Living with less and 5 Kids? Isn’t that an oxymoron?


The mounds of forgotten toys, used clothing, unread books and assorted papers felt like they were choking the life out of me.  Everywhere I turned, there was more stuff to sell or get rid of.

For our large family, the journey towards living with less began by getting rid of about 95% of what we owned, or really, what owned us.  The mental shift of realizing that our stuff controlled much of our lives pushed us into a much simpler life.

If you'd asked me only 1 year ago what it meant to live with less, I would have imagined an impoverished family, eating sandwiches or beanie weanies out of a can for every meal, each child having one pair of dirty, smelly worn out shoes…and being miserable.

But when we'd finished our final yard sale with only a half dozen of "not too big" boxes left to donate, a huge burden seemed to be lifted from my husband's and my backs.  A burden that seemed to stand in the way of our dreams of living in another country.  That burden was our "living with more" lifestyle.

So how are we living with less AND doing it all with five children?  We prioritize what is most important and are content with what little we DO have.

I'm very thankful that, in spite of the huge life transition, we really don't feel like we live with less most of the time.  We have a roof over our heads, great internet, our computers and enough clothes and shoes to wear that I'm not washing clothes every day.  Well, I do end up washing something every day, but no one's running around naked. :o)

Here are some changes we've made:

-we don't have a smart phone…just a cheap, pre-paid cell phone for local calls.
-we have a small fridge, so we buy groceries (especially milk) more often.
-we eat less processed foods and cook a LOT from scratch.
-we wash dishes by hand, even though we have a dish washer, because dishwasher soap is $8 a box!
-I usually cook just enough for one meal.  Leftovers are usually only gallo pinto, a Costa Rican rice and beans dish.
-we have an uncomfortable couch, but don't feel the need to buy a comfy one.
-we rent our home, so maintenance is not up to us.
-we walk almost everywhere and don't have to worry about how much gas is today.
-we don't drown in a flood of papers because we haven't gotten mail in almost a month, except for one package.
-there's hardly any toys to clean up because we don't have very many…less than 3 per child.
-I make cookies and cakes without my KitchenAid Mixer and have them turn out just as delicious as before…and burn calories in the process!

I think two of the biggest fears some people have about "living with less" is that they'll be looked at as poor and that they won't be happy.

Frankly, we don't care what others think about us.  Not to be mean, but there's freedom in knowing we only have God to answer to and we're confident He wanted us to do this.  And compared to much of the world, we live like very wealthy people.

As for not being happy with less, we really don't have less.  We're finding we have MORE!  We spend more time exercising by walking, more time being together for fun stuff, more healthy habits, more appreciation for the amazing world we live in.

Living with less seems to be more of a mindset, but one that we found almost impossible to have where we were in Florida.  It's hard to strive for a simpler life when you don't force yourself into it…at least that's our experience. 

Jesus lived with very little…no permanent home, probably one outfit and pair of sandals.  He told the story of the rich man who wouldn't give up his worldy possessions to follow him.  (And contrary to popular teachings, we think we'd be considered equal to the "rich man" and know how HARD it is to focus on what REALLY matters when surrounded by stuff!)

Many people even look at missionaries who live with very little through pity-colored glasses.  But what we need to realize is that a lot of times when we're called to serve God, He only requires us…not our stuff.  There's a freedom to letting go of your belongings and living with just the basics.  And the basics are usually quite a bit less than we thought!

Here are some other families who are living with less and their views on this topic:

Worldschool Adventures: Getting Rid of Stuff

Family on Bikes: Enjoying life with less

Break Out of Bushwick: Live with less – Lessons learned from downsizing

Around the World in Easy Ways: Living With Less

Carried on the Wind: Living with Less

Our Travel Lifestyle: Does having all our gear again really make us happier?

Livin On The Road: Four Kids and Almost No Toys 

The Drop Out Diaries: Anchors Aweigh

Discover Share Inspire: 1 Truck, 2 Continents, 7 People – How We Live With Only @321 Things

New Life on the Road : Living With Less Stuff

GotPassport™–  Less IS More: George Carlin Had A Point About All That *STUFF*

Don't Use It?  Don't Keep It?

Have you tried living with less stuff?  What was the biggest hurdle you faced when trying to get to that point?

 

Image: goldsaint / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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31 Responses to “Living with less and 5 Kids? Isn’t that an oxymoron?”

  1. LIVING WITH LESS Says:

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  2. The Dropout Diaries - Anchors Away Says:

    [...] Living With Less And 5 Kids?  Isn’t That An Oxymoron? by Family Travel Bucket List [...]

  3. Live with less: lessons learned from downsizing | Break out of Bushwick: Where a novelist/single mom and her kid plan the trip of a lifetime Says:

    [...] Family Travel Bucket List: Living with Less and 5 Kids? Isn’t that an oxymoron? [...]

  4. Melissa Banigan Says:

    I've NEVER had a kitchen mixer! My baking always seems to come out fine, and it gives me stronger arms in the process!

  5. Mom Says:

    I’m feeling the mixing in my arms. I just need to remember to switch arms so they’re even! LOL!

  6. Nancy from Family on Bikes Says:

    I think this sums it up beautifully – "or really, what owned us. " That is so true – the more stuff we have the more it owns us!

  7. lisa Shusterman Says:

    Less is definitely more.  I think most people would find more happiness with less stuff.  I love how you described being owned by your stuff instead of you owning your stuff.

  8. Amy Says:

    It is amazing how freeing it is when you start the process of living with less.  So much more energy to pursue the things that are  important to your soul.

  9. 1 Truck, 2 Continents, 7 People – How We Live With Only @321 Things | Discover Share Inspire Says:

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  10. A minimalist view on toys | Family on Bikes Says:

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  11. Rebeca Says:

    Amen, sista! 

  12. Amy Says:

    Love the idea of eating differently (read: better) as part of living with less.  We're making our own rice milk for breakfasts and own bread as we travel, too.  Works out so much cheaper and better for us!  Love reading all the different takes on living with less!

  13. Barbara - The Dropout Diaries Says:

    I thing it's only after you downsize that your realise what a burden all your stuff is. I shudder when I read reports of economists talking about how more consumer spending is needed to support the economy. I'm glad you found your possession-minimal happiness!

  14. Less IS More: George Carlin Had A Point About All That *STUFF* | Got Passport™ Says:

    [...] Family Travel Bucket List: Living with Less and 5 Kids? Isn’t that an oxymoron? [...]

  15. Getting Rid of Stuff » Worldschool Adventures Says:

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  16. A minimalist view on toys | Family on Bikes Says:

    [...] Out of Bushwick: Live with less – Lessons learned from downsizing Family Travel Bucket List: Living with Less and 5 Kids? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Around the World in Easy Ways: Living with Less Carried on the Wind: Living with less Our Travel [...]

  17. Lisa Wood Says:

    How amazing – we also have five children! We have five boys.
    I like how you say that you feel rich living with less. I feel the same way :) We have less stuff then we have ever had since we got married. It feels so free to live with what we need, instead of what we want. Amazing how much time there is to spend with family when there is no toys, no technology and a much simplier way of life.
    Cheers
    Lisa

  18. Carolyn Scott Says:

    I am so glad that you are still making cookies without the KitchenAid… you parting with that made me sad! I am also so glad that you guys are enjoying yourselves and doing what you love to do. Kudos!

  19. Mom Says:

    Thanks Carolyn. I hate to even mention this since I know you were trying to be gluten free, but I made the BESTEST pumpkin chocolate chip cookies the other day. The batter/dough gave me quite a workout, but they were delish! It does make me miss my mixer, though.

  20. Mom Says:

    Lisa, that is too funny! I can only imagine your food expenses! LOL! We do have some technology…I don’t know how you do it. I think we’d have a mutiny on our hands if we took the few electronics we have away. :o)

  21. Mom Says:

    Exactly my thoughts, too, on “spending our way out of the mess” mentality. Buying MORE stuff never solves anything in the long run. I’ll admit that retail therapy was nice every now and then, but I honestly was never a big spender. Guess I was preparing for this transition without even realizing.

  22. Mom Says:

    Amy, I just baked some fresh bread today. It’s one of my favorite aromatherapies. :o)

  23. Mom Says:

    I’m shocked at the amount of energy there is now to just BE with my kids…not the same as being near them.

  24. Mom Says:

    As the process wore on, it truly began to make me angry at how much stuff we had…stuff we never (or rarely) used. Why did we let it get that way???

  25. Mom Says:

    My husband read “The 100 Thing Challenge” and it really put a lot of things into perspective. If we’re spending more time maintaining something instead of using it or enjoying it, it really owns us, instead of the other way around. So glad to have so many burdens gone from our lives…but some did travel with us. Just can’t get away from all of it at once.

  26. Living With Less Stuff | New Life On The Road Says:

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  27. Don’t Use it? Don’t Keep it! « Personal « Fullness of Life – the personal blog of Brandon Pearce – Living Abroad, Homeschool, Entrepreneurship Says:

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  28. Living with less: Does having all our gear again really make us happier? | Our Travel Lifestyle :: How one couple with two young children decided to change their lifestyle & travel the world Says:

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  29. Four Kids … Almost No Toys … | Living On The Road Says:

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