The choice to stay home

The choice for me to stay home with the kids for us was a no brainer. Being home with our kids is a priority for us – we want to be the primary influence in our kids lives, we want to pour our love into them, and we want to enjoy them. They are growing up SO fast!!! Next month, our two older daughters will both be in school every other day, and I’ll have some special time with our youngest a couple of days a week. I really can’t believe where time has gone….

Right now my business is quite small, and I only work a few hours a week to fill orders and keep my stock up, and I am able to contribute a small amount each month towards our family’s income. I know that once all of the kids are in school that I’ll have more time to expand and increase sales and this is exciting, but I also love this time with the kids while they are small.

This choice isn’t always easy though, and the financial strain is one of the things that can be a challenge. Living primarily on one income means living on a very tight budget. This means telling people that we can’t do certain things like eating out (which is a luxury for us), going on expensive vacations (camping is our style anyway), or other activities that just aren’t in the budget. We very often tell the kids when we’re shopping and they ask for things that “it’s too much money”, or “it’s not on the list”. I have learned to clip coupons, read the flyers and price match, make my own soup broth and do all of my own gluten free baking from scratch. We eat only a small amount of meat, along with a healthy amount of legumes and whole grains, and we eat well.

Living on a budget can be challenging, but we’re used to it. We’re actually thankful for this challenge – it makes us appreciate the small things. When one of the girls needs a new pair of shoes and someone gives us a pair, we are thankful. When all of the clothes (and more) that we need for the kids are given to us by other families with older girls we are thankful. We are able to realize and see the way that God provides for all of our needs time and time again, and for this we are so thankful.

Living on a budget also helps us to figure out all of the fun free things to do in our community. There are lots of things to do with the kids that don’t cost a thing – storytime at the library, playing at the park and the splashpad, going to the early years centre, bikerides and walks. For us bigger people it isn’t quite so easy, but it makes us think outside of the box when we’re thinking up things to do. Ultimate frisbee, biking, running, going for walks – these are free things that we do on a regular basis and enjoy. We definitely enjoy a good board game with friends, and we both love to read and enjoy some tea in the evening.

In the end, it feels good to live simply, to know that we have all that we need and more, and most importantly to be there for our kids.

Avoiding the Plague of Materialism

As Christmas gets closer I can’t help but think about how to pass on to my children the things that my husband and I value. This includes valuing people over stuff, and not getting caught up in materialism.  How are we trying to avoid this?

Each year for Christmas we try to keep our focus on Jesus, and on others. We keep our gifts very simple, and try to give our kids homemade items – this year they are getting a puppet theatre. My husband is building the frame, and I will be sewing the curtains. I am excited for all of the puppet shows that will be happening in our home very shortly! I’m also making each of them a quilt for their beds – last year our oldest daughter got a bird quilt and this year our next daughter will be getting a flower quilt.

They also don’t watch any television with commercials at home (and a very limited amount of tv at all), and we don’t often go shopping which keeps them from seeing all of the different toys out there that they don’t yet have (we always find that when we leave a mall we always want things that we didn’t even think about before going).

We also talk a fair bit about how fortunate we are to have our basic needs met (like having a home to live in and food to eat), and about how many other people do not have these things. We talk about the responsibility we have of sharing what we have with others.

Even so I fear that with all of our efforts, just by raising them in North America with our culture’s affluence and abundance of “stuff”, they will become like the majority of people in our country (myself included) and think more about themselves and our too-busy lives than about others in need.  Lately I have been trying to make a conscious effort to put no worth in material things, and to focus on people and on loving them both directly and indirectly with all of my day to day choices, thoughts and deeds.

For those of you who share these values of living simply, caring for the poor and those in need, and of avoiding the plague of materialism – what are things that you do to pass these values on to your children?

Thanks for reading,

Karen