I want so badly to be a minimalist mom.
I walk into my friends' houses who are rocking the minimalism thing, and feel instantly calm... and a little jealous. Their homes feel peaceful. Their faces look peaceful. I long for their peace. Everything is in its place, toy clean-up is a breeze, and their home is a real retreat from the hectic world.
But the reality is, that's just not me right now... or maybe ever.
Our house is pretty much always at least a little messy. We have clutter. And there are days when my home feels anything but retreat-like. Three kids, one dog, a full-time job PLUS owning my own business—yeah. The toys usually just stay on the floor.
But something has “clicked" for me recently and I suddenly feel this almost overwhelming urge to get rid of stuff, declutter and simplify our lives. (It probably has to do with the whole three kids, one dog, a full-time job PLUS owning my own business thing.)
And I don't think I'm alone. Motherly's Simplified Home Class has been crazy popular, and I think it's because all moms are craving what I am—a sense that I am in control of my life and home, not stuff.
So I thought I'd share a few things that are (slowly, very slowly) working for me on my quest for less—
Being careful of what I buy—home edition
If I could live in Home Goods, I would. Goodness gracious, that store. But I've started to realize that every thing I bring into my home is one more thing I have to contend with on a daily basis. So it better be worth it.
I ask myself these questions:
- Do I absolutely LOVE it?
- Do I know exactly where it will go?
- What can I get rid of by buying this new thing?
If my answers aren't good, it goes back on the shelf, and I'll tell you, I haven't regretted it yet.
Being careful of what I buy—clothing edition
Another “ooooh I want that so bad" for me is a capsule wardrobe—where you have 37 strategically selected, beautiful pieces of clothing, that all match each other, making getting dressed a breeze.
Not gonna happen.
But, I have started to adopt some of the ideas of it. I've picked out a general color scheme—for me, it's black, white, beige, blush pink and grey. I love all of those colors, I feel good when I wear them, and they all match each other.
When I buy news clothes, I try to stay within this color scheme. I occasionally stray, but when I do, I ask myself, “Does this match at least three other things I own?" If not, it's probably too complicated for my life, so I put it back.
The other clothing trick I'm trying out is saying, “Will I wear this tomorrow?" I have a tendency to buy things that I'd love to wear one day—but one day rarely comes. So if it doesn't fit into my day-to-day reality, it doesn't come home with me.
Lastly, if it's uncomfortable, I don't buy it. I have never, not once, been jolted out of bed by a raring-to-go-child and thought to myself “Oooh! I am going to put on those pants that are kinda scratchy and remind me of the last 10 pounds of baby weight I still have to lose!" I go for comfort every time. (On a related note, I need to stop buying black leggings, but that's a conversation for another day.)
Everything needs a home
Every object in my house needs to have it's own, designated home. I am working on this one, big time—it's really hard with little kids who think that the dog's bed is a perfectly good home from dirty socks, legos and completed homework.
But when I do a de-clutter sweep, I really try to put everything back where it goes. If I realize it really doesn't have a home, I either find it one (which usually means getting rid of something else), or I throw it out or donate it.
Deciding what to toss and donate
This one is really, really hard for me. I have tried to implement the KonMari method of asking, “Do I use this?" and “Does this spark joy?" But I'll be honest—it doesn't always work for me. I use a lot of the things I own (even if rarely), and I am sentimental, so a lot of things do actually spark joy for me.
So I have started asking myself slightly different questions—
“Does this make my life easier?"—I occasionally use glitter when I'm making stuff with the kids. But the day my two toddler boys found it, and sprinkled it all over themselves, my desk and the dog I realized that glitter does not, in fact make my life easier. So out it went. Parents are just so busy—the last thing we need is stuff to make our days harder (and our dogs sparklier).
“Does this spark MORE joy for me than other things I have?"—life is a spectrum, and not everything can be assigned the same value. When everything is important, nothing actually is important. Just because I really like something, doesn't mean it has a place in my home any more, especially if it de-values the things I actually love.
Pass the joy along
This one came to me while going through my kids' books. I have a really hard time getting rid of them—they represent such clear memories of cuddling my kids while reading to them and smelling their sweet heads—the best.
But then I remember that there are other kids and parents out there who can also use these books to create those memories. Knowing that these beloved treasures will become someone else's new favorite memory makes me really happy, and makes it so much easier to say good-bye.
I need to constantly remember to be gentle with myself. Simplifying is a process (and not one that comes naturally to me). I am in a very chaotic season of life right now. I need to celebrate the wins, no matter how small, and forgive myself when I decide to spend an hour watching TV instead of decluttering a closet.
I'll get there. As long as I don't go to Home Goods, ever.