Minimalism: Should You Jump On the Bandwagon?

I tend to have a hard time relaxing in my home because I know that there is always something that has to be done (laundry, dishes, tidying up, trying to decorate, re-organizing a closet that's exploded)...it never ends. And I know I'm not the only woman who's felt that way.

How has this happened to us? We were not meant to be slaves to our stuff or stressed out by our homes. Womanhood should not be defined by the messes we've cleaned up or the chores we've completed.

Most moms and women I know fall into two categories: One, women who stress about keeping their homes neat and tidy, staying on top of laundry and dishes, and can't stand a mess anywhere - but are always cleaning. Two, women who have decided that other things are more important than cleaning/tidying, and their homes are complete wrecks in favor of having fun and making memories.

Me? I'm determined not to fall into either category. I want to have a comfortably spacious home that is generally clean and takes minimal maintenance, without me being an obsessive organizer. (Isn't that the dream?)

So how do we escape the rat-race that is our homes? Is minimalism the cure-all to this stress-clean-tidy cycle? Or is minimalism just a fancy name for a decorating trend? 
I personally have always loved the idea of being a minimalist. I covet those open, clutter-free spaces that seem to bring such a relief to the mind. Those neat and tidy areas that leave you free to focus on one thing at a time, instead of being bombarded with details.

But getting to that point in life has always eluded me. No matter how much stuff I give to goodwill or throw away, no matter how much I try to organize my things neatly, there is always more. Always too much stuff and never enough time to take care of it.

I've decided I don't have time for any of that anymore. I'm turning minimalistic - in a way. There is no special secret. No intense organizational skills or superwoman-sized willpower required. All that is needed for you to decide that you want your life to change...and then you have to be willing to go for it.

You can relax and be freed from housework. You can have time to have a hobby or a goal or a dream again. You can be a woman - instead of "just" a mom who wipes dirty faces and a wife who washes dirty dishes and a friend who is never available.

Here's a little taste of the why.
  • TIME. Most women I know have a laundry day. A to-do list - scribbled on a pad of paper or just lodged in the back of their heads. A spring cleaning week (that usually turns into a month...or gets pushed back till autumn). Maintaining all of our items seems to sap away our time and energy faster than anything else in life. I want to fight to get my time back. I'm a stay-at-home mom; if I don't have time for things, then who does? I can literally create my own schedule.
"You buy everything twice - once with your dollars, then again with your minutes." >Allie Casazza
  • STRESS. This is obviously very closely linked with time. But it holds another layer that we don't always think about. Why do we feel trapped in our homes, or unable to fully relax? We've let it become our job. Homemaking can be anything we want it to be, but instead it has turned into an ugly cleaning beast. There is no point in allowing stress into our lives. We need to cut out anything that is adding to that burden.
  • DEBT. This one is sneakier still. Everyone has a little bit (or a lot) of debt. It just sort of...happens. It can only end if we change our spending habits. And when you own less things and find the joy that comes with that freedom, you realize you'll do a lot to keep from messing that up. You don't impulse-buy. You can see all of the food in your pantry, so you don't waste money buying duplicates or replacing things that have gone bad before you could use them. Little things add up; a decluttered home can trickle right into getting a handle on your budget and maybe even your diet!
  • FREEDOM. If it has a grip on your time, your thoughts, and your emotions, then you are it's slave. I have become a slave to my stuff. I've let it become the master instead of me mastering it. I don't want to be overrun with have-tos and to-do lists. I want to look at my home and know that I am the one who decides how it looks, how much time I spend on it, and where it falls on my priority list. Freedom means letting go of the things that I don't want to spend time on. 

So what does this too-good-to-be-true Time Genie look like in real life? How does this actually play out in a normal day?

When your kids are having a rough day and they need you every second, you don't feel guilty about spending time with them being "unproductive." You don't feel as though your days are pointless and clogged with drudgery. You have dreams and hobbies again...that you're spending time on.  When you relax with your husband or friends, your mind is at ease - not stressing about the things you still have to do.

The great thing is, YOU get to decide what minimalism looks like in your life. This minimalist bandwagon I'm jumping on can involve as little or as much effort as I want it to. It's not about a list of rules or a checklist that gets you the perfect home. It's about where your priorities are - and where you want them to be.
Start by making a simple list in answer to these questions. This will help you create your own why:
  • What part of your home frustrates you the most?
  • When you envision your perfect home, what stands out to you?
  • Aside from things you can't get out of doing (working, peeing, eating...), what are a few things that seem to zap up all your time?
  • What is one thing you wish you had more time for?
Take a few minutes to journal about it. Breathe.

You should see a pattern of what you really want out of life and the things that are stopping you from getting it. These questions will probably lead you to other queries about the clutter that exists in your home and your mind and your heart.

I have a couple of places you can go from here. There's so much out there that can help you simplify your life and take charge of your time.

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Next week, I'll be doing a full post on this exciting little wardrobe challenge and how it's simplifying my daily routine to the max. I'd love for you to join me! This project is all about putting your clothing into proper focus - aka not prioritizing your outfit over, say, a good breakfast or some giggles with your baby. The goal is less laundry, less stress over looks, and less dependence on what you own. I'm really excited to spend a month (and hopefully the rest of my life!) wearing less. Shoot me an email or find me on instagram if you're interested in taking part.

Allie Casazza.
Ohmyword this woman. I don't even remember how I discovered her, but I am so happy I did! She is a fantastic individual who has connected the depression in the mundane that we feel with the fact that we own too many things. I love all of her tips for letting go of things I don't need. She continually reminds me that the minimalist life I dream of is something I can actually accomplish, not just another dream I have to let go of. Definitely check out her blog and sign up for her emails, you won't be disappointed!

KonMari Method.
I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her struggles resonated with me deeply. I used to be that girl who, when told to "clean her room," spent hours and hours going through boxes of my stuff. (I never realized that all my mother meant was that I needed to pick up my laundry and dust the shelves.) I appreciate that Marie had similar past experiences. I don't agree with everything she says; for one thing, she talks about inanimate objects as though they have souls, but she does have some great tips to offer you if you want complete decluttering method.

The Daniel Plan. 
I actually never finished this book. I borrowed it from the library and then suddenly we were moving to Texas and I had to give it back. However, the portion I did read made a lot of sense. This book goes beyond a "minimalism diet" and helps you put your priorities in place, set aside all the junk you don't need, and create a balanced, healthy lifestyle. It takes the focus off of self and puts everything in perspective. It also points out how much we need solid fellowship in our lives in order to free ourselves from dependence on stuff and/or food.


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I'm not quite there yet. I haven't arrived at the spacious, airy home I want. But I'm making my way there. My closet is fresher and so much easier to navigate. My kitchen has been pared down to only a few dishes that we need and love. My living room is free of useless knicknacks.

I'm finding time and space for myself again. A little yoga. Workouts. Time to write. The creativity is seeping back into my brain, allowing me to paint and sew and create. (By the way, this is in no way because my baby has become any easier to handle. She's threatening to crawl, wanting me to hold her every five minutes, and teething like it's the Olympics. We're all over the place these days!)

If you're interested in joining me in this thrilling journey of freedom, let me know! Find me on instagram, email me, comment below! I so want to find encouragement in other women through this. I want to see this idea of freedom and carefree motherhood spread like wildfire. We don't need to be trapped in our own lives. There is a better way. Jump on this bandwagon now!

6 comments:

  1. I love the idea of minimalism SO so much and I WANT to be there but getting rid of stuff is so emotionally exhausting for me. It's really stopped me but I need to try to keep going forward.

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    1. You can definitely email me if you want some help with this (caityneub@gmail.com)! Or Allie Casazza's newsletters are amazingly helpful. I struggle with emotional stress in certain areas of my home lol but I am slowly wrangling them under control. You can do this! One small step at a time :)

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  2. I absolutely agree with you that we are becoming consumed and controlled by STUFF. I've been trying to be better about not bringing as much into my house and reminding myself that just because I got rid of x amount of stuff doesn't mean I can bring other stuff into the house. I think what I need to do is focus on one space at a time and declutter it and keep it decluttered. Easier said than done but I think it's a step in the right direction.

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    1. It's hard. Small steps are amazingly helpful. But definitely set some sort of specific goal for yourself, like, "I want my kitchen to be easy to maintain in one month" or some such thing. Reaching a goal makes you feel SO GOOD, and can give you the motivation to keep moving forward.

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  3. I'm currently working with my husband to make our home a place where we can relax. I think it's so important for us to be able to relax in our home and enjoy being home!

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    1. Yes! Why else would we have lovely homes if we can't enjoy them? Find out what works for you and don't let stuff jeopardize that :)

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