When Simple Isn’t Popular

posted by Andrea | 09/18/2019

when simple isn't popular

This post is an updated version of one I originally shared in September of 2014. 

Looking back on my life, I have always gravitated towards “simple” over any other alternative… often without even realizing it at the time.

I’ve been striving to live simply and to be more organized for as long as I can remember… and I’ve been blogging about it for 10 years now! 

TEN YEARS!

One thought that has occurred to me several times over the past decade is that although “simple living” is an extremely popular topic in today’s society, my real-life simple choices are not always equally as popular. 

I can recall countless occasions when I made a conscious, well-thought-out decision to go against an otherwise popular societal choice because I know MY choice was the simpler and better choice for ME at that point in MY OWN life.

I honestly don’t feel guilty about those choices anymore — but I might be in the minority.

I know many who let guilt and societal pressure get to them. They give in to choices and decisions that are not right for them, that don’t help them to simplify, and that cause unnecessary stress and angst because they feel it’s the “right” thing to do… or worse, because they think these choices make them look good to those around them.

Fortunately for you (and for me), I am not the type to care about going against the grain or ruffling a few feathers.

I’m “airing my dirty laundry” here on the blog in attempts to help anyone who might be struggling with choices that don’t match up with what friends are doing, what other blogs are sharing, or what magazine ads are promoting.

I’ve been there too, I know it sometimes feels wrong to be different, but I can confidently say that EVERY time I’ve made the unpopular choice, I’ve been rewarded with a simpler life.

Let me give you a few examples…

live simple

Electronic versus Paper Planners: 

Popular Choice: Using the latest and greatest Apps to help increase productivity, manage time, and simplify the many things we need to do each day.

Simpler Choice for Me: Using my messy planner, a pen, and a few sticky notes.

I’ve tried over and over again to find the perfect productivity, scheduling, list-making, time-management Apps, but every time, I come right back to my simple paper planner and sticky notes.

I honestly wish I could do more electronically, but for now, the simplest and most effective choice for me is still pen and paper.

Cloth versus Disposable Diapers: 

Popular Choice: Using cloth diapers and homemade wipes to save money and the environment.

Simpler Choice for Me: Using disposable diapers and wipes to save boatloads of time, energy, stress, water, and electricity washing and drying ALL those diapers for someone who really doesn’t like doing laundry or dealing with poop.

Organic versus Non-organic Produce: 

Popular Choice: Eating all-natural, organic produce from the grocery, a local farmer’s market, or even straight from the farm.

Simpler Choice for Me: Eating lots of on-sale produce, some frozen and canned produce, some produce from our own garden, and some produce from local farmers.

Giving myself the freedom to choose whatever fits our produce needs at the current moment without feeling like a horrible person if I don’t pay twice as much for organic.

Picking my own berries to can homemade jam and buying apples straight from the farm for delicious home-canned applesauce — simply because that’s what my mom and grandma have always done and we absolutely LOVE the taste of these home-canned favorites.

Recycling Everything versus Some Things: 

Popular Choice: Recycling every last shred of paper, plastic, glass, tin, aluminum, etc. so nothing ends up in a landfill.

Simpler Choice for Me: Recycling SOME things that are relatively simple for us to do through our church or Dave’s school… but trashing others because our garbage company charges a huge upcharge for a recycling bin (crazy, I know)

Giving myself the freedom to decide to pay the much higher price for recycling in the future, but also not letting myself feel bad for taking a little time off.

Choosing simpler ways to reuse and recycle like using cloth napkins, taking super quick showers, turning off the lights, turning our heat down, keeping the AC off, and almost always buying used items instead of overly-packaged new toys and home goods.

Getting All the Best Deals versus Buying What I Need:

Popular Choice: Finding every last deal, using coupons and rebates for everything, shopping 5 stores each week, and never ever paying full price for anything.

Simpler Choice for Me: Saving time, energy, stress, and gas by only shopping at one store. Using a handful of digital coupons at Meijer, buying mostly sale items and store brands to save even more, shopping mainly at Aldi (never thought I’d say this!), shopping online with cash-back programs, and planning my meals around sale-priced foods to cut our grocery bill as much as I can without sacrificing more time than necessary.

Cooking 100% From Scratch versus Eating Some Processed Foods: 

Popular Choice: Going gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, and/or making everything 100% from scratch. Yes, I realize some of these choices are for medical reasons, but I know dozens of people eating this way because it’s popular right now — and it’s making their lives anything but “simple”.

Simpler Choice for Me: Abiding by an “everything in moderation” mindset and eating all foods — even some less-nutritious foods.

Having fun grinding my own grain to make 100% whole grain bread, while still buying several pre-packaged items from the store — even though I know I could technically make healthier versions at home.

Creating healthier versions of our family favorites like TaterTot Casserole, Chicken and Rice Casserole, or Banana Bread, while still being OK with occasional frozen pizzas or Culver’s.

Limited versus Unlimited Screen Time: 

Popular Choice: No TV or screen time for kids (or very limited).

Simpler Choice for Me: Holding NO strict rules for TV or screen time and simply using my day-to-day judgment to decide how much is “too much” for each individual child.

Not feeling bad about turning on a Netflix or PBS show for the kids when it’s rainy, when they aren’t feeling great, when Dave is gone late at meetings, or when I just need 30 minutes of quiet! 

Saying “yes” to Please Others versus Saying “no” to Keep My Sanity: 

Popular Choice: Saying “yes” to every volunteer opportunity and/or donation request as to not disappoint or upset anyone or look like you’re not “doing your part”.

Simpler Choice for Me: Choosing a few specific organizations to volunteer and donate to and giving myself permission to say “no” to all the other requests.

Knowing that I do so many “behind the scenes” things to give back to our church, schools, and communities during this season of life when I’m home with young children, and not letting myself be guilted into doing more than I can manage

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As you read through the list above, I hope you realize that NONE of the “popular choices” are BAD choices.

No, in fact, many of them are very good choices — I mean, who’s going to argue about recycling, making food from scratch, or volunteering??

Not me!

I am in no way trying to make you feel bad about your own choices, so long as they are actually YOUR choices and not something you let yourself get pressured into doing because others around you say it’s the “right” and “popular” way to live. 

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It’s not a great feeling to go against the grain; but at the same time, it’s not a great feeling to always feel pressured into doing things you don’t actually want to do, don’t have time to do, or don’t have the gifts to do well.

Sometimes what I choose (and what you choose) might clash a little (or a lot) with what society implies is the “popular” or “better” choice. In my opinion, as long as we’re making conscious, well-thought-out decisions (not just taking the easy way out) we are probably doing OK.

A simple life looks different for every person.

Decide what it looks like for you, and start making your decisions (popular or not) accordingly.

You won’t be sorry! 

What is one socially unpopular decision you’ve made to simplify your life?

photo sources: here and here

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69 comments

  1. Sarah

    09/18/2019

    We find ourselves in awkward conversations at every social gathering of my husband’s colleagues. So, we have started to limit our exposure. He’s done a career change to dentist in the last few years, so, of course, now we’re supposed to be living a certain way. The doctor lifestyle. His colleagues like to discuss $1.5M homes and expensive cars… But we’re still the same simple people we were before, so we have nothing to contribute.
    Our focus is paying off the mountain of dental school debt, which requires a lot of sacrifice and “weird” choices.
    Through this experience, your blog has helped me stand proudly in my simple shoes, keep making the best choices for US, and focus on OUR goals without being distracted or discouraged by others’ opinions.
    Thanks, Andrea, for all your advice and awesome ideas!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh wow — thanks so much for sharing, Sarah! This makes me so happy to read!

    We know a few dentists and doctors around our age — some of whom are choosing to buckle down and pay off debt… others of whom are living the million-dollar lifestyle well before the debt is paid off! Both are happy (I think) and it sounds like you are too!

    [Reply]

  2. Avia

    09/18/2019

    In my small town kid’s sports is HUGE and people start their kids on sports teams as young as 4. So far we have not participated in any of them and I very often get the side eye from friends and other parents. But I refuse to feel bad and my favorite thing to say is these activities may have benefits for my kids but having a sane parent is way more beneficial!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I think so much of children’s involvement in extracurriculars depends on the personality of the parents. My parents are very extroverted and wanted us to be involved in EVERYTHING. Dave and I are just the opposite so our kids are not involved at all. I don’t know if one way is “right” or “wrong” but I will agree that your family and our family are in the minority when it comes to this “touchy” subject!

    [Reply]

  3. Meredith

    09/18/2019

    5% of people use cloth diapers. Characterizing that as the “popular choice” is inaccurate. Disposables are obviously easier and simpler, and I don’t think anyone LIKES dealing with poop. It’s fine that you’re using disposables, but this article speaks well to cloth:

    https://www.romper.com/p/8-things-people-feel-fine-saying-to-moms-who-use-cloth-diapers-but-shouldnt-58698

    [Reply]

    Ashley Reply:

    This struck me too, though more as funny than anything! I choose to cloth diaper and love it, though it clearly is not the popular choice

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I suppose it’s “popular” in the sense that it’s more environmentally friendly and the “preferred choice” for those who care about the environment. I care about the environment too, but clearly not enough to put the time and energy into cloth diapering πŸ™‚
    Thanks for the link — I’ll check it out!

    [Reply]

  4. Megan

    09/21/2014

    Love this post! I live in an area where there are a ton of people who are the extreme eco-conscious, composting, farmer’s market-going types. Several of my friends listen to NPR exclusively and know key social and political issues inside and out. I sometimes feel guilty that I’m not as intense as they are, but I just can’t be. Or, more truthfully, don’t want to be.

    I tried listening to NPR for a while and it was too depressing. I need a mix of real news and lighter stories. I don’t watch reality TV or salacious TV and that’s enough rejection of pop culture for me.

    Food-wise I shop at Whole Foods, buy organic for the dirty dozen produce + meat, recycle, and use re-usable bags but hate gardening and don’t feel like schlepping to the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings after a long work week.

    Lots of folks around here also DIY everything – I don’t have the time, the patience, or the interest. I have a very demanding job, and truth be told at this point in my life I have more money than I have time. I’d rather pay a handyman to do things around the house and buy bread from the store so I can spend my limited free time with friends and family. I love to read DIY and clean eating blogs but finally realized that I’m a spectator in this particular sport.

    I often feel guilty about these choices, but I’m trying not to. They are what works for me right now.

    [Reply]

    Janice Reply:

    You sound like someone with a good head on your shoulders, in other words, a confident self-image. You go, girl!

    [Reply]

  5. Kim's Mom

    09/19/2014

    Not using my real name because my rebellion is sort of controversial.

    First thing – we have a small yard and just finished removing a large pool and putting in a lovely lawn shaded by trees, with room to play and romp. There is a drought. I refuse to let my lawn die. So yes, I am watering it. Brown may be the new green, but not here!

    We don’t eat processed foods, and strike a balance between organic and commercial. I dIt on’t eat gluten grains for health reasons and that precludes eating out a lot, since it is a major hassle.

    I don’t have a laundry day. I do a load every day except Sunday. I pick whatever is the largest amount in my sorter. My so called energy efficient washer takes an hour and I don’t like waiting all day for it to finish just to do another load. Even though I am full time homemaker and retired I don’t want to be chained to a machine.

    I run my dishwasher daily. Even if it is half full. Gasp! I don’t like running out of plates or salad forks. And I hate the smell if it goes longer than 24 hrs. It irks me that the top is always full and the bottom nearly empty, and this get worse if I skip a day.

    I recycle boxes from Amazon and the junk stuffed in the mail box. We have a shopping bag ban in place here so we have to pay a dime for a bag now, so I use cloth bags from Trader Joe’s. I use the plastic produce bags for dog cleanup, and I throw into the garbage stuff with food stuck on it. So I don’t recycle mustard containers but I do recycle pickle jars. I am not washing that stuff just to throw it away.

    I like paper shopping lists and post its too! And paper cookbooks even though I read blogs on my iPad.

    We buy firewood and use a wood stove. Very unpopuar!

    I don’t have Facebook, don’t support charities, don’t buy cookies at the door from kids trucked in from neighboring cities. I do support my grandkid’s various jogging laps for money though. And I do support (via my husband) another unpopular cause – the NRA.

    I guess I am all over the place with my compliance to social pressures, but I honestly do not care if someone does not approve.

    [Reply]

  6. Lynda

    09/18/2014

    Great thoughts! In our community it is common for kids to be involved in SO many activities. My husband and I let our kids choose activities that they are truly interested in but usually only one a season. We enjoy our time at home together and are not willing to sacrifice that. They definitely enjoy not being over scheduled too!

    [Reply]

  7. Melissa

    09/18/2014

    Thank you so much for this post! I know it sounds silly, but sometimes it is just nice to hear that I don’t have to try and do it all ALL the time! I am tired!

    [Reply]

  8. Dorcas

    09/18/2014

    Do I understand you correctly that you pay to recycle? We have to pay for everything we don’t recycle. So we do recycle as much as possible.
    I don’t coupon, because we don’t get any papers. If I do get some clipped, I often forget to take them. The things I buy don’t often have coupons attached to them.
    Our health is of great importance to us, so I am more and more getting away from processed foods. In my case, I have more time then money, so it is a win, win situation. I can’t, however, do the organic route. I feel eating non-organic veggies is better for us then eating no veggies.
    We don’t have a TV because I would waste a lot of time watching worthless stuff. I do admit to wishing for one very occasionally.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, where we live, we need to pay (a lot) for recycling services. To add recycling to our bill would MORE THAN double it — so we stopped doing it as the cost just kept going up.

    [Reply]

    Mary Reply:

    Check to find out where your county waste management place is. We choose not to have a recycle bin because it takes up so much space in the garage. But we do keep a smaller plastic bin on top of the garage fridge for recycle. The place to take our own stuff is only a mile away. Very easy and doesn’t cost anything.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we did this many years ago — and we did bring our recycling for drop-off back then. However, its quite a drive for us and doesn’t work well now that we have 4 kids to cart around too.

    [Reply]

  9. Janet

    09/18/2014

    I have a box of chicken fingers in my freezer and I’m not afraid to use it!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — we have nuggets here and eve mom and dad steal a few every now and then πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

  10. Shelly

    09/18/2014

    I actually have 2 because they go together. We homeschool our boys in doing so made the decision for me to stay home. Not popular choices by many but it sure has simplified our life and has given us more family time.

    [Reply]

  11. Lynn

    09/18/2014

    I actually think your simple choices are more popular overall (except for maybe the apps)! Plus if people are really using that many coupons – they’re not eating organic, all natural, made from scratch foods! I think a popular /societal choice is frequent redecorating/painting/upgrading because each year there are new and better choices out there or we see pictures on Pinterest or in blogs that make us want to redo things that are really perfectly fine the way they are. The simple choice – choosing to be happy the way things are and spend less time (and money) changing things!

    [Reply]

  12. Laura

    09/17/2014

    This was a very interesting post, Andrea. I think what one might see as the “popular societal choice” may say a lot about that person and their social circles and standards. I’d be interested in the answer to Pamela’s question above.

    [Reply]

  13. Lori Marchant

    09/17/2014

    I do most of my money management in cash. I probably look silly and old-fashioned with an accordion filer for a wallet, but I have saved thousands by physically feeling the cash disappear when I make a purchase.

    [Reply]

  14. Melinda

    09/17/2014

    I found this post interesting. As a woman older than you, I can say that popular and/or unpopular social ideas come and go.

    When my children were babies I used cloth diapers when everyone and I mean everyone used disposable. I was looked at like I had two heads when I changed their diapers. ha.

    .

    [Reply]

  15. Lisa

    09/17/2014

    We have chosen to be debt free. If we can’t pay cash for it, we don’t buy it. This is far from popular in the big house/fancy car/designer clothes society we live in. We live in a small, older ranch house and drive a modest car. I’m ok with that. This allows me to be a stay-at-home mom and if something bad happens, we don’t have to worry if we will be able to make our payments.

    [Reply]

  16. Chris M

    09/17/2014

    Andrea–I really enjoy your blogs! I choose to keep my land line but I have a cheap mobile that I can’t remember my password for to access voice mail! My friends comment that I need a better phone to access the web and post photos on Facebook. No thanks. Simple means sleeping better.

    [Reply]

  17. Danielle H.

    09/17/2014

    Our unpopular choice is not having smart phones. We have an ipad, so we are not out of the techie loop. We choose this so we can spend that money elsewhere. I am not saying we will never get them, but for now we are okay without them.

    [Reply]

  18. Erica Martin

    09/17/2014

    The only one of these popular societal choices that I take advantage of are apps…they do make life a lot simpler. I would love to take advantage of some of the others, but it’s not practical.

    [Reply]

  19. Nuria

    09/17/2014

    I couldn’t write down my thoughts better!!! Totally agree.i follow my” sentido comΓΊn” and works perfect for me!!!!

    [Reply]

  20. Stephanie

    09/17/2014

    Popular in the Christian Community: Homeschooling. Check out the facebook page called Raising Godly Children. Warning: If you don’t homeschool, you are put to shame.

    Simpler choice for me: Private preschool, then public school. No, my child will not go to Hell because he attends a school run by the government. No, I will not go to Hell because I place him in an ‘institution run by the government.’

    I’m off my soap box now…

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    It’s funny you mentioned homeschooling as being “Christian”. I totally understand where you are coming from — but at the same time, the “circle” that we are in (which is also Christian) has absolutely zero homeschoolers, nor anyone who is even remotely interested in homeschooling.

    Sorry that you’ve felt ostracized by Christian homeschoolers πŸ™

    [Reply]

    stephanie Reply:

    Glad to hear that!

    Our church has lots of homeschooling families. I never felt ostracized by our friends (or any homeschooling family for that mater) until reading the facebook page. I’m a former public school teacher, so I could easily homeschool, but really just feel like my children would do better being taught by someone who isn’t mom or dad (gasp!).

    Just reiterating that you don’t have to be a homeschooling family to raise Christian children.

    Love you, love your blog, and love your simplicity. Oh, and I love Jesus. And my kids do, too. πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

  21. Amanda

    09/17/2014

    I think you make some great points – I know for our family, digitizing some of the organization pieces has actually made life simpler. My husband and I can share our calendars with each other. So when looking to make plans (even just one of our mom’s asking if we’re free to come to dinner one night), I can quickly look at both of our calendars. Same with the app I use for my grocery list, I share with him – so he can easily add items as needed (in theory he could also go to the store, but honestly, that doesn’t happen, lol)

    It’s also interesting to me, because my SIL and I were just discussing our recipes. She prints out everything and keeps them in binders (organized binders, but still, several binders). I told her I use pinterest, and quit printing anything. I do have a recipe box that has some old family recipes and any given to me on recipe cards, I keep a few classic cookbooks that I use regularly, but anything new is in the digital world. I feel like we easily get overwhelmed by paper clutter, so this is one way we just try to reduce the amount of paper coming into our house.

    [Reply]

  22. Heidi

    09/17/2014

    This post just made me smile, thank you for sharing. Life is all about balance. Sometimes we can balance certain things one way and as life goes on sometimes we have to balance them another. With all my kids so spaced out in ages, I’m finding that now that the older ones are teens/pre-teens and they have extra more curricular activities that they love and enjoy I am having to find new balance on so many fronts.

    [Reply]

  23. Alicia

    09/17/2014

    I love your posts! Seriously! They’re so refreshing. πŸ™‚

    I agree with pretty much all your points, but I especially agree with the “everything in moderation” approach. I’ve been on both sides of the food fence, and while I agree it’s a very healthy lifestyle, it’s also not realistic for me and my family. It took me a while to come to terms with that, but once I did it was so liberating!

    One thing I’ve recently encountered now that my oldest is 6, is the pressure to get him involved in any and all extracurricular activities. We’ve decided to take a minimalist approach to extracurriculars until our kids get to an age where they ask to participate, and we are ok with that! But it’s definitely not the popular approach!

    [Reply]

  24. Amy

    09/17/2014

    With where we live your “Simpler Choice for Me” is how most of our neighbors live. I say everyone should do what works for them because we all have a lot going on. There are a lot of things we do that aren’t the norm for where we live. Our choices allow us to not only spend more time with our children but be there for the children in our neighborhood whose parents don’t have the same options that we for financial reasons.

    We homeschool our children (14, 5 & 3), we live in a small rental apartment (980 sq ft for the 5 of us, a hamster and a dog), I retired from teaching at the university to be a stay at home Mom 6 years ago, we spend a lot of time outside playing with the children (ours and the neighborhood ones), we provide snacks/meals for the neighborhood kids on a regular basis especially on school breaks and we share one car. We’ve shared one car for 6 of the 8 years that we’ve been together. One last thing we do that’s different is my husband & I both love to cook, and bake, so we make most of our meals from scratch together.

    [Reply]

  25. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    09/17/2014

    The disposable diapers and not eating organic are two of the biggest not-popular decisions that I make. When I can get disposable diapers for so cheap (2000 for under $50), why would I cloth diaper? Our water bill is already quite high for living in a small town plus I would rather spend my time on things other than washing diapers. As for eating organic, I have nothing against but I would rather eat a plethora of produce that we can afford rather than one or two higher cost organic choices. Good thing it’s never bothered me not to be popular! πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you and I are in the same boat where we can always seem to find diapers for super cheap!

    [Reply]

    Rochelle Reply:

    I’d love to know how you find super cheap diapers!! I have 2 in diapers- & do not use cloth diapers :). Any helpful tips would be appreciated!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Rochelle,
    I used to do tons of rebates, coupons, and shop a billion store to stock up on diapers (I had MONTHS and MONTHS of diapers for nora before she was even born). I would get packages of diapers for $2.00 or less sometimes!
    Now, I just use Meijer diapers which are about 1/2 the price of Pampers or Huggies and work really well for us. Often, Meijer has a deal where you can get $10 off if you spend $50 in Meijer baby items, and if you use MPerks, you get $10 off every time you spend $100 in baby products — so it all adds up.
    Finally, my mom is always watching the deals and sometimes, RiteAid and Walgreens have super crazy diaper deals where I can get a few packs of almost free diapers.
    Also, if if makes you feel any better, almost everyone I know who has used cloth diapers has had to replace some or all of their diapers after 2 kids went through them — so they really wouldn’t have been very cost-effective for you with your 6 πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Rochelle Reply:

    Thanks for the info! I’ve been using Meijer diapers too & love them :). I’ll have to do a better job about doing my mperks stuff. Just started getting into mperks again & never saw the deals you talked about. I’ll have to watch for them. Can you imagine 6 in cloth diapers? Yuck!! Definitely wouldn’t be very simple or cost effective! There was a point where I had 3 in diapers & 1 in pull-ups- yeah that was fun ;). But better with disposable :).

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, you should check out mPerks. The $10 off $100 in baby items is not a “coupon” though — it’s listed under “rewards” and is basically an on-going thing all the time. So once you “clip it” you will continue to get $10 coupons every time you spend $100 in baby items.

    [Reply]

  26. Heidi

    09/17/2014

    Amen! I wish others would learn to live an everything-in-moderation type of lifestyle. It definitely saves times and sanity by giving yourself grace.

    For instance, I eat as close as possible to a low-fat vegan diet for health reasons, but I don’t call myself a vegan because I see nothing wrong with eating meat or dairy or sweets on occasion and I don’t feel bad at all when I do have an indulgence. I’m sure I’ll never be popular amongst the vegan community since I’m not that extreme πŸ™‚

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  27. Beatriz

    09/17/2014

    I love using my Moleskine planner! I’ve tried to use apps on my phone and my kindle but eventually I forget to check either item.

    [Reply]

  28. Katie

    09/17/2014

    What a great post – thank you! My mantra is: to each his own. I try not to judge other people’s choices and hope they don’t judge mine – especially when it comes to parenting. My kids watch plenty of tv too, and I don’t think it’s doing irreparable harm. Oh, they also can fully navigate an iPhone and iPad (at 2 and 5) and I don’t worry that the technology is scarring them for life. πŸ˜‰

    [Reply]

  29. Carlen

    09/17/2014

    Popular choice: Young kids play soccer in the spring and t-ball in the fall, have piano lessons on Tuesdays and Gymnastics on Thursddays.

    Simpler choice that works for us: Minimal extracurricular, out of the home obligations. My daughter has played some little league sports, but not back-to-back, and not recently. She attends a Performing Arts school, so she’s exposed to voice and instrumental music, drama, dance, creative writing. But, for now, we only participate in those activities as part of her normal schooling. When she gets a little older, if she shows a particular affinity for any of these activities, we’ll consider lessons or extracurricular sports. For now, we spend our weekends together, resting, hanging out and doing what we want to do!

    We also don’t participate in those “buy crap you don’t need so the school can get 1% and your kid can earn a crappy prize” fundraisers at school.

    [Reply]

    Stephanie Reply:

    Amen on the extracurricular activities, and a double Amen on the fundraisers! Hilarious!

    [Reply]

  30. Kathy Harris

    09/17/2014

    I have recycled since it started but we moved to a townhome for a while. At the townhome we were given a little plastic container to put all our recycling. We were than given a notice that everything had to be put in separate bags! First there was not room to do that, than I had my own business that I ran six days and sometimes seven. It was the only time I stopped recyling! That was just crazy special around The holidays! I felt bad but I could not do it! Now we are back to recyling because we moved and I also have a big container to put everything in too! I like recyling!

    [Reply]

  31. Pamela

    09/17/2014

    Hi, Andrea! Yours is the first blog I read every morning. I LOVE IT! Thanks for all you do.

    We are in a different part of the country, or maybe it’s because I’m out of the pop culture loop, (oops – accidentally typed poop culture loop the first time! — Freudian slip?!?), but some of the “popular societal choices” you listed are news to me. I was wondering….How did you come up with your choices for “popular societal choice”? In other words, how do you perceive/determine what is “popular”? Is it from blogs you read, TV advertisements you see, or perhaps general conversations with/pressure from friends?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Pamela — goad you enjoy my blog!

    As for the specific examples, they are all pretty big around where I live — however, I wouldn’t get too hung up on specific examples if they don’t apply to your life or your part of the world. The thing I really wanted to people to think about after reading this post is that we all need to do what’s right for us, whether it’s popular or not πŸ™‚

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  32. Rosie

    09/17/2014

    I love this! All of us are in different seasons of life. When we were first married, we only lived under the same roof for 6 months at first because then I had to go to RI for military training, then deployed for 9 months. When I returned, we were back in the honey moon phase, and living 3 hours apart. I would drive home on the weekends, take the train, and we would video chat. We said “no” to friends, outside activities, and all the other wonderful opportunities that came our way. Our weekends were protected, our marriage was our #1 priority (and still is!!!) but we had far less “free” time to do things with other people. Now we have WAY more time together, but we still protect our time together first (writing down priorities is so helpful because even with extra time) it’s easy to get too caught up and too busy. You have to keep doing that consistently in order to maintain balance. We both work, I love using tide pods for laundry – we don’t make our own soap or cleaners, we get a highschooler to mow our lawn (we both hate yard work), and we get someone else to change the oil in our car. We’re not big DIY but I love cooking from scratch mostly, we buy mostly organic meats and produce, and have replaced a lot of things with healthier choices, but we still eat packaged cinnamon rolls, and I make the occasional dessert. Loved this post, Andrea!!!

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  33. Siobhan

    09/17/2014

    Great post! It’s funny I’ve found myself thinking about my choices after spending time with high school friends this weekend. I took a leave from my teaching job to be home with my children. We live in a small, two bedroom home and drive older cars. My friend who I visited with lives in a big beautiful home, drives brand new cars, her kids have a basement FULL of toys was saying how she can’t understand how women can afford to stay home.

    I kept quiet because I didn’t want to point out the differences in how we live but I felt out of place in the conversation. She works a ton of hours and has a nanny which is great but it seems she is unhappy with the fact that she can’t be with her children more. Anyway, I often feel my choice to live a more frugal life right now doesn’t line up with the norm of people where I live. Thanks for the chance to share!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Well, good of you not to say anything to your friend, even though you are obviously making it work on one income just fine πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Sandra Reply:

    Good list and topic. My family is pretty simple as well. In fact, our family is one of the few that I know that isn’t “crazy busy” (and we don’t want to be)! We’re pretty minimalist, so we don’t have a lot of things or toys for our child (whereas it seems everyone we know has TONS of stuff). We’re also very introverted, so don’t have a lot of commitments, and while our child is only 3, we’re not going to be the family that has her in a million activities. One of the things we’re dealing with right now is the fact that we aren’t putting our child in preschool, and that seems to be the ‘it” thing to do around here. No one has come out and said anything to us about it, but it’s hard not to feel judged listening to people talk about the subject.

    [Reply]

    Bridget Reply:

    We are pretty simple too, but do have a lot of toys and books for our daughter who is turning 5 next week; however, they are mostly educational toys…that is how I justify it. :). Parents know best for what their children and family are ready for. You should not feel bad about not putting your daughter in preschool. We did not put our daughter in preschool, and this year she is not in transitional kindergarten either. We have decided to take it year by year and have been home schooling our daughter to keep her on track. This is not a popular choice our family has made when you ask any of my siblings or my husbands siblings, but it is right for our family. We feel children really just want their parents when they are young, and parents can provide all the information plus love to their children. Good luck with your decisions and know in your heart you are doing the right thing for your family even though it is not popular.

    [Reply]

    Julie Reply:

    Siobhan- it is possible to stay at home, you just have to adjust your expenses and obviously your friend doesn’t realize that yet! Some may say we are cheap, but it’s our priority for me to stay at home with the kids, and we just bought a house.

    It all comes down to priorities. I hope you find some like-minded friends!
    P.s. My 2 year old daughter isn’t in preschool either, even though we were invited to a pre-school coop. I dont think my little girl is ready for a “curriculum” yet!

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  34. Nicky

    09/17/2014

    We regularly get Walk to School campaigns here in the UK which are targeted at parents (mostly Mothers) and talk of the benefits to health of walking, and to the environment through pollution reduction, as well as time with your children etc. The children have to submit week long charts of how they get to school with stars for those who walk which are displayed on the walls.
    What the charts don’t show you is the frazzled working mother (or Dad) who would love to have the time to walk to and from school chatting but and so has to drop and dash to work, often miles away, before the mad dash to pick up at the end of the day whilst getting groceries, and carting bags for after school clubs and work to do whilst the children participate in such activities all around in the car. With such high housing costs not working is not an option. We don’t get stars, just guilt.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oh that stinks Nicky! Especially because your children are, in a sense, “punished” because of the location of your job. That’s definitely not something the school should be doing πŸ™

    [Reply]

    AK Reply:

    We live in Ohio and have a similar walk to school program. It is the same situation in our home and is maddening that all school activities and volunteer opportunities revolve around people who don’t work. Ultimately the kids who have working parents are the ones singled out and the ones that pay the price for a household that requires the parents to work. I have learned to let it go…..and possibly start my own group for working parents lol. We try to award our child in other ways since she is excluded from participating.

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  35. Deni

    09/17/2014

    We are a Facebook Free Family, which is very unusual to a lot of people. We have tried it and it just never felt right for us. A lot of people find it very useful and helpful but some are quite obsessed with it to the point where it can be unhealthy. It’s just not for us! Also, we are Dave Ramsey FPU graduates and try to live a debt free life which is totally against the grain in todays society.
    As my Grandmother says, “Everything in moderation”, I think is some of the best advice I have ever received.
    Thanks for this post, and letting me “Air my dirty laundry” too πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

  36. Kimberley

    09/17/2014

    I love your idea of everything in moderation! I try to take that to everything in my life, not just eating. It really does help to simplify things. I feel like all these articles about what to eat and what not to eat constantly contradict each other. “Don’t drink too much coffee” but then the next article will say “Coffee has been found to help with certain things”…so to me, this is saying drink it in moderation, don’t overdo it.

    I strive to be more simple and I think it drives my husband a little crazy…ha!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah — I recently heard that “milk could cause cancer” seriously!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Don’t you know everything causes cancer now, except kale. Stock up!

    I Struggle with this issue a lot. I mean, who could possibly do all of those things?! I thought I was doing pretty well until your quick showers reminded me of how I love to stand under the running water and totally zone out, when I finally get a chance to take a shower alone without the toddler at my knees. It’s my only time alone and without hustle bustle. I recycle, reuse, and all that, but I waste water! Only now and then, but man, I can stand under there a long time. We have a well, so it’s not money wasted, but a natural resource. Someone’s gonna judge me, but now I just want everyone to go to bed so I can go stand in the shower.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I’m sure that even too much kale could have some potentially negative side effects πŸ™‚

    And don’t feel bad about taking long showers. I take longer showers every once in a while — but mostly, I don’t love being wet so I’m in and out as fast as possible (remember, I have short hair!)

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  37. Deb

    09/17/2014

    Love this post!! I finally decided to not accept every social invitation out of obligation. Really need the down time to refocus on my priorities. Has made a big difference in my daily life! By the way, I’m with you on the paper planner…

    [Reply]

  38. Leanne

    09/17/2014

    I love your blog because it reminds I do enough; pop tarts are not evil; I can maintain an orderly …. Not perfect…. home; and post it notes are the greatest invention of all time

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Pop Tarts are not evil — you are correct! They are probably full of disgusting stuff, but Dave loves them and that’s the least I can do for him considering all he does to help me around the house, with the kids, and with my blog πŸ™‚

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  39. Julia K

    09/17/2014

    Although I have a facebook account – I rarely if ever use it. So many times people have said to me “why aren’t you on facebook” or “you haven’t accepted my friend request”. It is nothing personal – I just have enough going on in my life and am truly not interested in a lot of the meaningless dribble that people put up. I understand the value of facebook and social media for those who have blogs / web based businesses – but from a personal perspective – it is just not for me.
    Our school has it’s annual fete coming up which is a major fundraiser. Everyone is encouraged to donate goods, bake items, volunteer for stalls and committee positions and of course attend with friends and family and spend up big on the night. We support the fete because we are members of the school community and it is important to show our children that as a community we all need to pull together. Two years ago I spent quite a bit of time and money baking, decorating and packaging cupcakes for the cake stall. They were sold on the night at $10 a box which I though was quite reasonable. Much cheaper than a cafe – but not giveaway prices – remember this is a fundraising event after all. They walked out the door which was great to see. Last year I did not bake so many as I had other commitments. I was actually quite horrified to see the cakes selling for 50c a piece (equivalent $3 per box). That would not even cover the cost of my ingredients let alone time and the cost of packaging. I have decided to simplify this year by donating ingredients rather than baking – I find it too frustrating to see all that effort underpriced – sadly I think many other mums may make the same decision – but you are so right Andrea – you have to look at the situation and see how if affects you and your family at the particular phase of life you are in.
    Last year my husband had more income and so we were in a position to donate more than we can realistically afford this year. Of course we will still donate – but not to the point where it puts a financial strain on our family. Careful stewardship of resources is a very important thing and I’m not going to jeopardise our financial stability just to be seen to be being generous.

    [Reply]

    Sherry Reply:

    I recently ran into a similar problem with a local dog rescue organization. I spent hours baking dog biscuits that were then sold for less than the cost of the ingredients. I also donated a gift basket that was worth almost $100 not including my time running around to get each item. It was put into a penny auction. From now on I am just going to write a check and get a tax receipt. Much simpler!

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