I'm an Author, almost Olympian, mom of three, apartment dweller, clutter buster. A blog about rich life with less stuff the minimalist mom. Simple and frugal living for families that want more time, money and space.
The lovely Frugalwoods had a post up recently about the cost of living in the country vs. their previous years living in the city. Apparently people kept saying to them ‘you must be saving so much money living out there!’ which couldn’t be farther from the truth for them at the moment. This really piqued my interest because I so... Read More
Continuing on the theme of children and their stuff, I wanted to talk about toys. This is usually a bugaboo for most of us. Too many toys. They seem to multiply overnight. Especially around birthdays and holidays. And while many of us put firm restrictions on what we bring in or give to our children, there are so many other... Read More
As I mentioned the other day, the best method for paring down your stuff is the method that works for you. It could be a bet, a number based goal, a system based on rooms or categories or items or a slow and steady push through all your stuff for a few months. Find what works for you. If what... Read More
Hello! There are many new faces that find this space at the beginning of the new year (not surprising – it’s a great time to set some intentions around your stuff). If you’re new here, nice to meet you. I’m Rachel, minimalist-ish author, mother of three, recent transplant from a downtown condo with a walk score of almost 100 to... Read More
Gift giving and receiving is supposed to be a joyous and celebrated affair. Wikipedia tells me that modern gift giving was made popular in the 1800s when Queen Victoria’s tradition of giving gifts for the new year merged with the Christmas holiday. Prince Albert popularized the Christmas tree and our modern take on Christmas was born. In the Victorian era... Read More
This is a rare post for this blog: a ‘thing’ review. You may have noticed that I rarely host giveaways and almost never endorse products on this blog. Not because I am not asked: I get requests almost daily for reviews of products. But you’re here, and I’m here, to focus on living with less stuff. The exception I have made,... Read More
My new book, The Joy of Doing Nothing, is now available for pre-order and hits stores December 5th! It would make a great gift for anyone looking to reduce mental load and find time for themselves in their busy life. Have you ever felt that your brain was so full of items, of to-dos, to-think-abouts, to-keep-an-eye-ons, that your mind was... Read More
When I told friends the title of the book I was writing earlier this year they all laughed. Like really laughed. I started prefacing any conversation with the book with, “I know this will seem funny with my current schedule” to pre-empt the inevitable guffaws.
You see, I was writing a book about The Joy of Doing Nothing. And I hadn’t had time to really do nothing, time that was not on a clock/a babysitter was being paid, since 2009. Yes, I hadn’t been bored for almost eight years. It was actually fortuitous timing. As I researched and wrote about our need for time to do nothing, and the benefit of taking time to actually be bored, my husband and I were also thinking about leaving the city to get more time back. I’d spent most of the last year solo-parenting. Being bored sounded really appealing.
We need time to do nothing. The constant stream of information via our digital devices has stolen our boredom and our ability to clear our minds. We are literally making ourselves ill and depressed via personal technology. We’re also stressed and way too busy. Chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. It’s estimated the over 75% of physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. We know we need to disconnect and empty our minds, but we rarely do it.
This is a book about finding those precious minutes in busy lives to deeply disconnect. To stare out the window. To leave your phone out of reach. To say no and spend a quiet evening just to yourself. It’s a book about using the power of doing nothing to find more joy in the activities and people you love. This book is about finding hidden minutes in your life to reclaim for yourself so you can simply sit and be. It’s about giving yourself permission to tear up a to-do list.
It’s a book for everyone. If you’re overwhelmed with parenting or your job or caring for aging parents, if you’re struggling with a few too many passes a day through your Facebook or Instagram account, if you find yourself unable to relax at home because there is simply too much to do – you need this book. It will not only show you why you need to make this time for yourself, it will show you how.
This book has been a kick in the pants for me too. It’s made me wrangle my technology usage and find that time for myself that has often been elusive with three young kids. The lessons and strategies in this book have helped me shift household duties and priorities to give myself more time. Ideas from this book were on my mind as we made the decision to leave the city for the country.
This is my third book with Adams Media (who are now a part of the Simon & Schuster family!!) and I am so thrilled with how this book came together. Laura Daly, my wonderful editor on Do Less and The Minimalist Mom, once again pushed me to be as concise and helpful and inspiring as possible. I’m so happy with the road map in this book for finding an easy way to take care of yourself, a simple and free method for resetting to create more calm and joy in your life. The Joy of Doing Nothing is now available for pre-order (squee!) and hits stores on December 5th.
Your support for this book means so much to me. I hope you’ve found the posts here over the years helpful and inspiring on your own simplicity journey. I would be thrilled if you helped get the word out about The Joy of Doing Nothing by:
share this book with friends via word of mouth or through email or social media (copy + paste this link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1507204957?ie=UTF8 )
ask your local library to order in a copy *seeing my book in a public library is the most thrilling event for me as a writer!
Do you find time in your days to shut everything out and off to do nothing? Do you practice meditation regularly or yoga or have a ritual for how you start or finish your day that involves being quiet and clear minded?
I’ve mentioned my house fear here on the blog, and talked about it a lot with people in person, over the years. Houses scare me. My fears about home ownership are two-fold: they take a lot of time to maintain and clean and they attract a lot of stuff. Admittedly home maintenance and cleaning is not something I enjoy so I come from a place of negativity around the work of home ownership. Cleaning three bathrooms and vacuuming 2500 square feet of floor sounds like a stolen Saturday to me. The annoyance/pain of raking leaves or other yard maintenance makes me anxious. I know this is not the case for everyone because I know people that live in houses and have enjoyable and relaxed lives and aren’t crying to me about day(s) lost to the work of home ownership.
That said, a few weeks in and my husband and I both feel that owning a home has been just as much work as we expected and not any less. We’re in a 1400 square foot rancher with a decent sized fenced back yard, a garage and a basement that has a suite in it and a large unfinished room. Coming from our two bedroom 1100 square foot condo, the one that required no yard work and had a gym and indoor swimming pool for our use, the change has been severe. Of course, one of the reasons we moved here was to have more time and a more relaxed schedule. We knew some of that time would be used for home maintenance.
Condo life is easy.
Condo life really is easy. I can’t say that enough for people that are looking to downsize or shift something to get more time. Sure, you pay a monthly maintenance fee but you don’t have to own and maintain any lawn and garden equipment. We’ve been at the local hardware store a half dozen times since moving in getting the basics to keep the house and yard in shape. The backyard of our home came with not one but two sheds that the previous owners had filled with home and yard maintenance equipment. We won’t be going that far but yes, we’ve invested a hefty sum to mow the lawn, be able to clear gutters and trim trees. In a condo that’s all not your problem. You’re also unlikely to get a surprise maintenance bill in a condo. Furnaces age out, water heaters break and you could face an immediate bill of several thousand dollars just to keep your house liveable. In a condo you make a monthly payment to take care of those big expenses – it’s great for budgeting. And in Vancouver condo boards now have to get a depreciation report for their building each year to guide how they allocate funds for current and future maintenance and replacement projects. Home owners on the other hand have to do this planning and budgeting themselves. And let’s face it, most of us aren’t going to start saving now for getting the roof replaced in the next five to ten years.
Yes, I moved to a house and I’m still raving about the beauty, ease, savings and simplicity of apartment life. I loved it. We loved it. I know it’s not for everyone, many of you enjoy the space a house affords and are happy to trade in some time to have that. But in the busy exhausting days of having young kids, especially for working parents with long commutes, I highly recommend exploring apartment life as an avenue to gain more time. I’ve been writing about the challenges and benefits of living in an urban centre with kids for years. But I don’t detail a lot of the day to day here or document specific activities that we do. For a full picture on living in downtown Vancouver with kids, I love the blog Apartment Baby. Andrea’s been blogging since 2008 and now has three children and a wonderful downtown lifestyle (she’s also a labour and delivery RN and has a wealth of information for new parents). If want to explore the good and the challenges of living in an apartment with kids, check out Andrea’s blog. It’s actually where I have gone to in the past for new ideas on where to take my kids!
I don’t know how parents of young children maintain large homes. Do they just strap the newborn to them and get to work? Are they mowing the lawn with the baby monitor hooked to their belt so they know if the toddler wakes up from their nap? Do they have a lot of budget wiggle room to outsource all of it? I would have been completely overwhelmed at the amount of work a house requires when we had newborns and toddlers. They’re older now, almost 3, almost 5 and 8, and more independent and sometimes even helpful compared to those early years. And we’ve gained more time with my husband moving from a job that had him travelling three weeks of the month to a job that has him working from home. Maintaining this modestly sized home feels manageable at this stage in our life.
Finding pleasure in the work of home maintenance.
Of course, it would be sad if all we did was grumble about the increased workload from buying a house. Instead, we’re trying to get into it and enjoy the work. My husband apparently likes mowing the lawn. I’m trying to get into a routine of with the new recycling system, one that requires a lot more work on our part than just taking the elevator to the garbage and recycling room in our condo building. There’s somethings quite satisfying about stacking all of our cardboard, sorting what can go to curb-side recycling and organizing all the items that have to be driven out to the waste disposal site just out of town to be recycled.
We’re also trying to get the kids into the extra work. They’ve been bagging leaves and I’m trying to get them interested in sweeping pine needles off the driveway. They want to plant strawberry bushes in the small garden beds next spring. Hopefully the end game on all this house maintenance is that our kids learn the skills to maintain a house and then can a) take over the work! and b) they have a better idea if that’s the lifestyle they want for themselves.
If you live in a house, do you find the maintenance and cleaning to be a chore? Do you enjoy the work? Are you ready to be done with it?
Deer everywhere here. This one was enjoying the kitschy water feature that came with the house. The one we gave away the first week we were here to a neighbour that admired it.
Moving to the country and into a house has had us buying a lot of stuff lately. We own a lawnmower now and some basic furniture for a one bedroom suite. My brother has earmarked an inflatable slip ‘n’ slide for us that his kids have outgrown. We’ve all had to get outfitted in winter wear as the snow is soon to come. It’s been a stressful and strange couple of months of acquiring stuff for us minimalist-wannabes.
What do you do if you love simplicity and minimalism and yet, you move from a two bedroom condo to a house with a yard? At first I planned to not buy any new furniture. I thought we would get up there and then just see what we needed. But I looked at the second hand market for furniture in that area and it was frankly abysmal compared to what we could get secondhand in the city. And we thought about how we were going to use the space, that we’d have family over frequently, that the suite in our basement already had weeks booked with family staying in it, and decided to take the plunge and buy furniture for the house before moving up there. We actually rented a storage locker for a month to stash our Craigslist finds and some IKEA buys to get hauled up to our new house. It felt pretty uncomfortable to a) stockpile stuff and b) buy so much in such a short time. And I’m sharing all of this information here because I need to be brutally honest about this big life move. Both the good – more time, nature, less financial stress – and the not so good – the increase of stuff and increased work of owning a single family home.
Upsizing as a minimalist wanna-be feels wrong. Moving into a house has been both enjoyable and panic inducing. When we looked at houses to buy in this area all of them had basements and garages packed with stuff. Seeing those packed houses made it seem inevitable: you buy a house and then you fill with as much stuff as you can.
Note: it wasn’t on our radar to move into an apartment in this small town. My husband wanted to have a yard (and mow a lawn!) and I admit, I was curious about living in a house too. We have given up a lot of city amenities with this move so we plan to use our new home space more for activities with the kids.
I keep reminding myself: just because you have space doesn’t mean you need to fill it. There is so much storage in this house. So so so so much storage. Previous owners have put in shelving in the garage and basement and basically anywhere that would hold a shelf. There is far more storage than we have stuff for. And we won’t and don’t have to fill it.
Also: we don’t have that much stuff. The last few weeks in Vancouver people kept asking me about the packing and if I was stressed out. Not really. Sure, there was work to be done but it was really just a couple of evenings of packing after the kids went to bed and then we did the bulk of it the day before the movers arrived. Even with the extra furniture we brought up our movers were very happy with how much stuff we had (they were getting paid a flat rate). They unloaded everything into our new house in under two hours.
There are so many wonderful stories out there about downsizing for simplicity. Could we be a wonderful story about upsizing for simplicity? I know it sounds incongruous but we moved to this small town, and this house, to give ourselves more time and more financial freedom. We’re a few weeks in and already feeling the relaxed and unhurried vibe of this town and enjoying some wonderful surprises to us like how cyclist friendly it is here, and that, WOAH, kids are allowed to have peanut butter in their lunches at school and daycare.
Okay all house dwelling minimalist wannabes: how do you keep yourself from filling every last room and every last shelf? One thing I enjoyed about living a smaller home was that it was pretty easy to see if you need to pare down clothes or toys – there just wasn’t enough room to hold a lot of stuff. Now… this home has endless storage.
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