The STUFF of families

This past July there was a really interesting article in the Wall Street Journal (July 7, 2012) about the results of a study by the University of California.  Anthropologists studied 32 middle class LA families and their “material culture”, that is, how they related to all their stuff.

Here are some interesting results:
– average visible possessions in each home (not counting those in closets or out of view: 438 books and magazines, 139 toys, 39 pairs of shoes
– most time at home was spent indoors, despite the presence of pools, hot tubs, swing sets, outdoor furniture
– the average backyard use by parents per week- 15 minutes                                              -kids backyard use – 40 minutes per week
-75% of garages in the study had no room to store a car. The typical chaotic garage held 300-650 boxes, storage bins and spillover items from the house
– the more objects attached to the front of the family’s refrigerator, the more objects per square foot in the house overall.

Well I felt pretty smug about the fridge thing.  But the reality is that magnets don’t stick to our fridge, and around the corner I have a white board covered in photos, paper pads, phone number lists etc. 😉

See, I’m keeping it real, I did not pretty this up one bit before I took the picture 🙂

It’s pretty ironic that with the trend to outdoor kitchens, pretty outdoor “living rooms” and massive  play sets, they’re simply not used.  Don’t you think that’s true with a lot of our “stuff”? Growing up we had those metal frame, cloth covered, folding chairs, with the three springs in the back, on our deck.  Remember those?  And a big wooden cable spool on its side with a wood top for a coffee table. I remember we spent a lot of time on that deck.  Perhaps the lack of air conditioning made the shady deck more appealing.  The point is, furniture, gear,  stuff doesn’t create the appealing, sociable behavior.  Our society doesn’t create space for quiet leisure time.  We’re over scheduled, too busy and have little margin.  So all the nice stuff we covet in magazines won’t create a different reality.  We need to make conscious choices which have little to do with acquiring more stuff.

That’s something I’ve been thinking about and hope to blog about in the future.

~Lora

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About Lora

I am a 40 something wife to my patient and talented husband Scott, Mom to my five children (from toddler to teen) and oldest sister to eight siblings. I am interested in too many things, love to read everything around me, and have developed a strong interest in design and renovation along with my husband. I am conservative, Christian, and by the grace of God, trying to find His way through the ups and downs of my life.
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5 Responses to The STUFF of families

  1. carolyn de blieck says:

    So true….although happy to say I spend more time outside…a little less now that the kids are in school…sorry to say!

  2. joanne says:

    I agree…we always laugh at the dutchies and their “sun-worshipping” habits, but they make a conscious effort to get outside. Even during their lunch at work you will see hordes of business in groups of 4 or 5 walking together to get some fresh air before getting back to work.

  3. Nicolette says:

    personally, i think you should have tidied up your whiteboard, straightened up your cork board and THEN taken the picture. didn’t you know it’s all about impressing others???? 🙂 i agree about not spending enough time outdoors… isn’t it gorgeous outside lately?

  4. Dor says:

    Sounds like you’ve read “Margin.” A good book! He reminds you that your possessions possess you. The more stuff you have (whether for leisure or work), the more you have to do with it: sit in it, swing it, cut it, ride it, CLEAN IT, play with it, read it, MAINTAIN IT, etc. There goes all your free time to actually enjoy your possessions…

  5. Lora says:

    Yes I read the book. It was thought provoking and valuable. I wasn’t totally on board with everything but the overall idea was good.

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