On a recent post, I debunked the myth that both parents have to work and leave their children at the care of someone who won’t love them all day in order to be able to give said children “everything” they “need.”
When both parents work, they get used to being able to afford more. But guess what: children don’t need more–they need YOU.
It’s a trap, a vicious cycle where families convince themselves that they’re doing it all for the kids, when it’s really just, in my humble opinion, fueled by greed, in addition to a desire to live above your means.
Because it’s convincing you that more money = more things, the phenomenon known as “lifestyle creep” is dangerous. It tells you that you’re better off at a job earning money to buy things that you don’t need even though your worth isn’t determined by the amount of money you bring in!
On that post, I also touched on some key concepts regarding minimalism from The Minimalists blog that I’ll delve further into below to further dispel the myth that you need more stuff and that you need to work more and more at the expense of your kids’ wellbeing.
(I’ve included my commentary with more explanations and examples as well.)
We have too much.
Too much stuff.
Too much stress.
Too many obligations.
Yet we don’t have enough.
Not enough time.
Not enough money.
Not enough energy.
Looks like we’ve stockpiled the “wrong” things,
and that’s why we don’t have enough of the “right” things.
The path to misery is cobbled with addition.
The path to peace is uncovered with subtraction.
I wanted to focus on the part about how stockpiling the wrong things (e.g., stuff and stress) makes people lack the right things (such as time, energy, and money): The more irrelevance you add to your life, the less room you’ll have for peace, and the more you’ll need to start subtracting from your life to find that tranquility.
As much as I enjoy decluttering (and I believe it should be done often–some do it daily to weekly–because our needs change often), I don’t enjoy having to do it because we weren’t careful enough to “gatekeep” what came into our home in the first place.
Once you realize that you don’t have to keep adding and that you’re fine with less and less, then you can also begin realizing that you don’t need more to buy superfluous things that don’t add value to your life.
Our possessions possess us.
This is how we let go.
If a thing stops adding value, … trash it (as a last resort).
Once we let go, we’re able to move on.
As minimalists (or aspiring minimalists, at least), how much VALUE an object or experience brings into our lives is something we use to determine whether it belongs in our home and lives.
I want to delve deeper into the idea of Value on a future post, but for now here’s a brief example: Play dates.
I don’t have the bandwidth for more than one playdate a week: This is not because I try to really live out my minimalism, but rather because as an introvert, I’d rather meet with our usual playgroup once each week and take the kids out on errands or to the park on other days. I’ve always been an individualist and questioner of authority, too, so that’s probably another reason why I eschew many meetings.
If something doesn’t add value to my life or my family, or if I think it detracts from my Me-time or my Family-time, then it’s not for me, and I won’t prioritize it.
But more on that on a later post.
Minimalism is not busy with doing something.
Decluttering, organizing, and paring down don’t work
unless you first find peace in doing without.
And minimalism is not focused on becoming something—
job titles and achievements merely generate a thirst for more.
Instead, a minimalist focuses on being—
being someone who returns to the natural order,
to the default state of thriving with less.
You’ve been convinced that you are lacking.
You’ve been hypnotized into believing that you are incomplete.
These are lies told to exploit you.
To sell you something.
The Truth awaits… in surrendering to the absence of wanting more. (Emphasis my own.)
Like I alluded to earlier, a minimalist is someone who saw that they didn’t need as much as they thought they did and decided to get rid of much of it because it didn’t add value to their lives.
Marketers and influencers will never tire of selling you something new; society will keep insisting that you need to buy more and more. And you, in turn, got sold the lie that you need it all–and that you need to afford it all! And that the only way to do get and afford it all is by having both parents work outside the home while the kids stay unloved all day under the care of some underpaid stranger.
Elizabeth Warren and her daughter once wrote a book titled The Two-Income Trap (I haven’t finished it yet but I’m planning on blogging about it once I do!), whose thesis states that once both parents are working and earning more, they can afford to buy not only more things, but also more expensive things.
That sounds fine and dandy in the beginning, but wait til the economy responds to people’s increased spending power by making its goods and services more expensive! Then once everything is more expensive, this couple would conclude that the best way to continue to afford what they’ve gotten used to is by continuing to work.
So to some families, minimalism solves this dilemma and takes them out of this trap by teaching them that not everything is needed, that they’re better off with less, and that the kids will thrive with one parents at home loving on them all day instead of staying in the rat race.
* * *
Again, my goal is to honestly help you see, as the mom in your family who might be currently working a lot outside the home or who knows a mom who works outside the home all day, that you don’t need all.the.things. Society tells you that abundance = happiness, but that’s because it benefits when you over-consume, overspend, and buy more than you can afford.
Society doesn’t want you to be debt-free, keep a budget, be responsible, obey your grocery/shopping list, not pick up random things at the store, etc.
Society wants the opposite of what’s best for you.
Staying at home is a beautiful thing: it helps you live simply, disregard what’s irrelevant, and prioritize what matters.
Along those lines, living a minimalist lifestyle and ignoring what society tells you that you “need” is incredibly life-giving: It also teaches you to get rid of the things that will distract you from what matters so that you can focus on what’s important.
Having fewer things means you have less “inventory to manage” (as The Minimal Mom puts it) and helps you stay more on-top of your to-dos. Like being a stay-at-home mom, minimalism, in addition to NOT buying/having as much stuff also encourages you to get rid of debt, follow your list, and buying only what you need and budgeted for.
Another unexpected benefit I’ve found from minimalism has honestly been the FREEDOM to decline random things (or impulse purchases) at the store because I don’t want to have to manage it all or to deal with it. I look at things and go, “Nope! Nope! Nope!”
Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought. -St. Pope John Paul II
And even though decluttering has opened up so much space around our home that we could theoretically refill with more stuff, I’ll still credit an imaginary “lack of space” as another reason why I won’t buy what I don’t need, what I didn’t originally go searching for.
We’re not hoarders so we didn’t have a problem with over-buying as others do, but this newfound freedom granted by minimalism has been incredibly helpful and refreshing.
It’s been helpful in that it’s taught us to pare down to what we do actually use/consume so that we’re not bogged down when we look at or have to manage extra stuff that’s not relevant, and it’s been refreshing in how much the numerous newly free surfaces allow our eyes to “rest” from where clutter used to be.
Now we have a place for everything (or we’re alllmost there, at least!), and everything has a place.