We shot this video on location at a VERY exotic spot, and we’re chatting about a topic that is near and dear to our hearts:

[ Get transcript ]

Stuff to Check Out

• Although we *think* we described the concept of “opting-out” fairly well, you might want to check out this blog post I wrote on the subject for a bit more clarity.

• If you are interested in learning more about our home birth experiences, here you go: Ben | Ginny

• The TV show we were talking about is Tiny House Nation on FYI. It’s about people who are moving into houses that are under 300 square feet. You can watch full episodes online!

SWELL Prizes

• Becky wins a Chat Pack, Jason wins a copy of Once Upon a Time, and Tara wins a set of Pick Your Nose party cups. You can check out Becky’s spreadsheet here, Jason’s Kool-Aid video here, and visit Tara’s virtual bar here.


So we shared a few lifestyle rules that don’t exist in today’s video (“Thou shalt deliver your babies in a hospital,” “Thou shalt buy the biggest home you can afford”) and mentioned another one in a previous post (“Thou shalt subscribe to cable”). Just to reiterate, we are not suggesting that you must break ANY of these rules (we like our current house just fine, thank you very much). We bring up the topic merely to get you thinking about these so-called rules just in case there are any you might consider opting-out of.

What are some lifestyle rules that don’t exist that you see others living by that you’ve already opted out of? And are there any you currently follow that you might be considering of opting-out of? As always, the comments are for sharing whatever you want. Go!


  1. Avatar Lundee Amos says:

    Great ideas to decluttler: my major problem! Loved seeing your children!
    Picture of me in jail in 1954. (high school)
    Keep smiling!!!
    Lu Lu Pickels
    P.S. Haven’t figured out all the high tech ways to do all this.

    Attached image:

  2. Monica Deal Monica Deal says:

    We have been trying to opt out and simplify our lives for the past seven years. It started when a friend forwarded a video called, “The Story of Stuff” to us. It struck home, and we started focusing on limiting all the “stuff” in our lives (if you’re interested, here’s the video: http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-stuff/). Part of what we love so much about Escape Adulthood is your focus on experiences instead of things. Last year was probably our biggest opt-out year yet. My husband and I had gotten very (you could even say overly) involved in community and school activities, holding leadership positions in our neighborhood, school, and sports associations. Even though all of these things were wonderful causes and involved working with great people, we found that we were begruding all of the time it was taking away from our family and decided it was time to let someone else step up to the plate and volunteer. We ultimately pulled out of all but one of our leadership roles, so while we are still volunteering in many capacities, we are doing so on a much more limited basis. As our oldest child graduates from college this year, we realize we want to enjoy our kids while we have them. Our decision to try and simplify and avoid too much stuff doesn’t always go over well with our kids, especially given that most of their classmates have the latest and greatest of everything, so we make compromises on occasion, but we hope that they grow up with an appreciation for the idea the while possessions and fancy titles won’t necessarily make you happy, the experiences and the memories that you have with your loved ones will.

    • Monica Deal Monica Deal says:

      MAJOR OOPS…our oldest child graduates from HIGH SCHOOL this year, not college. I’m making everyone older than they really are!

    • Monica, I am so impressed by your example to withdraw from some of the extracurriculars! That is so hard to do, especially when they are worthy pursuits in and of themselves. It’s something Kim and I are committed to doing, but since our kids are still pretty young, it’s not as difficult as I imagine it will be when they are older. I’ll mark you down as one of the example that prove it can be done!

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      I loved reading this. Your brave move to simplify is refreshing on so many levels. Thank you for making these hard choices – your example is a gift!!!

  3. Jason Love Jason Love says:

    I am excited to win the DVD. This will be a great way for me to see what a professional speaker looks like in action. I’ve been a performer for a long time and the past few years I have considered becoming a professional speaker.

    One lifestyle rule that I don’t follow is the idea of a “normal” career. I have had many strange jobs/businesses during my life.

    These include sideshow & circus performer, restoring a roller coaster, theme park magician, manager at a mental hospital, snow removal, website & graphics designer, educator, created a t-shirt printing business, comic book publisher, animator, filmmaker, balloon twister, author, and others.

    In 2013, I went out and got a real job working for the University of Wisconsin. Less than a year later they let me go because we couldn’t find funding to keep my position (budget cuts). I loved working there but learned even real jobs aren’t as “secure” as everyone says.

    My family is able to survive on me doing magic shows (mostly b-day parties), balloon twisting, and some freelance work. Although we have to do a lot of budgeting and keep a close eye on our finances.

    Listening to the talk with Kyle Scheele and seeing what Kim & Jason are doing at Escape Adulthood is inspirational.

    What is in my future? I’m still trying to figure that out, but it looks brighter every day.

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      Jason, looks like maybe it was meant to be, for you to win the DVD. I love how you have tinkered in the past and continue to, and through that persistence, you’re able to pay your bills creatively. Amen to your notion that “secure” jobs are a myth. I’ve seen that again and again, coming from the education world. We’re cheering you on and if there’s any insights we can share about speaking, please let me know. In fact, we know a speaker that lives pretty close to you. I’ll share that with info with you.

    • Yay! Baby steps…tinker…persistence (those three things have seemed to work for us!)

  4. Lynn Carter Lynn Carter says:

    I’ve opted out of a 9-5 job. When I got divorced and could no longer be an at-home mom, my kids and I had this discussion about how we could have lots of money but no time (I have a degree in counseling and could have finished up licensure and brought in $120/hr), or we could have lots of time together and flexibility, but not much money if I chose to always be home when they were home. We all voted for option 2, so I work a combination of retail merchandising, substitute teaching, being a virtual assistant, and having a very tiny private practice as a lactation consultant. We also love to travel, and it’s really nice to have the flexibility (and the over-40 assertiveness) to just announce that we will be leaving for a period of time and the work will be done ahead as much as possible and/or caught up when we get back.

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      I LOVE your example, Lynn. I LOVE that your commitment to owning your current priorities and opting out of the things you’ve chosen has been a family decision!!

  5. Lynn Carter Lynn Carter says:

    P.S. I live in an 800 square foot house with two kids. If it were just me, it would not be difficult, though sometimes companies send me big displays that I need to install and they eat my living room. Most of the difficulty, though, is that kids like to have stuff! Art supplies, stuffed animals, sports equipment, remote control planes, clothing they continually grow out of, etc. I can purge my own stuff from time to time, and I do, but I don’t feel right about downsizing my children without their permission. Obviously we don’t have huge amounts of stuff, since we do actually live comfortably in this house, but it would be nice to have less.

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      You rock, Lynn! This is so awesome, that you have opted out of the “more is better” lifestyle that is far too common. As Lucy starts to have more “collections” I also can relate to your challenge of not wanting to force downsizing on the kiddos. Also, the clothes management is tricky… they just keep growing!!! It’s constant work, when they are young, we’re finding. Thanks for your example!

      • Lynn Carter Lynn Carter says:

        Does Lucy insist on keeping things that no longer fit? Or have super soft clothes she would like to wear for a week in a row, and others that are okay some days but too scratchy others? My head could explode. I just try to focus on keeping the kitchen, living room, and bathroom clean, since those are the public areas and the kids’ doors shut ;)

        • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

          Amen, to keep the kids’ door shut. They have a closet FULL of clothes (their aunt gives us all of the clothes their cousins grow out of – we’re blessed), and YET they just want to wear the SAME pair of jammies 24-7. #notarule

  6. Darla Dernovsek Darla Dernovsek says:

    There was a period in my life when I had been in charge of too much — on too many committees, spent too much time in an important elected position, played the piano for too many events and took on too many freelance jobs. So I made a very short list of things I would continue to do and opted out of everything else for a year. I remember getting a call from a very nice woman seeking volunteers for a new church committee. When I gently told her I was sorry but I was not accepting any new commitments for a one-year period, she said, “Oh! Can you do that?” The answer is, of course, “Yes, you can.”
    More recently, we disconnected our landline phone to save $$$ and discovered that one less ring tone can be a beautiful thing. I sometimes opt out of carrying the cell phone, too. Withdrawing from the phone is sometimes the only way to opt out of living based on someone else’s priority list.
    We also moved and downsized in the last year, which is a great way to examine what deserves time and space in your life. Some possessions should be passed on (an antique desk to my son and daughter-in-law); some should be donated (some-assembly-required furniture and miscellany) and some should go to the burn pile (do you really need a two-year-old calendar?). I’m not ready for a guest shot on “Tiny House Nation” and I don’t know if I ever will be, but my life is lighter than it was.

    • “When I gently told her I was sorry but I was not accepting any new commitments for a one-year period, she said, ‘Oh! Can you do that?’ The answer is, of course, ‘Yes, you can.'” <– I love this so much. We need more permission granters like you, Darla!

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      “My life is lighter”…. sounds refreshingly inviting! Jason and I JUST mentally calculated how much time my parents spend fielding landline telemarketer calls – even when they opt to NOT answer the phone. The time they spent to just identify it’s a telemarketer and decide to NOT answer the phone – it adds up to 2 full days a year! Yay, for opting out of that one!

  7. Kimberly McCue Kimberly McCue says:

    I opted out of using facebook, many years ago. It seems like facebook logins practically come with birth certificates nowadays, so people are always surprised that I don’t have an account. Although I’m sure my information is still floating around in there somewhere… I feel grateful to be able to let people from the past (such as high school or college) stay in the past, and not everyone needs to know what I’m doing. I feel like I can really just focus on the people who are important to me now. My older sister actually said one time that she was envious because I get to have a private life, not being connected to any social media sites.
    I also opt out of wearing make-up and matching my socks!
    I’m sure there are some lifestyle rules I follow but would be happier opting out of…but I’m having a hard time thinking of anything particular right now. These rules really blend into the background because they’re so common!

    • Down with matching socks!

    • Angela Dunlap Angela Dunlap says:

      I had opted out of facebook until Wednesday last week. I wanted to join the live event, so I quickly opened an account. I’m not sure that, long-term, that was a good decision, but I did enjoy the live event!
      I also don’t wear make-up or perfume, but I hadn’t thought about including that in my opt-out comments. Like you, I have opted-out in many ways, but I don’t always recognize now that I opted-out because I’ve done it for so long.

      • “Thou shalt spend inordinate amounts of time Facebook if thou haveth a Facebook account” = #notarule

        Using it just for Escape Lab LIVE is totally cool! :)

  8. Mary Eickemeyer Mary Eickemeyer says:

    I can’t exactly remember when; however, around the time my sons were in elementary school, I opted-out of being the perfect mom. It had became apparent to me earlier in their lives that being the perfect mom was going to be extremely difficult. This specifically occurred to me during the 6 month period of time when my husband was gone 3 out of 4 weeks every month for business travel, I was working almost full-time outside the home, and our sons were 4 and 6 years old. Somewhere during that time period–most likely after the week I slept only about 4-5 hours a night and had to shovel 13 inches of snow out of our 100 ft. driveway twice that week because my husband thought that WE could use the exercise– I realized what people meant by “survival techniques” especially related to families and kids (ie, which drive-thru shall we try tonight?). So, I decided to make a career of not being the perfect mother. When one of my sons told me in junior high that I embarrassed him, I told him “that must be my job right now”. When my youngest was in high school, he told me, “All my friends think that you are a cool mom but they don’t have to live with you”, I thought “whatever”. When people asked me about my hobbies, I told them that mine was raising children. Sometimes it worked out well, sometimes not so well. But I still loved it and would keep at it, just like most people do with their hobbies.

    My sons today are adventurous people who have had some amazing experiences, been able to rise to many challenges, and lead interesting lives. I think it all worked out given that they did not have the perfect mom.

    • Good for you Mary. I don’t know if it’s always been this way, but moms have it hard these days, with this expectation to be perfect, as you say. It seems like some of the worst critics are other moms!

      There is no such thing as the perfect mom (or dad, for that matter), but there is a huge sense of relief when you give yourself permission to be unburdened by the pressure to strive for this unrealistic ideal. All we can do is the best we have with what we’ve got.

      Plus, can you imagine living in a house with a perfect mom? Ick.

    • Lynn Carter Lynn Carter says:

      Good for you! You have also given your children the great gift of knowing that when their turn comes, they don’t have to beat themselves up to try to be perfect parents, either!

  9. Becky Reisinger Becky Reisinger says:

    Things I have opted out of that make me “weird”:
    1) Pinterest – yes, I get it and it seems cool. I just don’t need one more thing that I need to maintain. My sisters are all big into it.
    2) PTA – I used to be very involved in the PTA when the kids were in elementary school. I was over-committed and it ended up being more work than connecting with like-minded moms. I left and I haven’t looked back. I still donate to the fundraisers, but my time is better spent with my kids than with mama drama. In my city, if you are not PTA…you are seen as a bad parent.
    3) Giving my kids iphones: They have pre-paid phones that they can use to call or text family and friends. But they are not smartphones. I don’t care if all their friends just got the iphone 6 for Christmas…I don’t even have an iphone 6 and they are certainly not “getting” one.

    Things I am trying to opt out of:
    1) Office negativity/drama
    2) Over-scheduling the kids (and myself) with extra curricular activities
    3) The yelling at the kids mom club
    4) The perfect mom (wife, daughter, sister, neighbor, friend, etc) club

  10. Avatar Dave Timmerman says:

    I opt out of black suits and clerical shirts. I like color and comfort. I actually own a cream colored suit and the bishop once saw me in it and asked if I had been to the Caribbean.

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      Priest have to like wearing black. #notarule

    • You should get a bright orange or blue suit, like in Dumb and Dumber.

      • Lynn Carter Lynn Carter says:

        If you look in catalogs that supply Anglicans, there is a whole rainbow of options that fit the collar tab. My mom had an Episcopal priest once who wanted a brighter color and wore it to a conference, having no idea that for many of the attendees, the color he chose signified a bishop. Instant promotion!

  11. Kate Russell Kate Russell says:

    Two things come to mind. Like others have already memtioned, we didn’t find out the gender of our babies. It drove everyone crazy! I was sure my second one was a boy and was so surprised to have a girl. It was a perfect moment. :)

    We opted out of having two cars. Once in a while we find using one car hard but most of the time we are fine. Quite often our one car doesn’t move for days!

  12. Angela Dunlap Angela Dunlap says:

    Things I have opted out of, perhaps in no particular order:
    1) Shopping at the big W place. Almost everyone I know complains about shopping there, but almost everyone I know does it anyway. I shop at the local grocery store and hardware store and only make it to the big W, maybe three times a year – usually when I’m with someone else who wants to go there. Amazingly, I don’t lack for food or other necessary items.
    2) Having children. I love my nieces and nephews and have helped with my sister’s children a lot – they have a third parent in me, but I never had any of my own – they are probably thankful for that because who likes being locked in a closet? (smile – if you ever saw my house, you’d know there’s no way to lock anyone in a closet!)
    3) Having a big wedding. I married in Las Vegas – we chose the chapel from the Yellow Pages. Marriage (see #4) didn’t go so well, but I have lots of stories to tell about the wedding.
    4) Re-marrying. I didn’t like it the first time, so I’m not all that eager to try it again even though I’ve been divorced for 14 years. I’m not saying “never” because that just invites the Fates to laugh, but if you are a betting person, don’t bet on my getting married again!
    5) Owning a second dog. While I loved the first one, I am not home often enough or long enough to take care of any animals. Why did I have the first one? I came home to a puppy brought home by my husband who did not listen when I said “no puppy.” He left. I kept the dog. (not a bad trade, really – smile) While Hoops died in 2006 and I still miss him occasionally, another dog is definitely out of the question.
    6) When my ex left, I didn’t have a job (oh, what was I thinking asking for a divorce when I had no income at that moment? sometimes, I really can laugh very hard at myself); therefore, I gave up cable/satellite TV. I could now afford it if I really wanted it, but what’s the point? I read and teach and play card and board games with my family – who needs TV? Just for the record, I do have a TV and I do get a few channels from the rabbit ears, but I don’t watch that often and the TV isn’t in the living room.
    Now, what’s left to opt out of? I’m sure there’s plenty, but I’m liking life pretty well right now.

    • Nice list, Angela. Love the last line: “I’m liking life pretty well right now.”

      When it comes to opting out (or opting in, for that matter), if you ever wonder if you’re doing it right, if you can honestly say that you’re liking life right now, then you’re doing it right. ;)

  13. Lora Klitzke Lora Klitzke says:

    Tiny House Nation – I love watching that show when I have time!!

  14. Sara Gast Sara Gast says:

    Am catching up, and it is ironic timing of this message because I was visiting family in Green Bay this weekend, and attended a home sale show at one of my sister’s homes. Now, everyone has the right to live as they wish, but my sister and her husband have a huge home for a family of four, yet she has to shop at Goodwill because her husband limits spending. Nothing against Goodwill, because I do shop thrift stores myself, but she was talking about how she and her husband want to spruce up their kitchen…and I look around and see gorgeous large windows, high ceilings with beautiful wood mouldings, beautiful artwork on the walls, and more. I don’t think my sister cares about appearances of the home as much as my brother-in-law, but am sure with these new changes they will easily spend over $10,000. So I chuckle to myself and think how removed I am from interior design of a home…I never had much money since becoming an adult, and I guarantee my ex and I didn’t have a fancy home…we could barely afford to buy paint and blinds at Menards, so I would have never been able to have a designer come in with paint and fabric swatches as my sister had coming to her home this weekend….right now my focus is to make ends meet, and survive…create a home for myself and my daughter in the 2-bedroom, 1-stall garage duplex I have rented for 18 months now…put food on the table, pay the minimums on bills, and hopefully improve my situation with hard work and a better-paying job in the near future. Another of my sisters puts it so well – she doesn’t “live” for her house. Some people care about landscaping, fancy furniture, custom paint jobs, and so on….while others would rather take that money and buy some land and a camper so they can make memories “up north” as a family, as she does. That is my thinking – I don’t live for things, I want Leah to have great memories and experiences, with me and on her own in the future with my example. My focus is on rebuilding my life and hopefully finding someone special to share it with…so I couldn’t relate to a sister who was focused on improving her home, where in my view it would have been absolutely beautiful to remain “as is”, because that doesn’t matter to me. So I choose to opt-out from HGTV shows that make me feel like my house should meet Martha Stewart standards….or opt-out from magazines that showcase beds with matching pillow cases, comforters, shams, bed skirts, valances and drapes, and so on, with about 85 smaller pillows “for decoration” thrown on the bed after it is made…I don’t have much, but I welcome my friends and family into my home and make them as comfortable as I can, and I have worked hard on my own for everything I have.

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      Thanks for sharing all of this, Sara. Some interesting reflections here. I often find myself comparing my choices with my siblings… and yet, we are SO VERY different. Isn’t it funny how kids that grow up in the same household can love such different lives and value such different things? I’m grateful for our differences – as it helps me own my own. You have an awesome plan in place and are secure with your choices – that’s a gift – both for yourself and for Leah!

    • Melissa LeFever Melissa LeFever says:

      I resonate with some of this- I am routinely reframing my own thinking about our home which happens to be an apartment. We have opted out of a mortgage for now, even though multiple people have told us over the past years to buy a home. Each person and family is different and sets their own priorities- it is just great to know what ours are and know we are picking them, not just going along with whatever is the “norm” or cultural expectation for people at our stage in life. Opting out of a mortgage and all the unexpected costs allowed me to opt in on paying off debt and having less anxiety. That has been totally worth it.

      • You go, Melissa! People often leave out the benefits of apartment living when they urge you to buy a house. Namely, no snow shoveling, or cutting grass, and when something big breaks, it’s up to the landlord to fix it. When it comes down to it, each side has a #mustbenice

    • Sara, thanks for all the interesting things to ponder! I enjoy a beautifully decorated home, but when it comes down to it, I’d still rather spend my money on experiences than stuff.

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