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Choosing The Best …without having it all

Choosing The Best - Minimalist Living - Home OrganizationImage:David Castillo Dominici

When we started our minimalist living we knew in our hearts we were choosing the best for ourselves and our family.

Now that we are a few years into this simple lifestyle I am convinced we still are choosing the best.

But the problem is when choosing the best of something you have to choose against something else.

And this has been hard for me.

When choosing the best lifestyle for my family I have to choose not to give them other things they see other kids getting.  It is hard as a parent to realize I can’t give my kids everything, I want them to have it all.

I talk about how much my life has changed on the blog a lot, but my kids lives have changed just as much (or more). 

The Kids’ Changes

We have talked a lot about minimalism and simple living with our kids and both of them, as much as their ages can understand, really understand and value the principles.  Many people think it is hard for kids to have so few material possessions but with my kids this is the easiest part.

My kids really like the idea of just a few favorite possessions and regularly decide to pull things out and give them away without any encouragement from me.  … often I find myself encouraging them to keep things…

But there is so much more to our simple living lifestyle that changes things for them.

They love the idea of traveling and are enjoying China… but they:

  • miss their friends
  • don’t have kids who speak English to play with
  • have no church programs or play groups they loved
  • miss the library
  • wish they could have a pet

They don’t feel like the need a big house and have been okay with living in small apartments… but they:

  •  still talk about wanting their own room when they aren’t getting along
  • wish they could play louder (in the early afternoon when the neighbor is sleeping)
  • talk about having a back yard

Lots of these things are hard.  

I know we are choosing the best for our kids and I know they agree and like the lifestyle, but I wish there wasn’t so many things they have to miss out on.

Do we look at these things and go back to working two jobs so we can have a big house?  Do we give up traveling and exploring new places so they can stay in play groups?  Do we give up on all we have gained in family time and a less stressful life so we can have a more normal life?

Hardly, that would be crazy!

Choosing The Best

Often choosing the best is hard because of the things we have to choose to say ‘no’ to.   We can’t have it all, but we can choose the best in each situation.

People often tell me they want to adopt more minimalism but …(fill in the blank).  The sad part is that often the (fill in the blank) is not something very big.  They know that simplifying would be choosing the best for them, but habit and mind set have kept them from making changes.

You and Me

I have struggled over some of these things in the past few months.  We have made changes to our living here in China to help the kids with some of these things they miss.  But these things are minor compared to what we are gaining.  I am excited to be choosing the best even though it means we can’t have everything.

What about you?  I am not saying you need to be choosing the same things as we are… that would be silly.  What I am asking is…

Are you choosing the best?

The best lifestyle, location, job, social group, schedule, education, situation, (you fill in the blank), or are you letting small things you don’t want to lose get in the way?

Thanks for reading!


  1. melissa melissa

    Having lived quite a few years now, I’m so aware that life has seasons. Perhaps now is a time for your family to explore the world and a few years from now putting down roots will be right. Embracing a simple lifestyle can also look differently as life moves on. Enjoy all the journey!

  2. Claire Claire

    Everything is a trade-off, and what’s best for one family might not necessarily be best for another. Sometimes the different choices seem equally good, so you end up second-guessing your decision because it was so hard to discern which one was best. Other times none of the choices are ideal, and it’s still hard to discern which comes closest to the ideal. My challenge is to stay excited about the choices I’ve made and enjoy their good points, without focusing on the trade-offs, comparisons and second-guessing. Easier said than done.

  3. It is true that you can’t have it all. But you can have the best. When your children are older they will be able to look back and reflect on the amazing experiences they were able to have because you and your husband weren’t afraid of adventure and held down by posessions. These life experiences will stay with them their entire life and will empower them to ford their own paths. Life experiences and adventure trump youth group and a backyard any day.

  4. I knew I hadn’t checked in your blog in a while but China! How exciting! Keep on doing what is best for your family. Life is not perfect there is always going to be a positive and negative. But what a learning ad growing experience your having! One I feel you won’t regret.

  5. I’m pretty sure that no matter what you do and what you provide, kids will always feel they are missing out on something. It’s human nature, for one thing – how many of adults are content with what we have? But children are especially vulnerable to this.

    I think you should feel confident that you’re giving your kids amazing experiences that will help them through their lives.

  6. Shelly Shelly

    Great point! It’s just silly sometimes how even adults draw a blank stare when they have a decision to make – as though every decision is a huge deal. Helping children learn how to make decisions that are in their best interest (including short term and long term happiness) is brilliant!

    I don’t think we need a human study done to say it’s very likely that good self-esteem and better adaptive skills are acquired when a child is given these challenges before they’re adults and the decisions are much more difficult when faced without proper perspective.

    And I love your post because while I’ve thought of similar things before, it reminds me how important it is for us to keep this very perspective when we are choosing for or against things with our kids! It would be easy to go with temporary and material happiness, but when we have adult children our memories may sour if we don’t make some of those harder choices now. What I tell my kids is a good dose of advice for myself too… “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Perspective makes it all so much easier to handle.”

  7. Nancy Nancy

    It really is impossible to have it all, at one time. Whenever our decision yes to something it is all also a no to another. Our choices shape our lives. What may be the best choice at one point in our lives may not be the best at another point. That is the challenge of living and growing.

  8. We are fortunate to live in a time when we have so many choices of how to live our lives but realistically, when you choose one, you are excluding many more. You could choose to stay in one place and allow your children to enjoy the benefits of that journey. But I can imagine the day your children learn of a family that had done what you are doing now and wish they have lived that life. Yes, sometimes it is about choosing between bests and just being satisfied with our choice.

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