In defense of two or more (A post about things, not kids)

Minimalism teaches that one of something is generally enough. One of the first steps in getting rid of stuff is to free yourself of any duplicates you may have lying around.

Of course, minimalism can mean whatever you want it to mean, be whatever you want it to be. I am trying to embrace minimalism, but I have come to accept that in some cases, FOR ME, one just isn’t enough. Here are just a few things I not only appreciate having more than one of, but think of more than one as a necessity.

My daughter’s lunch box. We use the BentGo kids lunch box with my daughter. I like that is a self contained way to give her a few different things to eat every day. It means fewer reusable containers going to school (and probably getting lost) and fewer things to clean. It also helps me keep portions reasonable–I would probably pack too much if had more space (she almost never eats all I pack as it is).

I first bought a second lunch box just to have in case the first one went missing. My daughter goes to an after school program off site every day and a lot of things get left at school that we can’t go back and look for when I pick her up. For my daughter routine is key, and I wanted to have an extra lunch box in case one went missing, even though I knew we could brown bag it for a few days if that were the case.

Half way through the year I realized I could pack two lunches on the same day and that was a total game changer. Last year having a second lunch box meant less lunch prep for me every week. I appreciated only having to think about making lunch three times a week so much that this year I got a third lunch box so now I only have to make lunches twice a week. I know this might seem like a silly way to spend money, and I’m sure minimalists and frugalists would cringe, but it saves me time and gives me peace of mind, and isn’t that whole point?

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She gets the same lunch every day: pancakes, pretzels, cookies and apple slices (which I add that morning).

Bedding. For everyone. When I first read the “get rid of any extras” advice, my mind immediately went to bedding. Surely they don’t mean sheet sets and mattress protectors, right?! You always have to have extra sheets!

Extra bedding absolutely feels necessary to me. Kids do gross stuff in their beds. Sometimes they throw up. Sometimes their diapers leak. Sometimes they sneeze and spray snot everywhere. Sometimes they spill their before-bed water (even though it’s in a no-spill cup! How?!) There are myriad ways kids can require a complete change of bedding, all the way down to the mattress pad, probably at two in the morning. I have three sets of sheets and two mattress protectors for each of my kids’ twin beds and my own queen (though I generally only use two sets of sheets, the third is for emergencies). If that seems excessive, your house has surely never been hit with a bad stomach bug. Or you haven’t had lice, which requires daily bed changes for up to two weeks.

Work out clothes. I have enough workout bras to last me six workouts. I have enough running outfits for four runs. (At home I usually workout in a bra and a pair of my husband’s boxers so I don’t need any actual clothes.) I only have three sweatbands but I can hand wash those in the sink and they dry in less than 12 hours. I generally keep my older pair of running shoes and use them on the elliptical so I can keep a complete set of running clothes in the car in case the opportunity to run presents itself. I only wash the “permanent press” clothes once every 1.5 weeks (because that is how long it takes to have a full load), and I could never reuse workout clothes between washings (they smell so bad!) I definitely need a good amount of running and workout clothes.

“Lounge wear” (including sweatshirts). I need to have enough loungewear to get me through one to one and half weeks while respecting my excessively inflexible need desire to wear clothing that match my body’s cleanliness (see last week’s post). This also applies to sweatshirts, though I’m able to wear them without adhering to the cleanliness rules, probably because they go over another shirt. I tried to par down my sweatshirts, but I still have four of them. The thing is, I wear a sweatshirt most nights, all year round (Yay for frigid San Francisco summers?) so four hoodies doesn’t seem that extreme to me. I also wear them out a lot. I have one from my: alma matar, current school, daughter’s school, and husband’s organization (that one is actually his, but I kind of stole it from him because it’s extra big and incredibly soft). Sweatshirts were specifically mentioned in more than one “get rid of extra” articles I’ve read, but I just can’t par my collection down any further. I love me a good, comfy hoody and I wear them all the time.

Backpacks. I didn’t think I’d need two backpacks when my daughter started Kindergarten, but then we ended up getting a second one (thanks in-laws!) and I was really thankful to have it on those mornings when my daughter’s water bottle randomly decided to leak all over the place before we even got out the door. Now we always keep two backpacks and while we mostly use one of them, the other is needed on occasion.

Nap Mats. My husband takes our son to preschool on the bus. It’s hard enough to manage a 2.5-year-old in his nice suit without a lot of other stuff, so Monday mornings with the nap mat were really challenging. I got a second nap mat so I could leave it on Friday afternoons when I picked up the dirty one, allowing my husband an easier trip on Monday mornings. I’m sure we’ll be even more appreciative of the extra nap map now that our son isn’t wearing diapers. I also always appreciate when I have a little leeway when it comes to getting things laundered.

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Kitchen utensils. My husband is in charge of all things kitchen, and he’s not exactly prompt when it comes to getting the dishes done. Sometimes I just don’t want to wash every single thing I need to make dinner. I like to have extras of most things in the kitchen, with the exception of appliances that require counter space and/or need to be plugged in. So when we got a Vita.mix (thanks mom!) I got rid of the Magic Bullet. But when we got a new rectangular pan for the middle range on our stove, I didn’t get rid of the smaller one that came with the stove itself.

And those are just a few things that I proudly own more than one of. I’m sure I could think of more, but it’s late and this is already a ridiculously long post. So I’ll leave it at that, and invite you to tell me what you have more than one of, or when you think just one is enough.

13 Comments

  1. I totally get this. Having one of those things is not realistic when you work full time etc.

    I consider myself frugal but the ultra frugal bloggers would gasp if they saw, for example, how much underwear and socks each member of my family has. For one, we don’t run out, and two, cuts down on laundry saving water and energy. We prefer our loads to be on the full side. And I’m particular about water temp, colors, etc. so I don’t just throw it all together. Helps preserve clothes longer.

    1. Yeah, working full time and having kids definitely makes the “only one” commitment hard. I feel like most things I need more than one of are related to my kids, who can’t be trusted to bring things home or to keep them functioning. I also try to wash the clothes with like colors on specific settings. I also think it preserves clothes longer (though I think my particular washing machine is really rough on clothes).

  2. Completely not the point of your post but I have to ask – I know your daughter is a picky eater but is there really NO protein she will eat for lunch? (I won’t even ask about veggies but protein at regular intervals throughout the day is so, so important for those growing bodies…)

    Also, I love the idea of bento boxes but are they not a pain to wash, especially since you have to wash both the inner piece AND the outer piece (since I’m assuming the food ends up touching the lid)?

    1. There isn’t much with protein that she will eat for lunch, but I use a pancake mix that has a ton of protein and I put in extra eggs for even more protein. The reality is most days she doesn’t even eat her lunch, I find it untouched when she gets home, or I find out she ate it at after care. So yeah, I do what I can do, but it’s hard when you have a really picky kid.

  3. It’s funny, I ha d to d of random crab and plenty of clutter in my house. But the things you mentioned are almost entirely things I have only one of! I love the idea of making 3 lunches at once, though.

    Things I have a lot of: water bottles (like at least 10), socks, Tupperware, scissors, crayons, throw pillows, stuffed animals. I think the difference is that these are all things that seem to accumulate on their own, while your list includes things that you WANT to have multiples of

    1. You’re right, I’m definitely talking about thing I WANT to have multiples of. We also have tons of stuffed animals, toys, puzzles, all sorts of “fun” things for the kids. I also probably have WAY too many shoes (though probably a lot fewer pairs than a lot of women). And you’re right, so many things just seem to multiply on their own (stuffies multiply like rabbits! I swear!).

  4. Following up… Still love the title. Because I am now a sole occupant I can do more ‘only one’ BUT totally in agreement with everyone dealing with children and probably spouses. you need more back up and you do have trouble finding the time to get the wash started, rebooted, folded and stashed (as an example) (I remember!!) so having yourself backed up makes sense. Do not let anyone else define minimalism for you, or consent, or equality. Cheers to you because you are getting through the days and weeks … proud of you all for that.

  5. Loved this post. I have six pairs of running tights because at one point it was really important to be able to go for a run from home or my office without planning ahead. Now, 6 years later, I don’t need them all, but I also haven’t had to buy new ones since.

    It did feel silly at the time that I couldn’t just plan a little better, but I really couldn’t and at some point it made more sense to admit that than to continue to miss running.

  6. We just bought 8 sandwich containers so we can make lunch for Kid and spouse just twice a week because… assembly line. My lunches still go in jars so I make 6-8 at once because simplicity. The second frying pan though? I’m ditching it. The 6 bread pans? Considering seriously ditchin most of them. When I think of my friends who live in a tiny house with their 3 elementary age kids & dog, I note even they have duplicate bedding and school lunch containers so clearly those are essential.

  7. Haha, totally agree though obviously it is important to consider what things more-than-one is needed and what, not. And of course depending where you live, space in your home used to store stuff as opposed to for other purposes may be more or less accessible/expensive AND if you move frequently then obviously — moving stuff is costly in time and/or money.

    But … sometimes duplicates of even small/dumb/simple things can be, well, priceless. We went through the nuttiest thing one year when my son (and we his parents) couldn’t find his “school folder” (provided by the school and used daily to send stuff home and back, very useful, but it had gone missing). His teacher kept putting this note to “send it in,” and we kept putting notes that it had been lost. After a week or more of this foolishness I finally bought a spare one similar to what had been lost and a note asking if he could please use that one until the original was found (he could and did — and it’s even possible the original turned up at school, I can’t remember).

    Just in general, we live in an MCOL area and find it pretty easy/reasonable to keep extra stuff around. Just recently my son decided he wanted to wear a different style of shorts (cargo shorts) which had previously been TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE (to him) and — wasn’t it convenient that I hadn’t actually managed to take the TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE hand-me-downs we’d been given to Goodwill yet? And, I just recently bought 2 more brooms because basically I realized that if there’s one right nearby (kitchen, front porch, back deck) I’ll use it and otherwise — I won’t. Sure, I could get by with one, but why bother?

  8. I guess I am totally not a minimalist, because this just sounds like plain good sense to me! I honestly don’t think the “one of everything” type of minimalism works for a family. Those who tout it seem to be overprivileged single guys living in their perfectly clean & neat urban oasis.

    1. Oh Ana me too! I know I’m not a minimalist too for much the same reason. 🙂 Although, there are certainly more things I should get rid of around here- having absorbed much of my grandmother’s and my mother’s things within 2 years of each other left me with multiples of odd items…..take spices. At one point I think we had about 10 bottles of Cinnamon, because Gram loved her cinnamon, but not being much of a cook (and later in life suffering from dementia) she’d go buy a new bottle everytime she needed some. Suffice to say our spice cabinet is quite interesting…

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