Clean Slate Part 2: Bundle of Joy

On the course of our minimalist journey, my husband and I had never seriously entertained the idea of having children. For a long time, we couldn’t imagine how an infant/toddler/adolescent/teenager could fit into the carefree, nomadic lifestyle we had created for ourselves.

But last year, after purging all the excess from our lives, something changed.

In my book, The Joy of Less, I liken minimalism to “emptying our cups”—not for the sake of being empty, but for discovering what’s truly special to us and making room for it.

Well, after my husband and I stripped everything to the bone—giving up our home, our possessions, the expectations of others—we discovered the potential of our “empty cup”: the capacity to love, care for, and share this amazing world with a child.

So today, I’m thrilled to share with you the biggest (and littlest) surprise of all… During my sabbatical, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl!

She’s such a sweetheart, and incredibly alert, active, and curious for her age. She has the most beautiful smile, and a wise, “old soul” expression in her eyes (I like to think that babies are born knowing all the mysteries of the universe, but just lack the communication skills to share them with us :) ).

I know in the blogging world, there’s an expectation that I’ll share the name, photos, and other details of my new bundle of joy. After all, I’m a very proud mama. However, my husband and I have decided to keep our child’s life private. It doesn’t seem right to me that in the United States, 92 percent of children have an online presence by the time they’re two years old. Bottom line, we don’t want to make our daughter “Googleable” before she has a say in the matter.

Therefore, I’m going to resist posting all those adorable baby pics, and use a handle instead of her real name when referring to her online. It didn’t take me long to come up with the perfect one: Plumblossom. Like her namesake flower, she’s tiny and delicate in appearance (weighing only 6 pounds at birth), but hardy enough to bloom in the darkest days of winter. The plum blossom is a symbol of hope, strength, and courage—bursting forth amongst snow and barren branches, an early sign of a much-anticipated spring.

To put it poetically (as I’m wont to do), my husband and I had decluttered our lives into a pure and serene winter landscape–into which our lovely little Plumblossom bloomed, filling the space we’d created with love, light, and happiness.

Has Plumblossom turned my minimalist life upside down? Absolutely. Although I’m striving to keep things under control, I now count a crib, infant swing, play mat, board books, rattles, and a plethora of other baby items among my possessions. I’ve let go of my need to have a pristine, uber-minimalist environment in order to meet her needs—but it’s all worth it, as her smiles and coos fill our home, and hearts, with more joy than I ever imagined.

Longtime readers need not worry: this won’t turn into a “mommy blog,” and my focus will remain on minimalist living—just now with a new perspective that’ll help me relate to even more of my readers. And I’ll try my best to write something intelligible, despite my state of sleep deprivation. It’s a very exciting time in my life, and I’m looking forward to discovering, and sharing with you, the joy of less family-style!

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

201 comments to Clean Slate Part 2: Bundle of Joy

  • Debbie

    I was with my girls today (ages 2 &4) and was wondering if anyone here grew up in a minimalist home — would be interesting to know how kids growing up in minimalist homes come to feel about it when they are older. My dad was born in 1929 and deeply affected by the depression so I know what it is like to have a father with $$ but who refused to spend it … some similarities with minimalism but also very different. It will be interesting to see how our kids feel about minimalism as they grow older — I am sure there will be many different views (even my siblings and I have different views growing up in the same home) but I wonder if there will be commonalities. My four year-old is beginning to want a lot of things (can’t wait for her birthday when all her friends will bring a present — even though we’ve specified no gifts in the past) but she is totally mystified when she looks in my closet and finds two pairs of sandals … or anything else for that reason that I have more of one when she feels one would suffice. We haven’t spoken much about minimalism so it’s funny to hear her questions (and we’re only a little over a year into our minimalist journey — nothing too extreme).

    • SS

      Hi Debbie,
      My parents are both minimalists for the most part. As a kid, I knew other children who had lots of “stuff” but never wanted it, if anything I found it messy in comparison to home. My siblings are also very unattached to material things or external signs of status. Not being obsessed with having or acquiring stuff has allowed me to pursue goals without distraction, and to give more, a value that was ingrained in all of us from fetus hood. Not buying excessive things frees up income to donate to those who need it.

      We love each other dearly in our family, but it has never been about material gifts. We long ago stopped exchanging them. When we were young our parents gave us presents and helped us choose them for each other so we could experience what it was like, though it was stressed that the gift wasn’t the important part, it was the thought.

      Ultimately it was the love and support than has glued our family but I can reassure you that us kids who grew up with minimalist parents are fine. We never felt less loved, or deprived, if anything it was a very secure feeling knowing our parents did not waste and that there would always be more than enough for that very reason. They taught us that we were not entitled to use more than necessary of the world’s resources. It influences how we eat, all of us are slender. We had treats and plenty to eat growing up, yet never encouraged to overeat. If I could sum it up, growing up steeped in habits that led to financial well being, good health, and productive lives was a greater gift than any toy or article of clothing could have offered, and has had a more lasting impact on our lives.

      • Debbie

        Thank you so much for sharing!! I really liked your comment about not feeling entitled to more of the world’s resources than necessary. I hope my kids grow up with similar feelings.

  • azmillet

    when ever i tell my husband about something i read on your blog he always asks if you have kids… tee hee. looking forward to hearing how you handle the new, never ending stream of stuff people give you and your growing family. i always need more inspiration from the trenches. yeah! when you hold you baby, you just might catch a glimpse of eternity. at least that’s how i feel.

  • Wow, congratulations! You are great at keeping secrets! Looking forward to see how your blog evolves.

  • Congratulations and welcome to motherhood! As much as I’d love to see pics of your new arrival, I completely understand and respect your desire to preserve your child’s privacy. I’m the same way, and I refer to my daughter on Vegbooks as “kiddo.”

    BTW, have you noticed that you don’t need nearly all the “baby stuff” people would have you believe? When my kiddo was little, I thought all we really needed was some diapers and clothes, a safe place to sleep, and a pile of books. It wasn’t until recently that I realized we’d also been holding onto a car because everyone said we’d need it. Since it was more of a burden than a blessing, we recently donated it, and I could not be happier!

    Warm wishes to you and your family.

  • Elaine

    Congratulations to you! That is very exciting news! I love how you say that you emptied your cup in order to fill it with what was important to you. As a minimalist mom of 2 school age children I know that having children does not simplify your life at all but it does fill it with joy, laughter, tears and meaning! My husband and I continue to keep our lives as simple as possible in order to make room for three things that are very important to us. Right now they are: Our children’s education, travel with our kids and spending as much time in summer on our boat. I will be so interested to hear your perspective on keeping life simple with kids as it is very possible but challenging at times! Wishing you all the best with your new baby girl!

  • Melissa

    Congrats on your baby girl! Babies are such a beautiful blessing in life. =)

    I wanted to tell you I am proud of your decision to not “publish” your daughter. My kids are 17 and 14. I have never put any pictures or shared their life stories online. I always felt it was an issue one of safety but two I didn’t want to write their story for them. I want them to share their life in the way they see fit when they are grown. I mean no offense to those who do but I didn’t feel it was right for us. I have always been in a minority in this decision so it was nice to see someone else who is choosing to do the same. Your daughter will thank you…my children have! ;-)

  • Ada

    Happy Happy! Congratulations to you. Being a mother is one of the best parts of my life, and I hope it will be for you as well.

  • This is so lovely. I am inspired that putting your baby first still follows the values of minimalism – allowing the right things to fill our lives. =)

  • Michelle

    Congratulations!! Can’t wait to hear more about minimalism with a baby.

  • Dante Iscariot

    Congratulations! I look forward to reading about how you cope with a little one to look after, and how you manage to keep things minimalist while taking on what you’ll need to raise her. I love the handle you’ve chosen. I was thinking of getting a plum blossom tattoo for the qualities they symbolise, so I approve of your choice hehe.

  • The worst for me is all the well-intentioned people who buy you tons of stuff! I actually took back almost anything I could, used that money to start a college fund. Then I rebought it all at garage sales for less than 10% of what it cost new. It was a hassle going around and returning or using store credits for diapers, etc. Luckily, back 16 years ago, it was a bit easier to return items than it is even now.
    I saved all my son’s usable clothes and shoes – now his brother wears them. Lots more money saved.
    I appreciated the wonderful gifts but I did not need a “new deluxe” baby bathtub. But, in our society, most people feel that having only new things for the baby is somehow a measure of how much one loves the baby.
    Most of these items were from my very nice co-workers. I have probably more than made up for it now with all the retirement gifts and wedding/baby showers I have attended.
    I also used all used Maternity clothes. I only bought 1 outfit (on sale) and 1 nursing bra. My cousin had a collection of Maternity clothes that get passed around. I thanked God for that! Plus, I found a lot of my regular clothes worked fine until near the end. I already had stretchy pants, etc.
    I know people who spends tons of cash on painted murals and fancy baby clothes. Seriously, your child will never remember that mural. One couple who did that later divorced due to financial issues. I think their child would rather have had both together than that designer nursery.
    We still have way too much stuff though. I dread the holidays. No matter how much I beg and plead, the grandparents always insist on gifts. I hate coming home and trying to find room. Most of the toys are soon discarded. It is sad. But it is impossible to change people. My youngest is very influenced by what all the other kids have and we are working on that. He is just one big “WANT” and I know part of it is a genetic kink but also part is the influence of the little bit of Disney he watches at Grandma’s and from other kids.

  • […] things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”  Minimalist Francine Jay ”likens minimalism to ‘emptying our cups’—not for the sake of being empty, […]

  • Rebecca

    First of all congratulations on the new addition. I understand the sleep deprivation having suffered through it myself with my daughter she is now 3 and a joy and a pain all at the same time. Enjoy.

    Thank you for not making her googleable or whatever. I would not want the same for my daughter let alone anyone elses.

  • Beth

    Good wishes to you! your book inspired some of the biggest life changes for me so thank you. I too have a baby so im looking forward to this “minimalist mommy” blog.

  • Tina

    We never had much stuff when the kids were little. We didn’t need much. Hand me down stuff was great. Cloth diapers were the thing because paper diapers were expensive and bulky. We also got a lot of useless gifts which we returned right away.

  • Tina

    My kids never had very many toys. A few action figures, some dolls, toy cars. We lived close to a park and a public swimming pool and the kids were outside a lot. We had a TV down the basement, watched PBS, sports, and news. Once a week we went to the public library. If they wanted a castle or apartment house, it was made from a cardboard box.

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