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Do you ever look around at your house and get stressed out by clutter? Do you spend more time than you want to cleaning and organizing things you own? Do you think you could live with less? Do you think minimalism would ever work for your family?
That’s exactly what minimalists across the country and around the world are doing.
Have you ever read those stories about people who live with 2 pairs of jeans and 3 shirts and wonder how they survive being minimalist? Maybe you wish you could have that lifestyle, but on a far less strict scale. For my family, simple living is a big deal. We live in 1000 square feet and have plenty of space to spare.
While I know that tons of people are able to live a minimalist lifestyle with kids, I’ve decided the one area I don’t want to be minimalist is in our kids’ playroom.
I love that our boys have so many toys that have been acquired through my love of thrift stores and yard sales. We plan to homeschool and in some ways have already started, and I can’t bring myself to give away all of these amazing toys we’ve been lucky enough to find or receive as gifts. Lots of minimalists do have kids and have figured it out, I’m just not quite ready to go there – yet.
The rest of the house however – is fair game.
What we’re doing in our house is putting away absolutely everything we don’t use on a daily basis. We’re literally packing things up and moving them to our garage.
We’re lucky in that we have a garage building that is roughly the size of our house on our property, so this is easy for us. If you don’t have that kind of room, consider using your attic, basement, closet space, or, if you’re really serious about trying this out, rent a storage locker or ask a family member to hold onto your stuff for you.
We’re doing this because while my husband is ready to commit, I’m not quite ready to call myself a minimalist just yet. I was raised by a borderline hoarder (although my mom would dispute this and claim she’s not one…she absolutely is. At the very least, there are some serious hoarding tendencies there) so I’ve always held onto stuff way longer than I should.
I’m the person who would keep a broken piece of jewelry because it once held special meaning, or keep a broken ceramic decoration because I’d fix it one day.
Enter my husband.
He was the one who opened my eyes to how crazy this is and to the fact that I would literally never actually sit down to fix these things. After he finally got through to me and we bought our 1000 square foot house, everything came out of our storage unit and was right here where I could see with my own eyes all of the crap I’d collected.
Our Purging Journey
Now it was time to figure out where to put this stuff. Store it in that garage building just to have it? Or go through it, purge everything, and only keep what we actually wanted?
Much to my husband’s surprise, I decided to purge everything and within a couple of months (yes, it took that long – I was pregnant and sick and starting a blog. What can I say??) we had pared down our things to less than 50% of what we had before.
Now, it’s spring-cleaning time and I’m looking around me at all of our stuff wondering how in the hell we possibly got rid of 50% of our stuff and still have this much.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we stayed in a tiny house over Christmas and caught the bug. Scotty (my husband and minimalist nomad at heart) would sell our house, donate everything we own, and buy a tiny house to pull around the country right now if I’d let him.
If it weren’t for our 2 babies, I’d totally do that, but instead, I’m focusing on the last bit of me that wants to hoard everything and stray from my simple living ways. It’s a constant internal struggle of mine. Am I a hoarder or am I a simple living mommy who just wants to enjoy life?
For the last few years, I’ve been choosing simple living and this is the year I make the final push to get rid of every single that that doesn’t either serve a real purpose or have deep, sentimental meaning.
The Turning Point for Me
I’ve been very open about the fact that after numerous health issues (mostly cancer) in those very close to us, I struggled with Postpartum Depression that knocked me down for a few months. In fact, it’s still an almost daily struggle.
PPD ended up being the blessing that I needed to open my eyes to the fact that I wasn’t thoroughly enjoying life like I thought I was. Simple living was always a passion of mine. Now, it’s absolutely the only way. I WILL enjoy this life I’ve been given and will not, under any circumstances, let anyone or anything rob me of the incredible joy that is ripe for the taking.
The truth is, stuff takes time. Keeping up with all of that crap that you don’t need takes time to organize, time to clean, it takes up space, it actually causes stress to have all of that “stuff” that you’re responsible for but don’t *actually* want. You just don’t want to make the commitment to get rid of it.
Something I tell to every single person who comes to me with issues – is that doing nothing is still doing something. You’re going to make a choice one way or another. Are you going to choose to do nothing which is choosing to keep all of this *stuff* in your life? Or are you going to choose to pass it on to someone who needs it, trash or recycle things that no longer serve a purpose, and live a simpler, fuller life?
I hope you’ll join me and choose the second.
Okay, here’s what I’m doing to “test drive minimalism”
Step one – pray I actually love this and end up parting with everything I’m packing up
Step 2 – get boxes and ruthlessly pack things that I don’t use on a daily basis and don’t love enough to keep in our house
Step 3 – label the crap out of the boxes so I know how to donate things when that time comes
Step 4 – take everything out our house and put it into our garage where it will be safe, but out of sight.
Step 5 – set a reminder in my calendar for 6 months from now. Whatever I haven’t missed enough to go out there and get, is getting a new home.
In the meantime, my house is going to be a minimalist’s dream with the exception of our playroom. Yes, I know kids don’t actually need toys and that it is very possible to be a minimalist with kids. I’m just choosing not to. If you want to, go ahead and pack up the kids toys and make them minimalist, please do! Just make sure to either e-mail me or hop on Facebook and tag me in your pictures to let me know how it goes!
What is my end goal?
I don’t see myself becoming one of those true minimalists who can fit everything they own into a bookbag. What I do want, is to completely break free of the cycle of finding joy in purchasing and owning things when that comes, at least slightly, at the expense of enjoying the people and experiences in your life right now.
My kids will probably always have way too many toys, and I’ll always have bins of cards and letters and photos, but my days of holding onto a ton of things I don’t actually need just because I don’t make getting rid of it a priority – are numbered.
So what do you think? Could you ever be a minimalist? Could you pack up everything right now and give it a try for a few days, weeks, or months? Let me know in the comments!