My husband and I have long discussed this somewhat new idea that if you don’t make money from something, if you don’t tweet a picture or video of an experience or plate of food, or if you don’t get some kind of acknowledgement for your actions, then it doesn’t seem to count that you’ve done it or experienced it. Or this other idea that if you don’t have a certain, conventional lifestyle, then you’re living in some ridiculous bubble that will pop at any moment.
While validation is nice and important in some respects, I want my children to know that success, happiness, and fulfillment come in many wholesome ways that don’t necessarily require validation from anyone but their conscientious selves.
In this post you’ll find: Saying NO to bringing more items into the home and finding more meaning in LIVING LIFE instead of GETTING MORE. Read on to hear more about our ongoing minimalist journey as a family, or scroll to the bottom for bullet-pointed useful tips and suggestions!
My husband and I have done some things as a couple that people have considered us crazy for. And I agree. But we did them anyway and I wish I had the adventurous spirit to do such things more often. One of said choices is my very favorite crazy thing that I have never regretted one bit . . . and am always glad that we were brave enough to try.
Several years ago when my husband was graduating, we had a job offer in the Pacific Northwest that would require a move to a town six hours away. It also wouldn’t start for about three months after grad school. While we loved where we lived, we weren’t sure that staying for those three months was the best idea–we could take the last of our funds and stay put, or spend the summer traveling in our tent trailer.
Ultimately, we chose to move our things into a storage unit and spent the next two and a half months in our tent trailer visiting family, beautiful coastal towns, getting ants in our tent trailer (twice), two (separate occasions) flat tires, and figuring out how to best keep our two and four-year-old kiddos happy, as well as our dog and cat calm.
With all of the craziness, both good and bad, our family became so welded and bonded together that, to this day, we still feel the positive affects of that moment in our life. Years later, my husband and I still look back on that experience and wish we could relive it once more. And . . . we might attempt that at some point. You never know! Though maybe not in a tent trailer but a motor-home.
Biggest Lessons Learned From the Trip:
1. Struggles and trials will always come our way but we get through them best when we support each other.
2. Arguing with a spouse is absolutely ridiculous in a tent trailer–there are no dramatic exits when the space is so small that there are only five steps to get to the next living area. And! You must whisper so you don’t wake sleeping children.
I remember being upset with my man at one point and walking those five steps. Laughing at myself on the inside and feeling completely silly, I walked right back to him. Because we’re both so chill with each other (and because my husband totally puts up with my nonsense), we don’t disagree very often at all. But I still miss tent trailer arguments–the space and atmosphere quickly put things into perspective and forced us to resolve issues in a much more timely manner.
3. We need so much less than many people in first world countries actually have. I believe that I packed the tent trailer well, however, I began to ditch things because I wanted more space (not more stuff) as we went along. It was a daily realization how little we actually need.
4. Because we had so few things, our experiences became KING. Nothing was more important than our beautiful conversations about our dreams, playing with our children in lovely places, visiting with friends and family, and experiencing stuff we never would have otherwise. That tent trailer was fun and I’m glad we had all that we needed but it was simply our vehicle to living our experiences.
Sounds incredible, right? You should totally try it.
The one thing that bothered me and that my core beliefs have learned to rebel against: People told us over and over again that we would soon have to head back to REALITY. To me it seemed as if — though well-intended — people were uncomfortable with the idea that somebody could live in a very different way to them.
While yes, we did have to head back to our town and get to work, everybody has a different reality. So if I have been given an opportunity to live, why not do so in the reality that I see fits my family best. The way that my husband and I believe will make for a full and enriched life for our family, even if it looks different? What does it matter if it’s a tent trailer, yurt, traditional home, tiny house or motor-home? What we really need is a home, not necessarily a traditional house structure.
Heading back to my opening thoughts, more than anything, I want my kids to work hard, to be creative, to live wholesome lives and be good, contributing citizens. However, I do not want them to feel pressure to be conventional in all things.
I want them to know that they can be confident and assured in themselves and their lives as they make good choices. And I want them to know that they don’t need to share a picture with everyone they know in order to make them feel better about themselves. Or have a fancy this or that not because it makes them feel happy, but because it is what is acceptable to friends/society.
Now, if they enjoy their items, or if they have fun posting pics and doing or not doing so doesn’t make them question their well-being, then social post away! It’s not about the action or the possessions–it’s the why behind it.
What I really want is for my family to value experiences over having things. And I want my kids to know that those experiences are valued differently by various people, so they should pursue those activities for their own wholeness and well-being–not for the approval of others.
Here are some tips on finding your way to Living Life:
- When people offer you stuff, make sure they’re things you actually need/want in your life – don’t just accept them because you feel that you ought to, or society says you should. If you don’t want an item, you don’t have to be rude, you can simply say, “Thanks so much for thinking of me, but we don’t actually need that right now.” You can even offer a name for somebody that does, or your favorite donation center.
- If you’re on the brink of buying a house or considering selling yours, definitely consider your family/kids’ needs, but also take into consideration what kind of life you want. Are you spending so much on the care of your home and cost of your mortgage that you aren’t able to do things that your family would really benefit from? While I’m not necessarily suggesting that you sell your house and buy a tiny one, exploring lots of options for either becoming debt free or choosing a more modest home is a wonderful idea if your finances are keeping you from living the life you dream of.
- This year when my kids’ birthdays came around, when people asked, I actually opted for cash – that way they could carefully select what they wanted. That kind of sounds terrible as I write it but my kids have so much stuff as it is, it ended up being the right choice for us. If your kids don’t want/need anything and they receive cash for holidays, taking them to a special event, trampoline park, or getting nails done, archery range, or something else is definitely buying an experience instead of “stuff” that will eventually end up in the garage sale/donation pile.
- When given well-meaning advice, be sure you carefully ask yourself if it’s suitable for yourself, then try to let go of what isn’t right. My husband and I will likely full-time in an RV for a period once we sell our house so that we can fulfill some dreams. It wouldn’t work for everybody and those people aren’t really too keen on the idea. And some of them let us know. That’s ok. We’ll try it out if we see fit when the time comes and see if it works for us.
- You don’t need to document every single moment. I don’t need to document every single moment. Sometimes we miss out on what’s happening right under our moments because we’re trying to film it. We often respond with a “no” when our kids ask to take a picture of something due to the fact that we want them to actually enjoy the moment. Of course, we don’t say no to everything! But we definitely give gentle reminders to appreciate what’s happening around them in the moment.
- Create a goal journal or list of what you envision for your minimalist lifestyle – that way you can stay on track. When those spontaneous moments strike and you find your cart loaded with things that aren’t going to support your goals, it’s easier to put things back or say no before you walk out the door if you actually know what you’re trying to achieve.
- Opt for experiences instead of things–about 99% of the time, it will bring more happiness into your life than a thing that will likely end up in a garage sale/donation pile. Memories last a lifetime, bond people together, and bring good feelings at the remembrances over and over again. And they don’t take up any space in your house!
Good luck on your journey and please be sure to leave any comments below!
Also, you might be wondering, what does Minimalism have to do with my author blog and author efforts? If you remember in this post, I talked about my goals to be a successful independent author and the sacrifices that I need to make in order to do so. My husband and I have a major goal and getting rid of the excess “stuff” is one of many steps toward said goal. And, as we take certain steps, I’ll be sharing our goal with you. We’re just not quite ready for that yet!
So, I want to be a successful author and am sacrificing in order to do so. What goal is your “stuff” sucking time away from?
If you’d like to support my efforts to become a successful author, please take a look at my books HERE–every purchase or kindle page read makes a difference! Thanks in advance!