Another post in the Minimalist-ish Family Series, this time from a single mum of two young boys. These stories always give me something to think about and I know they inspire a lot of you. If you’d like to share your story of simplifying – doesn’t matter if you live in a tiny house or a sprawling six bedroom home – we want to hear about it. Email me at: the minimalist mom at gmail dot com.
1.) Tell us about your family, who you are, where you live and things that you love:
My family is a triangle. I wish I could brag about being a perfect equilateral, but in truth we are more like an acute scalene. At the base of the triangle you have Me: the highly analytical domestically challenged single mother. Left side is Son 1: the 5-year old Bruce Banner in training. Right side is Son 2: the 3-year old Hulk in training. The Pacific Northwest is where we currently reside and we have all fallen in love with area. There is always some forest trail waiting to be explored or some great quest waiting to be conquered (like the 100-hour reading challenge at our local library). We are also unique in that the boys are half-Mongolian and we try to incorporate that part of their heritage into our family culture, which works well with minimalism since the Nomadic Mongols have been minimalists by necessity for centuries!
2.) When did you first hear about minimalism and what was your initial reaction?
I came to be a minimalist in an organic way rather than making a conscious decision. Life as a nomadic Navy Brat set the foundation for my minimalism but it was when I joined the Peace Corps and lived in a tent in Mongolia that I really embraced life with less. It was actually on a parenting website when I was pregnant with my first son that I came across the concept of actually self-identifying as a minimalist, and that you could still be one even if you are not a fan of the monochromatic minimalism that most people imagine. It was amazing to find that community (which actually lead me to the Minimalist Mom blog)!
3.) What do you find most challenging in trying to live with less stuff?
Kitchen gadgets. I have always been a sucker for infomercials, especially when it comes to kitchen gadgets. Do I really need the electric egg boiler? No. But it gets used twice a week on average and I always have perfectly easy to peel eggs with zero effort! I’m fully recognize that I am a bit lazy and not the best house mom so anything that can make my life easier when it comes to cooking at home is awesome. Sometimes minimizing stress takes precedence over minimizing stuff, and I’m okay with that.
4.) What do you find most rewarding in trying to live with less stuff?
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and too much stuff will literally put me in super stress mode if I’m having a difficult day. I love that I never have to worry about what to wear. I love that my boys can pull out every toy they own and destroy their room and it is cleaned in less than 30 minutes. I love that I don’t feel guilty when I do decide to splurge on something nice or expensive because it is a rare treat that also serves a need (like the hydration hiking backpacks for the boys)!
5.) Do you see any challenges (older, bigger kids, retirement, etc) to continuing on with this lifestyle in the future?
I’ve been looking at homes and hope to purchase in the next year and it is next to impossible to find a house that is as small as I would like in the school districts I like. People look at me like I’m a bit crazy when I say I want something under 1500 sqft. I also have no clue if my boys will be as naturally drawn to minimalism as I am. When they are young it is easy for me to control, but I definitely get anxious imagining the hoard that two teenage boys could accumulate!
Cassandra just sent me this update: since my last email I’ve moved and we now live in less than 800 sqft. Got rid of our couch, dressers, guest bed, and my “office” desk (since the kitchen table works just as well with a laptop)! Yeah Cassandra and her boys!