Usually when I tell someone "we're going to be living at the beach for a month" the normal response I get is, "oh my gosh you're so lucky, how fun!" This post is to explain exactly what we do down at the beach for a month.
Every year we go down to Panama City Beach, Florida for month with the ministry that my husband works for. We do something called Summer Beach Project where college students from Alabama and Georgia come to live in Panama City for the summer. They get full time jobs and when they're not working, they're growing in they're faith by learning how to read and study the Bible, pray, share they're faith, and more.
We rent out an old motels or buildings that are kind of like bunk houses where 5-8 people slept in a room, with common areas and kitchens in each bunk house.
Our family lived in a little apartment above a coffee shop. While this may sound like something out of a "Friends episode," I can assure you it was not. We had one working shower, a floor that made our feet turn black in about 5 seconds, and mice, yes MICE were also living there. While I suspected this for a little while my husband didn't tell me that he actually saw one until we came home. I cried.
So no, this is not the care free picture perfect summer at the beach that so many people think we have. And no our apartment looked nothing like the picture above, sorry to deceive you. But let's be honest, you probably wouldn't have clicked on this post if I had posted a picture of the real thing.
BUT I did learn a few things this summer and one of those things is how much stuff I DON'T need. People are always saying how much stuff you need when you have a baby, and especially when you travel with a baby. While yes there are some necessities like a car seat, stroller, and crib, I believe that a lot of stuff is just modern conveniences that a lot of times are not necessary.
So what did living in apartment teach me about minimalism? Here are a few bullet points
We Don't Need a Lot of Toys.
I brought one small bag of toys for Ellie, mainly because we just didn't have enough room for a lot. But honestly, a small bag of toys was perfectly fine. She only needed a few toys for the beach and she was usually more entertained by water bottles, walking around outside and playing with people. It made me want to majorly purge her toys when we got home. (I'm in the process of doing that now.)
I Don't Need Many Clothes.
I brought a bunch of t-shirts, five pairs of shorts, and five nice outfits. I maybe wore half of them. I was worried that I didn't being enough clothes, but it ended up being the opposite! I had more clothes then I needed! The beach is a different environment, people are more casual down there and a lot of days we just wore bathing suits and cover-ups. Still. I'm definitely purging my wardrobe. I now see why capsule wardrobes are so popular
This is a quote I used in an earlier post "How Living Simply Breathes Life Into Your Home." But it's especially true in small spaces. I could just have a magazine, a book, my purse, and a few toys laying around, and it felt like the apartment was a mess. When you live in a small, not very nice place, every little piece of clutter makes a difference.
Minimalism Does NOT = Nothing.
The one thing I really, really missed about living in an apartment (besides being rodent free) was simple decor. This might not be true for everyone, but staring at blank walls for a month can be borderline depressing for me. My environment has a huge impact on the way I think, and my emotional well being. The creative side of me desires to be surrounded by beauty. This doesn't mean I have to have a bunch of expensive furnishings and decorations. Simple things like flowers, family pictures, and a well constructed vignette are enough to make me feel at home.
Appreciate What You Have
Yes I realize this is about as cliche as it gets. But coming home after living in an apartment for a month literally makes me feel like I'm living in a resort. I've always loved our house but after living where we did for a month, I honestly can't imagine ever complaining about where we live or what we don't have. In our society where there is a constant push to have more, more, more, I want to learn, and am learning how to be content with what I have.
You Can Function With Less Than You Think
I lived with one badly draining shower, a feet blackening carpet, and a mouse. We survived. Enough Said.
Minimalism to me is learning to live with less, being thankful for what you have, and taking care of those things.
If you want to learn more about how to specifically de-clutter your life I highly recommend this book by Marie Kondo. While she is pretty drastic in her approach, it helped me to see my stuff in a different light.
Thanks for reading!