How much do you need?

Still cleaning up from Christmas with 4 kids, mind what a mess of Lego, pill toy guns, this clothes, tack, knitting needles & duct tape!  I’m sure that I am not the only one who gets a little philosophical about how much crap we really need?

This year, ours really wasn’t too bad,  I had them fill out a letter to Santa like this one:

We had long talks about how much we have & what other kids don’t have.  They do a lot of charity work at school, so I think they really got it. By no means did they get everything they put on the list.  They didn’t ask for anything outrageous, but finding places for everything can get a little much.

I’m probably having this anxiety because at the same time, we’re cleaning out my husbands Grandparents house that they lived in for nearly 40 years.  There is SO much and it is getting overwhelming!  Lots of the things, I’m wondering why they kept them, until I really think about what that generation has lived through.  There wasn’t Tupperware, so you kept glass jars, they were useful for storage of things.  Its a long slow process and its plain to see what we think we can and can’t live without is very different from a couple generations ago.

My girls love home improvement shows, Extreme Makeover is their favorite, but any DIY show will do.  There were a few days they were on the couch sick, so I watched too.  Most of the shows are great, we’re going to be doing a house reno on Jeff’s grandparents place that we’re cleaning out, so I pick up tips and ideas about all kinds of things.  The location and style changes, the story is usually the same:

  • high expectations/unreasonable deadline
  • not enough $ to do what they want
  • behind schedule
  • cranky people


The episode that really made me nuts there was a couple that were building a house and were focusing on the master bathroom.  The fight became that the wife demanded to have a double sink.  She couldn’t possibly stand to wait for him while he brushed his teeth and needed to have her own sink.  They couldn’t afford it, and the husband was trying to talk her out of it.  She didn’t care & so off they went, into more debt than they could afford just so she didn’t have to spit in the same sink as he does.

That made me want to barf!!

My family of 6 lives in a small 1940’s house & we share pretty much 1 bathroom.  There is another bathroom in the basement that our oldest daughter uses (hers is the only bedroom downstairs) & the other kids use it once in a while.  Its not ideal, but you know what?? we talk to each other in there, we yell at each other in there, there is lots of TMI & we do just fine.

I don’t know if these shows have given people an unrealistic expectation of what they ‘need’?  Don’t get me wrong, this upcoming house reno includes an en suite to the master bedroom, I really miss that!  I’m not trying to be self-righteous about how I live, it just really makes me question how the whole thing got so out of hand?

I’m going to do my best to raise my kids with their feet firmly planted in reality and the rejection of ‘keeping up with the Jones’

What do you think? Am I completely nuts??

4 Responses to “How much do you need?”

  1. cathryn~the farmer's trophy wife said...

    amen sista!
    i think that we have tooooooo much. i did a HUGE toy cleanout before Christmas (one bag garbage, one bag donated) and it made a difference. i also want to live smaller. i HATE cleaning 3 bathrooms…gah!!!

  2. shelagh said...

    Thanks Cathryn, Jeff calls it Thunderdome-style: 2 enter, but only 1 comes out when it comes to Christmas gifts. It has to be one in – one out or its too overwhelming!

  3. Terri Mappin said...

    I love this post Shelagh and so glad to hear someone else with a similar philosophy! You are definitely not nuts and I think we are losing some very simple and basic morals and standards. People have stopped taking the time to smell the roses and enjoy what is in front of them. I think taking a minimalistic view will add quality, depth and strength to our children in the end. Many call my husband and I ‘old school’ but I think that ‘old school’ will teach our children some life coping skills that will make them successful in the end. So many individuals have an ‘entitlement’ attitude instead of a ‘must earn’ attitude. There is something wrong with that.

  4. shelagh said...

    Thanks, Terri – It affirms my choices in the way I’m raising my kids.