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Category: Frugal Fun

Why Our 3 Kids Share a Bedroom

A number of months ago, I mentioned online that our three kids share a bedroom. A lot of people were shocked, surprised, or even bothered by our decision to have all three of our kids in the same bedroom. 

I personally was surprised at how many people said the picture made them feel so much better. Many people wrote in and told me that they had no idea that our house wasn’t huge and spacious and perfect. They said that seeing that picture helped them to realize that just because we do have a really spacious kitchen and living area, that doesn’t mean that our entire house is huge and perfect!

Let me be clear: We do have a great rental house — it does have a great kitchen, it has a wonderful backyard, it’s in a really convenient location, and our rent is very low for this area.

Compared to many places we’ve lived, this is a really nice house. But it pales in comparison to our previous house. The floor plan is not set up well for our family, it doesn’t have a basement, it’s not conducive for hosting big groups, and we’ve had leaks and termites and A/C problems and ear wigs and a host of other issues while living here.

We rented this house sight unseen because we were living in Kansas when it was available and there was no way we could make it to TN to check it out with Jesse’s work schedule. Plus, it just didn’t feel like a wise use of time or money to drive or fly out to check out a house before we signed a contract on it.

So we asked some of our TN friends if they’d go look at it for us and make sure they felt it was okay to rent. They graciously agreed to do a walk-through and sent us a video tour of it and said they thought it would be good to rent.

We talked to the landlords at length, did as much research and investigation as we could from afar, and both felt this was the house we should go with. So we signed a two-year lease on it, because that was what the landlords were offering.

It was a little crazy to pull up to the house the day we moved and see the area and neighborhood and house for the very first time knowing that we’d signed a contract to live here for two years!

Many people have suggested that we should have purchase a house here when we moved instead of renting. We only briefly considered that option, but we knew that it wasn’t a good option for us for a few different reasons.

1) Housing prices are MUCH higher here — so there was no way we could afford to pay cash for a house at the time.

2) We didn’t want to mess with having to try to sell our house + find a new house + pack up everything and move our family across the country all at the time same.

3) We didn’t know if we were even going to stay in TN long-term.

So we decided renting was our best option — and it’s been a great option for us, despite the drawbacks of the current home we’re in.

One of the biggest drawbacks is that, due to the limited bedroom space, all three kids are in one bedroom. Some people would say we are terrible parents for living in a house where they all have to share a room and don’t have a lot of their “own space”.

Honestly, even though they are 11, 9, and 7, we see so many blessings and benefits for the three of them sharing a bedroom. Here are 3 of those blessings and benefits:

1. It Helps Them Learn to Get Along With Each Other

I grew up in a family of 9 and I remember my mom always telling me that if we can learn to get along with our siblings, we could probably get along with just about anyone. We like to remind our kids that sharing a bedroom with two other people who are very different than you is a valuable life skill!

You get to learn how to be gracious when other people are “in your space”, you get to learn how to keep your area more clean, you get to learn to work together to keep the room clean, and you learn to share your space well with others. 

(And honestly, most of the time, they really love being together. Last night, they were all in their room talking and laughing together for at least 30-45 minutes before they fell asleep. It’s not always like that and there is plenty of arguing that goes on, too, but I think they actually do really enjoy the closeness that sharing a room provides!)

2. It Teaches Them Contentment

When Jesse and I were first married, we lived in a basement apartment. Our budget was very tight and we did everything we could to stay out of debt. Those sacrifices are — in big part — what has allowed us to be where we are today.

But here’s the truth: Our kids were little when we made a lot of financial and personal sacrifices to get to the place where we are now. They don’t remember those days.

We want our kids to have the same opportunity we had to learn that happiness is not based upon where you live, the car you drive, or the room you have. You can be content no matter what because contentment isn’t based upon your circumstances, it’s a state of your heart.

3. It Helps to Prevent an Entitlement Mentality

We now have a lot more wiggle room in our budget than we had 10 years ago when the kids were little (or not even born yet!) They get to enjoy things we never imagined we’d be able to afford for them — like swim team and figure skating and even an international trip to South Africa. However, we don’t want them to grow up thinking that everything will be handed to them. We want them to experience short-term sacrifices for long-term benefits.

One simple way we’re teaching them this is through having them share a room right now. We don’t want them to grow up thinking that they can just get whatever they want without having to work for it, save for it, and/or make sacrifices for it.

So we’ve chosen to continue to rent a house that has less than ideal sleeping arrangements (along with a long list of other “less than ideal” things) because it is not only teaching us all good lessons, but it’s allowing us to be able to save more aggressively and give more generously.

By the end of this year, our goal is to have saved enough to pay cash for a house here in TN and we would like to buy a house that has enough space for them to each have their own room (especially since they are getting older), but in the mean time, we’re learning contentment in the house that we’re in and are choosing to be grateful for the many things about it that we love — like the wonderful neighbors, a beautiful kitchen, and a great backyard.

Our hope is that these lessons in contentment will be something our kids will carry with them for the rest of their lives — no matter where they live.

Please note: Do what is best for your family and please be careful if you are putting boys and girls in the same room. This is something we have seriously considered and it is the reason we are planning to move in the next year. We know that these types of sleeping arrangements will not work long-term — especially as our children reach pre-teen age.

However, we have strict modesty rules at our house (Such as: Never change in front of another person. Bathrooms are for changing in, not bedrooms. Always knock on a closed door. Always leave the door open when you are in the room playing with another child. Etc.) and our children have always been very respectful of each other’s privacy and respectful of our modesty rules. I think it’s important to have these types of rules and precautions in place no matter what the sleeping arrangements are at your house.

Ultimately, when it comes to sleeping arrangements, you know your own children and what would best best in your own family. As I always say, it’s so important to do what is best for your own family and your own children!

My One Word for 2017 (it might surprise you!)

Last year was my first year ever to choose a word for the year and really live by it. In previous years, I had chosen words, but they had never truly stuck or made a lasting impact.

2016 was entirely different.

My Year of Rest changed my life in very powerful and profound ways. In fact, I don’t think I’ll ever be the same as a result of making the commitment to a year of rest. (You can read more about how this simple word radically changed my life in 2016 here.)

As the end of 2016 began to near, I started really thinking through what my dreams and hopes and goals for 2017 would be, as well as what I wanted to invest my life in during this next year.

I learned so much from streamlining my life and paring down so I had breathing room this past year. I learned that when I stepped back from all of the crazy and gave myself space to breathe and laugh and LIVE more, there were parts of me I didn’t know existed. Sadly, I’d been too busy and too focused on productivity to recognize them.

A few things I’ve discovered in 2016: I’m actually not as ultra minimalist as I thought I was, I actually like wearing bright colors and new styles, I actually am less of an introvert and more of a people person than I realized, and I thrive and enjoy life more when I’m a little more spontaneous. (If you missed it, be sure to read yesterday’s post on 10 Surprising Things I Learned About Myself in 2016.)

I realized that saying “no” over and over and over again to the things that weren’t priorities in this season of life and/or didn’t bring me joy, gave me the space to really invest deeply in the people in my home, a few real-life relationships, and a few projects that really mattered to me.

So my Year of Rest is turning into a Year of Yes!

Now that I’ve pared down my life, cut back on the calendar clutter, and made space to live and breathe, 2017 is the year I’m committed (and able!) to say yes to more spontaneity and joy and color and laughter and fun and trying new things.

What I’m Saying Yes To:

  • My marriage
  • My health
  • My kids
  • Real-life relationships
  • Investing in a few extra things in my week that spark joy
  • Being more adventurous & spontaneous in a way that will bless my family
  • Trying at least a few things I’ve never tried before

Now, in case you get the idea that a Year of Yes means I’m just going to fill up my schedule again with a bunch of crazy, I’m not. This is about being intentional to continue to say no to those things that aren’t the best things in order to say “Yes” to the best — memory-making and being more present with the people nearest and dearest to me!

What I’m Not Saying Yes To:

  • Chaos
  • Crazy
  • Calendar clutter
  • Meaningless to do’s
  • Guilt
  • Comparison
  • Trying to be someone who is not true to who God has made me to be

I’ve spent too much of my life playing it safe and saying “no” to adventures and spontaneity. This is the year I’m giving myself permission to be a Yes Mom, a Yes Wife, and a Yes Friend to those in my local community. I can’t wait to see what lessons I learn and how this changes me in the months to come!

Do you need some motivation to make your health a priority in 2017? I have a passion to help you become your best self. I don’t want you to go through life feeling exhausted and burnt out. I don’t want you to have to rely upon coffee or coping mechanisms to make it through the day!

I want to help you prioritize your health, boost your energy, and set realistic goals for self-care. Join me for the 15 Days to a Healthier You Program — registration ends in just a few days! Sign up here.

Coming in the next few days: My goals for 2017, My top 10 reads from 2016, and some big changes that are coming here on the blog!

What’s YOUR word for the year? Share in the comments!

A Peek Into Our Laid Back Christmas

I told you earlier this month that we’ve intentionally chosen to keep Christmas simple. I thought I’d share a little peek into our Christmas celebration the past few days to give you an idea of how that has looked for us…

We did our family Christmas gift exchange before we left for Kansas. We gave the kids a few gifts each this year — 1-2 physical gifts + a subscription. We do it a little differently every year, but it’s usually no more than a few gifts that are things our kids really, really want. This is what works for our family and what our kids prefer.

We also did our annual Dollar Store Stocking Adventure. This is one of our family’s favorite traditions! We all go to the Dollar Store right before Christmas and everyone gets $6 to spend to buy one item per person (+ tax) for their stocking. We have so much fun trying to split up, hide our purchases, find something creative that no one else would come up with, and pick gifts that people would really love. Plus, the kids get to pick one gift for themselves, too!

I wish I would have taken pictures of our family Christmas evening, but we were having so much fun together that I completely forgot to ever bring out my camera! I was determined to not forget to take pictures the rest of Christmas!

We drove to Kansas and stayed in an Extended Stay America because they had asked our family to do a review (look for a blog post on January 9 with my complete in-depth review!). We were overall very impressed with the price (just $65 to $75 per night per room) and that included a room with a full kitchen + a grab and go breakfast.

We loved having a full kitchen as we brought most of our food for the meals we wouldn’t be eating with family and it was so nice to be able to cook hot meals on the stove and have a full-sized refrigerator to store everything in.

(By the way, we got our kids’ sweatshirts from a sale on Zulily and they have worn them hundreds of times. We love Under Armor — especially when we get it on a great deal!)

We spent Friday afternoon and evening with my family. We got to help decorate their tree and play some really fun games. If you missed all the pictures from that day, be sure to check out my post here.

We slept in on Saturday and then spent the morning wrapping presents and buying a few more items we still needed to get for our extended family gift exchanges. Then, we went with Jesse’s family to their church for the Christmas Eve Service and back to their house for dinner afterward.

We went to Jesse’s family’s house for Christmas Day. And the day began, as it usually does, with photos in front of the Christmas tree. Our kids asked if they could wear their new matching footie PJs jammies all day and we said, “Of course!”

And then it was time for cousin pictures in their PJs. 🙂 How cute are they???

And then it was time for the annual Sibling Photo. Not all the siblings could make it this year, but there was clearly still plenty of PERSONALITY going on here. 😉 {Jesse’s siblings have some of the biggest and most diverse personalities — and we love ’em to pieces!!}

We finally got a photo where almost everyone was smiling and no one was goofing off. 🙂

We drew names for all the siblings and cousins this year and had a blast seeing what everyone had picked out for their person. There were a few gag gifts given which meant that there was lots of laughter and teasing, too — which is pretty much *always* what happens when we are with this bunch!

The little cousins pulled out a game of chess and played together — which was so fun to watch!

We also had some rousing rounds of the Pie Face Game. (I didn’t get any pictures but I got some video proof here!) (By the way, the Pie Face Game is pretty expensive. I found a much cheaper knock-off version on Amazon here.)

We ended the night with stockings and watching the Chiefs beat the Broncos (oh yeah!)

We spent all day Monday with my family for Christmas. We also drew names — this time with all of the family members. We used which makes it so nice because everyone can share a wishlist.

Silas was SO excited with his gifts!!

My brother, Zachary, picked Jesse’s name and got him such good gifts — including this genuine leather skull cap for him to wear underneath his motorcycle helmet. Zachary always seems to find his person unique and expensive gifts that he gets at a great deal in some sweet sale he discovers online or on eBay. 🙂

After the gift exchange, my dad had put together a treasure hunt for all the cousins. They had so much fun finding each clue — and of course they were written in rhymes because that’s how my dad rolls!

When we were little kids, he almost always made us go on treasure hunts on Christmas morning for us to find our gifts! It’s such a fun memory — and I loved watching the kids get to experience the same joy this Christmas.

(By the way, if you don’t have a lot of money for gifts but you want to make things fun and memorable, you could consider creating a treasure hunt to find the gift(s) — because it always make it seem a lot more special and thoughtful, even if it’s a really small and simple gift at the end of the treasure hunt!)

The highlight of Christmas for me was meeting my little sister’s long-awaited baby boy — Atlas Flint! I could have held him all day. And the kids are utterly smitten with him (as evidenced by Silas’ face!)

All in all, it was a great Christmas. Simple, laid back, and full a memory-making with our family.

And now we’re in the car headed back to Tennessee all rested, refreshed, and hearts full.

How was YOUR Christmas? I’d love to hear in the comments!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Christmas Trail Mix (last-minute gift idea!)

This Homemade Christmas Trail Mix is a great last minute gift idea -- and it's inexpensive and easy!

Looking for a quick & easy Christmas gift idea? Make this Christmas Trail Mix!

Kathrynne had a Christmas Party at school two weeks ago and she decided at the last minute that she wanted to make something to bring.

I honestly wanted to say no. It had been a long day, my energy was running low, and it was getting close to her bedtime.

But in the spirit of my 2017 “Year of YES”, we made a quick trip to Kroger and got everything needed for Christmas Trail Mix (if you bought the ingredients at ALDI, it would be quite inexpensive. Unfortunately, our ALDI was already closed by the time she came up with the idea of wanting to make something!).

She made it in less than 10 minutes and was SO happy with the finished results.

Her look of joy and fulfillment when she was done was worth the little bit of extra effort. And she loved being able to bring something she made herself.

This recipe is so simple and would make a great last-minute gift idea. Best of all, you can change it based upon what you have on hand and on what your family/your recipients would like.

This would be a fun gift for kids to make for goodie bags. However, many schools and functions don’t allow peanuts, so you could just omit those. (Our kids go to a really small private school and none of the kids have nut allergies there, so peanuts are allowed.)

Here’s how Kathrynne made hers…

You could also add other things like Chex cereal, chocolate chips, yogurt covered raisins, or Cheerios. Any other ideas of fun things to add?

I share more about the Christmas Trail Mix below on my recent YouTube video. Subscribe to my YouTube channel here to see fun videos from me every week.

Looking for another simple last-minute Christmas treat or gift? Make some of this World’s Easiest Christmas Candy.

Frugal Family Fun: Family Water Balloon Fight

5 Things I'm Loving This Week

Two weeks ago, on Saturday night, we told the kids that we had a special surprise planned and we would reveal it as soon as the house was all clean.

You better believe that was a motivation for them to help us get everything whipped into shape around here in no time at all!! They kept guessing and guessing and we kept saying, “We’re not giving you any hints!”

The only hints we told them were that it was at our house, it was with our family only, and it was probably something they’d never guess. That just made them more intrigued! 🙂
Frugal Family Fun

When the house was spic and span and the laundry was done, we had them all sit at the table in the backyard and cover their eyes.

Then, we handed them the packages of Bunch of Balloons and told them they could open their eyes. They were SO excited when they realized we were going to have a family water fight and that Mom and Dad were getting in on the fun, too.

Frugal Family Fun

This was the first time we’d used these balloons and we will never go back to filling water balloons individually again. These are the BEST ever!

They are a little bit pricier than a bag of balloons at the Dollar Store, but for the time and effort saved they were SO worth it. It literally took us 5 minutes to fill 200+ balloons!


Frugal Family Fun

Frugal Family Fun

I seemed to have a huge target on my back the entire fight and the kids (and Jesse!) had a BLAST chasing me down and pelting me with water balloons!!

Overall, we had a blast and got in some great cardio, too (some from chasing each other around and trying to dodge balloons and some from laughing so hard that it hurt!)

We topped off the evening with roasting s’mores around the fire pit. And it was an evening we’ll remember for a long time!

Look what I found at Kroger??

And look what I found at Kroger yesterday?? $5 for a fun and unforgettable family night? I’d call that a deal!

What are your favorite Frugal Family Fun ideas? Tell us in the comments!

P.S. Need some more encouragement to be a Fun Mom? Watch this Periscope video I did earlier this week.