Today’s post is from my sister Kate! She’s been moving towards a slower way of life, and I wanted her to share some of her tips that she’s learned along the way. Turns out, more stuff doesn’t make us happier. In fact, we are both learning that minimizing can actually uplift and restore us, and help reduce some of the overwhelm from our life. Be sure to click the link at the bottom of the post to join her free course on Slow Living, which will teach you more about minimal living!
Stuff. We all have it. Clothes, pots & pans. Some of us complain that we have too much, & don’t know where to put it all. Some love to organize their stuff in colored bins with matching labels, while others cram it into drawers & cupboards… out of sight, out of mind. Out attics are full, our garage won’t fit a vehicle. Some of us even buy extra space in the form of portables sheds or mini-storage units.
But… do we really need ALL The Things? When Hubs & I downsized from a single-wide trailer into our tiny home, my journey towards minimalism began. I didn’t even know it. All I was doing was clearing out stuff as I packed, because I knew that storage was limited. I didn’t want to fill the house to overflowing. The more I have looked at my “stuff”, the more I question. “Why did I buy this? Do I still love it? Is it useful?” Somehow, in the course of a year, I’ve become a minimalist.
So… what exactly is minimal living? I can tell you what it isn’t: Minimalism isn’t an empty house, with no artwork, or decor. It isn’t sleeping on hard beds like monks, or only wearing one style of clothing for the Rest of EVER. Minimalism isn’t about depriving yourself of everything that brings you joy. Minimalism is basically this:
You only keep the things in your home that you need, that bring you joy, or are incredibly useful.
When you have less to clean, pick up, or vacuum around, you have MORE TIME. More time to do what you love. To write a book. Play with your kids. When your home has some white space, you can breathe a sign of peace when you come home from work, instead of feeling immediately stressed by the amount of toys covering the floor. Minimal living is about focusing in on what really brings you (& your family) joy. If you family loves going camping, then Keep. The. R.V. But if you camper is full of gameboys & TV’s that have your kids glued to them… then the technology needs to go. If you love to cook, but the cupboards are so full of mis-matched plastic that your baking sheets are MIA… then it’s time to minimize.
When you begin to clear out, you will find that your home is more peaceful. That your kids begin to play with each other, & stretch their imaginations & skills. You will begin to find margin, rest, & peace in your own mind. It really does effect everything in your life THAT MUCH. Are you ready to try minimalism yet?
Here are 5 STEPS that you can take right now to help you begin with minimal living:
Find your Question(s):
When you are clearing out, you need to ask yourself some questions about items as you clean. I tend to be all about form & function when it comes to clearing, so my go-to questions are: “Is this useful?” or “When was the last time I used this?” If it’s something more decorative, I ask “Do I still love this enough to dust it?” Some people as if an item brings them joy, others ask if they want it enough to keep storing it.
Set Aside 15 Minutes:
Usually the beginning steps of minimizing are extremely overwhelming. If the task of sorting through EVERYTHING is sending you quivering to the couch with a bowl of ice cream (because, comfort food)… then just start with 15 minutes. Chances are, you’ll find yourself enjoying the task & won’t want to stop. Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day, & you certainly can’t declutter it in one, either!
Start With Your Nemesis Area (or Room):
For moms, this is often the toy room. Did you know that kids play better with LESS toys? It’s so easy to think they need all the latest gadgets, but toddlers are happiest with an empty box & some sticks. If your nemesis area is the plasticware under the sink, or the mountain of old medicines in the bathroom cabinet… start there. I started with the toy area. Nowadays, the kids have a toy kitchen, a toy work bench, & one basket of a bigger “set” of toys (blocks, trains, etc). The other large sets are stored out of reach. They also have a bookshelf of books, & a basket for smaller extra toys, baby dolls, & a few trucks. The extra basket tends to accumulate little trinkets like toys from Chick-Fil-A that I sort through once a month.
When You Finish, FINISH.
What I mean is this: if you sort through your kids clothes, & leave the bag sitting on the floor… they’re going to find it. And dig through it, & decide they CANNOT LIVE without the shirt with holes in it, & the outgrown one that is above their belly button. You’ll do the exact same thing in a few days. When your timer dings, gather the things to donate, & put the bag in your trunk. Take all the trash, & put it in the OUTSIDE trash can. (The one that stinks really badly, so you don’t ever want to go digging through that bag again!) When you’re finished sorting, FINISH.
Don’t Get Rid of What Isn’t Yours:
I know I talked about sorting through your kids toys & clothes. When they’re little, it’s fine to sort it yourself. But don’t go through your pre-teen’s precious items, because you will start World War 3. You know you’re husband’s sports memorabilia is off-limits. For kids that are old enough, get them involved in the process. Tell that that any toys they donate will go to kids that don’t have a lot. Instill a heart of giving from a young age, & stuff won’t mean very much to them when they’re older. If you have a reluctant spouse, don’t push him. Minimalism is a very catching idea. Most likely, you’ll find him sorting through his own things once he’s seen the effect minimal living has had on you, your family, & your home!
The process of sorting through years worth of gathering, impulse buying, & stuffed cupboards isn’t going to happen overnight. Give yourself some grace. Find ways to enjoy the process, such as putting on your favorite music, or putting some essential oils in the diffuser. If you’re not sure about an item, you don’t need to decide on everything right then. Tuck it away, & you may find it again in 6 months & be more ready to make a decision. I’ve purged every area in our home at least 2 times, & I’m planning on a third round in my craft area soon!
Are you interested in learning more about minimalism & slow living? Click below to join Kate on her free course on Slow Living, including some more basics on minimalism!