Friday, May 22, 2015

Some Pros and Cons of Minimalism

Over the past year, I've increasingly become more of a minimalist. I'm all about "simple" living, and I feel like "living with less" goes hand in hand with that concept.

Matt tells me that when he mentions to his coworkers that he has four kids, one of their most frequent responses is how busy we must be.

Yes, of course we're busy. But when you have less STUFF sitting around in your house, fewer toys and clothes and books and everything else, there is honestly less TO DO.

But minimalistic living has pros and cons.


If you have one mint-colored tank top (that you really like), and it gets discolored in the wash (who knows why), then... it effects *several* outfits, and not just one tank.

Your husband suggests an afternoon away at a state park, and you have to go out and buy shorts AND lace-up shoes, because you don't own any.

You sell your church shoes. Then, you must wear flip-flops to church until you buy another pair of church shoes.

You hear the incredible idea of only wearing what you LOVE. So you get rid 3 shirts, and you're left with three.

What you wear for pajamas are also staples in your during-the-day wardrobe.

You overhear a conversation between your kids and the neighbor kids...
Neighbor Kid: Do you have any dolls?
Your kid: No.
NK: Do you have any dress-up clothes?
Your kid: No.
NK: Do you have any games?
Your kid: Yes, we have a matching game.
NK: Well, what do you play?
Your kid: We play blocks. And we draw. And we play outside. Aaand... that's it.

Your husband is leaving for a business trip, and you realize he doesn't have enough nice socks to carry him for even a short trip, considering he wouldn't be doing the wash every day!


Packing for a trip is a cinch. You open your kids' drawers, pull out their nicest clothes (leaving *not much* in their drawer), and pack it into a suitcase.

You tell your kids to clean up their toys, and they stick all their blocks in a couple boxes. BOOM. Done.

You tell your kids to clean up their books, and they grab their few books (scattered around the house) and stick them in a basket. Done.

Everything has a place--whether it's the diapers, the shoes, or the cooking utensils. There's only one or two of each item (okay, besides diapers ;)), so as long as it's returned to its proper place, it's not easily lost.

Laundry is simplified, and there's less OF it.

We aren't completely minimalistic, believe me. I love variety in accessories, for example, and so the girls have an entire BOX of hairbands and bows.

But for this season of life, living with LESS has been so helpful. There are fewer messes, which are easier to clean up... For me personally, there's less stress, too, so I can focus on doing what I enjoy!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Why Four Kids Have Been Easier than One

If I'm being honest, I don't look back on my "early motherhood" days (when I just had one or even two kids) as the most-amazing-days-ever. I remember feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and inadequate. And believe me, it wasn't like I hadn't had any experience with kids before! I had three younger siblings, and as a teenager, I logged many hours as a babysitter.   

And yet... being a mom was different. These babies were mine, and the responsibility was great. While as a babysitter, I would watch the kids for a few hours and then leave, being a mom was full-time. 

It was hard to find time to do anything BUT watch my children. My bathroom would sometimes sit neglected for weeks, and there was almost always a pile of unfolded laundry on our guest bed. 

The transitions between children were hard, too. My hardest transition was probably from no-kids-to-one, but transitioning to two kids was hard, too. It was a little easier with Matthias (#3), but I remember crying a LOT his first month of life.

A few weeks before Caroline's due date, I started stressing out about adding a fourth. What would my already-full days look like? How do you peacefully add a fourth baby to days that aren't always calm? 

And then, she arrived. Surprisingly, I hardly cried at all. Within the first couple months, I was feeling better and more on-top of my "life" than I had ever before as a mom. I felt completely comfortable taking care of four children, and I had the time to start "officially" homeschooling Rachel and Jemima.

I was shocked to realize that four kids was somehow easier for me than one had been. This of course led me to wonder: why? Shouldn't I be four-times more stressed out and overwhelmed? 

I'm still trying to figure out the difference, but here's what I've come up with so far...

1. I have four years of experience in the mommy-hood world now! I don't need to be nervous changing diapers, considering how many hundreds (thousands?) I've changed. I've tried out many different ideas (I can't tell you how many laundry methods I've tried), and found which ones work best for our family. I've made many mistakes, and [hopefully] learned from them! 

Also, the more I've learned, the more relaxed I am about motherhood. Breaking up fights and nap-times and changing diapers and feeding multiple kids has become less of a "big deal" and more of a every-day-all-day-long occurrence. 

2. Instead of doing all the housework by myself, I have helpers! The older kids are a HUGE help to me. They sort and put away their laundry. They can load and unload the dishwasher, and set the table. They can dress themselves, and the girls are learning how to shower themselves and do their hair! Many of the tasks that I used to help them with, are now their responsibilities. The girls enjoy being independent, and I don't mind delegating! 

3. I don't worry about the kids needing me to entertain them: they entertain each other. Almost everything my kids do, they do together. As for Caroline, the kids could sit and talk to her or "play" with her for hours. They especially love when I leave Caroline in their "charge" while I do housework elsewhere. 

4. This point probably ties in somehow with #1, but I think motherhood has gotten easier for me, the more I embrace that this is my life. Of course I knew along that these children were my responsibility, but once you realize that these kids will take up your time, and that is a healthy thing... that it's "normal" to type and hold a baby at the same time, or breast-feed while reading to the three other kids piled around you... That there is really no other task more important, or more worth your time than investing in these little souls... then I think motherhood somehow becomes easier. You're not always thinking, "Well, I need to take care of the baby so I can do..." because you're used to the fact that your kids will be there at your side (or nearby) all day long, every day for a VERY long time. 

Of course, not everything is easier with four than with one. Such as, grocery shopping--or buckling and unbuckling car seats! But while I feel like with multiple children, there is more noise, more crying, more arguments... there is also more laughter and snuggles and fun times. 

I can say without a doubt that I enjoy being a mom more than I ever have before. But what would I say to the new mom, perhaps who is feeling the way I did when Rachel and Jemima were little? 

I wish I could give you a hug, and say that everything will be okay! Don't be afraid to make mistakes or to ask for help! If you feel like there's so much you need to learn, or you're feeling inadequate, just know... this is normal. I am sure every mom has gone through this. You have many wonderful years ahead of you in which to learn and grow.

Enjoy your family time this weekend!