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How ditching minimalism saved my sanity

How ditching minimalism saved my sanity

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For the last couple months, ‘minimalism’ has grown exponentially. It’s all over Pinterest, Instagram, blogs. If your office desk has more than an all-in-one computer then you’re not succeeding as a minimalist. But, as busy working parents, ditching minimalism might be the way to save your sanity.

Most extreme ‘zero waste’ minimalists act in complete opposition to the concept of ‘keeping up with the Jones’ where they ditch material items for the sake of not having an accumulation of items.

Trawling through many Facebook groups, and searching Pinterest and Instagram, I found there are so many rules associated with ‘minimalism’ and if you don’t implement each and every one, #areyouevenminimalist?

Some of the more extreme rules include only keeping 100 items in your house. My kitchen alone has 100 items and they’re all useful to me!

And how do you keep that 100 item or less if you have a baby in the house that goes through 4 sizes of clothes in their first year, on average? Trying to stick to the many rules of minimalism is a headache and a half for young families.

Why minimalism is an unattainable goal for my family

What parent doesn’t dream of a house with less clutter? How much easier would that make housework? Especially as a busy parent? How much easier would it be to implement your natural cleaning goals if you had less “stuff” to clean?

Obviously, I wanted to rid my house of excess ‘stuff’ to make my cleaning routines less time-consuming.

But while I was preoccupied with implementing minimalism and trying to clear out anything that wasn’t necessarily needed, I wasted so much more time on housekeeping … and I was hoping to save more time!

I noticed a massive downturn in my mood when I spent three months trying to achieve a Pinterest-level minimalism in my household.

But, with a three-year-old, having another baby later this year, and a husband that has several hobbies, minimalism in terms of ‘minimal material objects’ is almost impossible in my house.

How can families attain this level of minimalism and remain functional?

I was miserable trying to achieve minimalist perfection akin to those cold, styled interiors scattered all over Pinterest. And then I came to the realisation that our family home is not a display home.

Once I accepted that Konmari methods of decluttering were never going to work and that my house was always going to have more stuff in it than the Scandi-decorated apartments on Pinterest, I became happier.

So ditching minimalism was better for my mind, but what about my home?

However, what I did take away from my dabbling with extreme minimalism was that it comes from the idea of ‘living with intention’.

I found a quote on Pinterest that articulates how I feel about ‘intentional living’ better than I could.

“The goal of minimalism, let’s remember, is not just to own less stuff. The goal of minimalism is to unburden our lives so that we can accomplish more.” -Joshua Becker

To me, this means ensuring that everything we purchase or use serves a proper purpose.

We are already ‘intentional’ with our day to day purchases.

When I switched my mindset of minimalism from being about material possessions to being about a psychological and emotional ‘intention’, then I realized the benefits that an ‘intentional living’ style of minimalism could have.

But what about the clutter and chaos?

In terms of reducing our physical possessions though, something had to give. Clutter and chaos were driving me batty.

I discussed my concerns about all the clutter in the house with my husband. The root of the problem for all of our clutter comes from an accumulation of “stuff” over many years that we have not disposed of if we weren’t currently using it.

We both agree that the excess clutter was negatively impacting our moods and contributing to feelings of chaos in our house.

We both agreed we could use a clean out of excess ‘stuff’ and that we could maximise our storage potential.

Since shifting our goals to a more attainable level, we’ve been able to clear out home the excess clutter without sending ourselves batty and going without all for the sake of minimalism.

Where do you start with decluttering?

Draw a line in the sand.

What are your criteria for an item remaining in your home? What purpose does it serve? Has this item served its purpose in ‘x’ amount of time?

For my husband and I, if we hadn’t used or looked at an item since we moved into our home 4 years ago, then it clearly wasn’t important enough to keep. This was our line in the sand.

One thing that I will agree with minimalists on, it is easier to declutter based on the type of item rather than room by room.

For example, we spent an entire day going through everyone’s clothing and bagging up old, outgrown or no longer used items of clothing ready for donation, and another day going through toys.

My daughter still has many books on the bookshelf because she loves different books. We donate toys and books that she outgrows which helps keep on top of clutter.

I am also an avid reader so I reached a compromise with my husband. I am boxing up and selling/donating all of my old uni books but keeping all my fiction classics.

No more keeping my uni books for ‘just in case’. Let’s be honest… I won’t complete my law degree so there’s no need to hold on to the old textbooks.

We moved most of hubby’s collectibles to his man-cave and with the free room, we can now get rid of a whole bookshelf because my condensed book collection takes up the cube space in the lounge room (rather than an entire bookcase) where the collectibles used to live.

We also looked at the best way to set up my sewing space. I used to sew on an old pool table with a board on top to keep it level. The pool table also housed my fabric stash for projects, my work-in-progress projects and all my notions. It was a cluttered chaotic mess.

We did away with the pool table and created a work bench out of cube units and melamine table tips which had ample storage underneath so all the fabric can be out of sight. I’ve also utilised a peg board on the wall to hang sewing accessories in a neat but accessible way.

What’s next?

Now that we have a starting point in the house for keeping it decluttered and organised, we can implement systems that make maintaining and cleaning the house a breeze.

I am a strong believer that my starting point is the key to a quick and efficient housework system that helps busy parents like my husband and I.

Once the foundation of a decluttered house was laid, we spend minimal time on cleaning And we have lost the feelings of overwhelm.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start with decluttering, just remember the distinction between decluttering and minimalism.

Next, have a plan of where to start. You can download my free guide here, with categories of items and how to decide what’s staying. I’ve included a FREE downloadable checklist of items to declutter at the bottom of this post, if you need a starting point.

Once you have your plan, go for your life. Enjoy the extra energy you feel as you clean out.

I also wrote another post about what you can do to continue the momentum of simplifying your life.

Woman with her head in her hands surrounded by clutter

Have your family gone through decluttering? Where did you draw the line on what stayed and what was removed from the house?

If you’re a family have has been able to convert to a minimalist lifestyle both in terms of reducing physical possessions and the intentional living mentality, I’d love to hear your experiences on getting there and how you find your life now. Comment down below with your experiences.

Ditching minimalism

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