I saw this quote posted on Becoming Minimalist today and it made me reflect. How true this is for me. We bought a house in the suburbs before we got married, we were picky in that we wanted move in ready with enough bedrooms for future kids….we could hardly afford it. We had extremely limited finances when we had kids, but we still felt like we needed it all, a $200 stroller, a new crib, this that and the other thing. Keeping up with the Jones’, making sure our kids didn’t miss out.
It took my illness, parenting the tornado, a year of not even really being able to afford food for the week…to start to wake me up. To realize that I don’t need to do all that, that my kids don’t need all that…that we were indeed trading in our peace and our sanity for what? To feel like we were providing. But what were we providing – a dad who worked long hours, a mom who was always stressed and sickly, sure there were plenty of good times in that period, but I look back with sadness on years that should have been full of happy memories.
Nearly a year ago we started to really try and simplify in an effort to reconnect with what mattered, – 9 months ago we found minimalism, and it has changed my outlook dramatically. I don’t care anymore if my kids are not in multiple activities – they are each in one thing (well the 3 year old’s is preschool) and I now value attachment and free play that they get to do at home as super important. I don’t feel the need for them to have every toy they ask for (or even a tenth) because I have seen how much better they play when they don’t have more then a few.
Life feels more manageable, my chronic health issues are on a back burner instead of what dictates my every waking moment, we are able to sit down and evaluate how we are doing as individuals and as a family because we are not constantly on the go and we are home enough that we have time with each other to realize when something is going on. Sure we would probably do more if we had the money, but we don’t…and honestly I don’t miss doing more or having anymore anyways…the quest now is for peace, hope, attachment, and healthy relationships….the money and the stuff – they are just a tool to be used to strive towards those goals and if they don’t edify the family, then they are not worth pursuing or spending money on.
Its been six months since we started to get rid of stuff. So much great has come out of this ‘experiment’ that I no longer feel like its an experiment. I know it works. I know this is how I want to live the rest of my life. That said – like all good things in life – you have to work at it.
I have noticed that as long as I don’t go to a store, we are good, but if I need to grab something at a store I don’t usually go to – I still come home with a cute dress for the little or shoes I only sort of needed. This still needs work. To be fair I am better at not buying every cute dress and the one i bought was 2 sizes up in a size we don’t have anything in yet. And I have been wanting the type of shoes for probably close to year. since my last ones of that style were done.
I also noticed I am a lot better at getting rid of things that are too big or too obvious to hide – stuff that is in boxes….feels like its too much work to pull out at sort. I still have not finished projects that I said that once I finish I will get rid of all the things that go with it….
Birthday parties have been successful with curbing buying to things that are indeed needed or are very thoughtful gifts….but maybe its because I am cheap – I cant bring myself to get rid of the extra party plates/napkins etc so we have 3 whole boxes of mishmash party food related paper and plastic. Anyone having a party and want paper plates???
The house has been far easier to clean and I love living in it again. This has helped a lot with feeling like I can be the parent my kids need – but simple summer is about to wear me down! I thought it would be a good thing to build in time to be at home, but the kids are on each other night and day – feeling like our minimal back yard is a bit too small right now.
We are getting there – but it isnt overnight that you can declutter a whole house AND change a entire families mindset and 6 months in I would say we are 80% there, but that last 20% is the hardest and the hardest to stay motivated for.
Have we missed our stuff??? Not at all, and finances have been a bit easier, and dear husband is able to take a vacation for a week – for the first time since our honeymoon 5 years ago.
I’m really curious this time around if I picked the right 33 and if I have too many sweaters and not enough pants… but I wear sweaters with everything and wear the same bottoms most days…
3 tunic/long tops
7 sleeveless tops
4 short sleeve tops
4pairs of shorts
Not brave enough yet to include shoes or accessories. My purge pile was a lot smaller this time around, which tells me I kept the right stuff when I did my big closet purge back in February.
I started this blog to document a journey.
Here a few things I have noticed since beginning to de-clutter and subscribe to a simpler life:
– I have more energy; which means my house gets cleaned more often, new or fun activities are no longer put off for fear of mess or time, I am able to be more present with my children, I can give more energy to my business, I can do more then just the bare minimum in a day, We have way more family time, I even sometimes have the energy to get outside and walk – which with a chronic illness that has robbed me of so much the past 2 years, is incredibly freeing.
– My home feels like a place of peace and rest instead of a jail
– I feel less guilty about what I can’t provide…and prouder of what I can
– I fight with my husband less (not don’t we are still married – but less.) and we can spend evenings together instead of spending them putting stuff away.
– My kids rooms don’t feel overwhelming
– its easier to see what we do need and what we really don’t.
– my daughter takes naps once in a while again (since there are no more toys to play with)
– my room feels like an escape (even with its not finished state)
– The TV is no longer the focal point of our living room (we downsized to a smaller screen!), which has cut down on the kids asking to watch it a LOT! Which in turn means everyone is in a better mood when the kids are not TV zomgrumpies.
– We can find things!
– We don’t need a second vehicle just to go away for a weekend (ok so that might be an exaggeration, but we went from everyone having their own suitcase for a 3 day trip to mom and both kids being able to share a carry on our last weekend trip! That said we did have to do laundry while away…. maybe 2 suitcases will be the happy medium!)
– My kids fight less, and play together more.
– My kids are more creative in their play – even the one with processing challenges that never showed any sign of imagination and very little ability to play independently until this past December now pretends all the time!
If this list doesn’t make you want to go purge another room….there is something wrong with you. I’m joking of course but in all seriousness, I started on this journey to try and reduce stress – and am amazed at all these amazing benefits that have been added to our life along the way!
We went away for Easter this year. Other years we have had a Easter hunt at home full of candies, then another Easter hunt at church for more chocolate and then some time with the family who typically give them more then they even know what to do with. This year we went to the lake, and didn’t buy any candy, a last minute hunt was suggested by the grandparent generation but with not much on hand the kids searched the yard for just a handful of pieces of chalk, kinder eggs and bubbles pooled together from what the adults had around- and it was the first Easter Hunt to date that no one was in tears by the end over something. Lesson learned: Less overwhelm, less sugar, less expectations and less stuff made for a far more memorable and meaningful day.
I just started reading this and love it. The past month I have become very aware how much the bible addresses “stuff”… more often then not you can find Jesus telling people to sell thier stuff, give it away, give it to the poor, to store up treasure in heaven.
One thing I love about God is all the things he asks us to do not only store up treasure in heaven but are also always things that help us live the healthiest most meaningful life on earth. It’s no wonder Jesus preached a minimalist lifestyle even before overabundance was so prevalent. When our eyes are on God rather then our possessions we can be freed of needing to fulfill the craving of stuff -which does nothing but steal our time and joy..freed to love people and to treat our body as the temple and all those other things that we know intuitively are healthy and also backed up by scripture.