There is something incredibly peaceful about spending time in a minimalist space. You’re not distracted by mess or clutter or projects begging to be worked on. However, there’s something incredibly difficult about creating a minimalist space, especially when you live with a family. Today let’s discuss how you can find your inner minimalist… even with kids in your life.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism is the conscious pursuit of a more meaningful life through owning fewer material possessions. It can also include simplifying all aspects of your life. I like to think of it as carving away everything unnecessary so all that remains is what you truly need to be happy. More than just decluttering or a simple shift in physical environment, true minimalism is a lifestyle change. And it looks different for every person.
Benefits of Minimalism
Although minimalism will be different for every person, some of the benefits are universal. When you adopt a more minimalist lifestyle, you will notice you have more time and energy.
You will be more free to pursue your highest goals and your mind will be more clear and less distracted. Removing clutter from your home, your mind, and your life will leave you room to strengthen your relationships.
Picture having one book on your bedside table that you could focus on and enjoy, rather than a stack of 20 half-read volumes.
As you pare down your belongings, you will be more content and grateful for what you have and you will find yourself comparing less. Your goal will be to live a fuller life with less and not expend so much energy working for, purchasing, cleaning, and caring for stuff. So, you won’t be jealous of a neighbor who is achieving different goals.
You will save money because the less you consciously have, the less you will want to purchase.
I’ll write about this in more depth another time but what got me started in this process was a budget shortfall. We didn’t have as much money in the bank as I’d thought and I had to remove a much-desired home improvement project from our schedule. I was bummed but decided to make the most of it by reading up on less expensive ways to improve our home.
Then I stumbled across a book by Peter Walsh about financial minimalism and that sent me down a rabbit hole of reading and discovery. I’ll give you a list of my favorite books at the bottom of this post.
My first AHA! items were water bottles. Our kids were using several water bottles each week, leaving them stashed all over the house and never able to find one when they needed it.
So, I gathered up all the water bottles, stuck them in an out-of-reach spot and left one for each person in the usual cupboard. (I wasn’t ready to get rid of the extras outright and that’s okay. I’ll get there.) Now when someone needs a water bottle, we check the cupboard. If it’s not there, they have to retrace their steps and figure out where they left it. I guess the next step is developing routines to help us all keep better track of our stuff.
This was a big shift for me, deciding to keep the number of water bottles we ACTUALLY needed, rather than the number we COULD and WERE CURRENTLY using. This has been a big stress reliever for me!
What to Minimize
You can apply minimalism to any area of your life, anywhere you want more clarity and focus. Start with your possessions but this will lead you to other things.
You can minimize your schedule, your home improvement projects (do you really need new molding?), your screen time, your multi-tasking, your DVR schedule, your holiday traditions.
One of the most freeing things I minimized was my list of hobbies. I have always been interested in everything. I want to be a great musician and writer and jewelry maker and artist and seamstress and yarn crafter and dancer and and… Every single hobby comes with stuff, boxes of stuff.
The main problem is, every time I see a box of supplies from a long-forgotten hobby, I feel a pull, a tug of guilt. “Why don’t you use me anymore? You should be making jewelry. What a waste!” It zaps energy and brings down my mood.
So, I asked myself, “Which hobbies do I actually want to pursue right now?” And I let go of the rest. If I ever decide to take up cross-stitching again, there’s a craft store down the road I can hit up anytime.
Customize Your Minimalism
Do you love reading books? Do you spend a ton of quality time with your family and friends playing board games? You don’t have to give away all of your books or games. I have several shelves full of books, enough to make a dedicated minimalist gasp in horror. But I love books and reading. They are a huge part of our family culture.
I minimized my collection by getting rid of duplicates and books that we no longer enjoy or plan to read again. Then I gathered all of our favorite books and placed them on a shelf in a central area so we will actually use them. And now I think longer and harder each time I consider purchasing a new book.
Keep the things that matter most to you, that bring you joy, and get rid of the rest.
The easiest way to start your minimalist journey is to start. And start with something easy and visible. Choose a space you use often but that won’t be emotionally or mentally draining to declutter.
I started with my kitchen garden window. This space was filled with pitchers, dishes, keepsakes, crafts, and a random assortment of other junk. I spend a ton of time here, washing dishes and preparing food. And it stresses me out. There are always crumbs because it’s hard to clean under and around a bunch of clutter. Also, clutter attracts clutter. So, if my family didn’t know where to put something, the garden window of doom became a bit of a dumping ground.
I started by removing everything and I only put back items that I needed to keep there or that made the space beautiful. I love that space now and it inspires me every time I look at it.
This is a long process. It may take years for me to find the perfect balance. In the meantime, there’s something magical about having a couple of clear spaces I can look at when I’m feeling overwhelmed by this massive undertaking.
What could you minimize today to add a little more peace to your life?
Need a little extra help getting organized for the new year? Check out these other great ideas: