My journey has certainly not always been easy, or pretty, or quick. When I decided I would start minimizing our possessions, I was really unsure of what to do and where and how to start. The thought of going through everything seemed overwhelming, but I was at the point that it had to change. We couldn’t go on as life was.
My children were six and three years old and required a lot of my time, energy, and attention. There were many days when I would have grand ideas of minimizing a whole room and the day would end with not a single item discarded.
I tend to be that way. I usually have high expectations for myself. I’m a pretty passionate person and am usually all or nothing. The in between can drive me crazy.
So while in my mind I was all in on becoming a minimalist, my circumstances dictated a slower decluttering than I wanted. I had to learn to give myself grace on days that I didn’t meet my expectations. I had to learn that sitting down and reading a book for the tenth time that day with my toddler was more important than going through my kitchen utensils. In fact, that was the very reason I wanted to go through the kitchen utensils—to have more time with kids and undivided attention to give them.
Realizing this led to not just a decluttering of my things but of my time. It was a natural progression of my understanding of living more simply. I began to find pockets of time that while normally I might have spent it reading, watching something, or just checking in on the internet, I would declutter what I could. Little by little I made progress. And upon finishing that initial purge of our home, it felt so good.
Was that the end of my journey? Definitely not. Minimalism is not a destination I’m working toward, but is the lifestyle we are living. So, I became a minimalist that moment I decided this was a better way to live, when I still had ALL the stuff, ALL the clutter. I didn’t consider it then, but deciding to become a minimalist wasn’t about having a certain number of possessions, or a certain size home, or countries in my passport—though those are all fine goals or results of becoming a minimalist, but they too are only a part of the journey.
Several minimalists that I have followed through the years have done just that and come through to another side. Tsh Oxenreider and family traveled abroad for a year and are now settling down. Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens lived in a tiny home, but has now transitioned to a small apartment for “a new chapter” in their lives. Its easy to look at someone like Tsh or Tammy and think they have it all together or figured out but the reality is it will and has in these two cases changed already for them.
So as we each embark on our journey of living more simply and pursuing what matters most, here’s a few points to consider.
1. Do not compare yourself and your journey to anyone. The beauty of each person is that there is no one like another. Which means that no life is exactly like another. Which also means that living simply will look different for everyone and will look different throughout the seasons of our lives. Right now I’m pretty happy with where we are, but I can guarantee you that when my kids outgrow their toys, a handful will be saved as keepsakes and the rest will be minimized. I can see my husband and I possibly traveling the world once the kids are out of school.
2. Choose a method that works for you right now. In all fairness I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s book, but I from what I’ve heard she does not recommend “tidying” a little, but jumping in and doing it all. While I see the benefit of this, there are times in our life that we just cannot. If you’re ready to jump in, but know that this is going to come little by little, THAT IS OK. Every little bit helps. If you have the opportunity to do it more Kondo’s style, then go for it. With that said…
3. Read a variety of books and blogs. The community of minimalism is such a generous one. You can find blogs and groups for any life stage you’re in. Consider ways they are adapting and even read ones from someone in a life stage that doesn’t match yours. You might find ideas that you can tweak to fit your season.
4. Celebrate your victories. I don’t know when I first heard about celebrating small milestones. When I did it wasn’t about minimalism but it certainly applies and especially if you are in a season that doesn’t allow quick decluttering. Did you only manage to clear out your daughter’s hair bows? Celebrate it! Did you talk your husband into going through his fishing gear, do a happy dance! Kiss that stuff goodbye and enjoy the lightness that comes with clearing every little drawer, cabinet, and shelf.
If you are in a busier season, maybe several littles running around, or working and balancing parenting, or pursuing a new business or degree, give your self grace and realize that becoming a minimalist is fluid and a journey that will take different shapes at different times. For me minimalism is simplifying my home, my schedule, my life so that I can pursue those things that matter most; deeper relationships, pursuits and passions that are important to me, and an enjoyment of this one short life I’ve been given.