Real Life Minimalists: Marni

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.

Today, Marni shares her story with us. She’s found that minimalism helps her manage life as a single mother, while providing wonderful experiences for her children!

Marni writes:

I am a single mother to 2 kids, and being a minimalist has helped make living a single life with kids manageable and enjoyable. Cleaning house is painless and they only have a few toys.I teach my kids that experience brings more enjoyment than stuff.

In a materialistic society, it is easier for us to fall in a consumerism trap. But I always plan an interesting weekend or holiday with my two daughters that doesn’t involve ‘acquiring more stuff’. Mostly the plan includes spending the whole day at the beach, visiting relatives, a family road trip, going to a new restaurant or trying out new activities.

Recently we went to Europe. It was more like slow travel rather than a vacation. We rented an apartment, visited the local market and grocery store, tried local food and walked for hours a day. We tried to live like the locals
as much as possible, went to the library, got haircuts and had a picnic at the park. We only travelled for 2 weeks but it felt like 2 months for me!

{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.}

20 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Marni

  • Well done, especially in terms of the living like a local abroad- all kudos to you :)

  • That sounds like a fabulous way to see Europe for any length of time!

  • Rae

    And your kids will never forget the memories. The toys will get old and broken and thrown out, but memories wont.

  • I am not one for travelling much, but I do think if I go somewhere I would want to experience the place as much like a local as I could and experience the real place not the manmade tourist experience.
    Talking of picnics I am off on one soon as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations :) I love that this celebration has been so uncommercialised (at least where I am) and it is more about community then spending

  • Katie

    When I look back on my childhood I remember just a few toys that I really cared about. It’s the family traditions, fun events and vacations that I remember the most. I read the wonderful book ‘Simplicity Parenting’ and that really helped my husband and I remember the important parts of our own childhoods. It’s easy to fall into the trap of toys toys toys! I’ve sold at least half of my sons toys and could definitely sell even more. Now we spend money on experiences for our family. I really enjoyed your story. It sounds like your girls are going to have wonderful memories!

  • Amazing post! I find it really encouraging that there are more and more parents out there who have shifted the focus away from acquiring stuff, and are acting as such a great example to their children (and the rest of us!). It gives me the hope that I could actually become a parent without going completely insane! :) Thanks so much for sharing your great experiences with all of us.

  • I totally agree with you experiences are much more valuable than stuff. Great post! Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Maria

    What a fantastic story – thanks for sharing! We have two kids and we’ve tried to do the same: focus on adventures or the simple everyday life like preparing and eating dinner together. I would want my kids to be prepared for the life outside home so that they know how to handle money, cook, do the laundry, study and so on and that’s why I take them with me to do things instead of get them stuff to entertain while I’m off doing things.

    The holiday in Europe sounds very respectful and almost poetic experience. I’m sure your daughters will cherish the memories you made there.

  • Grace

    I firmly believe that you are doing something wonderful for your daughters by focusing on experience rather than the material; But, they may or may not have conscious memory of the experience. Those experiences may not be remembered especailly by younger children. However, you will be building on their knowledge base and be creating new neural connection by exposing them to the broader world. What you are building are valuable connections and relationships. individual memories can be highly selective, especially isolated experiences. I encourage everyone to really think about their most special and most beautiful memories. I bet the most vivid and influential are very simple ones.

  • I love your vacation model, Marni! When I think of all of the vacations I took with my family as a child, I never remember the souvenirs … I remember the fun activities, like chasing pigeons in Paris, building sand castles on Lake Michigan, and hiking in the Rocky Mountains.

  • Shelley

    Hi, I love this post. It makes me remember exactly why I’ve spent the last 6 months paring down our possessions. I want to have the time to tell my son I can play a game with him instead of worrying about tending to my belongings. It is so true that less possessions means more free time and less to worry about.

  • I really enjoyed reading your post Marni. What a fabulous role model you are for your children! Living like locals is a fantastic way to travel. It costs less, you absorb the place and people more, and it can help you to feel more settled and at “home” in a new location, even if you aren’t there for long. When we travel, I like to visit libraries and playgrounds as well – they are usually less crowded than overly touristy spots and can be just as much fun.

  • The experiences that you share with your family are more valuable than anything else. I really loved how you described your trip to Europe. That sounds so lovely! Best Wishes!

  • Lydia

    Your children are very lucky to have a mom like you! :) And that vacation sounds delightful.

  • Tina

    Kids remember the experiences more than the toys. Good job.

  • Tina

    We used to sit as a family and watch whatever Star Trek show was on. My youngest writes for a science fiction fanzine on the web. We used to discuss politics at dinner and my oldest teaches foreign affairs. My daughter has always done good deeds and now does group counseling with mentally ill adults. I really think they remember experiences and friends they had more than most of the toys they had.

  • Tina

    Spending time with your kids is the best thing you can do. Things come and go but the times you spend together are what memories are made of.

  • Tina

    We always took long car trips with the kids every summer. Our oldest takes his kids on car trips now.

  • Tina

    My son says his boys don’t listen so instead of calling them by name he calls them names out of history. Yesterday, they were Sacco and Vanzetti which of course led to a discussion. Another recent choice was Lucy and Ethel. They both consistently make honor roll so I guess they listen when it counts.

  • Tina

    I visited my sister in California. She knows I love to declutter. I helped my nephew get rid of some clothes that didn’t fit and 2 piles of paper. Then I found a stack of old magazines to give away. I was talking to a young woman today and told her not to get the kid’s meals at fast food places because a small hamburger and water to drink was cheaper and a better value. I used to give my kids cardboard and paper and string and they made houses and vehicles.

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