My journey to minimalism came as much of a shock to me as my family and friends. I like shiny new things just like anyone. I enjoy shopping and never thought much of it. But then, life shifted, and I revisited my view. A couple years later, and the journey continues. I took an online course on minimalism with a friend, and I dug deep into being uncluttered. Here are some tips I’ve learned:
1. Minimalism does not mean getting rid of everything you own
If you were to imagine an uncluttered life, you would think of clean and clear spaces, indeed. But the word minimalism implies only having one fork or two shirts. Not true. A minimalist life means to only possess things that bring value or use to your life. Purging things I held onto because of guilt (but it was a gift! I should use it!), wanting to be someone you are not (I should make my own jam, so I will keep the canning kit I never use), or keeping things just in case (danger zone here — this one is hard!) are all ways of helping you clear the stuff and learn who you really are.
2. Simplicity breeds creativity
Once I cleared the toys and playroom of the unnecessary, I noticed my girls were able to play more. Their imaginations had more space to flourish. Same thing with our closets and other spaces. Having less of everything means fewer choices, and making choices is a stressful experience. By having less, there is more room for what matters — being together, and being imaginative and creative.
3. Less means more breathing
Obviously, it is easier to clean a house that has less stuff, but this goes for wardrobes, toys, and schedules (and more!). Less of these allows for more creativity and space to breathe, enjoy, and reflect. Capsule wardrobes (mine is larger than most, and I am cool with that), boredom, and simple schedules allow for memory making and creativity. An uncluttered home means an uncluttered mind.
4. Simplicity is a practice
Just like yoga or meditation, simplicity is a practice. We need to work on this often, because the journey of being uncluttered is ongoing. When other moms are signing their kids up for a class a day, or there is a new amazing sale at my favorite store, it is time to breathe. By being a bit choosier instead of jumping into everything, there is a thoughtfulness and deliberate approach that is more grounding and joyful. With an influx of books, gifts, and toys coming in this holiday season, there is an opportunity to teach our children, too. We try to declutter and donate together and find ways to value what we do have.
5. See what really matters.
When I cleared what I didn’t need or want, I saw more value in what I have. Kim John Payne, the author of Simplicity Parenting, reminds us that, “In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trips to Disneyland, but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.”