How We Do It: Live With Less to Reach for More
This post is the kickoff to a new Lies About Parenting series, How We Do It. Every family is different, but we all can learn, grow, and be inspired by one another. Our guest contributors come from all walks of life, but they have one thing in common–family comes first.
Editor's note: Bethany lived life like many of us–in a whirlwind of stuff and home–until her daughter's autism diagnosis. Then, a favorite pastime led her to rethink the life her family led, and gave her the courage to make a drastic change! We're honored to have Bethany Rosselit share her story at Lies About Parenting, and hope to hear your thoughts in the comments.
I never meant to become a minimalist. Yet here I am, living in less than 200 square feet of space, with my family of three.
We were the family that moved into a bigger house, when we found out I was expecting–because "kids need space”. When our daughter was diagnosed with autism, we bought every sensory and interactive toy imaginable, in a desperate attempt to help her achieve her highest potential.
We owned a small sailboat, and every summer, spent more and more time on it, sailing the Great Lakes. Our daughter, “Beanie”, was rocked into a state of calm, when on the water. We watched her coordination improve as she clambered around the boat. Her speech and social skill developments advanced, as she talked to boaters on the docks.
Beanie did so well off-land, that we decided to live on-the-water. Full-time.
We sold everything, signed the house back to the bank, and headed across the country. A year later, we moved onto Breaking Tradition, our new 35-foot long home.
Because you do what you have to–what you think is best for your family.
Our “home” is probably smaller than your living room–less than 200 square feet in size. My little girl sleeps tucked under the bow (front) of the boat, and she has doors to her itty-bitty room. My husband and I fold down the kitchen table every night, and placed a twin mattress on it–that’s where we sleep.
We have a table in the middle of the sitting area, a mini-fridge, a range that runs on alcohol or electric, a sink, and our prized George Foreman grill.
The head (bathroom) is between her bedroom and our main salon, but it doesn’t work, so we use it as a closet. Our bathroom is the shared bath house, located near our slip, and Beanie rides the bus to school, where she is in first grade.
Parenting on a sailboat is a challenge, but it comes with some surprising benefits, and here are 4 ways we're living with less, and more:
1. Daily Routines Stick. Beanie, who spends an hour a day in a special program and is in a "regular" first grade class the rest of the day, still has a very structured routine in the evenings. After snack time, there’s relax time, then she completes her homework at the table. After, we bring out her electronic keyboard for her piano lesson.
2. Living Life Out of the House is Better. Beanie's day includes a trip to the gym, where she runs a .5 mile on the track, attends a weekly kids' fitness class, and plays with other children in the childcare room. This helps her to socialize and allows her to burn off steam before beginning her bedtime routine. She also loves to ride her bicycle to the grassy area in the marina, where she plays with her tee-ball set or kickball.
3. Chores Can Be Fun. Beanie’s chores are unusual. Of course, she has to clean her room, but she also has some unusual daily tasks. Every morning, she checks the crab trap on her way back from the bath house. She is also in charge to helping take the laundry to the laundry room and adding the detergent packet. Her favorite chore? Scrubbing the decks. Ahoy, matey!
4. Manners Really Do Matter. The "manners" that Beanie must learn are a little bit different. Things like how to use a shared bathroom, don’t use anything that isn't in Mommy's drawer in the vanity, and close your stall door. Oh, and don’t go into the shower if someone is in there!
Living in a space the size of our old living room is a blessing for our family. We’re able to give our daughter the attention she needs and deserves, as well as offer her more independence. We’ve learned to embrace experience over possession.
It’s a shared adventure none of us will forget, and getting rid of the clutter has opened us up to embracing the simplicity of love.