“What I thought minimalism looked like versus what it is really.”
Minimalism: recycle most everything you own while your kids are left to play with only three wooden toys. Choose only two colors to wear and keep maybe a dozen items of clothing. Eat the same meals every week. Own only one set of cutlery and one cup per member of the family. Get down to the bare minimum. Paint your walls white and conform to someone else’s standard of living.
I have read (okay, skimmed) two minimalist blog posts a friend suggested. It’s not that living simply isn’t my jam; it’s just that I have chosen up ’til this point to use my energy in our home elsewhere. Getting to a point of “It’s just too much!” followed by black trash bags of stuff to donate is how I handled overflowing drawers until a few months ago. The friend who sent me the minimalist posts lives in a home of order. I wanted that, so I started to ask questions: “How does your laundry stay empty every day? Where are your kids’ toys? How is your home always picked up even when I try to pop in unannounced to catch you on a messy day?” Her response, “This is three years in the making.” I have learned SO much from her about living with less.
This is my raw, uncut, unrehearsed and definitely untaught (my Mom is a glorified junk restorer) vision of minimalism for our family of five.
We live in a home with over 2,000 square feet of space and a yard an acre deep with grandparents next door. Space to store or hide items that hold memories is not sparse. I have heard that for every item you have, you have responsibility to that item. Even with lawn furniture (surprisingly one thing I hoarded) you have to paint, wash, and mow around it all. Are the ornamental or sentimental items really worth the extra energy?
Here are some tips from me, a Momma on the road to minimalism for all the right reasons:
1. Take a picture of it.
Those seven baby blankets x3 children really stack up! Can I look back at a picture of my baby being held in the blanket and get the same feeling as holding the actual blanket? Usually, yes. Then I’m able to pass it onto another baby! I’ve found that the more things I hold onto from my children’s past, the more I achingly miss that time of their life. Instead, living minimally for us means living in the present.
2. Let the store hold your object for you.
Craft supplies. Every ounce of glitter left over from a project used to get stored in a baggie. Now, I let Hobby Lobby hold my supplies for when the next project comes. When I declutter I think to myself, “How often do I need this item?” If it’s not often, I don’t store it in my home. One thing I struggled with coming from being a single Mom without a lot of money to being financially settled ten years later, was the fear that maybe we wouldn’t have the money to buy the item someday. Once I realized how often I applied that fear to many things which were going unused, I chucked the fear out of my mind and became thankful for being able to purchase or save for items we need.
3. Wash and fold one load of laundry a day.
My four-year-old collects the laundry every morning, I sort, and one load is done a day, six days a week. My minimalist friend washes all of her stuff every day from the day prior, all in one load. Blows my mind! One day, I want to be there! For now, not having heaping bins of clothes because I skipped a few days of laundry is very nice!
4. Outdoor toys are all natural.
Sticks and stones may break their bones but so will plastic Nerf guns and baseballs if used in the wrong way. My kids started to use their imagination when I got rid of most all the garage toys. Picking flowers and finding stones shaped like beans make for the perfect pretend stew ingredients. Sticks turn into whittled down knives and forts are constructed in the woods. Yard clean up time is less of a struggle when these pretend toys get chunked into the burn pile or thrown back into the woods to decompose. This can apply in all areas with kids, not just outdoor toys, when it comes to living minimally.
5. Donate, don’t sell.
I find it much easier to let go of home décor when I know it’s going to Homes and Havens in Chattanooga to help another woman’s home be decorated. I can give away baby items or my kids’ clothing with ease as well when it’s going to a friend. It never fails that the more you give, the more you seem to receive in time. Maybe you love to consign or host a yard sale; I had to take note that it wasn’t something that brought me joy anymore. Do what’s best for you and your time!