Jul 19, 2018

12 Toys, 2 Kids

We have ~10 toys in our home for both kids at any point in time. 15 is probably the max.
Shared by 2 kids: 1x Amazon Fire Kids Tablet
Belongs to the 6-year-old: 1x Strider Bike. The 2-year-old will get his own bike when he's 3-4.

Yep, what you saw above is pretty much our entire collection of 12 toys right now. So here goes...

Why do we have SO FEW toys?

The term "few" is rather subjective, but honestly, we barely need any toys at home. Our kids are at preschool and elementary school M-F for at least 7-10 hours a day. And there are tons of toys (and bigger ones) at school. So it's not like they don't ever get to play with toys. Even better, they have to learn to share toys with their friends.

Our kids also tend to focus on 1-2 toys at a time. They don't need to own a hundred toys at home. See that excavator toy in the photo? That's ALL our 2-year-old has been obsessing over recently, nothing else.

But isn't it sad for kids to not have lots of toys?

Actually no, because more toys won't make your kids happier. At least for long. Every toy your kid gets will eventually become boring and they'll want the next cool thing.

Remember how Serenism isn't about having things at all? Well, it's also about cherishing relationships and experiences over things.

We want our kids to grow up knowing that our love for them cannot, and should not be measured by the number of toys they get to have. Spending quality time and developing a lifelong, trusting relationship with them are what matter more.

So do you ever let your kids get new toys?

Of course. Nothing lasts forever. Toys break. Our 2-year-old's excavator was purchased to replace his broken fire truck.

And in the case of our 6-year-old who'd been pining for a hatchimal for months (an insanely long time for a kid), she had to pick a toy to give up in place of getting a new one. Giving up a toy means passing it along to another kid or donating/selling it if it's in excellent condition - otherwise it gets tossed. After all, Serenism means that you don't get to hoard things (toys) indefinitely.

So how do you make up for the lack of toys?

Here's our secret... we go out. A LOT. As a family. To kid-friendly places like zoos, aquariums, museums, theme parks and playgrounds. Even when it rains, we seek out malls or indoor playgrounds. At least where we live, there is no shortage of places to entertain kids. If you're clueless, you can search apps like Winnie or Yelp to get ideas.

And we go on family vacations. Our 6-year-old's classmates were so envious that she got to visit Disney World in Orlando this summer. See what I mean by "experiences" over things?

It's really not that hard for your kids to have fun and be happy without toys. 

Jul 13, 2018

The life-changing magic of NOT tidying up

Owning as little as you can means you have almost nothing to tidy up.

Which means you won't have to brainwash yourself with the life-changing magic of tidying up.

Which means you won't have to waste time on chores like... making your bed.
Our bed (for 2). 1x queen mattress, 1x queen fitted sheet, 1x queen comforter, 1x memory foam pillow, 1x body pillow (concealed by comforter).

Because when you have that few things, it's hard to ever create big messes to tidy up.

Serenism isn't about getting in the habit of arranging and organizing everything to look perfect or showroom-ready all the time. It's about not having to because of the lack of things.

Think of how much time you could save on tidying up. Or money, if you hire cleaners to constantly put away your stuff. I won't even get started on the math. But if you derive joy from tidying up and/or throwing away money to hire cleaning help, then by all means, continue to do so. Or, if you're somehow okay with becoming like the Hoarders.

But... How can we not make our bed?

Because it's not worth the daily effort to straighten out a single comforter. And all our bedding is white by choice. The un-straightened comforter and the less-than-perfectly positioned pillow blend into a visually acceptable white mixture. Remember what I said above about not having to look perfect? Plus, it's also healthier to not make your bed.

Don't we need a bed frame? A box spring? A headboard? Bedside tables?

No, no, no and no. Our mattress is perfectly fine being directly on the ground. Headboards are dust magnets. Bedside tables are clutter magnets. Seriously, how many things do you really have to sleep next to?

Why is there only 1 pillow? Is this really a bed for 2?

The pillow and body pillow belong to... the hubby. I'll let you in on a secret that shocks many... I GAVE UP MY PILLOW. And body pillow. About a year ago.

I grew up all my life having a pillow, and for the most part, with a body pillow. But truth be told, I'd never been 100% satisfied with any pillow, be it generic or some brand-name memory foam. And morning after morning, I would find my body pillow at least a few feet away from me, if not on the floor. Which meant I didn't need one while sleeping. So if I hated my pillow and I wasn't using my body pillow, why keep them around?

So I challenged myself to sleep with neither. The hubby rolled his eyes at me and said I'd regret it. Turns out he was wrong. It felt weird the first couple of days, but I got used to it, and before long, I forgot I ever had those pillows on my bed. Bonus: I no longer have to adapt to foreign pillows while sleeping away from home now.

And yes, the hubby gets to keep his pillow(s). His threshold for what he needs to sleep with is different from mine. And for those who have back/neck/apnea problems, it's perfectly fine to stay with your current pillow setup. I'm not telling you to toss your pillow if it that means kissing your beauty sleep goodbye.

My point is simply this:

If you challenge yourself to forgo something you thought you always needed, you might surprise yourself like I did.

And you'll be surprised at the life-changing magic of forgoing those things you once had to tidy up.

Jul 11, 2018

The only shoes I need

Tieks patent leather ballet flats in Sapphire Blue ($195).
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Tieks in any way.

YES. I HAVE ONLY ONE PAIR. ONE PAIR OF FOOTWEAR. No sandals, no flip-flops, no heels, no boots, what have you.

So how in the world do I survive with only one pair of footwear?
  1. I don't exercise much. Okay, actually, I don't exercise at all unless you count running after kids. So I don't need a dedicated pair of athletic shoes.
  2. I can do casual hiking in these (up to moderate trails). Tried and tested.
  3. I can clean them with baby wipes because the outside is glossy patent leather.
  4. I can wear these in light rain. Again because of the glossy patent leather. I don't kick up a fuss if I get the occasional water stain on the inside of my shoes.
  5. I take them off and walk around barefoot at the beach or near swimming pools.
  6. I can wear these to fancy restaurants, weddings, conferences, work, etc. because they look awesome. Random strangers compliment me on these shoes all the time.
  7. I don't care if people notice me wearing the same pair of shoes all the time. Successful people wear the same thing all the time. Think Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs.
Have I been tempted to buy these in more colors?

Of course! I have been guilty of owning these shoes in multiple colors at a time! But what I've discovered is that I tend to gravitate towards a favorite color. Instead of agonizing over what shoes to wear each day, it's simple now. JUST WEAR MY ONLY PAIR OF FOOTWEAR. Problem solved.

So do I just wear the same pair of footwear forever?

Nothing lasts forever, not even diamonds. With daily scuffing, dashing, mud/rain splashes, kids trampling on my shoes, a pair lasts me about a year on average, until the light blue outer sole starts to break or becomes visible from the inside. And that's when I purchase a new pair, usually in a different color from the last.

But $200 for a pair of shoes sounds kind of crazy for the average person.

Effectively, I spend about $200 on ONE PAIR of footwear A YEAR, which is fantastic given that the average woman will own over 270 pairs of shoes in her lifetime. And mind you, this is footwear that gets worn to its death. Folks with those Instagram-worthy shoe closets probably don't even wear each pair of shoes more than once!

Jul 10, 2018

The photo that started it all

My 2-year-old's bedroom. Usage: only for sleeping. Behind the closet door: nothing.

Back in February, the hubby "leaked" a photo of our 2-year-old's bedroom on Facebook. Some comments:
"I need to aspire to this. Lol."
"My dream room!"
"This is so sad to me [...] kids need some stimulation and color."
"I'm surprised you didn't get rid of the carpet, mattress, door and windows!"
Disclaimer: I haven't always lived like this.

But I have now for over 5 years, in a 1400 square-foot condo with a husband and 2 little kids. Despite having 3 bedrooms, 3 closets and 3 bathrooms - 1 bedroom, 2 bathrooms and 2 closets are completely empty.

As you can see from the comments above, there are those who are deeply inspired by my way of living, and those who sarcastically roll their eyes in condemnation.

BUT. It is impossible to please everyone. The goal to give you the inside scoop into what "Serenism" is, especially for those who are and can be inspired by it.

I promise that if you keep an open mind, you will discover that Serenism can:
Free up your resources like time and money.
Free up physical and mental burdens associated with clutter.
Be achieved by anyone, with baby steps at a time.