When I began to look into the concept of minimalism, so many characteristics about it intrigued me. But one thing that has essentially defined minimalism for me is something that kept popping up in the minimalism Facebook pages I was following – there really is no defining minimalism! Doesn’t make sense at all, does it?
People kept bringing up this topic all the time. Are you a minimalist if you do this? Or that? Or there would be backlash against those individuals who didn’t seem to totally “represent” minimalism. And through it all and through my own personal beginning of becoming my version of a “minimalist”, I learned a valuable understanding of the term.
After all, it’s just a word. And as with so many words, our interpretation of that word is was gives it meaning, gives it power, in our life. For some, minimalism is a state of living with the bare necesseties and nothing more..even to the point of giving it all up and living from their trailer/camper/RV style homes (to be honest, this is actually a silent dream of mine!). For others, it’s minimizing their personal belongings in the home, to declutter their house and of all the “needed” items that society claims we have to have. Minimalism is the quest to simplify your life from anything and everything that makes it chaotic, cluttered, and/or lacking contentment. This isn’t just for materialistic items, by the way; it can involve your work life, kids’ activities, and essentially whatever takes away from a peaceful existence.
This concept intrigued me. Who doesn’t want less chaos in their life? For me, I looked around my home and had just HAD it with picking up toys, baskets of laundry in my living room, dishes overwhelming the kitchen counters, and my kids’ rooms being active minefields! I knew things had to change. A friend added me to a minimalist page in FB and thus began my journey to declutter and minimize our home and life!
I will warn you: when you make this choice, you will be overwhelmed and will have no idea where to begin. You will want to have your whole house done and sadly, it doesn’t work that way. There are books and forums that go into how you can declutter your home. What I found helpful was to address the areas that bothered me the most: clothes, toys, kitchen, and rooms. These were the areas that impacted my daily life and I found were frustrating me the most. Any spare moment I had, I used to work on my “project”.
My first big overhaul was my kids’ current clothes. I went through their laundry, cleaned everything, and then went through their drawers. I went off of the following numbers for their clothing items:
- 5-7 pairs of jeans/pants
- 5-7 pairs of shorts
- 6-8 short sleeve shirts
- 6-8 long sleeve shirts
- 2-3 sweatshirts
- 5 PJs
- 6-8 dresses/church and/or school outfits
- Shoes: 1-2 tennis shoes, 1-2 church shoes, 1 sandal
What an amazing difference this made in my laundry and their room! And they didn’t miss any clothes that “found a new home”. Plus, I was able to declutter their room further by organizing their clothes in a certain way. You can read about how I did that here.
My clothes were next on the “hit list” and this was more challenging. How was I supposed to get rid of clothes I’d had for years? (yes, I do mean years) I came across a suggestion in my research that helped me along. The suggestion was this: if you had a piece of clothing in front of you and it didn’t give you a sense of joy, toss it. It seemed like such a silly thing, clothing giving you joy. But as I dug through my bins of clothing, I found myself returning to that thought. I had some memories that were attached to certain clothing items, while others had no meaning for me. And this concept assisted me in my minimizing and really helped me narrow things down. I know other strategies consist of various methods, like boxing up all your clothes for a month and seeing what you pull from that box. For me, it’s been easier to minimize as I go…I did my initial sweep through and find that I just continually pick out the clothing that either just doesn’t fit right or that I find really doesn’t serve a purpose for me (presently, there’s a box sitting in the study being filled with items to donate on a daily basis!).
I have since gone through other areas, which I’ve written about (and will write about!) in other blog entries. The second biggest one next to clothes, as a mom raising little kids, was hitting the basement – better known as the toy room. The dreaded area of the house that seems to take in a life if it’s own and grow continually. That’s been a truly learning experience for me that I will post about later.
In the last few months or so, I have easily packed up 50+ garbage bags of stuff. In fact, it’s probably closer to 75. Good grief! How does one even accumulate that much (unneeded) stuff?! Well, in a family of 5, about to be 6, in a period of 9 years, plus all the individual stuff couples bring into a marriage..quite easily! And I probably have 20 or more so bags in the basement alone – I haven’t found the time or energy to tackle THAT monstrosity! We get so used to living with all these unnecessary items around us, that it’s easy to not realize just how overwhelming it’s become. Until the day comes that you do!
Any attempt to declutter and minimize your environment should be applauded. It is not an easy journey; I can attest to that. Make achievable goals. Decide what bothers you the most and tackle those areas first. From there you can branch out and clean up other areas of your home. You won’t regret it… especially when the kids are finally in bed and you sit down at last on your couch to have a bit of peacefulness before falling into bed – sans laundry!
What areas in your life do you want to minimize? How has minimizing helped you in your day to day living?