About a year ago my husband got on a kick about becoming minimalists.
I wasn’t on board. I just didn’t get it.
Having moved as often as we have, we had already gotten rid of a lot of stuff. And I really wasn’t into the idea of living in an empty house, which was what minimalism meant to me. But in an attempt to be supportive I watched a movie. Then I read some articles. These led to some podcasts. Next thing I knew…I was donating stuff all over the place.
I came to realize that minimalism isn’t about having no stuff; it’s about loving everything that you have.
Now that…that is a concept I can support!
We went through the house room by room. We tackled the garage. We even went through the attic. It was a lot of work, but it was also very liberating. The house felt lighter every day. When I walk through the door now, I am overcome with joy at what I see. Instead of knick-knacks, we have lots and lots of plants. Instead of random pictures on the walls, we have family photos, art we love, or nothing at all. When I open my closet door, gone are all of the ill fitting, stained, or hated clothes. Instead there is a small capsule wardrobe where every piece is loved.
Now let’s be clear, we have 2 small kids with different interests – there are still a lot of toys, but only the toys that they play with regularly. When a toy starts to lose its appeal, we either donate it or add it to our rotation box. This is essentially a box in the garage where I throw in a toy they are getting bored with and pull out one they haven’t played with in a while. Rather than getting something new, they get an oldie they have forgotten all about. The reaction is the same, and we get to save money and all the resources that go into making a new toy.
There really, truly, is something magical about the minimalist movement going on right now. Which I guess is why there is a movement in the first place. We live in such a consumer driven culture. Buy, buy, buy. We have moved so far away from repairing, repurposing, and cherishing our material items. But all of this comes at a huge cost. I don’t just mean the financial cost, which of course is significant. I’m also talking about the cost to our environment and to our mental health.
How much stress exists in your life as you try to keep up with your friends, your family, your neighbors, in the competition to own more or better stuff. Do you even like the stuff?
Let’s go back to that word stress for a minute. I know very few people these days that aren’t suffering from an unhealthy level of stress in their lives. It’s a very unfortunate side effect of the lifestyle and culture we live with. But it can be reduced, significantly, by owning less. Since we lessened our load I don’t have as much stuff to do. It’s the truly amazing part of this journey, the part the caught me totally off guard. Before living it I really didn’t believe all the talk about how much time could be claimed back in your life. But you know what, it’s true! My days used to be an endless, exhausting, life-sucking pattern of clean up, tidy up, clean up, tidy up. Any family time was spent knowing that I had a mountain of things to deal with when we got back home. I was never truly present, with my to-do list always running in the back of my mind. I never just stopped and played with the kids when the asked, because I was always in the middle of something that “had” to be done.
Those days are over.
Yes, we still have a house to clean. Yes, we still have responsibilities. Except now everything has a place, and everyone knows where that place is. So…the kids can tidy up after themselves, my husband can find the things he is looking for without asking me to help him search. When the kids want to paint or draw or play a game, we all know where everything is, making set-up a breeze rather than stressful. Instead of saying no all the time, I can take pleasure in saying sure thing, and even sitting down to create with them.
More than anything, what minimalism has brought into our home is freedom.
Freedom to be present.
Freedom to stop what we are doing at the drop of a hat to do something more fun.
Freedom to not be chained to our stuff, and the work that it creates to maintain.
Freedom to see something that we love, know it will have a home, and purchase it, all guilt free.
If you aren’t on the minimalist train yet, I highly recommend you at least educate yourself. It isn’t for everyone, but I am willing to bet you will have your eyes opened to the possibilities.
And really, don’t we all want to feel more free?
A few resources to help you on your journey:
Minimalism: A documentary about the important things: This is what started it all of us. It’s a great watch, and you can find it on Netflix.
The Minimalists: Not only did they bring the movie above to life, but they also have a great podcast and super insightful newsletter.
Allie Casazza: This gal here, she inspired me. Allie has made it her life’s mission to help moms feel free, to love motherhood. She is a great role model for the aspiring minimalist mom.
Becoming Minimalist: Another great source of inspiration, Joshua is a best-selling author and takes on minimalism with an intentional approach. He also offers a 12-week online course to help you, should you decide minimalism is for you.
Raising Simple: A great blog about minimalism and family life, which can be a tough sell to those around you.