Living with Less: Part One

I recently came across a book about family & parenting called, “Living With Less So Your Family Has More”. I’ll be perfectly honest. I haven’t really read any parenting books. Oops. I feel like most of the books out there are just going to make me second guess my God-given mommy instincts and even make me worry more about Lincoln. I haven’t paid too close of attention to these books because I didn’t want to freak out if he didn’t start crawling at a certain time or learn to wave goodbye right on schedule. I’ve just wanted to approach parenthood from a relaxed & practical standpoint. Not saying there’s anything wrong with reading these things, I’ve just chosen not to do so. (For now. I have been known to change my mind. Frequently.) 

Anyways, this is not that kind of book. This isn’t necessarily preaching at you about parenting and it definitely isn’t going to make you stress about developmental milestones. This book is written by a mom & dad who made a decision to live with less in their lives. Here’s what they mean by that.

Less Money

Less Stress

Fewer Activities

After downloading the Kindle edition of this book, I devoured Part One immediately. I found myself reading through watery eyes as I thought, “Yes. This is what I want for my family.” It’s funny how you can feel unsettled deep down but not quite be able to put your finger on it, and then bam. It hits you. This is the direction my life needs to go. Now this book isn’t super deep or profound; It’s actually a really easy read. It’s just about priorities. It’s about going against society’s definition of success in order to achieve something deeper, which is successful relationships with your spouse & children. So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite parts as I read through. Here are a few notes from the first two chapters.

—-When our kids are grown and gone, I hope to have provided for them _________

When the book asked me this question, I immediately thought of laughter and security. I want to provide Lincoln (and future children) with a home that is full of fun. I want our family to truly enjoy each other & have a good time when we’re together. I want them to feel safe. Not necessarily physically safe, that’s a given, but emotionally safe. I want them to feel that their home was a safe haven. I never want them to remember their home as stressful or a place full of strife.

As I thought through so many more things I could fill in that blank, I never thought, “I want to buy them really fancy cars when they turn 16” or “I want to make sure they can afford designer clothes” or “I want to provide a life of luxury for them”. I’m not saying that money isn’t important at all, because it is. Part of the security I want my children to feel will come from Mike & I making smart financial decisions. But what I want to provide for them is so much deeper than the things money can afford you.

—-“….Patience takes energy, & energy is hard to come by when you feel stretched in too many directions.”

I’ve already found this to be true in my marriage. Being gracious & patient towards my husband is a huge part of him feeling loved, appreciated & respected by me, but it’s tough to be patient when you’re stressed out. It’s tough to speak in my “nice voice” when I’ve been working long hours or find myself frustrated by the rat race my life can sometimes become. Part of living with fewer activities & less stress is the ability to find more patience with your family.

—-“While a slower pace or less complicated life won’t assure kindness, it certainly helps to keep the emotional reserves at a healthy level to allow for kindness to happen.”

This goes right along with the point above. When I’m overwhelmed and have allowed myself to become too busy, it’s so much harder to be kind.

The last thing I’ll share from this portion of the book is a series of questions that were asked. I kind of had to say, “ouch” after reading a few of them.

  • Do you sit down at the table & eat dinner together at least five times a week?
  • Do you spend time actively playing with your children most days?
  • Do you have a regular date time with your spouse weekly or monthly?
  • Do you spend time with God on a daily basis?
  • Do you exercise at least three times a week?
  • Do you actively pursue & engage in friendships?
  • Do you pursue hobbies or activities that you personally enjoy on occasion?
  • Are you serving as a volunteer in your community or church?

At the end of the questions it said, “If you answered “No” to four or more of the above questions, you might want to check the speedometer of your life to see if you need to reduce your speed and enjoy the relationships that life is really all about.”

And so I had to say, “Guilty as charged”. 

I think this book is a must-read for parents or even those who know they want to be parents some day. It’s not very thick, and it’s very practical & easy to understand. Like I said earlier, it’s not a new, crazy, profound concept that they’re putting forth, but in today’s society, it actually does seem kind of crazy to people if you choose to live with less.

I’ll share more as I go through the book. Just the first two chapters alone have made me reevaluate so much.

And now for photographic proof that I need to find a new place to store my picture albums immediately.