Why I Want to Live With Less
Over the years, I’ve found that having less in my life gives me more room to enjoy things.
Less stuff in my house to clean, sort, organize – more time to do the things I want. Less “must dos” in my schedule – more “want tos” in my life. More space in my home – less chaos in my mind.
I’ve not always been a minimalist. I daresay I’m not a very good one, even now. But the older I get, the more I realize how vitally important not having stuff is to my life. The more I find myself craving the clean, open spaces minimalism has afforded me.
Now, as a mother, I find this to be more vital than ever. As much as I love and appreciate the thoughtfulness friends and family have shown in blessing my family with things, there are some things that I have no need or desire for. I want to teach my children how to recognize what true needs in life are. I want them to realize life is so much more than the latest gadget or newest toy or stuff for just the sake of having stuff.
Minimalism is more important in my motherhood than it ever was before in my life.
My Minimalism Story
It’s rare in life that we get a real epiphany moment. But for me, I can point to a moment in 2013 where I truly had that epiphany.
I was still single, living on my own, and my roommate had moved out – leaving a bunch of random stuff behind. I knew I would be moving soon, so I decided the easiest way of getting rid of everything would be to hold a garage sale (spoiler alert: this was not the easiest way of getting rid of things).
I started sorting through my belongings to decide what I would sell. I picked up a file folder rack. I’d bought it at Target. It was yellow, and it came with three hanging file folders that were blue and white, and I thought it was cute. And it was – but I had never really used it. I realized this fact as I held it. “Oh well, at least it was only $5,” I thought, as I put it in the “sell” pile.
Then it hit me – how many times had I spent “only $5”? What could I have done with that money?
As I sorted and decluttered, similar thoughts kept coming my way. I was ashamed to realize how much money I had wasted on things.
When I moved, I had whole boxes that I didn’t even bother to unpack. They went into my spare room, and a year later – when it looked like a hoarder lived there – I had another garage sale, before I moved again.
Throughout the next couple years, I continued to declutter, until I felt pretty good about my life and my house. There wasn’t a lot of extra stuff. My house was definitely minimalist.
Then I got married. And having to combine my husband and stepson’s stuff with my own was decidedly non-minimalist.
“His plates are nicer than mine so let’s keep these.” “My pots are better so we’ll keep most of those, but we’ll keep a couple of his.” “He has the better TV so we’ll put the other one in storage.”
I was horrified to watch my minimalist home get loaded with stuff. And then – add in the fact that I got pregnant shortly before the wedding and we collected all the things needed for the baby.
I felt like I was drowning in stuff but I couldn’t do anything about it. I was either too sick, too busy working, or too pregnant. It came to a head when I was in labor and had to send my parents to my house to get some frozen colostrum because I had preeclampsia and they would be putting my daughter on observation for a few hours (you can read about that here and here). After my daughter was born, my dad expressed his very serious concern for the fact that my house was dirty and crowded. I was embarrassed. Scratch that – I was mortified.
When I got home from the hospital, I started trying to slowly remove some stuff. It was hard to declutter with a newborn. When she was about four or five months old, I started really trying to get rid of stuff. Slowly, I started to accumulate things in boxes destined for the thrift store, while I reclaimed my house and my minimalism.
My Family and Minimalism
I was initially unsure about how my husband might feel or contribute to the minimalism efforts. To my surprise, he has been onboard, more so after I got him to listen to Joshua Becker’s “The More of Less” on audiobook. We make progress bit by bit. He cleaned out his shirts and his sock drawer (and accidentally got rid of too many socks). He got rid of some books. We’re working on it.
My stepson is seven, and at that age where everything is a treasure and how dare I believe otherwise. When he’s not home I clean out the various collected trash from his room. Occasionally I go through his toys with him and help him select the stuff he doesn’t play with.
My daughter is ten months, so she’s easy. She has a bin of toys in our living room. My goal is to not let the bin get too full to fit all her stuff. When she’s a little bit older, we’ll use the shelves in her bedroom instead. I’ll do a separate post about babies and minimalism.
Minimalism for me is an ongoing process. I’ve realized it will never be “done.” I’m constantly evaluating what’s in my life, and whether it’s something I actually need.
As seasons in my life change, so does my need for particular items or things. It’s normal and it’s natural. There are certain things I hope I’ll need again, and there are some things I recognize I will no longer need.
Recognizing the difference between a need and a want, stopping impulse buying – those are learned skills. I’ll go into how you get those at another time.
If you’re feeling like your house or your possessions own you, rather than the other way around, I highly recommend you consider giving minimalism a try – after all, if you don’t like it, you can always buy more stuff!