Learning about Minimalist Living
The idea of minimalism first came to my attention when I was reading a blog about a family who traveled around the country in just an RV. As the author raved about only having one bowl, spoon, fork, and plate for each family member, I was intrigued. I pulled most of our dishes out of our tiny cabinet in our first kitchen, stuck them in a box, and shoved the box in our second-bedroom-that-was-basically-a-junk-closet.
It WAS nice to have less dishes to wash, I decided. But a year later, we moved and had a dishwasher and we started using all the dishes again. I thought, “Well, that’s nice that some people can be minimalists or whatever, but not me.” And so the stuff in our place continued to pile up around us.
A few years later, the concept of minimalism was brought to my attention again and actually caused me to reform my slob tendencies. After years of holding giant day-long clean up sessions to get our place company-ready, I finally discovered the way to make it easier to learn to clean up after myself: HAVE LESS STUFF.
(If only I’d discovered this idea before having kids! I fantasize about how neat I would’ve kept things without someone undoing it.)
I know minimalism is a bit of a buzzword or can induce eye rolling, but I think it can be an amazing tool that’s helped me personally take control of our home and our schedules and have so much more freedom, which is why I want to share a few reasons minimalism appeals to me:
Why Minimalist Living Appeals to Me
First, though let’s get something clear: I don’t want to be a hardcore minimalist with nothing in my house, but it turns out if I aim high, I land in pretty-good land. Kind of like that saying about shooting for the moon and you might land among the stars. If I try to be a minimalist, I might not be a truly extreme one with clear surfaces 24/7, but I get rid of stuff more easily. As I strive to keep only what is necessary or beautiful, I find that my threshold for clutter and messiness continues to decrease.
It makes sense to me.
If I have a dozen pens in a cup on my desk and rifle through them to find my favorite pen every day, why not just get rid of the other pens and keep my favorite one or two? Once I started making little changes like this and seeing how much peace it gave me, for example, to not have my bathroom counter cluttered with a dozen hair products I never used, I was sold. Sign me up for more!
It saves me time.
I spend far less time cleaning, maintaining, and searching for things than I used to. And I know the more I get rid of, the truer this is. Also, I’ve found that having fewer choices in clothing saves all of us time in decision-making. I cannot believe how full my closet used to be!
My house is neater with less effort.
I hate having a messy home but cleaning up after myself also doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s a problematic combination. All those “a messy house means you love your kids!” posts make me frustrated because I cannot handle a messy house (it puts me in a terrible mood), but I also am not the best at cleaning. By having less belongings to pick up, less toys to fight with the 4-year-old to clean up, and less clothing to launder, our apartment’s resting cleanliness level is neater!
It’s budget-friendly and aligns with my values.
If I learn to not buy into the hyper-consumerist beliefs that buying stuff makes me happier or that I need to buy new clothing for every season or that I need to decorate my home to be picture perfect or that my kids need lots of awesome toys, I’m saving money. Plus, I’m stepping outside a culture that I don’t always find helpful or life-giving and hopefully setting an example for my kids to not be totally toy-hungry little monsters.
It’s not just about stuff.
Minimalist living also affects my schedule. I say no to a lot of things to give us lots and lots of downtime. No to volunteering at preschool. No to extracurriculars for my preschooler (until he asks to be in them). No to filling up our weekends with 4 different social events. I think that, at least at this stage of our kids’ lives, having lots of family time and not scheduling activities to entirely fill up our days is our highest priority.