Admittedly, one of the barriers keeping my husband Tom and I from going on a “real” vacation was child care. With four kids ages 2, 3, 5 and 7, it isn’t for the faint of heart. My newly married, twin sister Diana and husband Princeton accepted the challenge graciously and stayed at our house with the kids for the week.
Here is what Diana had to say about her experience in our minimal home:
When my sister and her husband left for Hawaii (the first real vacation since their honeymoon), and left us with their four kids (ages 2 – 7), my new husband and I felt oddly confident.
While well-meaning friends and family jested “I bet you’ll never have kids now,” we experienced an invisible order and quiet calm that kept the world turning for 7 nights and 8 days. We experienced minimal emotional break downs and limited chaos. On the other hand, there was lots of cuddling, living room dancing and a few chords learned on their uncle’s guitar.
While the first few days were filled will constant drawer opening – trying to find the paring knife or coffee filters- midway through the week we realized how easy it was to keep the house picked up and kids fed and clean.
Every item had its place (which I eventually found) and the moderate number of plates, clothing and children’s toys, made it easy and efficient to clean up at the end of the day. This got us to bed shortly after the kids (very shortly after the kids ;-) and resting up for another full day ahead.
And, in this minimal home, we discovered another surprising benefit: the order in the home led to…order in the family. The kids knew what was expected of them, what happened at bedtime (we put 4 kids to bed in 5 minutes every night), and where to find the cereal bowls if they beat Aunt Diana out of bed in the morning. There was a set structure in the family that we were able to enter into. I firmly believe that this spared the emotional breakdowns (especially at bedtime when emotions can run high) and helped us to truly enjoy this special time with the kids.
And, at the end of it all, my husband was the one who pointed out how much he enjoyed the “minimal home” experience. He saw the benefits of maintaining less stuff while keeping up with kids and managing a busy household.
I think I had become used to it from visiting over the years but he recognized that when he opened drawers they were barely full and the closets weren’t stuffed. It was a similar experience to a vacation home, having just what you need but no more.
When he looked in Tom’s closet, organized and simple, he was astounded. Tom always looks sharp, you wouldn’t think that he rotates between a handful of shirts. (I think it inspired him, we got to making over our closet when we got back home!)
His statement after the week: “We need to simplify our home before we have kids!”
So, are we ready to have 4 kids of our own? Yes! And we know just who to call when we’re ready for a vacation to Hawaii (and to help us simplify!) ;-)