I’ve sat down a couple times over the last month or so to try to write how minimalism is going for our family. Every time I do, I’m not sure what to write. I wonder if I should write a how to post. Or, maybe it should be another lessons I’ve learned post.
So, I’ve settled on a random thoughts post. A rambling of what’s going on in my head with a bit of coherence? At least that’s my hope.
So here I am, 5 months into this journey towards minimalism.
Are we “Minimalists” yet?
I don’t know, maybe. I think that’s been part of whats held me back. I didn’t know if I had achieved enough to warrant another post on minimalism. I’m not an expert on minimalism. I never planned on writing about living with less and yet here I am. It’s becoming a part of who I am.
What I do know is that I’m loving living with less. Arlen is loving living with less. I’m pretty sure the kids are loving it too. I’ll have to get back to you about them. They’re all in bed right now and I don’t want to wake them to ask.
When I look back at the life of our home I would say with 100% certainly that we are living a much more minimalist lifestyle than we were 1 year ago and how do I know that?
There is more going out than coming in
I’m not a big shopper and never really have been. Plus we’ve been living extremely frugally for the last number of years and there hasn’t been a budget for mindless shopping.
But, just because we’re not actively going out and shopping, doesn’t mean that nothing is ever coming in. There are hand me downs, school papers, mail and yes thrift store shopping. I’m more aware of what I’m letting into the house.
Here’s an example from last weekend. We were visiting family for mothers day and my sister blessed us a stack of hand-me-down clothes for our youngest son. I LOVE hand-me-downs. They are truly the best. They are a great saver of the budget!
In the past I’d have taken the entire bag and then figure out what would fit and add the clothes to the dresser. Only to find out in the next month or so that some things weren’t being worn and the dresser was once again too full. It was a vicious cycle.
This time I asked our son to come and take a look at the pile of clothes. I had him try on a couple of the pants and we soon saw that some were too small. I also asked him to look at the rest of the pile and see if he liked them or not. What ever he didn’t like he didn’t try on.
What started as maybe 30 items, was quickly whittled down to about 10-15 that fit and he was excited to have in his dresser. Now my sister can bless someone else with the extra and our home isn’t overflowing with items to once again declutter.
It really was a blessing to get those clothes since our son grew so much since last summer that he had NO summer clothes!!
I’m removing surfaces that collect stuff
I’m a pile-er by nature. If there is a surface to place something instead of putting it away I will. I come from a long line of pile makers. Just because I’m a pile maker, doesn’t mean I like it. In fact piles make me frustrated and overwhelmed. I get antsy and they make me grouchy. So I am trying prevent piles before they even happen.
One way I did that was to get rid of some furniture in our living room. I got rid of a crate that was sitting next to our couch. This crate had been acting as a side table for holding your cup or coffee or tea.
But what was actually happening was that the surface (which was only 12” x 15”) always had something on it. There was a book or 3, maybe a dirty kleenex, a dirty coffee cup or who knows what else. So when you did come to sit there with a new cup of tea, there was no room. Inside the crate was no better, it was becoming the drop zone for any paper that no one wanted to put away. It was holding magazines and papers in the actual crate portion.
When I finally realized that it could be used as a night stand for our oldest son I was excited! One less surface for piling. Instead now, I use a small bar stool that sits in the corner of the living room. The bar stool is multi purpose. If Arlen or I want to watch something on the computer we pull out the stool and put the computer on it or I pull it out when I do sit down with a cup of tea. When it’s not being used it goes back to the corner out of sight!
Realizing its ok to like something and keep it
Initially when I started purging and decluttering I put a lot of focus on just getting things out the door. But I’ve come to a few items that I’ve really liked that have ZERO purpose in our home, but I still like them and that’s ok.
Like the Vintage/Antique Cream and Sugar bowl set I found at the thrift store with my Mom. Do I ever have cream and sugar in them? Nope! But they were royal blue, navy and white. I love those colours. Both Mom and I saw the colour before we clued in to what they were and I knew I needed them.
They were only $2 and I had to have them. They bring me great joy to have them sit on my island. Yes they are a decor item, but I really like them. To offset the purchase I got rid of a small pitcher I had in the cupboard that was the same size. If I need a small pitcher I’ll use the new/used blue and white one.
I think I’m growing up
Now, I realize that I’m technically an adult and I have been for quite some time, but I’m realizing I’m making more grown up decisions. Realizing that it’s ok to be different, it’s ok to like less and that it’s ok to make changes.
I love our lived in home, it feels comfortable and homey. If you stopped by unannounced I wouldn’t be embarrassed anymore at the state of it. It’s never perfect, but you give me 5-10 minutes and the upstairs can be spic and span.
I also think I’m finally living my life instead of living the life I thought I was supposed to live. I’m a homebody and love to stay at home and I finally have a home that I love to be in and it has nothing to do with the actual building. It’s about the atmosphere and how I’m feeling in the space we live.
I’m coping with stress better
This past year has been a very stressful year for our family. We decided in June 2018 that it was time to start a new adventure and we listed our house for sale. News Flash – it’s May 2019 and the house still hasn’t sold. Plus Arlen made a job switch at the end of 2018 and started January in a new job. It was a much needed change that will work with us after we move as well, but any large change like that is hard.
It hasn’t been easy and there have been days I wanted to give up. But by the grace of God we’re making it. I also know that stumbling into minimalism isn’t fate, it was meant to be and a nudge from up above.
Having less in our home for me to manage has also had a huge impact on my mental health. I didn’t realize the weight of our clutter on my mental health until I started to let things go. Every winter I go through a bit of seasonal blues or depression. Some years are good and some have been bad. I’m more aware of it now and know it will come.
I try to get outside enough to get enough light to combat it. Becoming a bus driver also helps as it forces me to get out in the cold winter every day. This winter, though, as I went through our home and let things go, each bag and box lifted weight off me. It not only lightened our home, but it lightened my mind.
So here we are 5 months in ….
It’s so worth it. It’s worth every box hauled away to lighten our home. It’s worth growing up, it’s worth clearing your mind, it’s worth letting go of the guilt. We’re worth it. You’re worth it. Let it go (bet you’re singing the song now, I know I am) because in the long run it’s all just stuff.
Here’s to the next 5 months and seeing what else we can let go!