“I’ve learned that other things will work!”
I remember talking with a nurse on a medical mission down in Honduras many years ago. The medical team had come to my village for a couple weeks to provide medical care for local people – many times surgeries that weren’t performed by Honduran doctors.
I had the opportunity to translate in the operating room – for doctors working with a Honduran team and nurses working with Honduran doctors. While it was all pretty overwhelming for me as I saw doctors cut into people and saw bones and all that, I assumed it was pretty much par for the course for those used to being in the operating room.
But I guess it wasn’t for the Americans.
The evening before the team flew back home, we spent the evening at a local restaurant and the team members talked about what they had learned during those two weeks. The most common lesson they learned was that other things work.
Apparently, things are pretty precise in operating rooms in the USA. There are many different sizes of needles and thread for stitches and specific scalpels and there is a particular item for each and every task. It’s imperative that the nurse hand the exact size of the item to the doctor. In Honduras there was only one.
“I learned that most times I can hand the doctor something other than what he asked for and it’ll work!” one nurse mused. “I was pretty surprised at that.”
I think attitude is the key for living with less. Just as those nurses learned that they could improvise and use other items in the operating room, so can we improvise at home.
Do you really need a dedicated food processor or can you make do with a blender and hand grater? Do you need specialized pans for every type of cooking you want to do or can you get a few generic pots and pans and call it good? In short, what items can do double duty?
Before we left on our journey we had a full house full of creature comforts. I had a fully stocked kitchen and quite a few rooms full of furniture. Now, we’re making do with less and honestly, I don’t miss most of that stuff.
If you’re thinking you’d like to live with less but aren’t sure where to start, here are some items that are easy to live without:
Pots and pans: Really, how many do you use? I now have a big and small frying pan, a big pressure cooker, and a small sauce pan. Sometimes I end up cooking veggies in the frying pan if I’ve got rice in the sauce pan, but it works. I feel like this is a major luxury after living with only one pot for so long.
Baking equipment: I am amazed when I think about all the baking stuff I had before we left. I had cake pans in three different sizes and shapes, cookie sheets, pie tins, and I’m not even sure what else. Now I have a large cake pan that doubles as a cookie sheet. OK – a pie pan would be nice if I decide I want to make a pie, but most of that specialized baking stuff is totally frivolous.
Kitchen gadgets: I used to have a whole cupboard dedicated to storage of gadgets, but I rarely used them as it was too much hassle to pull them out. Now I have a blender, a crockpot, and a mixer. That’s it. What do I need to do that I can’t do with those things? Can you get rid of some your kitchen gadgets?
Furniture: How many chairs do you have in your house? For how many people? Chairs are one of those things that seem to multiply like rabbits, but think about it – each person can only sit in one chair at a time. Do you really need all those chairs you’ve got in your house? When you have guests could you be creative and sit on the floor or footstools?
Sheets and towels: I have no idea how this happened, but we currently have something like nine fitted sheets in the house, but only four beds. I take the sheets off, wash them, and put them right back on. The other five haven’t even come out of the bin since we arrived in Boise 7.5 months ago. Why do we think we need so many? Towels is another – do we really need bucketloads of them?
Bikes: OK, I’m guilty here. We have four single bikes and a tandem at the house, but have lots more stored in the barn. While I don’t have a problem getting rid of all the extra furniture stored in the barn, it’ll be hard to get rid of the bikes.
Cars: We’re a one-car family right now and are making it work. Can you make it work too? Maybe with some creative thinking? (Read this post from one family who managed to ditch one car.)
This post is part of a collaborative effort about living with less. Read here about what kinds of things other families get by without.
1 Dad 1 Kid – Living Better With Less
The Nomadic Family – The Ying Yang of Living Without
Tripping Mom – Less stuff, more life
Living Outisde of the Box – Living without
A King’s Life: Living with Less & Spoiling Ourselves
Globetrotting Mama – Living without the stuff
With 2 Kids in Tow – After 10 Months of Living With Less
Raising Miro – Living Without the Norm
A Minor Diversion – What we’ve learnt to live without
New Life on the Road – Living the simple lifestyle but would still love one thing
Carried on the Wind - Living Without
Livin on the Road – Living Without
Bohemian Travelers – More experiences are easier to collect