I aspire to be a minimalist.
I have watched documentaries, read books and follow people who live this way on Facebook.
My only problem? I like stuff. Yes, the same stuff that makes me want to rip every hair out of my head. The same stuff that is cluttering my house and my mind. I love shopping and clothes. (Don’t get me started on shoes!) I love decorating for different seasons. I love anything that goes in my kitchen. I love all of the stuff until I hate it because I can’t breathe.
Having kids has taken our level of stuff to a completely new level. We have a playroom dedicated to their stuff, but the funny thing is… their stuff rarely stays in the playroom. I step on it. It’s in my bathroom. It’s on the kitchen counter. It’s everywhere and that’s when I lose it and threaten to throw it all in a bag and bring it to Goodwill.
Since when do we need so much stuff? Especially if it’s making me feel the way it does. As I reflected on the stress that our stuff has caused me last spring, I decided to do something about it this summer.
First of all, I read the book “Unstuffed”. It does take a Christian perspective, but I think anyone can find very practical tips for “unstuffing” your life. I went room by room this summer and purged. If I hadn’t worn it, used it or even seen it in the past month or two, it was gone. If I had two black sweaters, I got rid of one. Two pairs of brown boots? Adios. I went through my emails and my phone and decluttered everything. It felt so good and has been much more manageable to deal with since. It took time, but it was well worth it.
We have also started a “5 minute clean up” every night before my girls get their bedtime snack. I put five minutes on our kitchen timer and we all (the entire family) pick up for five minutes. We work HARD (think running) for five minutes putting everything back in its place. It’s fun. We give each other high fives as we pass in the hall and cheer each other on and sometimes we play music. My girls (age 5) do well with it and you know what the best part is? I’m not spending my precious post-bedtime time picking up all the stuff. I can deal with the stuff when it’s in its place and I’m not stepping on it or looking at it. It only takes five minutes and when there are four of us and we are actually doing it together, it doesn’t feel like a chore. It’s been a game changer.
Finally, I’ve stopped buying so much stuff for my girls and have started gifting my time and experiences. Birthday gifts and Christmas gifts are going to be experiences. Encourage your family and friends to either buy things that your children actually need or to give them something that they can do and experience. Some toys and clothes and books are good, but we live in a society today that is telling us that we need more and more, and we don’t. It’s making me (maybe you too?) stressed and overwhelmed.
By no means am I a minimalist. NOT EVEN CLOSE. I don’t necessarily think everyone needs to live to that extreme, but I do believe that I’m starting to move in the right direction and I know it feels good. I’ve been blessed and as a white, privileged, middle-class woman I know that these are not “problems”. By taking our focus off of the stuff that our society is telling us to focus on, and directing our money, time and energy toward our family, church, community and beyond, it is my hope that we can truly see and feel what is important in this life…. PEOPLE, not stuff.
Do you aspire to be a minimalist?