22 Jun Two Isn’t Better Than One
I’m not sure if the title of this post is also the title of a country song, but if it isn’t, it certainly should be. In our more-is-better society, many of us have come to accept the notion that two (or three or 23) of something is better than one, but I say, very emphatically, that this is not so.
Yet I’m as guilty as anyone of falling into this trap. For years I bought my dad slightly different versions of the same blue shirt for Father’s Day, his birthday, and Christmas. My dad always did a great job of acting appreciative of these gifts, but I bet if you examined his closet today, you’d find quite a few of these blue shirts still there, many unworn or only slightly used. In a similar situation, I remember my grandmother developed a love of all things pineapple following a trip to Hawaii. After years of receiving well-intentioned pineapple-themed gifts from friends and family, she finally declared, “No more pineapples!” one Christmas. Well-said, Grandma.
These examples just point to the fact that two really isn’t better than one. In fact, collecting multiple versions of the same thing is a surefire way to make that thing less special.
This happens often with kids. If your kid likes, say, Matchbox cars or dinosaurs or My Little Ponies, the temptation is to bombard your child with duplicates or near-duplicates of their favorite toys. (And those toy manufacturers are certainly great at coming up with oh-so-slightly different versions of the same toy to keep this cycle going!) As I’ve converted to a more minimalist lifestyle, I’ve gotten better at weeding out the duplicates in our toy collection, but there were some duplicate hold-outs I addressed recently, such as these easels:
I asked my mom to buy these easels for my kids one Christmas. For some reason I thought that three kids couldn’t possibly share one easel. They needed two, at least. However, after witnessing that my kids’ preschool classroom (which serves roughly 14 kids at a time) contained just one easel, I figured my home could pare down. Since I’m determined to get my kids in on the minimizing process, I asked them if they’d mind selling one of the easels. I figured there would be a counter-argument, at least, but they just shrugged, said “Okay”, and continued on with their play. (Why do I always assume my kids will have a hard time parting with their possessions? Time and time again they have shown me that this is not true.)
So we sold one of the easels and the kids put the money in our family fun jar, which sits in the kitchen and is used for mainly for trips to the ice cream store.
I started this family fun money jar as a budgeting tool, but I have been surprised to discover how helpful it is in helping my kids minimize. It’s a very tangible reminder of how letting things go allows us to live a fuller life. I’m sure they don’t think of it in those exact terms; their thinking is probably more sell the easel, get ice cream, but really, isn’t that basically the same thing? If we sell our old camping equipment that we never use, we open up the possibility to pursue a new hobby that we actually like. If we sell or donate those unused kitchen gadgets, we open up space in our kitchens for the tools we do use. If we rid our closets of clothes we don’t love, we allow space for those we do. And so on.
Think about your house for a moment… do you have unnecessary duplicates that you could let go? How many wooden spoons, tea towels, saucepans, running shorts, decorative vases, and pairs of tweezers do you need, after all? Could you let go of some of these things and allow yourself a little extra space to live? I bet you could. Do it, and then go get yourself some ice cream.