About a year ago, a friend started telling me about minimalism. She’d found minimalism because she was “tired of all of the stuff, always picking up the stuff, and feeling overwhelmed… by the stuff.” She said that minimalism was taking away the feeling of overwhelmed and giving her more time to be a mom.
I shared that same feeling, but even though I was happy for her, I was hesitant to try it for myself, because… I liked my stuff. Minimalism sounded negative. It just sounded like less: less stuff, less fun, less shopping (eek!), and less life. I would look at pictures of minimalist houses, and they looked like sad, empty hotel rooms. It didn’t look like a lifestyle I was interested in. I put that idea on the back burner for a while and decided to accept the fact that with two young kids, a messier house and chaotic lifestyle was just my season of life for now.
Then another friend recommended a book called The More of Less, by Joshua Becker, and my life started to change. I found out that, while minimalism does indeed mean less (less clutter, less wasted time, less spending, and less stress), it’s most importantly about more (more time, more space, more fun, and more life)!
I started to get rid of the things that were not being used or were not adding to my life; things that were just taking up space. I donated my items to a local, reputable donation center, and as my donation piles grew, my own clutter and stress began to shrink.
Then, I started following Allie Cassazza, a minimalist mom and blogger, who has some great tips on minimizing toys and other household clutter. She found that with less toys, her kids actually spend more time playing and less time making a mess! I started with toys too, and was shocked to see how much more time less toys added to my day. I signed up for Allie’s online course, and decided it was time to choose life over stuff.
After several months of decluttering my home, I don’t know if I can say I am a minimalist, yet, but I am embracing a minimalist lifestyle, and it is so good! Minimalism is not a magic wand, but it is the closest thing I have found to magic when it comes to lightening my load as mother. Here is how my life has changed, and why I want all of my friends to try it.
My house is tidier.
This is the first benefit I noticed. As I started to get rid of the things we weren’t using, there was naturally less to pick up. My kids used to make a mess faster than I could move a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer. But, now that there are less toys and household items they can get into, there isn’t as much for them to make a mess with. And, now that we are intentional about only keeping the toys that are actually played with, they spend more time actually playing with their toys and less time making a mess out of boredom.
My house is cleaner.
I have more time to clean now, since I spend less time picking up. I am also able to complete cleaning tasks in about half the time, with less to move around while I clean. When there are only one or two items to move (instead of tens) when wiping down the counters or cleaning the floors, these are just quick painless chores.
I feel better about myself as a mom.
As a stay-at-home-mom, it’s like I live inside part of my report card. Living surrounded by mess made me feel like I was failing at that part of motherhood. For me, it’s easier to focus on the things that need improvement than the things that I do well. Now that I have the area of housekeeping sorted out (because it isn’t hard anymore), I am spending less time worrying that I am “failing” at the things that don’t really matter, and more time devoting myself to things that do!
I am spending less.
I went to Target last week, and I didn’t buy anything other than what I went in for. This is HUGE. I used to drop one to two hundred dollars at Target without even trying on stuff I “definitely needed.” But, minimalism has taught me what I actually need, and that leads to less money spent and more in my children’s college savings accounts. I have learned that with every item that comes into my house, I am not only spending money, but it also costs me time. Time picking it up, maintaining it, cleaning it, etc. Every item will take away from my time, and even if it seems minimal, it all adds up. Now that I am considering whether each item I purchase is worth my time, I just want less.
I have more time for my kids.
Less time cleaning, means more time: playing, observing, going on fun outings, and teaching! We now find time to bake, do sensory activities, and crafts… the kinds of things I thought only cool Pinterest moms had time for regularly. We are going to the zoo, the museum, and trying new places I wouldn’t have had time for before. We have time for fun now, my kids love it and so do I.
My children are learning valuable life lessons.
I am teaching through example to find joy while living with less. My kids are learning that happiness comes from connection and experiences, rather than stuff. They still have more toys than they need, and they still receive birthday and Christmas presents, but we are learning together how to find our joy in nonphysical things. They may grow up and choose another lifestyle, and that’s okay, but I am teaching them how to seek happiness from things of value, and that feels good to me.
Minimalism is changing my life and my motherhood. It has taken away my overwhelmed feelings and given me joy instead. I know it can be scary and hard to get rid of stuff, but for me, the results have been well worth it.