We are spoiled and conned

In this modern age we are spoiled for choice and with modern conveniences. We have also been conned by clever marketing to believe we need these things. Hence why our homes are crammed with clutter,  credit cards are often  maxed to the limit and our homes are bigger than they need be.

As a child growing up I lived in a four bedroom home that had a kitchen/meals room, one living area, a small front reception area and one bathroom. I know people who think that is cramped living conditions for a two adult two child family. Well let me tell you I grew up in a two adult five child family and that was plenty of space for all of us. Granted the children all shared rooms, me with my sister, the three boys in another and of course my parents together in their’s and there was still one bedroom left over for my mum’s home dressmaking business. My father did build a rumpus room underneath later on but that was a sheer luxury.

Now many parents think their children need their own rooms and sometimes even their own bathrooms. When did we become so spoiled? I know I was happy to share a bedroom and our one bathroom as a child, I didn’t really think anything of it because that was normal then. And the same goes for modern conveniences. As a child I remember my mother having a wad a plastic bags that the next door bakery owner had given her. These were a luxury and they lasted for years because we only found the need to use them occasionally. Now people waste plastic like it’s going out of fashion. We also have every gadget going that is supposed to save us time meanwhile both parents go out to work to afford to pay for all these luxuries ~ can someone please explain to me where the time saving comes into play in this equation.

Clever marketing has us thinking…

  • we have to give a gift at every occasion going, cluttering up other people’s homes who then feel obliged to keep them (Obligation Clutter).
  • a vacation has to be remembered with some sort of kitschy souvenir that we don’t need (Sentimental Clutter).
  • exercise requires expensive equipment ~ be that anything from a treadmill to a ski boat. (Aspirational Clutter) ~ went really a walk in the park or a swim at the beach would suffice.
  • our children aren’t loved unless we buy them whatever the latest and greatest  thing is that going at the time. (Guilt Clutter). And the list could go on.

One of the things I enjoy about my declutter mission is having learned not to fall prey to this sort or marketing. This lesson is driven home with every little thing ~ I thought I needed ~ that leaves my home. And for every little thing I see in the market place that I now find so easy to resist acquiring I get a certain amount of satisfaction from leaving on the shelf.

So if seeing the stuff leave your home isn’t giving you satisfaction enough why not add that little bit of extra satisfaction of know that you are going against convention and setting your own norm. Be a trend setter.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter a corner kitchen cupboards if you have one ~ these cupboards can be so hard to access. If you can manage to declutter enough stuff out of your kitchen to empty these it would make your life that little bit easier.

Today’s Declutter Item

Somethings are just poorly made and this is one of them. I just seemed to spread the mess because the fibres in the wiping surface were too synthetic. Needless to say it was one things that went in the bin rather than being unleashed on some poor unsuspecting person at the thrift store.

Whiteboard Eraser

Something I Am Grateful For Today

Sitting on my patio enjoying the beautiful sunny day while writing my blog post. The washing drying on the line, birds singing and a dog barking in the distance. Life is good!

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


Continue reading with these posts:

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  • Regrets, traditions and reality. I personally feel that anticipating regrets, especially attached to objects, is a waste of time. It's like clinging to old routines or traditions just because of their history, we put […]
  • Life Circle Clutter I have written, more than once, about clutter categories on my blog. Categories such as obligation clutter, sentimental clutter, lazy clutter, guilt clutter... One category I have written […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Colleen, you are so right about being spoiled and conned and it’s all by the media showing us all this stuff we “need.” Ha!!! All they want is for us to buy, buy, buy. I’m so glad to be out of that. Mom still wishes we had a 3rd bedroom for company. What company? I have one friend who comes once a year to visit. She’s plenty happy to use the couch.

    • Yes, we don’t have a guest bedroom either. And I have just finally acknowledged that we don’t have people round for meals either. So I am getting rid of our “unused for 10 years other than for dumping clutter on dining table and chairs”. We live in our den upstairs for everything and that suits us fine.
      Friends come round just for tea and cake and that suits us fine too. And now I am getting rid of the dining table, suddenly I’m thinking, ooh, we could have so and so round for soup and fresh bread, on trays on our laps in the den – it feels completely freeing.

      • I like your idea Katherine. We had a big dining room set with leaves to make it seat 12. For 2, yes 2, people!! I’m a casusal entertainer. Give me simple foods, simple dishes to eat on and TV tray stands or a small table. I don’t like big parties so we don’t need a big table. We have this huge built in hutch with a marble like top on the counter part plus a long breakfast bar to use for serving buffet style. Why do we need this huge table. We got rid of it. We now have a round table for 4 that actually has sides that drop down. I love it and it give so much more of a airy feel.

      • I love this Katharine, you always seem to march to your own drum. Yes, why not ditch the dining table. Any friends worth having would be happy to eat from trays on their laps. Eating doesn’t have to be formal.

    • That is exactly the feelings that inspired me to write this post Deb J.

      As for the guest room, I only have one because our daughter moved out. I am sure Liam would be happy to give up his bed to visitors should the need arise were we to finally downsize as planned.

      • We’ve certainly fallen prey to wishing we had a guest room, when Dan’s parents are the ONLY people who visit us, and after 15 years of marriage, they’ve only stayed in our house one night. Sure, “If we built it, they might come” but I’m okay with things the way they are.

        The dining table on the other hand – we use that frequently. We regularly hold neighborhood potlucks, and I’ve been reminded several times by my grateful neighbors that I’m the only one who has enough eating space for the big group we attract (22 to 25 folks). We have a dining table with six chairs plus 4 folding chairs, and we have a table in the screen porch that also seats 6. If it’s too cold or too hot, we carry the table in from the porch. It’s tight, but it fits. The children either eat at the bar or around the large coffee table in the living room, depending on how many of them there are. I’m glad to have enough room for this crowd.

        • Here is the solution to the guest room for you. Buy one of the girls a double bed and then when visitors come she can bunk in the other one’s room on a camp stretcher or something while the visitors use her room. It is what we used to do with out kids. They didn’t mind. But then again perhaps you don’t want a solution. 😉

          You do have a great dining table. There was no problem fitting nine of us around it when we were there for family dinner night. And what a lovely evening that was. Thank you again and than your mom again for the lovely meal.

  2. This is a subject dear to my heart, Colleen. You’ve done a bang-up job of explaining and describing it. I love that feeling of being satisfied without setting foot in a store.

    And I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed your typo – “a bog barking in the distance” will keep me smiling all day 🙂

    • LOL – I actually Googled the word “bog” thinking it must be some Australian term us Americans haven’t heard of!

      • Hahaha I didn’t pick that typo, I found a one that should have been an on – tripped me up cause I was like, am I really that tired that I can’t make sense of this sentence?
        Jane – Bog is a term we use for the toilet or a certain action in the toilet..

        • I’m packing my bags to visit you Colleen. I have a marsh that whispers and a lake that sings, but a barking bog….that I have to see!! Probably a birdnut’s paradise… W

          • Wendy B, you are too funny. There is a boggy patch where we park our wheelie bins on the footpath on empty day but I have never heard it bark. Although I often bark in my head because of the stupid neighbour two doors down who, due to avoiding inconvenience to them, they park on the street there causing inconvenience to everyone else. As a result my wheelie bin didn’t get emptied two weeks ago. Woof Woof.

        • Thanks Snosie I have now fixed that one too. And I am sure Jane appreciates your explanation of bog even though it was incorrectly included.

        • LOL oh my!

      • LOL Jane now you have made me laugh in return. That is funny yet strangely understandable.

    • Oh crap, Ive done it again Jo H. Thanks for pointing it out so I can fix the error. I am glad you got to enjoy the typo before I fixed it though. I like to make people laugh, that is my mother coming out in me.

      • And I am exceptionally glad that you have a sense of humor when we get a laugh at your expense!

  3. “our children aren’t loved unless we buy them whatever the latest and greatest thing is that going at the time. (Guilt Clutter)”

    I hate this one. Oh, how I hate this one. And it isn’t just a guilt that comes from adverts/media. It comes from other people. Or, in my case, it happens when my insecurities as a single mom (ok, I’m not single anymore but that is a recent development) rear their heads. And my daughter comes home and tells me how her half-sister has a newly redecorated room with a big flat screen tv and Wii. Plus she has an iPhone 4s. And she is a year younger than my daughter. Somehow this manages to make me feel like a crappy parent even though I know my child, like my child, and she even likes me back. Which her father can’t say the same with either of his daughters. (I know being a good parent isn’t necessarily about being “liked” by your child…but it does include spending time with your child, getting to know your child.)

    Argh. I hate that I fall into that trap but it happens. I know my daughter wouldn’t be happier if she had her half-sister’s life. At least, not now if it was like a trading places sort of thing. Still I sometimes think and worry maybe I’m not being a good mom because I don’t/can’t buy her all the gadgets and toys. I provide love and support and education and healthy food (and sometimes not so healthy food) and laughter and discipline. Yet I feel like the crappy parent because I can’t buy all the latest fancy crap.

    /frustrated rant

    • Rachel, your ex is buying his kids affection with tangible gadgets. He’s taking the low road because it’s the shortest & easiest path to score points & it probably free’s up his time from having to deal with the kids (as they’ll be off busy with their gadgets & not bugging him). Plus it may very well be a feeble atempt to one up you.
      You however are taking the high road. The harder but more rewarding path as you are spending actual time with your kiddo & not succombing to parlor tricks to impress her or your ex or the Jonese. Bravo to you for mantaining your stance & a big pat on the back for a job well done on your part!

      • Rachel, you sound like one great parent to me! Bet your daughter thinks so too. I had neither a good relationship with my mother, nor heaps of material goods when growing up. Now I can afford to buy anything I want — and I still don’t have a good relationship with my mother. You are giving your kid what she NEEDS. Believe in yourself. Wendy

        • Thank you, Wendy B! The people on this blog are so supportive and amazing. It is why I finally started commenting. Normally I just lurk on blogs.

          I don’t feel like a great parent but I do my best to be one. When I start worrying, my daughter (she is 13..almost 14, for the record) is like “You are a great mom and it is only my opinion that counts in this.” Haha. She tends to be the more level-headed and mellow of the two of us.

          I’m sorry you didn’t and still don’t have a good relationship with your mom. I’ve been very blessed in that I have a great relationship with mine. Maybe it has helped me to have a good relationship with my daughter. My mom is awesome. I can’t even explain. (So is my dad. But moms seemed to be the focus.)

          I try to believe in myself but, boy, it gets difficult some days. I suppose that is true for most people, though.

      • I have no idea why he would want to one-up me. I don’t live his kind of life so it is kind of like a swimmer competing in figure-skating. It is pointless and makes no sense. That being said, you may be right to an extent. He may be doing a “look what I can buy my kids that you can’t buy yours” ::thumbs in ears…waggling fingers:: Still ridiculous to me.

        Thank you for the bravo and the pat on the back. As someone who gets judged a bad parent for reason I listed below to Moni (oh and I had my daughter at 17 and you know what teen moms are…), it means so much when somebody encourages me. I do have my family and friends. I don’t want to come across as someone who has had this terrible hard life as a poor poor single mom with nary a break. That’s not it at all. But negative judgements can hurt (when they are delivered by people you thought knew better) and can wear you down. So encouragement and support is always appreciated. 😀

    • Hi Rachel – you have your daughter in your life on a day to day basis, she will value that more in the future (if not already) than any toy.

      If you don’t mind me asking, why has her father has bought these expensive gifts for one daughter, but not the other? Possibly you don’t want such extravagent gifts in your household, and if so I understand, your house your rules, but I wouldn’t be able to get away with buying something that big for one of my kids and not the others. So I’m wondering where his head is at.

      • Hi Moni – I do have my daughter in my life day to day. I hope she does value it more than any toy. She seems to already, thankfully. I know I value having her in my life more than any toy or amount of money.

        I could hazard guesses as to why her father seems to show preferential treatment to one daughter and not the other. It has nothing to do his considering my rules. His head is…well…my daughter has theories on this. She loves her father but she sees him pretty realistically. Actually she tends to be harder on him than I am (you know, trying really hard not to badmouth the other parent thing? Oh my tongue has been so sore from all the biting I’ve done…).

        I get judged as a bad parent or a not-so-good parent because I don’t have the facade and the trappings. He gets judged a good parent because he does have the facade and trappings. I just…I get so angry sometimes over that. Because it is like all the love and support and discipline and time I pour into my daughter means nothing because we live with my parents and I am currently unemployed. Oh and I homeschool her, have an eyebrow piercing, and sometimes dye my hair green or purple (or blood red). I’m not a “proper mom”.

        Sorry. This is a very sore point for me.

        • Don’t worry Rachel – daughters have a talent for scoring a direct hit to the heart sometimes – its not that they don’t love or need us the most in the world – its just they have their own direct pathway to our hearts, and when they lash out they lash out on tender territory but they home in on their mums for a reason. Because you are the safest and most reliable person in her little world.

          I heard on the radio recently that they did some huge study on young adults and the number one ranked person that they admire wasn’t a pop star or athlete, it was their mums, dads came in 3rd, can’t remember who came in 2nd as I was doing a happy dance. So your time will come, you just might have to wait until she has an adult brain.

          No matter what, at some stage daughters will always find something about their mothers to pick on, so just roll with it. My most recent crime……apparently I am too young. As in years. I had my kids in my early 20’s. So I am 5-15 years younger than her friend’s mothers. How dare I? A week later she witnessed one of her friend’s mother having a menopausal melt-down (the lady in question is having a particularly hard time of it) and decided I’m not so bad after all. Last week I am the strictest mum in the world because I wouldn’t let her go to a bonfire in a fire restricted area, with no adult supervision or any chance of getting the host’s family’s contact details out of her. This week apparently I am the 20th most strictest mum in the world as 20 other kids weren’t allowed to go.

          Be the rock and let the drama flow around you!

        • Hi Rachel.
          I have been reading all the comments and first I agree with them all.
          Some very good advice there.
          Your daughter is a very lucky person to have such a good mother because that is what you are, whether you believe it or not.
          My children are both grown up now, I was a strict mum and came up against all that entailed. We didn’t have much money as I was a stay at home mum and home educated my daughter. I have had discussions with both my adult children and they have told me that being there for them with time, love and attention was the best gift I could have given them. They didn’t care about what they had or didn’t have. Children will forget all the toys and gadgets that they are given but they will remember the love and attention they were given. You CANNOT buy love. Children need love and attention, not some expensive toy or gadget that will be forgotten within weeks until the “next” new thing comes on the market..
          As for your appearance what on earth has that to do with being a good mum, you are just being yourself. Just carry on and try not to let other’s opinions change who you are. You are by the sound of it doing “just great. “

    • Rachel trust me, one doesn’t have to be in your situation to fall into this trap and feel inadequate as a mother. I have fallen for this myself many a time in the past. I would advise explaining to your daughter that money and stuff does not bring happiness. Tell her that learning to appreciate the simple things in life and being satisfied with what you can afford will put her in a much better position when she becomes an adult. Tell her every day that you love her and create fun out of nothing together and you will both live very happy lives. I sounds to me like you are doing a very good job of raising your daughter so stay strong.

      Society can be very cruel when you choose to present yourself in a certain fashion. But wouldn’t life be dull if we all looked alike and behaved the same. If it makes you feel better my two kids have tattoos all over themselves but they are certainly individuals. I’ll tell you a funny story about that… My daughter manages a shoe store and an older women made some sort of snide remark about her tattoos one day while she was serving her. So my daughter showed her the one on her arm with her brothers name in it and said “This one is in memory of my brother who died of cancer.” It was an out and out lie, her brother is fine but it sure shut the lady up. I doubt she will run her mouth off about things that are none of her business in the future.

      • Thanks, Colleen. I didn’t mean to sound like I think I’m the only one who feels inadequate as a mother or anything like that. If anything, I believe my journey as a single mother has been far easier than most of the single mothers I’ve encountered or heard about. It is funny you advise telling my daughter money and stuff doesn’t bring happiness. She got a few talks over the years regarding that (she went to a private school from K-5th – very materialistic, image conscious place). Even at my most materialistic stages, I didn’t believe money and stuff brought happiness. I do tell her I love her everyday. We spend so much time together just talking. She’s almost 14 and is so interesting and entertaining. We have mother-daughter days (started when she was 5 or 6, I guess) where we eat at a restaurant of her choice and then walk around bookstores and maybe Target or a mall. We don’t necessarily buy anything. We just…browse. And talk. And laugh.

        Society can be very cruel. I really didn’t mean to sound all woe-is-me, though. I get more angry than sad about society’s narrow frame of acceptability. For myself, I don’t care. As a mother, I want to rage and scream and cry and defend myself against such accusations. My very clean-cut, well-dressed, piercing-less ex-husband sees our daughter maybe four times a year. His choice. Not mine. I don’t fuss at him or make it difficult for him to see her. He does the bare minimum when it comes to doing anything for her. But people see him as the good parent. It blows my mind. It shouldn’t but it does. I’m the one who spent three nights in the hospital with her when she nearly died at 18 months old. I’m the one who cried and worried and cuddled and force fed her during that time. But I’m not a good mom because I have a piece of metal through one eyebrow. Amazing. Argh.

        Good for your daughter! I hope that lady second-guessed her judgements on the next tattooed person she met. (I don’t have any tattoos. I just can’t commit the money to them.)

        • One last bit of info – you filled in the missing clue – 14 years. 14 year old girls are hard work. Even the lovely ones. I’m told by 16 it eases off a bit. I have a 14 year old daughter and a 15 year old daughter (plus a 17 year old son). My younger daughter was very sane and rational and I thought maybe have a ringside view of her older siblings might have given her wisdom, but within days of turning 14 her brain/hormones downloaded attitude/moody/have-six-personalities-in-one-day mode exactly like her sister did 13 months earlier. Oh and take pot-shots-at-mum programme too. Her sister who is now 15 looks at her and asks me was she really like that or is her sister an extreme case? No dear you were the same and I just decided you were temporarily insane and tried not to take it too personally.

          • I’m sorry. I realize I made it sound like my daughter was the one judging me a bad parent. She isn’t. She’s one of my biggest supporters. I somehow ended up with a mellow, well-adjusted teenager. I’m not sure how but there it is.

            It is other people who judge me negatively. And it baffles me because they will do it in the next breath after saying what a sweet, polite, and intelligent daughter I have. What? I don’t even know.

            I’m not saying my daughter doesn’t have her quirks or moments. But compared to me at almost 14? She is a freaking angel. I wasn’t a troublemaker but I was moody. Horribly moody.

        • Hi Rachel,
          I didn’t think you were sounding sorry for yourself. I too rage at the crap society dictates to be in that narrow range of acceptability you speak of.

          You and your daughter have a beautiful relationship from what you have told us and that is worth more than the four day a year effort her dad puts in. Be true to yourself and do your best to ignore other peoples’ ignorance.

  4. Growing up, I was the youngest of 4 kids. Plus my parents took in 2 other kids just about every single summer that I can recall. So we went from a family of 6 to a family of 8 with regularity.
    Every summer the folks would take us all on road trips to see the touristy sites,visit the beach, go to the mountains, state fairs, theme parks, etc. Summers were all-action, non stop!
    The thing is all 8 of us fit in 1 regular old 1970’s station wagon. We all managed well enough & have some funny stories about our wacky travels in the “Griswold Family Truckster” especially as my older brothers (most of which are easily 6′ tall) grew older.
    Nowadays, I see 2 parents with 1 infant in a deluxe super-accessorized largest available SUV known to modern mankind. Beasts of a vehicle for 2 adults & 1 kid.
    My gosh folks, talk about over-compensation!

    • Aside from the extra kids your vacations sound a lot like ours. My parents had an EH Holden panel van which only had seating for three. We travelled 5 hours to our grandparents town several times a year. Mum and dad in the front bench seat with one child in the middle while the other three kids played around in the back among the pillows, blankets and suitcases.

      • Hi Colleen – it is funny you mention about piling everyone into the car – I was talking about my very idyllic kiwiana upbringing to my kids on the weekend and I mentioned how we had 5 kids in the back of the station wagon and my daughter was “isn’t that dangerous?” – so I explained we didn’t have seatbelts back then and it was acceptable. I talked about how we used to play near the river and in the geothermal reserve. She felt that was dangerous too. Well, probably was but we were told to stay out of the water and back from the mud pool area. I got a “yeah, right” expression. I assured her I moved to a different area and would sometimes play in the park or in a wooded area. “And did grandma come and watch over you?” – no, kids just went and played – (expression has upgraded to judgemental) “what if someone tried to take you?” – its ok nobody did. “what if you hurt yourself?”, well you went home, “what if you couldn’t?”, well one of your friends would have gone for help. In short she wasn’t impressed with parenting standards circa 1970’s.
        Times are constantly changing, some things improve, some things are lost and some of the new things/ways might create new areas for the generation after to fix.
        Probably find that some cave dwellers thought their parents were lame because they didn’t have the wheel.

  5. Been following this blog for a while now, have read most every back post and I have to say it’s been an inspiration. I’ve been de-cluttering my own stuff for a couple of months now and it feels good. It is also exhausting.

    Excess stuff does take up a lot of time and energy. Just the effort to get it out of the house and to someone who may be able to use it can just be incredible. I find myself donating more and more of it as it’s just not always worth the time and energy to sell and ship it. Donating has it’s own rewards as well.

    I have to say that parts of today’s post are particularly relevant to me as we are about to have our first child. Talk about stuff. A lot of it is useful and necessary and that is fine. The issue I’m really having trouble with is that some family members keep bringing gifts/toys for the baby every time they come to the house. And the baby isn’t even here yet. Plus some people are in a competition with each other to bring stuff. I’m just concerned that this will continue to escalate and bury us. Plus teaching the child that gifts=love=gifts isn’t really a place I want to start.

    Thanks for the continued inspiration and information.

    • Hi Regis and a very warm welcome to 365 less things. Thank you for taking the time to plough through the archives, that is one mammoth task which many of my late arrivals undertake. I have had interviewers ask me what is my favourite post and there is no way I am going to read back through two and a half years of post to work out the answer to that question. I don’t like to pick favourites anyway.

      I am so glad my blog has inspired you to clear the clutter in you home. I agree it can be hard work trying to sell stuff where as donating is much quicker and, as you say, has its own rewards. I would say at least 85% of my stuff has been given away through one channel or another.

      As for your problem with the overzealous, well meaning, generous people in your life this is would I would hope I had the courage to do… Explain to them exactly what you just told me. I would let them know in as kind and heartfelt way as possible that my goal right now is to reduce the clutter in my home in order to begin living a new lifestyle of less and to stop participating in the rampant consumerism of modern society. I would explain to them my concerns for the effect such consumerism is having on the environment and that I want no part of it either by my own hand or that of others. I would therefore appreciate that it if they would channel the money they would otherwise spend on gifts to a trust fund for my child’s future. Let them know they are welcome to show their love for my child by always being in his/her life and I will give them every opportunity to do so and that he/she will benefit more from that than any material gift. This message may need repeating over and over until other realise it is sincere.

      It is best to make conversation with others about your minimising efforts and the advantages you are gaining from that so they realise that you are serious about what you are doing. Many people just don’t get it at first but once they realise you are committed to this and it isn’t just a spot of Spring cleaning they will start to adjust the way they behave. As an example ~ All my friends and family know I do not want material gifts from them. I have made this clear over time by including them, through conversation, in my decluttering efforts and by asking them to help by not giving me such gifts. Not everyone managed to comply so easily but now they certainly do.

      Good luck Regis and I hope all goes well with the birth of your child and you will all live a wonderful life together. Stick to what you believe in and don’t let others deter you. You and your child will be better people for it.

  6. Once again you are bang on with your topic of the day. Totally agree with you on this one Colleen!
    And to Deb J, we don’t have a guest bedroom either. We chose not to have one to save money on the purchase of a house (well, appartment). Not having that extra room made it much easier to afford a place of our own and if people want to come and stay with us we just book them into one of the nearby B&B’s. People think thats expensive but actually paying for a few nights in a B&B is way cheaper than paying for extra square meters that are only being used occasionally. Bonus is that you don’t have to own extra bedlinen, towels and such.

    • Hi hunter_xs – who pays for the B&B? See i think (when I stay with people!) it’s partly to save money, but then I’d feel horrible if my host paid for me to stay somewhere else! I’m sure it’s partly an age/stage thing too!

      • Hi Snosie, either way the host pays. If we would have an extra room it would cost us a lot more morgage, counsil taxes and heating (against the damp). That ammount would add up to hundreds, possibly even thousands of euros every year. I´m happy to pay for a B&B for our guests. And about the age thing, I don´t know, but we´re both about 30 years old and just starting our family so money is an issue. But as I explaned above this arrangement actually saves us money.

        • Thanks for letting me know! I agree that either way you as the hosts save! I only have one bedroom, so it’s low level staying – on a mattress on the floor or the sofa – so hardly luxe!

    • You make a good point her hunter_xs. It does end up more economical to buy smaller and hire bigger when needed with a lot of things including cars rather than to cater to that less than 5% of the time that something bigger is needed. I know people who use their cars to drive around town 360 days of the year but insist on owning a large sedan just because of the power it has on the open road for that one road trip they do a year. Insane, it would come out cheaper if they drove around town in the little four cylinder all year and hired a bigger car for the road trip. My husband and I keep looking at buying townhouses and apartments in the cafe districts of our city so that we can walk to entertainment and utilise free public transport and possibly sometime in the future not even bother to won a car.

    • I so agree with you Hunter_xs. So far other than my friend we have not had a need for putting anyone up. That’s the whole point of my talk with Mom. We had the same thing in Indianapolis when we lived there. We had two bedrooms and had company maybe 6 times out of the 11 years we lived there. Excuse me, Mom!!! We can’t afford to pay for another bedroom when we aren’t using it. Not only the cost of the home but also the cost of heating/cooling it.

      Colleen, I agree with you on the living where you can walk to most things and not needing a big car. The first thing we did when my father died was sell his Lincoln, Mom’s cougar and get a excort wagon. We not only get better gas milage overall but we also had a vehicle we could carry things in that were big yet the car was small. I never could figure out all that big vehicle stuff. But then I’m not into appearances and we don’t have a big family.

  7. I grew up in a 1200 sf house, four bedrooms, farmhouse kitchen, living area and bathroom-sauna plus a toilet. There were five of us. I always thought our house was big -it was a HOUSE after all, not an apartment. I now live in that same house, but there is only three of us, and the house feel HUGE. There is one less bedroom because during a renovation my parents added a laundry room and lost one bedroom. We still have a room for our kid and a guest room. My brother is staying with us for two months soon, and we have overnight guests frequently (mostly my brother and his wife) so the guest room does get used… but we would do fine without it. The living room is excessive, we could do with just the farmhouse kitchen! Our girl is only 3,5 years old and doesn’t really use her room yet either. So yeah, we only need the 600 sf we had before 🙂 We would have preferred something smaller but as this was my childhood home and the situation was what it was – well this is pretty darn perfect for us now. I just wish I didn’t need to keep things around just so that my house doesn’t echo!!!! Oh well, everything here is my dad’s anyway and we are renting for now, so I can’t really get rid of anything, except put some stuff in the storage..

    • Your circumstance is quite unique though Cat’sMeow so don’t think for a moment anyone is judging you on this. It was a choice of convenience rather than opulence in you situation. I am just glad you are away from where you were and recovering from the illness it caused you. I hope you are feeling better all the time.

  8. Rachel dont stress about your child not having it all. I was in the exact same situation as you many years ago.My little girl saw right through it at a very young age.She grew up and only remembers the time we spent together and all the things we did together.Not the stuff she didnt have at the time.It will be ok you will see.

  9. This is one of your best posts ever Colleen!! Very close to my heart. We’re currently renting a small place with one living/dining area, a kitchen, 3 bedrooms and luxury of luxuries: 2 bathrooms (1 has a laundry too). My 2 kids have spent the last month sleeping in the same bedroom (my 9 yo son has been having nightmares in his own room) and he asked me the other day “when we buy our own house, can I share a bedroom with my sister?” Since his sister is nearly 12, I’m sure she wouldn’t want that as a permanent arrangement 🙂 But it is so nice to see them so close, and we all hang out together in our little living area. If we had a big home, everyone would be in their own space. In fact, one of my friends just confessed she misses her little home as now her kids practically live upstairs and she misses them. So sad.

    • Hi Loretta,
      I am glad your kids are in together and your son feels better for it. I am sure his big sister will be proud to protect him. My daughter was merciless with her little brother when they were younger but by heck no one else would ever have wanted to mess with him or she would have unleashed hell upon them. That hasn’t changed.
      As you know we keep looking at smaller homes to buy and I must admit some of the appeal if a more condensed living/kitchen space and one less bathroom to clean. We have looked at several two bedroom places that still insist on two bathrooms. It just seems excessive and pointless extra cleaning to me.

      • Now I take care of my own home, I can’t agree with you more:cleaning! Why have MORE to clean!! (Of course the friend with more, pays for his aunt to clean it… like… really?!!?)

  10. P.S. Meant to add, choice is one of the major reasons I moved to the country. There is just too much choice for EVERYTHING in Melbourne, and I revel in the fact I don’t have so many options here. It is very freeing, not limiting at all 🙂

    • I can understand this. It would certainly make decision making easier. The only drawback I see in it is not having access to a wide range of medical. Not that we are a sickly lot but having the hospital only ten minutes away was a godsend when Liam had his accident and as one gets older things go wrong. But probably the advantages outweigh that one little disadvantage.

      • We have TWO hospitals within walking distance! One is brand new, and public and the other is a very well-respected private one. I know we don’t have any cancer treatment facility, but let’s hope we won’t need it 🙂 . When we buy our own place, even if we’re not in town, it will only be 10-15 min drive away, which is much less than our nearest one back in the city.

        • The hospital situation is obviously much better there than it is for people in areas around Newcastle. When Liam had his accident there were three other young accident victims in ICU and then the neurology unit at the same time. The families of those three patients had to either commute everyday two hours to home and back or spend a fortune on accommodation. I was so glad we only lived ten minutes away. When I had my operation last month my husband’s bosses who lives over an hour away had to commute to and from his wife’s bedside while she was also in for an operation. He stayed at our house for the first two days.

  11. We have definitely decided to stay in our smaller home with our 3 children instead of moving up to 4 bedrooms. My twins share a room and I think that is fine. After all they shared a womb for 9 months why not a room? right? Anyway, I resist the urge for a more expensive mortgage and higher cost of living when we can stay right here and enjoy living below our means with less debt! The buy more, buy more, buy more and buy bigger mentality is hard to fight until you see the bill. Then you wise up and buy less….if you’re smart. We like living in a smaller house anyway because we aren’t so spread out and we can see each other and feel closer. This post really spoke to me. Thanks for posting!

    • Hi Angie Kay – we bought a 4 bedroom home and then spent the next two weeks convincing our younger daughter to stay in her own room. Mind you she is a teenager now and its a different story completely, but my hubby and I were saying the other day that if we’d realised there was going to be a recession and values would drop and take so long to crawl back, we would have just rented a bigger house instead for these teenage years.

    • My pleasure Angie Kay. And I like your attitude.

  12. Just a quick comment on the corner cabinets in the kitchen. I have three of them. I treat them as a regular square cabinet by pretending that there is an imaginary wall, so nothing is placed in the “black hole” soon to be forgotten or difficult to access. It has worked well for me in the twelve years I have lived in my current home.

    • Smart move Kimberley. I am lucky I have no corner cupboards and if I did they would now be the empty ones. As it is I am slowly decluttering and rearranging my kitchen so that everything is in easy reach. Not buried in deep shelves behind things.

  13. Great post Colleen.

  14. this is a great post, thanks Colleen.
    Rachael – you sound like a fab mum – keep strong and believe in yourself! Well done for sticking to your guns and not giving in to all that ‘what folks are supposed to have/do stuff’.
    Katharine – love the no dining table solution – I studied interior design at college (a very long time ago) and i love when people make their space work for them not is what conventional.
    Hunter xs – i’ve often thought about the B&B option – great to hear it confirmed that it is more cost effective.

    I feel a bit funny these days cos I’ve gone from my 1bed flat to a large 3bed house – and there’s only 2 of us. OH designed and built the house and wanted rooms that you couldnt touch the sides of cos he’d lived in a caravan, boat or work’s cabin for years but i think he and the architect got a bit carried away, lol. Still it does mean we have lots of room for my sisters and their families to come and stay which they do prob 3/4 weeks a year.
    Although we both love space and empty surfaces etc it is a challenge not to fill it just cos we have it…..

    I also have great memories of 5 of us in a mini clubman in the 70’s 🙂

  15. I live in a tiny flat and a pal has a much larger and swankier flat on a nearby street, but still with only one bedroom. Whilst admiring the view from her windows, I pointed out the economical chain hotel on the street below and declared; “That’s my spare bedroom!” she laughed and agreed as it’s where her family stay when they come to visit her. It pays to think laterally.

    I think we’re often deluding ourselves about the lives we actually lead i.e. we’re kitchen supper not dinner party people. I’d rather have a relaxed friend and a tray of food on my lap than have him or her up all hours fretting over double-damask tablecloths, matching place settings and the best dishes. I go to spend time with them, not their accessories.

    • I am agree GreyQueen, going to too much trouble trying to impress people with my catering almost put me off having people over in the end. Now I usually just put or a nice roast and everyone seems to enjoy it. No fuss no bother just enjoying having people over.

  16. This post reminded me of all the trips we took as a family in our old blue station wagon. There were 6 of us, my mom and dad, 2 sisters and a brother. He sat in the front between my mom and dad and we 3 girls sat in the back. My sister – 2 years younger than me and I sat at the windows and our baby sister (5 yrs younger than me) had to sit in the middle. If we took night trips – my dad loved to drive at night – we put quilts and blankets in the back and put the middle seat down and we all 4 slept there. Good times (when we weren’t fighting with each other about space) 🙂
    A second point was that we just got back from a week’s vacation at the beach with our daughter, her husband and 2 kids, and our son. We bought no souveniers, no tee shirts, nothing to bring home but 4 boxes of taffy, 2 for my office and 1 each for the 2 ladies who covered for me while I was gone. Two years ago when we were there, I only bought a magnet for the fridge but since I still had that one, had no need for anything else this year. I thought of the 365 less and just did not want to add more “empty” stuff to our home. Oops, I did bring back 4 small shells but I have a shell jar on my dining room table so just added them to that.
    Also, was putting away our clothes from the suitcases and found some shirts and sweaters that we no longer wear. Off they went to the Goodwill box. Everyday, I am tossing/cleaning out more things.

  17. Coleen, I love reading your blog, it is so much more down to earth than some of the minimalist blogs I read (moderate minimalist here). Amen to this post, it is almost subconscious the way we deal with things, acquiring them, storing them. I think that’s why this declutter movement has really picked up alot of steam in the internet world and beyond. People wake up and suddenly begin living consciously. They realize they have been blindly and willingly adding to their own stress levels, their own relationship problems.
    I earnestly hope to help guide my boys through the journey that is life without the misery of always wanting that which we don’t need, and really, ultimately don’t want. I went through that too, thinking I was supposed to want things. Thank Heaven that is behind me now, but the continuing struggle is everyday. Thank you for being one of the encouraging voices on our journey .

    • Hi Jean, welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for your nice opinion of my blog. I like to think you are right, I am a down to earth kind of person and the object of my blog is to encourage people to let go of their stuff and their desire to acquire more stuff without setting insane goals like only owning 100 things. The idea is definitely to minimise but not making people feel like they have to be an extreme minimalist to have succeeded. Setting goals that work for each individual and then moving the goal posts a little further away if that feels comfortable is easier than starting so far from the goal posts that you can barely see them.

      Good luck guiding your boys to live their lives this way. The younger one learns to live this way the better life must surely be.

  18. Sharing a room as a kid is great training for adult life when not only do you (hopefully) share a room with your partner but also your BED every day for the rest of your life!

    My Dad always said that sharing rooms was smart parenting as if one of us was doing the wrong thing then our room mate would get mad enough at us sooner or later and dob us in 😉 If we’d ever been into drugs this would have been real smart but we didn’t.

    • Hi Gail,
      two good points. It is good training for sharing your room and bed later on. However I had never considered that there may have been some sort of conspiracy going on with the parents when it came to having their kids share rooms. I wish I had thought of that when mine were younger. 😉

  19. I love the way readers support one another on this website. My kids are grown and away from home now but those of you who are experiencing the teenage years (especially with daughters) need lots of TLC from other moms who have been through it. My daughter (we called her the drama queen) was talking about her teen years this weekend and my son says he is amazed that her bedroom door is still on the hinges. He says he can still hear the sound of the slamming of the door. You pick your battles when they are teens and this was one I did not take on often. Anyway, we survived and all you moms will, too. Our son was dramatic in his own way – he did not speak to us for hours on end when he was mad while our daughter would not shut up. But by the time he was a teen, she had gone off to college so things were not as hectic since we only had one child to manage. By the time they are ready to go to college, they become your best friend again. I think they are realizing that life is changing and they will be making their own decisions and that is very scary. My daughter said she could always use me as the “bad guy” if there was something she did not want to do with her friends but at college, she was the decision maker.
    I will say: enjoy them while they are still at home. Love having their friends at your house because if they are there you know what they are doing. And remember, teaching them to be on their own is what the goal is. I miss having all the kids at my house. Our house seemed to be the ones that they gravitated to and my husband and I were so glad. Lots of moms did not want to mess of the house with lots of teens around (they are messy) but we loved it and miss it to this day. Daughter is nearly 36 and son is 31. Even now, when we see their friends, they remind us of the wonderful times they had at our house. You can’t wish for more than that.
    Thanks for letting me remember.

    • Thank you for sharing that story Maggie. I still have a 21 year old at home getting ready to spread his wings and a 23 year old still trying to make her way in the real world. It can be scary at times but all you ever want for them is peace, happiness and security. I enjoyed having my daughter home last week for a visit and the opportunity to meet her boyfriend. Like yours, mine was a feisty one but at least I know that she can stand up for herself in the real world and she would defend her little brother to the death if need be ~ death might be a little bit strong but you get what I mean. Our son we are lucky we still have after an accident almost two years ago so I tend to be somewhat protective over him. He has all the money smarts his sister doesn’t have which is one less stressor on me as a mother. They are both so alike and yet so different and I love them to death and like you I have always enjoyed their friends. We caught up with a couple when we visited Seattle recently which was lovely, no longer kids anymore either after a five year absence. How the time flies.

    • Maggie I’m in the same position as you. It is lovely to have a celebrtation for your grown up children and when their friends come they give you a hug and say how lovely it was when they were kids and came here. My sons friends went through high school with him, uni and now they are all still best friends getting married and having families of their own.

  20. This is such a pertinent topic for me. We are planning to move house in the near future because this house doesn’t meet our needs. We want to be more central, and we’re having baby no. 3 in a couple of months and can’t fit three kids comfortably in our house. Well, we can, but not in the bedrooms. It’s a modern house, poorly built, and designed for a family of four but with the floor space of a family of six (or more!). Tiny bedrooms, huge living areas… when we bought we thought the bedrooms were bigger than they are and that we really needed this much living area. We don’t.
    The question is what do we really need in a house, and it has taken a lot of convincing my husband that we need what WE need, not what other people need. I think I’ve also managed to convince him now that we don’t need more storage space, just less stuff to store!

    We also recently ‘upgraded’ our car – we only have one – because we weren’t going to be able to fit three child restraints in the old car. I did a stack of ‘research’ to find out what sort of car we should get, and everything that I read suggested we needed to get a seven seater, with a huge boot, because we would want to take the kids’ friends or visiting relatives in the car, and because you need to lug so much stuff when you have babies. The advice I was getting from forums everywhere was that we needed either a Territory or a Tarago. Hang on, our eldest is only five! The days of taking friends anywhere is a long time away, and in the last five years we have only had a handful of times where we have taken relatives etc as extra passengers. If it becomes a problem we will tackle that later, rather spend more than we needed to on a car now. As for bootspace, the four of us drove down to Brisbane recently, with a porta-cot and a stroller, and didn’t have to worry about packing neatly because there was room to spare in the boot! The type of car we ended up with: a Subaru Liberty sedan.

    And, one other thing, it was the birth of my second son that really kicked me into gear with decluttering and secret desires to become a minimalist. We were given mountains of gifts, more stuff than we could possibly even use, and I was beginning to feel ungrateful for the things that we were being given. I recently sold a couple of bags of unworn baby clothes on eBay. I’m not sure what I’m more concerned about with this next baby: giving birth, or people giving us heaps of gifts!

    • Hi Susan,
      I am so glad you have learned while your kids are still young that the only people you have to cater for is yourselves. You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses, you don’t need to pay for the gas that a too big car will guzzle and you don’t need more storage space you just need less stuff. Good for you. Now you just need to get the word out to those generous loved ones that you already have more than enough stuff for this new precious little person on the way but if they feel inclined to give something suggest they make a deposit into a trust account for bubs education and give them the BSB and Account number. 😉