Learning to Live with Less
Now, Oprah's challenging two more families that say they're ready to slow down, scale back, disconnect from technology and get back to basics—for one week.
Get Oprah's instructions and put your own family to the test!
Oprah says the challenge will do more than just declutter your homes. "The whole purpose of it is to bring a new state of consciousness," she says. "We hope you're now inspired to go into your own closets, garages, cupboards and start to ask yourself, 'What can I live without?'"
The moment school's out, Ron says the kids start texting. Once home, Pam says everyone heads to separate rooms to watch TV, play video games or work on the computer—they even text each other instead of talking! "I might text Kristina and tell her to bring me a glass of water or to go put the clothes in the dryer or different things like that so I won't have to get off the computer," Pam says.
They also don't eat dinner as a family. "When my husband brings the food home, everybody just runs in here, grabs their food and then they go back to their room," Pam says.
Ron says he's ready for a change. "The TV, the computer, the cell phones—it's just tearing us apart."
As the week progressed, the family grocery shopped together on a budget and ate dinner together. Ron started to teach Kristina how to drive, and the entire family attended RJ's baseball practice. "We're trying to be a family again, and we're going to keep trying and trying until we get it right," Ron says.
Watch how the family tackled Oprah's challenge head-on!
Pam says tackling their technology addictions has brought them closer together. "There was a moment when we were eating dinner that Kristina just really just opened up and let us know what's going on, what's going on at school," she says. "That was an aha! moment."
The family takes a vote—and Pam is the only one who resists. "I was outnumbered, so then I had to just kind of go along," she says.
Week 2 begins with more family fun like cooking lessons and walks to the park. "The first week was just like a learning process," Ron says. "This week, we really, really get to connect because I think the hard part is over."
As the week progresses, Pam says she's glad her family kept her from old habits. "We are a stronger family," Pam says. "I feel like I know my kids better than I did before. As they put down their technology, they allowed me to come into their world and see what's going on with them."
Family dinners have continued, and Ron says he and Kristina have reconnected during their driving dates. RJ even started a gratitude journal—and one thing he doesn't list in it is technology! He writes: "I'm grateful for my loving and caring mom. I'm grateful for my fun and role model dad, Ron. I'm grateful for my kind and playful sister, Kristina. Last but not least, I'm grateful for my active and energetic dog, Coco."
It's an important lesson Ron says the entire family has learned. "We don't have to have all of this stuff," he says. "If you have family like the family I have, nothing else really matters."
Michelle took on a full-time job at a local radio station two years ago, and her long hours often keep her from family dinners. "If my mom was here at supper with us, it would make us more a family and we could talk and laugh together," says their son BJ.
When Michelle does get home, her family has scattered. "Everybody's off in different directions. We've got five TVs. We've got four iPods. We've got four cell phones," she says. "Sometimes we're watching the same show in different rooms."
Even if the kids have a video game system, Michelle says she feels pressure to get them the latest model. It's time to make a change, she says. "They should maybe be happy with what we already have," she says. "More importantly, I want them to be happy with themselves."
Michelle says it's hard to hear. "When the boys were talking about how our family is different and it's grown apart, it actually really hurts," Michelle says. "It breaks my heart."
Still, the family comes together during the challenge with trips to the park and learning how to give back. Oprah asked the Ladwigs to give away at least 10 things they could live without, and the family decides to start by cleaning out their pantry.
Watch the family's trip to the local food pantry.
Since starting the challenge, Bill says he's surprised at how relaxed his home has become. "After the kids were home from their obligations and supper, [I was surprised at] how quiet and peaceful it was in the house," he says. "It actually felt like, 'Hey, this is the time of day where we wind down.'"
Living without distractions, Michelle says, has taught her and her family an invaluable lesson. "All of the time that I had without all the distractions made me think about the reasons why I was having all those distractions in my life—and made me consider that I needed less technology and more time with my family," she says.
After taking Oprah's challenge, Candice realized the stuff was just covering up her grief. "My husband was taken away from me, but nobody can take away my stuff," she said.
After a week of living with less, Candice discovered what she really needed. "I don't need the stuff. I know my children don't need the stuff," she said. "All I ever needed was them, and all they ever needed was me."
She also cleaned out those closets full of stuff—some still with the tags on! Ready to say goodbye and start paying down her debt, Candice got some help from the folks at eBay, who carted away her old items and helped her set up an online auction. "I'm really feeling good about it," she says. "It's like layers coming off, and it's so much lighter."
In all, Candice makes $2,000 off the forgotten items that were cluttering her closets! But that's not all...to help Candice and her family stay looking toward the future, eBay is donating $10,000 to a college fund for Candice's sons! "Oh my God," Candice says. "Thank you."
Everything will be donated to Community Clothes Closet, an Menasha, Wisconsin–based organization that gives gently used clothing to struggling families at no cost. "We have about 11,000 clients," says Diane, a volunteer. "They can shop twice a month for up to a year. Can you imagine the amount of money they save if they don't have to purchase clothes for the family?"
"Keep up the good work," Oprah says. "From our closets, the audience closets, my closets, our staff's closets to yours. We hope it helps."
See how a family like yours pledged to live with less—and start your own challenge
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