So you are leaning toward minimalism and want to live with less.
Welcome, my friend.
You are about to experience the good life that not too many know is possible.
Minimalism isn’t just about decluttering, having a perfectly organized closet, or a capsule wardrobe.
It’s about not allowing the things of this world to own your time, money, and purpose.
It’s about stripping yourself down to the bare bones to find out who you really are, what fulfills you, and allows for the life of your dreams.
Today I am going to share with you my journey towards living with less, how it has transformed my life from drudgery to an all encompasing adventure, and offer some practical tips to help you get there too!
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My Story with Minimalism
The genesis of my journey directly coincided with becoming a new mom. They say motherhood changes you but I had no idea just how much it would change me.
I had a burning desire to stay home and raise my new baby. The 12 week FMLA I was offered wasn’t enough now that I had this precious life but I had no idea how to afford it.
I stumbled upon a few good podcasts and over time soaked up enough knowledge to formulate a plan that would allow me to stay at home with my son 90% of the time.
That plan was put into action approximately two years ago but now I am a full-time stay at home mom and loving every second of it.
In the beginning, living with less was all about being ok spending less money, but now it has transformed my perspective to not only wanting less, but needing less all around.
Less stuff to keep up wth. Less to-do’s each day. Less maintainence. Less hassle.
I often find myself sitting in a lawn chair feeling the breeze flow through my fingers while I hold my steaming cup of rich coffee.
In these moments, I feel as rich as a king and as peaceful as a monk.
They happen all the time too.
Minimalism has afforded us the ability to travel as a family since we are no longer BOTH trying to coordinate time off.
This is a picture of our week in Exuma Cay, which we managed for only $600 bucks.
This last summer, we were able to live in a big RV right on the beach while we rented our house on Airbnb.
This was all possible because we locked our sentimental belongings in our garage and used our personal furniture for guests.
It was a pretty easy transition considering we had a small child and at the time, we both were working. I think it’s easier to make bold moves when you don’t have so much stuff weighing you down.
We literally used three plates the entire summer. It took me 30 minutes to clean my entire house, there was no grass to cut, and we spent more time playing and relaxing than I ever imagined possible!
Ultimately, learning to live with less has stripped us from the chains of comparison that plagues so many families.
Oh you have a lock on your door that can be activated by talking to Alexa and some lights that come on when you clap even though we have all been living without those happily since the beginning of time?
Who gives two $h!t$ about the latest smart home tech, iphone, or anything else designed to keep you selling your soul to the workforce until you die two years after you “retire”.
We don’t want to have all the things if it means we have to take out loans, spend time and money replacing parts, and working extra to pay for it all.
We spend our time and money on the things that make us happy. As it turns out, those things don’t cost that much.
Steps to live with less
I hope by now you are either inspired or fired up and ready to roll up your sleeves. Before you can get to this place of bliss, there is going to be some work ahead.
Let’s go through the steps and take you to less stuff and more stories…
1. Start with your stuff
You knew I was going to go there right? Honestly getting rid of excess is the most satisfying part of becoming a minimalist. It is visually satisfying to see piles of things go out the door to donation or in a garage sale.
But where to start?
Here’s what I did:
- Start with obvious duplicates to wet your appetite. Anything you have 2 of and don’t need, donate one.
- Don’t be in a rush. Take it one room at a time. Don’t try to go through your entire house in one weekend. As you feel inspired, sift through a cupboard, hall closet, or under the bed.
- Challenge yourself to wear every single outfit in your closet before doing laundry. If you can’t do this you probably have too many clothes.
- Then, try on all your clothes. Chances are you have things that haven’t fit you in years. If you don’t fit in them, donate them now instead of waiting or offer them up to a friend.
- Save the garage and attic for last. This is the worst part of the whole process.
2. Your kids don’t need that many toys
I feel fortunate that I caught the minimalism bug at the beginning of motherhood.
If your house is cluttered with a million stuffed animals, toy cars, and art supplies that never get used, it’s time to purge.
Related: Minimalist baby registry ideas for the bare essentials
It is really hard to explain to kids why they can’t keep their toys. Even when they haven’t played with them in a milenia.
Instead, why not sit them down and set up a pretend fire drill. Explain to them that you are practicing what to do in case of a home fire and they can only grab their most FAVORITE toys that they can’t live without.
Whatever they grab during your pretent fire drill is sacred.
I honestly suggest involving them in this process as much as possible because I don’t like lying to children.
However if minimalism is a huge lifestyle change for them, you need to be sensitive. They haven’t yet developed the emotional cognition to cope with getting rid of excess.
If the process turns into a huge fight, it may be best to thin their toys out slowly over time while they are out of the house.
Now don’t get me wrong, children need toys!
However, some toys are better than others and having less toys to choose from allows children to get deep into imaginative play.
3. Explain to your extended family why you are trying to live with less
Nothing is more annoying to go through the painful process of purging the excess only to have it ruined by some over-zealous family on Christmas.
We have done a no-gift-christmas with our direct family for a few years now and it has always turned into a wonderfully festive occasion.
The best way to include your extended family in your valueist lifestyle is to be open and honest with them.
They may not fully understand or accept it right away. But over time being consistent and showing them you are still the same you, just with less stuff will make it easier to accept.
My husband’s family has a tradition of doing big Christmases. There is tons and tons of presents under the tree and explaining to them that we didn’t want any gifts was a bit awkward at first.
Over time it got easier because it when you love unconditionally, it can break through boundaries.
4. Change the way you decorate for holidays
I am guilty as charged in this category! I used to have at least 6 large bins in my attic full of seasonal decorations.
When I was newly married with no kids, it gave me great joy to get out my tubs of crap and rummage through to find my bright spring colors, patriotic summer tablescape, and scary fall decor.
Oh and then there was Christmas. I used to have to dedicate an entire day to decorating for it. My husband absolutely hated this day and usually coordinated some kind of work trip to get out of it.
We needed at least two days to tear Christmas down and somehow fit all of my old decor plus some new stuff from the day-after-Christmas-sale into those same 4 tubs.
Let’s think about this for a second.
Three full days of decorating and tearing down Christmas multiplied by 60 years is 180 days or half of a year.
I could be spending a half of a year of my life decorating for Christmas!
What if instead of all the seasonal decorations our family did seasonal activities?
Like spending the whole month of October visiting petting zoos, pumpkin patches, haunted houses, and all kinds of other fun-filled fall activities.
What if you made more meals together as a family that were seasonally appropriate?
My point is you can make new traditions, change the way you enjoy the holidays, and make a lot more room in your attic or garage.
Heck, after reading this post, you may not even need an attic or garage anymore!
5. Open up your schedule
One of the biggest killers of our peace is an unrelenting schedule that doesn’t allow for downtime.
I am not perfect at this one either.
If you find yourself feeling chronically stressed, you may have too much on your calender.
Another important part of minimalism is to realize that you do not have to be apart of every single activity that is offered in your school, church, or town.
I realize that some people are high energy and thrive on-the-go.
Busyness is deeply rooted in my American culture and many others.
But if you find your heart and thoughts racing while constantly going over the next task, it’s time to take a hard look at your life and cut out what isn’t important.
I am giving you permission to just BE.
There are plenty of successful people out there who have found ways to carve out moments for stillness and quiet every single day.
This practice will heal your mind, body, and soul if you commit to it.
6. Stop letting motorized vehicles take over your joy
If I could sum up the four most time-consuming responsibilities in an adult’s life, it would be 1.) The Job 2.) The Kids 3.) The House and 4.) The Vehicles
You can’t get rid of your kids and I am not going to tell you to move into an RV like I did.
Unless you have figured out early retirement and have all the time in the world, then a reasonable area to look at minimizing in is your vehicles.
I mentioned before that we moved into an RV. While this did provide us with less time cleaning, one thing we didn’t anticipate was how much work it would be to maintain a dually truck. (We had to buy this to pull our RV)
We actually bit off more than we can chew and plan to sell both at the end of the summer, move back into our house, and work on living simply. You live and you learn!
When it comes to vehicles, the simpler the better. If you have to take your car to a special dealership to get it worked on instead of the corner body shop a mile from home, you are adding in more complication than a vehicle is worth.
In our modern culture, people often define their worth by the vehicles they drive. But most people who drive fancy cars are, in fact, Broke A.F.
Simplifying vehicles doesn’t just stop with cars.
Could you go down to just one car if only one adult in the family works outside the home?
Do you have a boat, jet ski, camper, and ATV in your garage that are collecting dust because you are too busy going to work to pay for them?
Get rid of them before the next oil change.
If you are a person who sincerely adores his toys, perhaps you could own one at a time and use it to the max.
Then when you get interested in another wait to buy it until you sell the one you already have.
We only have so much time in a day so there is no need to own so many different forms of transportation, especially because we still have to maintain them all!
7. Don’t let your lifestyle creep
Ok so imagine your life after you have followed at least 50% of this advice. You have decluttered, feel lighter, less stressed, and can take on the world.
Your mind is at peace and there is room to grow.
Now comes the tricky part…
You must continue to be intentional about the people, things, and responsibilities that you let into your life.
Minimalism is a journey and won’t ever be one and done.
Sometimes I catch myself drifting, letting my mind wander to the excessive, keep-up-with-the-Joneses rat race that took me an entire year to free myself from. I forgot where I was because it doesn’t hurt anymore.
My dad always said, “count the cost.”
You will constantly have to count the cost if you want to continue to reap the benefits of living with less.
We are bombarded on a daily basis with temptations for things we don’t need.
It’s easy to forget where you came from once you are in a good place because you feel on top of the world and think you are immune to going right back where you started from.
Minimalism has the ability to free your time, money, and headspace for the things that truly bring you joy.
In this post, we have looked at 7 ways to simplify your life.
When you are in the thick of decluttering, just take it one day at a time and don’t overwhelm yourself. Rome wasn’t build in a day and going from a place of excess to living with less will take time.
Where are you on the path to minimalism? Leave me a comment below!