Clean Slate Part 2: Bundle of Joy

(Photo: John-Morgan)

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.}

Related posts:

  1. The Huffington Post Book Giveaway #4: The Big Reveal
  2. The Minimalist Toybox
  3. Montessori and Minimalism

199 comments to Clean Slate Part 2: Bundle of Joy

  • Okay! I won the office pool on that one! Congratulations. You’re in for a wonderful ride! Hugs to you all!

  • Anniep

    Congratulations! I have enjoyed reading your blog and I must say, I did not see this coming! You are in for a great time, you will get to experience the wonders of childhood all over again. Am looking forward to future posts from you. Bless your family!

  • Cindy Kerstetter

    Wow – I’m so happy for you!! Long time reader – first time commenter… this deserved a comment! – enjoy, enjoy, enjoy her! I too am a newer mom (my oldest is 6, twins who are 4) – it’s such an amazing ride – for better for worse. Again, enjoy!

  • Pauline

    Definitely happy for you! Wish your new family all the best! Is it weird to say I’m so glad you’re not going to make this a mommy blog?! I love the content you put out so please keep that up! You inspire me and I admire you! I’ll relate to you on every other level minus the baby thing! lol :)

    • SS

      I cannot speak for Francine but it did not come across as weird to me that you are relieved it is not going to turn into a mommy blog. She herself stated it first. I was relieved too. If it does go that direction, I will wish her well, quietly stop reading the site, and stay with the other minimalism sites that have zero focus on children.

      Francine, you sound like you are already a great mother to your new child, congratulations on making a choice that has brought you and your family joy. Whether I continue reading your posts or not, thank you for having shared your insights into a minimalist life!

  • Wow….congratulations and best of luck to you and your husband, Francine. I know you will be a wonderful mother!

  • Jaci

    Congratulations to you and your husband on your new addition.

  • Wendy

    Welcome to the world, Plumblossom!

  • Kari

    Congratulations! I actually saw this one coming when you said you had three surprises. Yeah, babies! They are truly worth it. And no, despite what everyone tries to tell you that you need, babies need remarkably little. So, welcome Plumblossom. And kudos to you for recognizing the need for privacy. So few people do.

  • Elizabeth

    That is such wonderful news. So many changes for you this year, my goodness. Having a baby almost instantaneously changes a person’s outlook on life; it is almost as if you take a moral, spiritual and psychological inventory at the moment of birth, toss out what is no longer needed and adopt the new. Very best wishes to you and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

    This is going to be redundant, since I posted it in some form on a previous page, but your post reminded me of this: ““It has affected the way we live,” Andrew says. “We don’t really collect art or have many things. John [Pawson, British Minimalist Architect] talks about how a lack of noise—by which he means clutter and other distractions—leads to more intimacy. That’s something we have really experienced.”

    The house they are referring to is actually 20,000 square feet (gulp), but if you look at the slideshow, you will see how very minimalistic the architectual design is. It is really a piece of art all in itself. http://www.architecturaldigest.com/decor/2011-09/john-pawson-minimalist-los-angeles-home-article

  • Congratulations!!! Your post brought tears to my eyes – there is nothing that has added to my life more than my little girl, and I am beyond happy for you. I’ll be looking to your blog for even more minimalism ideas (I’ll be adding some health-related ones targeted at moms/parents on mine as well, but as I’ve said before, your book “The Joy of Less” is the single one among so many books/blogs/articles on minimalism that really brought me around and helped me change so many things, including myself). And the sleep deprivation – oh yeah….that does get better :-)

  • Sarah

    Oh my goodness! Congratulations and welcome Plumblossom!

  • Judy

    Congratulations to you and your husband! There is nothing more wonderful than the birth of a child. Obviously all the changes in your life made you ready for one more incredible change. I have been reading your posts for a couple of years and keep referring back to your book for inspiration. Looking forward to more posts. Also, congratulations for recognizing the need for keeping your privacy that is important for you and your family. Enjoy all that parenthood has to offer. Welcome, Plumblossom!

  • Valerie

    Yes, congratulations!

    No, we don’t want a “mommy blog” but I’m sure many of us will be very happy to hear about how you keep to a minimalist lifestyle with a child (though it’s absolutely true that they don’t need 99.5% of the stuff all the marketers want you to think they need!). I have to admit that, from time to time, I’ve said to myself: all very well for HER to say… she doesn’t have kids, resident in-laws etc etc.

    I hope you both thrive on parenthood… it’s the best ride ever even if it does leave one a little cluttered!

    • Karen (Scotland)

      I’ll second that – I’ll be thrilled to get Francine’s perspective on minimalism now that she has a baby. Not a “mommy blog” as such but having kids is such a natural part of life, it will be lovely to hear Francine’s take on it. :-)
      Karen (Scotland)

  • Jens

    Wow! Congrats Francine! That’s lovely news and I wish you and your husband every blessing and fortune going with young little Plumblossom! You make of your blog what you will – We all go through changes and phases; and denying that would be turning your back on growth. I look forward to future blog posts with the added dimension of incorporating that precious gift you now have! I’m sure none of your regular readers would ever fault you on that! Again, congrats and all the very best!!!

  • What a lovely post! Congratulations! :-)

  • Megan

    Congratulations! I admit, although I have children of my own I was very surprised to hear your news! I’m happy for you guys and the exciting journey you have begun. Life is change, and I’m sure your blog will reflect that, but if you say it’s not going to turn into a mommy blog, I believe you! I look forward to reading more about your perspective on life written in your beautiful (and poetic!) style, as well as reading the weekly feature on other minimalists, if you continue doing that.

  • Ellen

    After your ‘coming home’ blogpost I somehow expected you to announce you were pregnant, but not this! Congratulations! I wish the three of you joy and happiness!

  • Maggie

    Children change everything for the better!
    DH & I met/married ‘late’ in life so adding a kiddo to the mix well, life has been the best adventure ever, ever since!

    In the light of eternity, a lot of what society deems ‘important’ falls aside. Future legacy is what life is all about. Stuff rots, character lives on forever.

    Oh, the baby stuff – resale is great resource! Later just donate good items to a local charity serving young families in need.

    We re-gifted a lot of stuff. Didn’t buy many toys – put money toward college fund & travel. Our pioneering ancestors didn’t need stuff, neither did we. And the plastic products(i.e. later to become dried cracking petroleum junk), UGH! Don’t bother wasting resources on.

    Plumblossom must be growing like a tree already – enjoy every precious moment. Just think, you only have 18 summers left until she’s college-bound!;) (Sob…missing ours)

    • mizizzle

      I don’t have children but I hear so much wisdom in this post.

      These are ideas I imagine my (late) mother would have offered me had she been around when/if I choose to have children — I just didn’t know it until now.

      Thank you for sharing your perspective.

  • dianon

    well done! also happy this will not turn into a “mommy blog”.
    what would be interesting tho is your wardrobe during pregnancy. i have a friend that bought one of those boxed sets and loved it. i imagine it would be a minimalists dream come true.

  • Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl. Although you now have lots of baby items, I’m sure you will still be able to keep control on it and will come up with great tips to keep things to constrained.
    Sarah

  • denise

    Congratulations!

  • Welcome, Little Plumblossom!

  • Máire

    Congrats!!

    A baby will make your blog develop. Do you remember the ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ episode where Edwinas minimalist friends have a baby and aquire loads of crap…… http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0504679/

    We’re looking forward to your battle with baby stuff;)

  • Amber

    We had our first child last fall, so this is exciting news to me – congratulations! As a minimalist in the making, I was surprised to hear you acquired the baby gear. We’ve gone without, but that might just be a parenting style preference.
    I think you can be a fantastic mother and minimalist blogger at the same time! I love your blog, so thanks for all the work it takes. :-)
    Welcome Plumblossom!

  • Shirley Do

    congratulations on the birth of your little flower. Now I want to know when are you getting a dog?

  • Magpie

    Congratulations on the arrival of Plumblossom! You certainly keep a great secret. Like some of the others I thought you might say you were pregnant but to say you had already had the baby blew me away!!! All the best to the three of you.

  • Congratulations! For the three of you.

    Going home, taking a sabbatical… Thought you were expecting a baby! Not that you already had one ;)

    Love to hear you enjoy her. Little ones need almost nothing but love, parents, hugs and food… Your girl will be so glad to have parents who know that.

  • Karen (Scotland)

    A very sincere and happy congratulations from me! I’m delighted simply because the arrival of a baby is, well, just about the nicest (and most natural) thing I can think of to happen in this world.

    Also delighted from a selfish perspective because, as a mum and minimalist-wannabe, I am very, very excited to hear how minimalism will fit around your babe (because it will be that way – no way will she fit around minimalism… ;-)) Your blog and views are so interesting and enjoyable to read that any topic (including babies) that you make the focus of a post will still give food for thought to non-baby-focussed readers.

    Well, if I can glean interesting nuggets from your travel stories (as a confirmed homebird with no current desire to go further south than Berwick-upon-Tweed), I’m sure others will benefit from any baby/parent posts you write.

    Karen
    (Scotland)

  • GreyQueen

    :) Wow, Francine, congratulations on your newborn and I think you’re so right to respect her privacy. I love her nickname.

  • jennifer

    Congratulations Francine.

  • Such wonderful news. When you went on sabbatical I was entertaining two thoughts – that you were sick (and hoping that it wasn’t the case) or that there was a mini-you on the way. So glad it’s the latter! Congratulations. Total respect to you for not making your baby “googleable before she has a say in the matter”.

  • Amy

    Congratulations!!!!!!!!! How very exciting.

  • Congrats!!! I don’t stop by to comment often but I do subscribe and always read. I will say from experience that minimalism will definitely change for you now. Babies and children just mean stuff, there’s no way around it, and there isn’t a thing wrong with it. It’s the attachment to the stuff that becomes a problem not the stuff itself. Enjoy your new little bundle and if you want to switch to a mommy blog at some point so be it, just enjoy this new chapter of your life :)

  • whisper 2

    Such lovely news! I very much approve of your decision to keep baby girl’s life private and will look forward to all your posts about any and all topics.

  • Heather

    Congrats!!!! This is wonderful and such a blessing.

  • Pamela R.

    Congratulations Francine! I am so happy for you and your husband! I’m looking forward to hearing some “mommy” information because my husband and I are planning for a little one soon and would love to know different ways of reconciling a baby with our minimalist lifestyle.

  • Congratulations! What wonderful news! Your blog and book and blessed my life incredibly and I am so happy for you and your sweet new one.

  • Congratulations – what a precious gift!! Thanks for sharing your news.

  • Ahsha

    I am SO happy for you. As children get older, they need fewer things and you can simplify again. My son is now nine and he loves our minimal lifestyle. When her gets a new toy, he gives another away. He is content with a minimal wardrobe.
    So it may seem overwhelming now but it sure is worth it. Congratulations to you and you entire family!!!

  • Lindsay

    Congratulations to you and your husband! Your post radiates how happy you are! Long time reader but infrequent commenter. Happy that you already addressed not turning this into a mommy blog.

  • Clare

    Congratulations Francine! I am so excited for you. Motherhood is such a wonderful journey and I can’t wait to hear how you combine minimalism with your new (and ever-evolving) family perspective. I for one don’t mind if this turns into a ‘mommy blog’. Your tips and tricks for adapting minimalism for families will be extremely useful for us mummy readers :) Thank you for all you do to inspire us :)

  • Lilly

    After reading your post last week I thought you were pregnant. But wow! You already have the baby. Congratulations to you and your husband! God bless your family.

  • Linnea

    Wow!!! Congratulations!!!

  • Anna D.

    I KNEW IT! Sort of:) I figured you just found out about your pending bundle of joy, but congrats all the same. My son is 6.75 months along and I just sold off/donated a bunch of *stuff* and feel great! A recommendation? A fabric wrap (Moby, etc.) is great for long walks, errand-running, letting PB sleep, and takes WAY less space folded than any stroller ever could! Okay, now get some sleep;)

  • TessaH

    Well knock me over with a feather! I did not see that beautiful surprise coming! So very happy for you and hope you’ll share your journey with us. Wow! You’re in a great adventure, as you already know. Congratulations!

  • Arthur

    Congratulations! It’s a great news! :)

  • Congratulations and welcome Plumblossom!

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