1.) Tell us about your family, who you are, where you live and things that you love:
2.) When did you first hear about minimalism and what was your initial reaction?
4.) What do you find most rewarding in trying to live with less stuff?
I think I try to choose time over money in my life. In fact, I think the value of time was one of my bigger takeaways when we started getting into minimalism, decluttering and paying off debt with ‘gazelle like intenstiy’ as the great Dave Ramsey would say. Suddenly I could equate stuff – the cost of time to maintain, the money and the hours of work that money represented, what the space to store that stuff cost us in mortgage, utilities, insurance – with time. As someone in mid-life with young kids time, the passing of it so quickly as years, the often dragging of it so slowly as hours, the dearth of it for my singular use, is on my mind often.
This piece in the New York Times attempts to answer the question what is worth more: money or time. It starts with a question for a parent of a new baby. Should the parent take the extra weekend of work, increasing their income, or stay home to have more time with their 12 week old baby. What will make them happier? The extra money in the bank or the extra hours with their new baby.
Of course, for many people there is simply no question to answer. They need the money for basic living costs. But this article examines the question for people that do have a choice. And if you’re a minimalist wannabe like me, the answer will affirm your choice to value time over money.
when it is a choice, the likelihood of choosing more time over more money — despite the widespread tendency to do the opposite — is a good sign you’ll enjoy the happiness you seek.
Reading this article made me think of our current lifestyle and from a few angles it looks and feels like we’re seriously undervaluing time. My husband is away from us 2-3 weeks a month. That’s a lot of time to give up. And although it’s not forever, at most we think it will be ten months, it feels pretty long. Why have we given up so much time so willingly?
We’re hoping to give up this time now to gain more in the future. We’ve always hoped that my husband could take a year, or even – dream scenario – be mostly retired, and while the kids were still in school. This venture my husband is working on now might make that possible down the road. Plainly speaking I make considerably less money than him so for this to happen we would have to hit a financial milepost like have our mortgage paid off to make it work. So we’re hoping that sacrificing time in the short term brings us more time later. Also, we know it’s just ten months and if it becomes truly unbearable we can always just move me and the kids over to where my husband is.
Is it the right choice? I can’t say. I think about if something were to happen, like one of us became critically ill, and would I wish we’d done things differently. Then I remember that I can’t predict the future. So right now, this ultra-long distance commute makes sense for us for a number of reasons (some that I don’t share here because they’re not mine to share).
Funny how my answer to this question has changed over the years. I clearly remember talking to a coworker at one of my first post-university jobs and asking him if the was applying for the new manager position. I assumed he would: he was smart and had been there for a few years. When he said no I was shocked. Why? He didn’t want the extra stress and responsibility and hours. He didn’t want to check email at night or have to stay late for meetings. He had a new baby at home and he said his priority was his family. And, he added, his current salary was enough for him. Totally baffling answer to me, at the time a 22 year old, debt riddled singleton but now? Sounds reasonable.
I find the question of choosing time or money endlessly fascinating. There isn’t a wrong answer here. Sometimes prioritizing income over time is the right answer in the short term for many reasons: early retirement, finite work available, paying for large unexpected expenses, trying to make a big purchase like a house without assuming a lot of debt, etc.
Are you someone that has the luxury of deciding to work more, or less, or make career choices based on giving yourself more time rather than more money? Do you actively choose to spend less on big and small things so that you don’t have to work more? Is money more important to you right now than time?
We’re a new family of three — our baby girl is just seven months old — and we all share a 750 sq. ft. wartime bungalow in the East York-Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto, Canada. We bought the property about six years ago after renting nearby. I love coffee, running, red wine, reading, country music, flea markets, and our fluffy ginger cat, Archie. I’m currently on maternity leave with our daughter, but I’ll eventually go back to work in children’s book publishing and my husband is a geologist. His career will see us move to Victoria, British Columbia, in the spring, so we’ll soon call a new address home for a little while.
2.) When did you first hear about minimalism and what was your initial reaction?
3.) What do you find most challenging in trying to live with less stuff?
I like to switch things up at home and the commitment to owning less stuff (one set of bedsheets, for example) makes it difficult to do a simple refresh by cycling in your spare set. When I do purchase something new for the house (like a throw pillow, mirror, vase, etc.), I have to donate/gift/sell/repurpose whatever it’s replacing — there’s no high shelf in a closet (literally, my house has no closets) where I can stick the pillow I was tired of looking at. That can feel wasteful because there’s usually nothing wrong with or damaged about the older item. Also, one of my favourite ways to spend a Saturday is at a flea market or jumble shop — I love the thrill of the find. Of course, I most often leave empty handed because we really don’t have space for that perfect vintage school desk, which is cost effective — but can be a bit of a bummer.
Thank you Kendal! Lovely to see how you make your small home work and your no-nonsense strategy on gifts is right up my alley. And good luck with your big move.
Are you living a Minimalist-ish life? I’m sharing stories from families that have implemented minimalism to small or big degrees and what that looks like in their home and with their family. If you would like to be featured email me at the minimalist mom at gmail dot com (all together).
As I told Brooke on her podcast, we seem to like regular big changes in our life yet, I wouldn’t say my husband or I are great at adapting quickly to new places and routines. Our move and transition back to Canada from the Isle of Man last year left me feeling like a bag of hammers. It took me quite a few months to feel settled and not so drag my ass tired. Yes, that’s my truth about big life moves with three kids: I find them exciting but also incredibly draining and tiring. Of course, now that we’re settled in Vancouver and in a routine, we’re blowing it all up again.
My husband is starting a new venture overseas and will commute back and forth for the foreseeable future. I’m using the term commute because we will see him at least a week every month. Also I can’t really admit that he’s living so far away from us. We’ll be FaceTime-ing at breakfast and making the most of the 7-10 days a month he’s home. To add to our love of change, my oldest son is starting at a new school this fall and our younger two are starting part-time daycare. And you know just to throw a little more on us our amazing babysitter is moving away (do you know how hard it is to find a babysitter that can handle three kids six and under with grace and skill and fun?).
So, I’m practicing what I preach here on the blog and in my books and planning a quiet year work wise, asking for help from family and friends when I need it and trying to keep things really simple. My oldest isn’t doing outdoor soccer league this year. Dragging all of us out to an evening practice and Saturday morning outdoor game all winter – something my husband did most of the shuttling and standing in the rain for last year – felt like a recipe for making me frazzled x 10. Instead our oldest is trying out a casual once a week afterschool soccer lesson that’s walking distance from us. The commitment is only seven weeks at a time so if he loves it and it works for our schedule we will keep going. If not, we just won’t sign up for another term.
My super awesome kids are also often super exhausting. Not having a partner to spell off can be tough. I’m feeling full of commitment right now for the things I know will help: sleep, more sleep, less screen time, time outside, sleep and eating well. Oh and sleep. Yes, one thing that keeps smacking me in the face with its truth is that I am a better and happier person when I’m getting plentiful and regular sleep. Put the computer away, don’t start a home project after the kids are in bed, don’t tell yourself ‘just one more chapter’, put the book down and just get thee to bed.
I’m not having a back-to-school freak out because I knew a month in advance that all three kids would be doing something new, that the supply lists for daycare and the new school were long and that I am TERRIBLE at doing it all the week before. So I’ve been picking off jobs like completing the daycare emergency kits (foil blanket, family photo, emergency contact list for out of town family, garbage bag with arm and neck holes cut out and child’s full name across front), ordering five 4×6 photos each of the two in daycare and collecting the ‘two boxes of kleenex, two packs of disinfectant wipes, labelled water bottle’ for school since early August. Know yourself. I would be staying up until the wee hours packing and sorting all this stuff, freaking out – and not getting the sleep I need – if I didn’t admit to myself that I’m just not that good at checking off long lists of small tasks in a short period of time.
Me on a podcast and Kiwi radio!
In case you missed it, I’ve been on a few podcasts and radio shows lately. Chris and Alain have an interesting and inspiring podcast called Everyday Revolutions and they asked me on to discuss minimalism, how to get started and what my new book is all about. Some great questions from these guys and if you’re new to simplifying, or feeling stuck after a few attempts, have a listen. And just yesterday I was on a New Zealand radio program talking about families and minimalism. I had a total nerd out that I was on a program in the future: it was afternoon for me on a Wednesday and it was Thursday morning for the radio hosts.
- The Everyday Revolutions Podcast Minimalism: Who Needs It?
- Radio New Zealand Nine to Noon show parenting segment: Minimalist Parenting: less stuff. less stress. more fun?
Happy September to you!