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Friday, January 20, 2012

Living with Less

"I'm excited about living with less."

It was the first thing I told people after we announced the big move.  And I was.  I couldn't wait to shed many of our possessions and survive on whatever we could pack in our suitcases.  I knew that life would be a little simpler if we didn't have so much...stuff.  Reading this book right now has made me very thankful that we were forced to pare down, and reinforced the idea that less is more, slower is better.

And it has been slower here.  Despite the occasional inconvenience, I am so glad that we don't have a car.  Shopping has become very easy, but also very intentional: I can't carry T and twenty bags up a hill to our house.  And honestly, it's far easier to get everyone out of the house to walk somewhere than to get into the car.  We don't use our credit card, so there aren't any impulse buys.   We brought clothes, but very few.  Choosing what to wear in the morning has become ridiculously easy. We didn't bring any books; we knew we'd be buying some.  Our life fits neatly into our small living space.

I was concerned that my ideas of simplicity might not be received well by the rest of the family, though.  I prepped Z and M for weeks before we left, asking them which were their favorite toys and which they could live without for a few months.  They were allowed to pack a small carry-on bag full of the toys they wanted to have in Athens.  I made a few suggestions about things that might not be appropriate or might get lost(such as a whole bag of tiny Legos), but I left most of the decisions to M and Z.  They generally chose open-ended toys, like some favorite small cars, and art supplies.  I, without their knowledge, packed play silks and a deck of cards.  It was a challenge at first, to get used to fewer things, especially for the kids.  We purchased a few new toys and art supplies when we arrived (Thank you, Papa!), but other than that, the kids were satisfied with what they had.  They also used their creativity to come up with new toys; something they did before that made our house feel cluttered, but here has a different effect.

When Christmas came, Z and M were thrilled to have new things and they appreciated them much more.  And I have learned a valuable lesson about how to rotate toys so that they please, rather than overwhelm.

 I don't think we'll be getting rid of all of our toys when we return to the US, but I will definitely be finding a way to bring peace to our toy area.  

1 comment:

K said...

Thank you for this post. We're purging at the moment, and we really, really need to purge toys in particular. Other than moving to foreign soil (ahem) and the book you've mentioned that I'll try to locate, if you come across ideas, please don't hesitate to pass them my way.