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Simple Stories – Mike

Simple Living Stories - MikeThe following is a guest post by Mike Burns. This is an excerpt from his brand new eBook, Living Clutter-Free with Kids in the House.

Defining Moments on our Simplicity Journey

Before we married, my wife and I discussed our plans for the future and decided we wanted to have several children.

We did. We have six.

That means we have 8 people living in our house.

  • Eight different personalities.
  • Eight different food preferences.
  • Eight different sets of passions to nurture.
  • Sixteen different socks to pick up…each day.
  • Eight different suggestions on how to spend free time.
  • Eight different ways of organizing objects in the refrigerator.
  • Eight cups & eight plates to wash at each meal.
  • 14 loads of laundry each week.

I’ll stop before it starts to sound whiney…

I’m really not whining. I love our life together. I only bring these things up to make it clear that our life is not naturally simple. It’s fun and rewarding, but not naturally simple.

We have been on a journey of decluttering for about the past 10 years. At this point, we live a somewhat clutter-free life. You might call it “clutter-free…ish.” And we love it!

I’ll share a couple of defining moments we had in our journey with the hope that they’re an encouragement to you.

One defining moment in our clutter-free journey happened because of some cardboard boxes.

Several years back, due to my job, we moved twice in a 12 month period. When we began preparing for the second move, we realized that there were boxes that we had never opened from the last move! They were full of stuff we hadn’t touched in nearly 6 months.

This was truly an Aha! moment for us. If we hadn’t been moving again, we might have left them there for years!

That was the beginning of some significant change.

We had a yard sale and put a bunch of that stuff back into useful circulation (and picked up a few dollars to help with the moving expense).

I wish I could say we only took what we needed on that particular move, but we didn’t. We hauled a bunch of unnecessary stuff! But, along the way, we’ve gotten much better. Our stuff has less of a grip on us.

Another defining moment took place at the library.

I stumbled upon a book by Leo Babauta called The Power of Less. I began reading it (and his blog, and immediately connected with what he was saying and how he was saying it.

But this was what was so encouraging to me, personally… HE HAD SIX KIDS! I’ve read plenty of suggestions from single people who live out of their backpacks and do all of their work from their iPhone on top of a mountain (sarcasm). I respect, admire and commend them. But it all felt like something that was out of my reach.

But, for me, this was different. This was a family, in a similar situation, that was making significant decisions to live a more simple life.

Shortly thereafter, I found I began to read about what Joshua Becker calls “rational minimalism.” And it affected me. This I could do.

Now, let’s fast-forward to a more recent move…

This past year, our family moved across the country to be closer to some relatives (one of our priorities). It was a 2,400 mile move, so we wanted to really scale down. We sorted, sold, gave away, and trashed until we were left with only those things we HAD to bring.

We ended up moving with only what would fit inside a 6×12 U-Haul trailer I pulled behind my vehicle. We basically had our mattresses, some Apple products, a few items of clothing, some toys and some sentimental objects. Everything else…gone.

We began our pursuit of simplicity out of necessity. Over time, it became a passion.

We determined to never look back. We committed to do the work of decluttering and simplifying so we could continue to live the life of peace and fulfillment that we were experiencing.

Is it perfect? Nope.

Are there significant challenges? Yep.

Would we go back to the way it used to be? Not a chance.

Our house is not a museum. It’s a home.

We live in it. We make messes. We play. We sing. We make stuff out of cardboard and old milk jugs. We spill popcorn down in the cracks of our couch. We find foam bullets and Lego bricks in strange places.

We don’t let an obsession with cleanliness stop us from enjoying life and having fun.

If you stop by our house unannounced, you will likely find some random stuff lying around. But you will also find some people who are enjoying the benefits of more focused living.

And for that, I am terribly grateful.

Thanks so much for sharing Mike!  Love your story!

Photo Credit: Mike from The Other Side of Complexity


  1. Hello Mike, I was delighted to see this post! I discovered your eBook a while back. It’s included in my Amazon book store at Ahh The Simple Life. Enjoyed reading your post!

  2. Thanks, Carol!

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