I happened upon ‘minimalism’ by accident. I didn’t even really know it was an option. I grew up in a home filled with stuff. Boxes of photos and books, piles of papers, clothes in every closet, just so much stuff. Eventually the comments my friends would make made me realize it was strange to have boxes lining your living room walls.
As frustrated as I was with my home, I knew that this wasn’t just a situation of people and their stuff. I knew it represented so much more. My mom had inherited her parent’s belongings when they died and I knew the process of sorting through and letting go of this stuff was beyond what her heart could handle. I knew that clutter could be simple to judge, but the emotional weight that came with it was the hard part for us to process through.
And the truth of this became real to me when I started decluttering my own family home.
REALIZING HOW MUCH STUFF I HAD ACCUMULATED
One winter evening when I first cracked open a book on minimalism, it was like my eyes were opened. I was accumulating so much stuff. Not out of heartache or sentimentality, but out of boredom, consumerism, perceived need. I enjoyed shopping, and things, and having stuff made me feel like a successful adult. But I looked around at my house and saw that we were filling it with toys and gadgets and furniture that we really had no need for. It wasn’t making my life better, it was making my life harder.
I wanted it all gone.
It was hard, it sucked to physically go through e v e r y t h i n g! And it took at least one year to feel like I had really gone through my whole home enough that I could now be in maintenance mode.
ADDRESSING THE EMOTIONS I WAS ACCUMULATING (and living my life) BY
As I let go of dishes, books, clothes, electronics, art, old notes, linens, toys (so many toys) I realized that each item had an emotion connected to it. Something I bought to spoil the kids, or because I felt like it was necessary. Things I bought to fit in or to feel better. Items I bought just because this is what grown-ups bought and that was a feeling I was craving.
Decluttering allowed me to interact with these emotions I was being led by and it helped to unpack how I was living my life. This brought up a lot of tension because it wasn’t HOW I WANTED to be living.
Decluttering my home has changed not just my physical space, but how I show up in my own life as a mom, wife, woman and homeowner.
I’m going to share with you how minimalism has changed my mindsets and life from motherhood to marriage to homemaking.
How minimalism changed my motherhood
1 Empowered our family culture
As I cleared out space and removed things that I didn’t want to spend my time on, I was able to focus more on things and hobbies I like.
Because I have space now, I can do things like learn to paint and sew, or make music, or read through a little library of books I made myself. This has been important to me because minimalism has helped me see that I want to develop a family culture of CREATING over CONSUMING.
I want to show them that you can make space for creativity and hobbies, and time for them, and that the ACT of CREATING and ENJOYING is life giving.
2 Allowed me to create the ‘childhood home’ I wanted my kids to have
Minimalism helped me see that I am capable of CREATING SPACES.
And I want the spaces I create to serve my kids as well as me. I want a home where they can move and play and create and make messes. I want a home where they can bring their friends to and feel like there is space for everyone.
Before minimalism, my home was a result of living on autopilot and not putting much thought into what would be best for us, rather just doing what I think everyone else is doing in their home.
Now, we have lego stations and craft supplies in our kitchen. We have hockey and dress up and a fort in the basement. We have rooms decorated by kids with all the things they love. This is the space that is growing them as they grow in this space.
3 Gives us space to simply DO LIFE together
I’ve found that the more space we have cleared, the more space we have to DO things and have FUN TOGETHER.
We have become a family that plays a lot of games (see my faves here), plays puzzles, hangs out together and I think a big part is having the space to do this without a lot of hassle and stuff to move around
4 Fewer gifts, more experiences
I’m sure my kids would sometimes prefer I buy them more ‘stuff’ but minimalism has helped us to see all the ways we can still have fun and DO THINGS together.
Before minimalism, I would load up at the holidays of all the latest cheap plastic holiday-themed stuff I could find. Now I see that I don’t need more ‘stuff’ to entertain or delight my kids. I can DO things with them.
I am more thoughtful about what I buy them. I can buy them one meaningful thing that will last (quality over quantity). It also makes our ‘stuff’ more meaningful because when we do buy them something we focus on things that are totally into and passionate about.
How minimalism changed my marriage
1 An increase in respect
I’ve learned that I would often tap into the energy and vision my husband has for the day. I would merge my agenda with his (a type nine trait!). BUT when I decided to declutter the home, I was doing most of it solo. He was watching the kids and kinda stood back speechless that I was GETTING $HIT DONE! (aka, following through to the end!)
He told me he was proud of me, and even if he didn’t say that – I was proud of me. Taking this kind of responsibility for our space grew his respect for me and I was also showing up differently because I felt a new sense of respect for myself. I was coming into the marriage as someone who felt respect and responsibility in herself instead of looking for him to provide that for me.
2 Collaborating on the shared vision we have for our home
When our space was mainly used for storage there never seemed to be conversations about how we wanted to be intentional with the space. Rather the conversations were more about how to avoid it or how we needed to organize it.
Since we have decluttered, we take more time to get on the same page with how we want to use a space in our home. We spend more time looking for the right furniture, and how it will be laid out, and where we think it’s best to spend our money.
3 More time together, at home
Less stuff means less to clean. Yeah, we do have to spend time cleaning but things seem so much more manageable and that means we have more time to spend together.
Bonus is, we like our space so we can be in our home and enjoy our home together. I don’t feel this need to ‘get out’ all the time. I love getting cozy at home together, cuddling on the couch, lighting a candle, eating a #platterofemotions, staring out the window at trees while we drink our coffee. [Very HYGGE!]
How minimalism changed my homemaking
1 It is more manageable (but not always clean)
Minimalism doesn’t mean my home is always clean, because #westilllivehere (and if you follow me on Instagram, you will see the occasional story of my messy house with this hashtag).
I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that minimalism solves their chore problems, BUT I would pitch that it does make it easier to clean.
I know I can clean up most any space in my home in about 10 minutes….aside from my daughter’s room because she is pretty much a messy crafting gangsta. Though my parents remind me I was the same, so there is hope for her creative explosion to be ordered, one day.
2 A better FLOW for the business of homemaking
When it comes to our homes I sometimes view it as a business. There needs to be systems and services. There needs to be inflows and outflows.
Like, what is the laundry system? How does recycling move through and out of the house? Where do you put the sunscreen? Or store the batteries?
As we have decluttered we have adjusted things over time so that our home FLOWS better. For instance, we moved the recycling bins from the back porch to the laundry room. We moved the adhoc office in the kitchen to a legit one in the basement. We decided to pare down our mudroom and give every item its own home in there.
I didn’t need more storage, I needed fewer things getting in the way of I wanted to USE my home and how things could FLOW.
(And here are some of the mistakes I made when it came to organizing my home after we decluttered)
3 I am calmer in homemaking
There is a genuine emotional burden of having clutter. It is the constant nagging feeling that you have this space that needs attention. It pesters you when you are trying to relax at the end of the day. It tells you that you cannot get your life together when you close the door to a room of clutter when friends pop by.
It is always there. Undealt with.
The only way to deal with these things is to deal with these things.
Once they are done, the chatter stops and then you can relax without calling yourself lazy, or feel like people can stop by and see your house for what it is – because even if it’s not spotless at least you don’t have a basement of shame to hide anymore.
4 I reclaimed my role as homemaker
Last year I released the RECLAIM YOUR HOME course and one foundational lesson I had in that was Reclaiming Your Role as Homemaker.
We live in a culture that dismisses the role of homemaker as subservient and outdated. I think the result of this is that we have a lot of men and women who have abandoned the responsibility and joy of being a homemaker and therefore we have lost the art and knowledge of homemaking.
If you have a home to care for, you are by default, a homemaker.
And the best news is, you can make this role mean anything you want it to! To me, a homemaker is someone who creates spaces to gather and rest, someone who creates systems to run the home well, someone who brings in beauty and order.
I used to look for ways for someone else to step in and save me from my space, now I feel empowered to be the homemaker for my home.
How minimalism changed my life
1 More in control and more proactive with my life
As I went through all my earthly possessions I got a lot of practice in making decisions and taking action. This taught me that I can be someone who is in control of things rather than always trying to scramble for control.
I lived so much of my life on autopilot and being face to face with the physical manifestation of my autopilot was humbling and provoked me to make changes. I wanted to be in control of my life, not just my home.
Minimalism has made me a more proactive person, not just with my space, but with my time, my energy and my life.
(See the You Can Simplify Your Life Series right here)
Once I SAW that I could be proactive and take the driver’s seat of my home, I wanted to do it in my life – I wanted to live ON PURPOSE.
You can read all about life on purpose here, but know that it started with something as simple as me decluttering and letting that shift my views on where I could be responsible and proactive in my life.
2 Spending more time to do things that I enjoy
When I had ALL the stuff to do ALL the things, I ended up doing nothing. There were too many options. There was too much confusion.
As I deleted things from my space that I didn’t love I was left with the things I do love and the space to do them.
Before minimalism, my time was hijacked with cleaning and pinning home organization solutions. My brain was cluttered with the mental chatter on all the options I should feel obligated to consider.
Now that the chatter is gone and some space and time have freed up – I take more time in my week to do things I love. Write, read, play music, cook some soup, have coffee with someone I love, drink coffee and stare out the window at the trees.
3 I am more mindful
Minimalism makes you more mindful of your relationship with your stuff and your space. It makes you more mindful of what you bring into your space. It makes you more mindful of how you ‘use stuff’ and ‘need stuff’ – therefore also mindful of how you spend your money.
I definitely needed more mindfulness around the latter.
Putting the practice of pausing and evaluating things like this has made me all around more mindful of my daily life and daily experiences – which helps me show up and enjoy what I do have, even more.
4 I am more secure in who I am
I have shared before that I think minimalism changes your life because it is the process of unearthing who you are underneath all the stuff you accumulated in an effort to become who you thought you should be.
Minimalism allowed the shedding off of the layers. It has helped me be more in tune with who I am, what I love, what I want more of.
I accumulated all this stuff without really asking myself if it fit into the life I wanted. I realized I had a home full of stuff that didn’t represent who I was or what I wanted in life (AKA Identity Clutter).
And here is the nugget of truth that you uncover with piles of papers and college photos —– the way I was living my life didn’t represent who I was or what I wanted in life.
The biggest compliment I have had about my home is that it ‘feels like me’. My friends and family have told me they feel this way in my home and though self-expression feels woo woo and frivolous, a lot can be said for feeling like people know YOU and see YOU in all the areas of your life.
5 It made me the editor of my life
Minimalism is about your mindset. It is about actively filling your life, your schedule, your thoughts, your relationships with things that are useful and beautiful.
Before decluttering I thought I was at the mercy of the life that was thrown at me. But now I see that I can always be editing it. I can edit out what doesn’t work for me – in all the areas of my life. And this is freeing – I get to change my space, I get to change my mind, I get to keep CHOOSING what is useful and beautiful to me.
This is why I keep declaring that we can DECLUTTER OUR HOMES, HEARTS and LIVES because this is exactly what has happened in my experience.