“And then I got rid of my couch too, because really, who actually NEEDS a couch? The floor works just fine!”
Perhaps this is what you imagine when you hear the word minimalism? While I’m sure it’s true for some people, this way of living just isn’t practical for most of us. I often hear the terms “cozy minimalism” or “practical minimalism” because I think people are trying to soften the harshness of what they believe minimalism to be.
For me, it all started about the time I had my second child. If you’re a parent or know someone who is, you understand what happens when you bring kids into a home. Not only is it tempting to buy every device marketed to parents, but extended family and friends all want to pitch in as well. You end up with a nightmarish amount of stuff, most of which doesn’t even get used. For example, my kids never used a baby swing, and yet it was one of those things that you Must! Get! We lived in a mobile home when kids #1 and 2 were born, and we were buried under baby gear.
Around that time I started noticing my anxiety levels increasing with clutter and thus began my journey to “less”.
So back to the question, “What exactly is minimalism?”
Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist says it best: “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we value most and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.” What does that mean for a family like ours?
Creating space. Freeing up space in our calendars for the people who mean the most to us, means sometimes saying no to things, even good things. It means leaving whitespace for the unexpected, the adventures, the emergencies, and reducing stress due to overbooking.
Reducing the noise. Clutter in our homes is like noise in our ears. The more clutter, the noisier it becomes, and the harder to concentrate on what we want or need to do. Paring down our belongings to only the items we use and love is like turning that volume knob a little to the left.
Reducing the workload. All that stuff we have? It all needs maintaining. Clothes need laundering, knick-knacks need dusting, you get the picture. Reducing the amount of stuff we own translates directly to reducing the time spent in maintenance, and increasing our free time for the things we love!
Reducing waste. Keeping things simple in the home means I can keep track of our belongings better. There are fewer hoodies lost, fewer vegetables thrown away, and less time wasted looking for items.
Creating freedom. In the end, it’s about freeing up our time and space to make room for what really matters. In our home, we value experiences over “stuff”. We all find that time spent together is worth more than anything money can buy.