We know all about the property agents’ adages of “starting out” when we buy our first house, and “slowing down” or downsizing when the children have left the nest. But do we really need to upsize in between? It isn’t just about the houses we live in, it’s also got a lot to do with all the stuff we accumulate, the goals we set ourselves, and the kind of stressful lifestyles so many of us end up living – even the number of children we create and animals we invite into our lives.
Sure it’s great to have a large house and a growing family, lots of pets, beautiful possessions, stylish furniture, and all the mod-cons money can buy; but there’s something to be said for moderation. If you’re stressed because of any form of pressure relating to your current lifestyle and commitments, then now is the time to re-evaluate and do something that will enable you to live a simpler life.
While it makes sense to find homes that fit our needs, many of us choose houses that are bigger than we need, often for status reasons. But status all too often comes with added stress – a fact many of us realize too late.
Just a couple of decades ago, large families, including extended families with several generations living together, lived in homes that were smaller than many of the mansions that house smaller families today. Now there seems to be a trend towards bigger is better, irrespective of what a family’s needs really are. Of course lifestyle is important, and if you have older children it’s important that they have their privacy. This will, of course, determine the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need in your house. If you work from home, it’s important to have a dedicated room or suitable space where you can be productive. If you socialize a lot, a separate dining room and perhaps an entertainment patio will be a priority.
If you want and need big, and can afford “big” without adding stress to yourself and your family, that’s fine. But your family and your children, if you have children, really should come first.
Your Family and Children
Having focused briefly on the importance of family and children, it’s important to point out how vital it is to balance quality time with all the other challenges of family life. For instance if you are working extremely hard all the time, and are perpetually stressed, then all your relationships (whether personal, business or social) may be compromised or even threatened. The same applies to the activities you choose for your children. If you are all doing too much, you will miss out on valuable downtime, which is vital for relaxation and good health.
Deciding on schedules that work doesn’t take rocket science, just good down-to-earth common sense. Sometimes our jobs do make serious demands and we do become stressed, which is why we also need to ensure there is a time and place to relax and unwind. And it’s the same for our children. There are so many sports and extra-mural activities they can do, the danger is to enroll them in too many. As a result you will end up risking a reduction in downtime for them, and making them stressed at an early age. Extra-murals can also be extremely expensive, inviting additional pressure for you to earn more money.
It’s a good idea to discuss sports and extra activities with your children and to help them be selective in what they choose to do. You’ll find that they are likely to appreciate your caring attempts to help them live a simpler life too.
Similarly, club and gym memberships can reduce our family downtime. Instead consider jogging or walking outdoors with your family, and concentrate on healthy eating at home. While a huge percentage of North Americans are obese and generally unhealthy, a relatively small percentage of these people are going to thin down and get fit by buying a gym membership. Buying great, big expensive home gyms seldom helps either. The secret is to focus on a healthier lifestyle. If you live a simpler life, you’ll have more time to do this.
Domestic pets are precious and form an important and usually integral part of many family homes. But it is not enough simply to be an animal lover; you also need to be sure your house is equipped for pets and is ultimately pet-friendly. You also need to be sure that you have the time for any pets you might decide to bring into the home, particularly larger dogs that will need exercise and therefore time and attention on your part.
It is not just the cost of buying or adopting a pet that should be considered, but also the ongoing costs of feeding and caring for dogs, cats and other animals, birds, reptiles or rodents like tame rats and hamsters. If your home is not pet friendly, this can also impact on costs because some animals can mess up furniture and soft furnishings very quickly.
Although not everybody is a hoarder, it is a fact of life that most of us tend to accumulate possessions. If you have lived in one house for a long time you might not even realize just how much you have accumulated. Things from pots and pans to clothing and shoes get stored away in cabinets and cupboards, even if they are seldom or never used. Perhaps ironically, people who move home more frequently tend to find it easier to shed possessions more easily – because of practical circumstance.
People trained to market “stuff” usually do their jobs really well, convincing us that it is vital to add a multitude of items to our “must have” shopping and wish lists. Often we are conned into believing that these “things” will make our lives easier. While there’s no denying that some items can be extremely helpful and useful, it pays to be sure that you really need the newest food processor or cooking device, solar powered flashlight or garden tool kit, or anything else that takes your fancy. Even upgrades to existing possessions like computers and cellphones can add strain, particularly if you have to pay for them, or spend time learning how to use them.
Your Commitment to a Simpler Life
Ultimately living bigger, stronger, faster has the potential to put us onto a virtual treadmill or roundabout that simply moves faster and faster so you battle to get off. If you are struggling to keep up, and stress is impacting your life, it’s time to try and live a simpler life with fewer demands. Think carefully about what you really need as opposed to what you want or think you need, and you will end up buying a lot less possessions and will need to work a lot less. This in itself will help you live a much simpler life.