Switching to homeschool has meant that we’ve had to make some fairly big lifestyle changes around here, since I’m no longer able to work outside the home so there’s a lot less money coming in.
This drastic reduction in income means I often have to make tricky choices... like last week when I ripped the butt out of my only pair of shorts and had to check the weather forecast to see whether I really needed to replace them. Lucky for us the heat waves from the brutal summer seem to be backing off, so yay! I can switch to jeans and we can buy meat this week.
Now in an ideal world I’d be free to homeschool and still earn a bucketload of money, but I’m still looking for the end to that particular rainbow. In the meantime... you know what I’ve discovered? Living minimally is AWESOME.
I used to think that people who chose to live a minimal life were crazy assholes who smelled like patchouli. But no! There are a lot of very smart, sane, everyday folks who are opting to use and buy less. And they’re really onto something. Getting rid of things you don’t need, breaking free of an attachment to Stuff, eliminating the noise in your life... well, it feels pretty darn great.
My turn towards the minimal is from circumstance not choice, so I’m not a minimalist junkie. And I’d be lying if I said that money worries didn’t wake me in the night bathed in the sticky prison of flop-sweat. But this new way of life has a lot going for it.
My house is always half an hour away from being spotless.
Downsizing to a teeny tiny house has enormous benefits, the biggest of which is that I never have to stress if someone calls to say they’re coming by unexpectedly (that’s the only good reason to clean, right?)
Evacuating in an emergency is really easy.
All of my important worldly possessions fit into three small boxes. I know this because we recently had to outrun a forest fire and I have a tiny car and big kids.
There are a lot less decisions to make.
Getting dressed is a no-brainer when you only own one pair of jeans.
I’m rediscovering our local library.
Books! Music! Movies! Magazines! Why the hell do people ever pay for these things?
There’s no clutter.
When you have less stuff, you have more space. Seriously, why did it take me this long to figure that out?
I’m becoming a better cook.
I can’t afford to eat out, so learning how to make my food more delicious and attractive makes me feel like I’m not missing out by staying home. I’m also finding a ton of new recipes to use up those really precious leftovers.
It’s opening my mind.
We’re so conditioned to believe that we have to own a bunch of stuff to be happy, to consume constantly and work long hours to earn the tons of money to afford it all. Rethinking these ideas is making me question a lot of other assumptions I’d made about life and what it takes to live a good one.
My kids take more care with their stuff.
They know that once something is lost or broken it gets added to the bottomless pit called To Be Replaced Someday, never to be heard from again.
There’s a lot of comfort in not being attached to stuff, knowing that you could pack a bag and walk out of your house today to move somewhere else if you had to. There’s a sense of freedom in that which is really quite glorious.
I feel like a rebel.
I don’t need you, fancy hair salon! Not today, overpriced running shoes! I’m totally sticking it to the man.
I donate a lot.
Once you get into the habit of living minimally, it’s hard to stop. I’m constantly discovering more things that we don’t need, and finding good homes for that stuff just makes me really happy.
I feel smart.
Having to find resourceful ways to make things last (or do without) is really great for your brain, not to mention your self-esteem. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I know 27 different uses for empty cereal boxes.
Most of all, I’m starting to get really good at asking myself “Do I need this?”
“Do I need to clean behind the fridge?”
“Do I need to reply to that email?”
“Do I need to know what people think of me?”
“Do I need to watch this depressing news story?”
“Do I need to read those blog comments that make me wanna stab something?”
And you know what? We really need a lot less than we think we do.
Image courtesy Flickr user Shandi-lee