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. Minimalist Montessori Toddler Bed

199 comments to Clean Slate Part 2: Bundle of Joy

  • AussieGirl

    Oh wow, wow, wow, WOW! What a beautiful surprise! And what a wonderful reason to take a winter sabbatical.

    Francine, I share in your joy as I am a mother of four beautiful children, with the youngest being born only weeks ago! :)

    Babies and children are such a joy. Enjoy time with your little girl and don’t worry about the pristine environment being disturbed ;) It’s quite easy to live ‘minimally’ with children as time goes on. I look forward to your new perspective on minimalism as a parent.

  • Kathleen

    Congratulations! Children bring life so much depth and love. My boys are now 12 and 6 and I have become a minimalist in the making since having them in my life…. enjoy enjoy enjoy!

  • Ritu

    Congratulations Miss Minimalist!
    This reminds me of two beautiful sayings
    “Every child gives birth to a mother”
    and “You never know how much love your heart holds until someone calls you Mommy”

    Best Wishes to you and your family.

  • Sharon

    Congratulations! I’m looking forward to posts on minimalist childrearing.

    Like many parents I gave in to the wish for my kids to have more stuff than my parents were able to give me.

    If I had it to do again, there’d be lots less stuff. Books of course. Blocks and legos. Cuddly things. But I’d try to draw the line at purely trendy toys (like every Barbie and all the accessories).

    Since my kids grew up before cell phones, I’d love a discussion on what electronics are really necessary or valuable to kids. It bothers me that many of today’s kids grow up without an appreciation of nature. And one reason is that they are plugged-in and can’t imagine a different lifestyle.

  • Elizabeth

    Congratulations to your family! How wonderful. 2 books you might love immediately. One is Bringing Up Bebe about how the French do their childcare–I love the part about how they get kids to sleep through the night by 2 months old. If I had only known! The other is the great Apartment Therapy book that has the cutest minimalist kids rooms on the planet. Again, if I had seen it earlier, I would have bought a lot less stuff!

  • At 37 now without any kids I am just getting into the nomadic/minimalist life philosophy. I bet you could continue your ways , even with a child, with a bit of planning.

    I think it’s very admirable for you to keep Plumblossom’s identify private, giving her the choice at a later age.

  • Rachel

    I rarely post, but am a devoted reader! I just gave birth to my third daughter two weeks ago, and I must say, I am looking forward to hearing how parenting and a minimal lifestyle combine for you. I feel like I am always gathering up more clutter that well-meaning relatives give us and making Goodwill runs. Congratulations on sweet little Plumblossom, and enjoy the gift of each day to share with your husband and daughter! As Karen said, having a child is a most natural part of life.

    As far as the subject of a mommy blog goes, it is everyone’s personal decision to read the blog or not; I see no reason for animosity. I love this blog, although I am a believer in Christ and not interested at all in Zen or Buddhism–I simply skip the posts that are irrelevant to me and devour the other ones, especially about traveling. And, I hope, maybe a few about parenting! Congratulations again!

  • Laurie

    Loved “Welcome home” and now this — congratulations! Have missed your writing and look forward to more!

  • Lise

    Congratulations! And don’t worry about having a few baby posts. I know those with babies and young children struggle to maintain minimalism in their lives. I for one would like to see a “minimalist baby registry” post. Weird that you would have a post on “things”, but it would also show what isn’t “needed,” but everyone says you do need.

  • Jennifer L.

    I agree with one of the commenters who said she doesn’t like to travel but enjoys reading about minimalist travel. Same here. Also, I’m well past having any more babies but I know I would still enjoy reading about Miss Minamalists maternity wardrobe and anything baby related regarding minimalism. It’s all the same concept just different subjects. So to those discouraged thinking this will become a mommy blog, try to stick it out. It will still be about minimalism.

  • Sue

    Welcome to the world, Plumblossom.

    Congratulations to you and your family Francine. I can’t imagine what your third surprise is!

  • Mira

    That’s wonderful news! Enjoy your new expanded family!

  • Christa

    I am so happy for you and your husband! I can’t wait to see how your posts reflect your new life!

  • Congratulations Francine! I am so happy for you and many blessings to your new family. You are such an inspiration. I look forward to reading more on your minimalist journey!

  • Oh my gosh I’m so happy for you!! I ahevread your blog religously, never commenting though, I have kids your age and have recently began our journey on ther minimalistic trail, my husband and I.This news just makes my heart sing, there is always room for babies in a minimalistic life, congrautlations, I know you don’t want it to be a mommmy blog but please keep us updated on Plumblossom,

  • Congrats! I just finished your book, and my wife is now reading it. The one thing that stuck out was, “yeah, but it’s not so easy with kids” :) Glad to hear you have a few more things and looking forward to hearing how you combine minimalism w/ child rearing.

  • MissuzC

    How exciting, how blessed you and your husband are!!! I am a long-time reader (but rare commenter) and have missed your voice during your sabbatical. So glad you are back, and welcome to this new chapter of your life! I will never forget the amazing miracle of my daughter’s birth and how she became ours through the miracle of adoption! Completely changed my life over eight years ago…and I canNOT wait to learn from you how to live a more minimalist life WITH a child! Blessings & Congrats!

  • Yay!!! I have always been wondering if you have kids. I am so happy to hear about this! I got teary eyed on your post about “Welcome Home” but now, I’m so wet in tears! I’m so excited to hear more about Plumblossom!!!

  • Congratulations!!! Looking forward to hear more from you & Plumblossom! *Happy for you*

  • Congrats! My wife & I had a son a few weeks back, so I’m very interested to see how you juggle minimalism with a plumblossom.

  • Congretualatons. I read 99 procent of all baby’s are found in Google. You are right, it can’t be healthy. Enjoy.

  • Cindy

    OMG, Congratulations! I am so happy for you. Likewise, having kids have never been on our bucket list but for some reason, I do have regrets for a few years now especially when I turned 50 last year. I always tell my younger friends to just do it if they want kids, do not wait. I love kids, any kids. I just adore them. Yes, I do wish for my own. Congratulations again, I am so happy for you!

  • I knew it the second you announced your sabbatical. :-)
    I am VERY happy for you guys.
    All the best!

  • So this finally explains your absence lately…

    Congratulations Francine, what wonderful heartwarming news :)

    Looking forward to more posts from you whether baby related or not.

  • Liz

    Congratulations on your new little one and your recent move! I would love to hear how you’re managing your baby gear. My husband and I are expecting our first baby late this summer and we’re struggling with what we truly need vs. what everyone says you should have. Since this baby is a first grandbaby on both sides of the family we’re already being showered with thoughtful gifts and I’m afraid it’s going to be hard to keep it under control.

    • Jean

      When my husband and I lived overseas in South Korea and Japan we used to ask the question, “What do the locals do?”. As a result we found that babies don’t need lots of things we as were told we needed for the baby. When we adopted the way in which things were modeled by the locals we approached things by asking was it a safe practice and if so we adopted it as our practice. We slept on a futon and our daughter had her own “baby” futon next to our bed. When she was old enough to crawl of course she would wake up in the morning and in to bed with us on her own but she never suffered a head injury from falling out of a crib. We used a blanket on the floor to change her cloth diapers, a small blanket as a sling to carry her when she was an infant and a larger blanket to carry her on our backs when she older. We had a Korean folding table that we ate on so we did not need a high chair. We did have an infant car seat that we would multipurpose for feeding her as an infant when she first started solid foods. Hope this helps.

  • Juju

    Oh my goodness!!!! Many congratulations to you, your husband, and your new addition! I shall be fascinated to read how you encompass this change into your lives. Its a bit late for me to pick up tips on having a minimalist life with children as mine are 12 and 17, but I am so looking forward to finding out how you do it – and you will!

    Also, I admire you so much for keeping your daughter off the internet. That figure about kids having an online presence before they are two is horrifying! My daughter isn’t 13 until September and yet most of her friends have had Facebook accounts for years.

    Keep doing what you do, in your own unique and inspiring way, and congratulations once again x

  • Ann

    Congratulations on your bundle of joy! -Silent Reader from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  • This is fantastic! Congratulations on your new daughter.

  • Mygoldenyears

    Congratulations on the beautiful addition to your family, and welcome little Plumblossom (LOVE that handle!)! I’m very glad to read that you’re going to keep her privacy intact. Even though her “stats” and “personal info” are properly held in privacy, she will still receive all the good will, heartfelt wishes, and loving energy that are sent to her through your subscribers, and that’s all that’s important.

    In the meantime, reading about how a rigorous minimalist navigates child rearing will be very interesting, for all concerned, I’m sure! ;) , and a great service to those who are in that position.

  • Congratulations, Francine!

    I admire your decision to keep your daughter’s life private. That’s a shocking statistic!

    As much as I agree with NOT making this a “mommy blog”, I’m curious to know if you’ll blog about how a child and their needs fit into a minimalist life style.

  • Zoebird

    Congratulations!

    We have raised my son minimally — it’s worked very well for us. At 3.5, he has far more stuff that we prefer, but less than 1/3 of what most of his peers have. Possibly even less than that.

    It can be done, for sure! We love living with less, as it makes room for so much more.

    Today, on our drive, we looked at some lovely houses in a lovely neighborhood. And I said “living in one of these would be nice.” And DS says “we’d have to invite friends; that house is way too big for just the three of us. It wouldn’t be cosy.”

    So, that’s our life: cosy. :)

  • Laura

    Congrats! As a mom and like some others, I had the sense this was behind the sabbatical. Actually being a mom can make you more minimalist, in some ways. Our family now includes four children. With the addition of each child, I carried fewer things, had a smaller wardrobe for each child, and simplified other areas of my life to allow for these new “most precious pearl” priorities. What children need most is loving relationships and guidance. After that, all else will follow.

  • Bauunny

    Congratulations! I was hoping your big news was something along this line. You have embarked on a wondrous and ever changing journey. As I read through all the comments my take-away was amazement at the variety of responses. Of course, I loved the responses where people clearly shared in your joy. I was sad though to see the responses that automatically assumed that parenthood meant you would no longer have relevant commentary. I am sad for those people.

  • Melina

    Congratulations Francine, and welcome to planet Earth, Plumblossom!

    If anyone in the world can be a masterful minimalist mama, it’s you Francine! Whatever balance you strike, please, please share! Many of us readers either have children already, or hope to in the future, so we could all gain from your insights, tips, and compromises.

    One tip of my own: Check out the book “Bringing up Bebe” by Pamela Druckerman. My sister is pregnant and I will get her this book as a gift. It’s about the differences between French and American styles of parenting. The book immediately popped into my head when I heard your beautiful news! I think you’ll enjoy it! If you find the time to read it, please let me know your thoughts!

    Again, blessings to your new precious addition to the family!

  • Congrats! What a lovely surprise!
    I hope you can stick to your minimalist way of life even with a baby :)

  • Congratulations! Having a child definitely presents more challenges in living a minimalistic lifestyle. But we’ve found that sharing our travels and adventures with our 4-year-old daughter has made them even more rewarding. We can’t fit a lot of toys on our 29-foot-sailboat, so our Jelly Bean is already learning how to live deliberately.

    I look forward to reading about your perspectives on minimalist living while being a parent. :-)

  • nicky

    Congratulations!! A lot of the content on this block has been your experience with minimalism as a married woman. You are a mommy now. That is great. Ergo this should now be a blog with mommy content. I think you need to own your new role. I have always respected your honesty. To deny who you are now is just disingenuous.

  • April

    How exciting! I have a baby girl too (15 months old now). Minimalism has helped me to enjoy my daughter much more and to cherish and focus on her each day. I’m excited to hear more of your perspective on children and stuff. It’s something I have found somewhat challenging :)

  • Michelle

    Welcome Plumblossom!
    Congrats and then kudos to you for protecting her identity.

  • Anette Eriksen

    Congrats. What a big surprise. I am so happy for your little family. I have a 7 month old boy. He loves playing with his toys, but what he enjoys the most is his father playing his guitar, us making strange noises and playing with my long hair – so you dont need much to “entertain” him. I wish you all the best and look forward to your posts to come.
    Anette

  • Yay! Congratulations :) Minimalism for our family has benefited the kids so much. Sure, we probably will never have 100 things, but we have minimal things and space and way more time for exploring, playing games and now homeschooling. None of that would be possible if we were tight on money and time from having more stuff.

    Welcome back :)

  • Judy

    Congratulations on one of life’s greatest blessings.. Sometimes we may be prone to forget that this is YOUR blog and you can include whatever you wish that helps us in our journey. I as a 71 year old, am looking forward to any and every thing you send our way.

  • Sarah

    Congratulations and good to have you back!

  • Tradd

    Oh, my! What wonderful news! Congratulations! I wholeheartedly agree with your decision to keep Plumblossom off-line until she’s older to make that decision.

  • Congratulations!!! Such a sweet pose, I am so happy for you :)

    Have been a reader for a while but never posted, thought this timing was appropriate time to say hello!

    Best of luck and enjoy being a mummy!!

    xx

  • Mims

    Congratulations! I have no doubt that you will not turn this blog into a “mommy blog” considering that you waited until Peachblossom had already seen the light of the world before you announced her precense. Off course it will impact your blog in one way or another, just as a move, a career change, an illness or any other personal event that would have an impact on your life would even if you did keep them private.

    Two of the most minimalist women I know are mothers, so I don’t think it’s impossible to live a minimalist life with children. In fact, the biggest clutter problem when it comes to children is one you have already adressed: gifts from relatives and friends. The other is the preassure from what other people think you need. I’d say the only thing you usually really need is a car seat, some way to feed them (I once worked with a woman only had one bottle for her exclusively bottlefed baby as she “never got around to getting another one” when it turned out that she couldn’t breastfeed), some way to keep them clean and dry (just water is a great cleanser, particularly for infants, and a lot of babies around the world never even get diapers to start with), some clothes and somewhere to put the baby down when you can’t hold it.

    My most minimalist mommy friend only got a car seat, couple of diapers, a blanket and some clothes when her baby was born, saying that she would get the rest as she needed it. She never did (well, at some point or another her baby got a mattress to sleep on, and some toys from relatives, but that was pretty much it for the first year or so).

  • Susan

    Congratulations! That’s lovely news! Welcome to Baby Plumblossom!

  • s.e.

    Congratulations to you and your husband and welcome Plumblossom to what is still a wonderful world in spite of everything.
    p.s. you may indeed find that most of the baby items you mentioned are not necessities at all:)

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