Kids Stuff and Minimalism

In one of my recent posts on minimalism in my digital life, I mentioned that such a path is a personal choice. While seemingly self-explanatory at the time, I realize that there are whole books about decluttering the stuff that children inevitably bring with them. As such, I wanted to expound on areas in which I feel I have little power to change anything at the moment.

My house has a unique layout. The reason I start here is the idea that the ability to live minimally is often tied to layout and design, whether intentionally or not. If I have five pieces of furniture in a room not meant for them, it doesn’t matter that the number of pieces is small, the room will not work toward one of the major goals of minimalism: less stress. In my home, I have an almost prescient open floor plan, since the house was built in the late-1940s.

The main floor includes an L-shaped living room and accommodates traditional living and dining spaces, if you want to lay it out in that way. My wife and I have always been reorganizers, so we tend to rearrange spaces often in the attempt to find the best layout possible. We have no traditional dining space on our main floor because we don’t need it often and we enjoy the flexibility that comes with moveable and ostensibly multipurpose furniture. In other words, our dining table is just a table and can act as a desk, a game space, etc. Our couch location accommodates a seating area, but also allows for the cook (read: me) to be around conversation in the living space. This is just a microcosm of the other spaces and the larger house, so I won’t be going room by room, though people naturally treat different rooms in different ways.

However, our living spaces also includes kid stuff. There is the obvious: books, toys, games, puzzles, craft supplies, storage for all of the above. And the not so obvious: art work, work space, and more storage for the first list. Take into account then the desire to decorate for every holiday and the storage needs for that stuff and we are living in a minimalists nightmare. And it all spreads. No matter how good your minimalist storage system is, the kid stuff will spread unless you want to make clean up a full time job.

I think the ideal for me is that I treat each space uniquely but with a shared vision. Fewer things, more flexibility, less unnecessary fluff. Desires, needs, and hobbies will each come and go. The key is not holding on to things that no longer serve their purpose. Of course, storage will always be necessary, but ideally storage spaces are used as temporary for the items that serve their purpose as often as they can.

Some of these ideals might simply have to wait until I no longer have children under six years old.

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The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.