When our second daughter was born, we named her Lucia. At that moment we had it “ALL” or “A.L.L.”, which stands for our three children now: Ana, Levi, and Lucia.
I didn’t recognize this funny little twist of phrase immediately, but my wife did. She said in fact that she had been thinking that since we tossed around Lucia’s name. I’d certainly say now, as we settle in after nearly two years with now three little kids, that we have it ALL. And now there’s ALL the more reason to reflect on our family’s lifestyle, manner of living day to day, and how we all co-exist.
Before baby Lucia was a year old, we moved her into the middle kid (Levi’s) room. What I refer to as the L Room suddenly got a lot smaller too. One crib each on opposite walls doesn’t leave a lot of room for furniture. Good thing we have two tall bureaus for them to house their clothes. All this shuffle and shrinking has me reflecting on space and stuff and another good reason to embrace minimalism. What is “minimalism”, you might ask? You can read a bit about it here, from two of my favorite Minimalists. But back to it ALL.
Let’s face facts and do the math, as they say: our family lives in a 1,200 square foot house. We have one and a half bathrooms, three bedrooms, four closets, and five people, including three kids four & under. Plus two black labs. Yesterday we were all in the same room together after dinner. Suddenly the couches seemed bigger, the open space shrinking before my eyes as the two year old followed one of the dogs around.
1,200 square feet means that if we’re wise, we’ll be especially thoughtful about the things we have, and deciding on the things we do and don’t (!) need. If we’re committed to making the most of our little house, it must also be about creating space and solutions take us toward “simpler” rather than “more complicated” on a regular basis.
It’s not easy. The solutions are anything but obvious a lot of the time, and frustrating at least some of the time. There’s stuff everywhere, in every room, it often seems. So what does living in this space actually mean?
It means the garage has been partially built out and transformed into an office, pantry with deep freezer & second fridge, a laundry room, a storage space, and a kennel. It won’t see a car parked in there for a long time, if ever.
Now that we have it ALL, each of us (especially the two adults in the house) need to be more thoughtful about this basic concept: “What we like” versus “What we need.”
Want an example? It might be fun to have fifteen pairs of shoes (granted, some are twenty five years old), but one doesn’t NEED that many pairs of shoes. Nor shirts, nor jackets, or sweaters. So I’ve tried to thin the collections.
The key objective and decision factor needs to be, “What brings value NOW (versus the sentimental ‘clinging-on’ of things), what is necessary, and then work to jettison the rest, thus making room from the space left after the non-essential stuff is discarded, re-purposed, given away.
The other key objective is to consciously develop and strengthen the attitude in ourselves and our kids that experiences are more important than having more stuff, and the close corollary: people over things. Teach your kids early on and they’ll have a better chance at being happier adults.
Then what? We make a regular review of stuff (difficult but necessary, like trimming the bougainvillea) and managing/reducing the amount of stuff we have. Sounds good, right? But THEN what? Here’s the really big challenge: Teach our kids the same. Or at minimum, help them develop an awareness early in life that they need to be aware of what they have, what they truly need, versus what they merely “want.”
As we all know, in the end, having it ALL is really just a state of mind.