Let’s be honest.
-You spend a lot of your time searching for things.
-You often go swimming in your sea of a closet to find something to wear, but you always feel that you don’t have anything that you like.
-You wish you could do less laundry.
-You wish your kids could JUST keep their rooms clean.
-You often organize sections of your house in hopes of making things easier, but you find that it just doesn’t work. Not for long anyway.
If any of these things ring true for you, then you’re just like my family.
In a family of 11 people ages 39 to 11 months, collecting stuff becomes pretty easy. Imagine: clothes, shoes, books, toys, birthday presents, Christmas presents, and all the other random things that a person manages to collect times 11.
Yeah. Not fun.
So after years of cleaning, organizing, straightening, just trying to keep things tidy, crying, etc., we figured that there has got to be a better way.
It all started again when my mom first began sending me minimalist pins on Pinterest. My first thought was “heck no. I’m not throwing away my clothes. I’m not going to be one of those weird people that walk around wearing the same thing every day.”
But she kept sending me articles, pictures, ideas, quotes, stories, etc. and it eventually began to grow on me.
She knew that I disliked having to clean up my stuff all the time. It wasn’t that I disliked cleaning in general. Sometimes I actually enjoyed organizing and straightening things. It was just frustrating to keep having to put the same things back in the same place every single day.
It got old after a while.
The idea of minimalism sounded so appealing. Less stuff, more time. It made sense. I didn’t have to get rid of anything that I loved. I just had to get rid of all the things that I didn’t love. I wasn’t going to miss anything.
All the minimalist journeys that I read about sounded so…freeing. The individuals would go from tons of junk to having only a backpack full of things.
I loved it.
There is really only one rule for minimalism:
“Keep only what you need or love.”
So before you dismiss the thought of getting rid of stuff, think about it this way:
“The best way to de-stress your life is to get rid of the things that you don’t like or need.”
If you’re like my 10 year old sister and claim that you “like everything” and therefore don’t want to get rid of anything, that’s fine. If you dislike the thought of getting rid of things more than you dislike the thought of having to keep organizing and cleaning your house, (or if you just don’t mind living in a cluttery house) then you don’t need to change anything. Minimalism is for those people that are looking for a way to simplify their lives and find a way to devote more time to things that matter.
With that being said, here are the top 6 reasons why I want to be a minimalist.
1. Stuff stresses me out
Walking into a cluttery room just drains my energy. (Not judging other people’s house. My own.) I need things to be gone. I need open space, air to breathe, room to stretch out. It really feels so freeing and relaxing to be in a clean, tidy area. For years, I would just organize my closet really well to give the appearance of a clutter-free life, but deep down, the clutter was still there. So over time, as things would become less organized, there was all the same stuff again. Haunting me. Waiting for me to try to organize it all again.
Cleaning my room. Again. This is pretty much all I ever do. I don’t even like most of this stuff. Frustrated, I once again began shoving everything to the center of my room. I then reluctantly began putting everything back in its place. After a while, I didn’t know what else to do. I still had a big pile of stuff left that didn’t have a place. So, my 9 year old self found a box, put everything in it, and shoved it far beneath my bed.
I didn’t find that box again until a couple of years later. I was once again cleaning up my room. When I found the box, I smiled because I remembered putting it under there. My 11 year old self thought “meh. I haven’t missed any of this.” And I put the whole box and all of its contents in the trashcan.
It felt freeing, too. That much less stuff to deal with.
2. Stuff has to be organized and cleaned
Does anyone *really* like cleaning? I mean is anyone ever like “Oh, I just can’t wait to get home to clean up my junk. I know all the clutter is waiting for me, and it just gives me joy to put it back where it goes. Especially when it was probably someone else that messed it up.” I honestly hope not. I like it after the fact, but not in the process. I like cleaning things—as in wiping off counter tops, cleaning mirrors, and sweeping floors, but I just really don’t like organizing things—especially if it’s a lot of things that I don’t like. I’d rather throw it away.
So, I finally determined that I would do it. I would pare down my belongings until I had only the things that I loved or used on a regular basis.
After all, I pretty much wore my same favorite things every day anyways. Always some variation of skinny jeans, and a T-shirt. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad..
I had a closet full of books, shoes, craft supplies, birthday cards, and of course, clothes. I really didn’t have a lot of stuff compared to most people. I just knew that I had too much for me. I needed to figure this out while my life was still easy. (still single, living with my parents, etc.)
After reading and reading, I finally learned what it really means to live minimally.
William Morris said “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
I found that the first step that I had to take toward minimalism was to get rid of the clothes that I never wore. I dug through my closet, my dresser, my shelves, and got rid of several big trash bags of stuff. This was the initial decluttering time. It was just like scratching the surface to see what else was there.
After a few days, I still felt like I was digging through everything I didn’t like to find what I wanted, so I grabbed another trash bag and filled it, too.
I also tossed all my old school assignments. Tossing school assignments was probably the toughest thing I did. All the work I did all throughout high school got dumped in the trashcan. But, it was time to move on; those assignments were just taking up space.
There were some things that I literally put in the garbage, but most stuff I donated to Goodwill or another local thrift store. If you aren’t using it, give it to someone else that needs it.
3. I don’t like swimming through clothes and junk to find what I need
I think out of the 10 other people that I live with, I am the one that loses stuff the easiest. Like I’m constantly looking for my shoes, my school book, or anything else that I need when I am in a hurry. Since I have gotten rid of so much stuff, I still lose things, but not as often as I used to. (Like last week I lost my shoes 2 days in a row. I usually blame someone else in the family for moving my things, because they do. But if I would just put it back where it goes, then they wouldn’t ever need to move it…) and it’s not like I’m an air head (okay sometimes I am.), it’s just that I always have so much going on in my head that I don’t focus on the little things. I like life to move at a fast pace, but with that, some things have to go. So, for me, having very few things is what works.
Right now, I have just 120 belongings. That includes clothes, shoes, jewelry, belts, books, my camera, laptop, purse, backpack– everything that I would take if I moved out today. I got rid of all the makeup, hair products, and accessories that I don’t use on a weekly basis. And I still feel like I have too much. I would like to get to under 100 belongings, but for now, this is what I am going with.
With very few belongings, I can always find what I am looking for. I don’t have to dig through my dresser for clothes, because I got rid of my dresser. Everything fits in baskets on my closet shelves. I have 14 hangers on my side of the closet, and all of my jewelry fits easily on a jewelry tree.
Life is good.
4. Stuff steals my time
Personally, I like people more than I like things. I would rather own little and use the extra time that I have to devote to helping my family or studying for school. Stuff takes up a lot of time. Since I have gotten rid of all my excess things, I really don’t spend any time cleaning my room, and it always stays clean. All I have to do is wash my laundry and put it away and sweep my floor.
As for the rest of my family, they’re doing the same things I am doing. My 15 year old brother probably has even less than I do. He and I are very much alike and always dream of owning our house and putting practically nothing in it. We just love negative space and a stress free life. We also often plot to get rid of more stuff while the others in our family aren’t looking. But it usually doesn’t work because somehow mom is always watching. 😉
We have gotten rid of SO MANY books. Books that either we’ve already read, don’t like, or just don’t need. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a TON of books (after all, we’re a homeschool family. we’ve got to learn somehow.), but our book shelves are so much less cluttery and this makes me happy.
We have gone through our kitchen multiple times to get rid of the dishes and things that we never use. Having little in the kitchen makes it so much easier for little people to help. They don’t feel overwhelmed when they go to put dishes away because there is always a place for everything.
Hand-me-down clothes are another area that big families struggle with. I would say to toss it all, but mom often points out that it is wiser to keep clothes for the next child in line. The tops of our closets are lined with “fall for Ella” or “Elizabeth next”. Mom, unlike me, loves organization (her closet is color organized. I don’t understand it.), so she keeps all things neat and orderly. As soon as one kid starts growing out of their clothes, all we have to do is pull down their next box and replace their old clothes with new. This saves so much time and energy.
5. Minimalism saves money
Since starting minimalism, I really haven’t spent money on anything other than my henna hair color and school textbooks.
I used to buy a t-shirt, some make up or a pair of shoes at least every week. Now, the last time I bought something for my closet was in March when we went to Missouri and I forgot my shorts. Before that, I don’t remember.
You also save money because you realize what you have. We recently discovered that we own three different air mattress pumps. We didn’t know we had one, so we bought another..and another. Minimalism allows you to keep an inventory of everything you own and you always know what you have.
One of my favorite things to do with the saved money is to travel. I haven’t done it yet, but I plan to. Think about it! Less clutter because you didn’t buy anything, and then you get to go on vacation because you have the money because you didn’t waste it on something that you didn’t need.
Who doesn’t want to save some moolah?
6. Lack of stuff gives me more time to devote to things that are important to me
The more we get rid of the stuff that we don’t need, the more we are finding that we have more time to do other things.
I think we create more work and chaos for ourselves by giving into the consumerism in America and continuing to add things to our homes.
Through this experience, I learned that to figure out what I need, I just need to sit down and be honest with myself. If I had not worn or used something in the past year, tossing it was no question. It is now that I am down to the things that I actually use on a monthly basis that I am stuck. It is easy to start, but harder to finish.
Living minimally doesn’t mean that you’ll suffer want because of how little you own. I think all of us have plenty of stuff that we don’t even want. I started by getting rid of those things and it was a lot easier than I thought.
The idea is to eliminate the excess. This is going to look different for every person. There is no straight rule that every person must follow except this:
keep only what you need or love.
One of the main ideas of minimalism is to live simply.
I long to live simply.
Most of the people in our society are obsessed with the idea that they need more and more to be happy when the Bible makes it clear that more will not make us happy. Jesus told the rich man that he must sell all that he had and give the money to the poor in order to follow Him. This story can very much apply to our lives. We so often let our stuff get in the way of living for Jesus. If you are so focused on housework, like my family used to be, think about all the time that you are losing that could instead be spent with your children. God gave us children to raise, lives to live and things that He wants us to do for His glory. Are you allowing stuff to replace that?
Store up your treasure in heaven, not here on earth and you just might find that your life is so much freer than you could have imagined.
America, consumerism, and materialism are telling you that all you need to be happy is more. More clothes, more shoes, more movies, more technology, just more everything.
I want to challenge this notion. Less is better.
Like Johnny Cash once said, “Every possession is just another stick to beat yourself with.”
I want my life to be full of adventures, people and relationships, not things.
**And before anyone thinks that our life is perfect, let me make this clear: our house still gets messy. So we still have a long way to go. But we’re getting there. One donated bag at a time.