in our kitchen…

  • I don’t often comment, but I read every single one of your posts. I don’t mind if you are inconsistent in posting. I used to blog and found the pressure to post a certain # of times per whatever amount of time to really suck the enjoyment out of it for me. So no pressure or guilt for you! I love your blog! I found it when my son was 3 or 4 months old. He’s 16 months now and in large part because of inspiration from your blog, my husband and I have drastically changed our thought process about bringing things into the home. There was just SO much we didn’t need/didn’t use/didn’t LIKE cluttering it up! We will never be minimalists, but we truly enjoy having less. It is a long term process, but we tackle little bits every week, and it’s making a huge difference in our lives. So thank you, Rachel!

  • I love exploring the money/happiness connection. It’s not as simple as any of the trite sayings people throw at it. :) I like Laura Vanderkam’s book All The Money in the World. Off to read that Globe and Mail article….

  • Two of the best ways I have bought joy since having kids are bi-weekly house cleaning, and grocery delivery service. Seriously the best investment I have made in increasing my happiness and decreasing my stress level.

    • I love grocery delivery! It’s actually relatively inexpensive here – about $90 for 6 months. I will keep it even when/if we ever get a car. And yes to house cleaning! Excellent investment in getting your time back for money spent.

  • Pink/ white paint and redecorating my kids bedrooms are things I just spent money on and has brought us happiness. I firmly believe that our sleeping rooms should be lovely. I changed the girls old bunk bed for a full bed, the girls have always wanted to sleep together anyway. I made a canopy for the bed myself with an embroidery hoop, three curtains, ribbon and hung the canopy over the new bed with a hook. Reused one of the girls old reversible comforter, but bought new exquisite set of sheets.Got two pink and sparkly letters for their initials 99 C store find!!! and hung them next to their bed with pretty ribbon. Found a very pretty pink and purple heart wreath on sale. And a couple other things that made the room girly and fresh. I dreamed about this project for a loooong time. This is one of the few times I have spent money on something not consumable and not regret it at all. My girls walk into their room every day and they feel happy. I have almost fell sleep in the beds, and I’m spending more quality time with them there as the room is so inviting. So money has bought us happiness this time. Next its the boys room.

    • A fresh coat of paint does wonders, doesn’t it? We’re in a furnished rental so we don’t have a lot of options on this front. The one thing I have done, and will do again, is rearrange the furniture. It resets my view of the room and feels like a fresh start.

    • That sounds so beautiful!!! Hope you’re all enjoying it – We’ve re-painted all the rooms in our house (4.5 years here) except mine & hubby’s – i think this summer it might finally be our turn!!! Congrats!

  • I discovered Simplicity Parenting from your book list on the side of your blog and oh my goodness, what a revelation :) LOVE this book! It has already made such a difference in our lives. As with anything, it’s small steps. We declutter, we realise we haven’t decluttered enough, we declutter again…we reduce activities, find we are doing too much again, reduce again…etc…but we are so much faster at recognising when things have tipped a bit too far out of line now. Thanks for recommending this book! Along with your blog, it is a great resource for those of us wanting to jump off the hamster wheel :)

    • I think my favorite part of just that short post (the only thing I’ll ever have time to read – forget the whole book!!) is the idea of just grabbing stuff *now* and sorting *later* — what a smart plan. Not only does/will it give us mamas (and dads!) a chance to see over a bit of time what is missed and what can totally be “tossed” (given/trashed/etc), i think it would free me up from pressure to decide right in the moment. Though my fear, at least for me, is that I wouldn’t get to sorting fast enough for my husband – and for him, that means immediately. In our small house, there’s nowhere really to keep things waiting to be sorted, or even things waiting to be taken to donation sites or textile recycling ( in the states) or what have you. It all has to be cleared out in a day or two tops or else it’s just clutter in a different form than before….sigh.

      I remember when my mom would get super-mad at me in high school and clean out my closet/room while i was at school – it was like a tornado had come through, and I had/have no earthly idea what she found, or threw away, or where it went, but as mad as I was at her for invading my space, eventually I came to appreciate the calm and organization that followed her cleaning rampage. Fresh starts are always nice…

  • I don’t mind if you blog intermittently. I’m just happy you keep it up!

    We moved recently which I think is the best decluttering exercise ever. You REALLY think your belongings over carefully when you have to move them all one by one! We got rid of so much stuff that when we got to our new home much of our furniture was unnecessary, we didn’t have much to put in the drawers! And yet, as time goes by it’s so easy to re-accumulate. It’s something I have to stay on top of.

    And I love the idea of experience gifts. Last year for my son’s birthday he and my husband went on a kayaking day-trip. This year he’s doing a soccer camp. And for my daughter we’re going to a princess festival together :) It’s a great way to celebrate an occasion without buying a bunch of stuff.

  • Oh my goodness, I need to go read this book right now. I have no idea which toys to declutter. Also, we now hire a babysitter one afternoon a week so my husband and I can leave the house together to work in a coffee shop. I love that I have daytime hours to work uninterrupted.

    I totally hear you on planning trips and never going on them. Before the days of, my husband would I would email each other from our desk jobs and race to see who could find the best/cheapest flight to a chosen destination. That was a fun game. :)

  • Simplicity Parenting lives in my bedside cupboard for me to re-read, I love that book. You might also like ‘Mitten Strings for God’ which is a beautiful account of a family’s journey centered on simplicity.
    Also, I think I’ve mentioned it before to you, ‘Hold onto your kids’ is a must read I think, especially for kids entering pe-teens/teens. I feel very thankful I have read that book.

  • Also, my children have very, very few toys (almost embarrassingly so in today’s modern world) and their capacity for imaginary play is beautiful.

    • Glad to hear I’m not the only one with kids having only “embarrassingly” few toys. :)
      My boys (9,6) have a €60 Ikea Tofast toystorage each, mostly full of Legos, some art stuff , some Schleich animals, matchbox cars, Airfix models and a few private ‘treasures’.

      • Apple, are your children in school or home educated?
        Mine are both in a state school and I sometimes worry what their friends might comment ?

        • They are in a state school with ordinary friends. So far, we haven’t experienced any of their friends complaining of the lack of toys when they come over. :) Of what I hear from other parents, kids do not play with more toys than what my kids play with/have. Except other kids have a lot of toys piled up that they do not use. :)

          • We’re quite new to play dates here as I’m quite shy! Of the handful we have had, so far, nothing negative has been mentioned at all but I always wonder if the children notice the lack of character/ plastic in general. Although the girls do have Barbie doll each and Lego which is quite a Waldorf ‘equaliser’ if that makes sense. When the children have had a friend over, we tend to get a lot of crafting out and they bake which keeps everyone busy.

  • Experiences all the way for me. Travelling or day trips. Nothing like it. As my children get older the experiences are changing. I believe I actually heard myself say the other day about taking them to New York… I obviously have a short memory (London was a little tough with a 4-year-old that likes to hide and jump out in obscure places).

  • Welcome back! Real life is more important than blogging, but I’m glad you’re here again all the same!

    I’d day that buying experiences is most definitely a great decision. For us, that has meant an inexpensive membership to the local children’s museum, tickets to an art museum in San Francisco, and foregoing a birthday party for my son in order to take him camping at the beach during his birthday weekend. I am finding that taking a class, seeing a play, or walking by the river are much more satisfying than shopping.

    It’s nice to hear someone else advocating for buying time when you feel you need it. Sometimes I think the DIY culture can go a little overboard when it causes you to drive yourself (and your spouse) nuts doing it all on your own instead of occasionally hiring out.

  • Glad you are back Rachael I love reading your inspirational blog.
    One of the best experience gifts we got for my daughter was a wildlife park experience. We made a donation to the park for the animals and because we did so they offered for our daughter to go in and feed the meerkats. She will remember it forever. It was so amazing. She also has an idea of how her donation was used to help purchase food for the animals and maintain their habitats.

  • My ‘money for joy’ list:
    – living in an area which we love
    – going back to university and changing careers
    – having good quality, long-lasting, practical clothes, household items etc
    – experiences, travel
    – having someone to ‘deep-clean’ the house a couple of times a year

    • Love this list! Especially the career change/education one. I was just talking to a friend of mine that did this two years after having her first child. It was a lot of work on her part and for the family, and money spent, but she is so happy in her new career.

  • I’m flattered that you enjoyed my post and felt it was worthy of sharing. Thank you!! You are an inspiration to me : )

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