One of the important tenets of minimalism for me is creativity. I find it incredibly important to create more and consume less. It’s no secret that minimalism is perceived as a style or fad, but minimalism is a lot deeper than the surface. In fact, thinking of minimalism as a design style or as living with a certain number of items speaks to our consumerist driven world. I have experienced many people talk about decluttering just so they can buy more, or having a one in, one out rule, as a justification for shopping. Donating perfectly OK items to the op shop (thrift shop) just to buy something new; there is nothing wrong with consumption, it is compulsory consumption that drives addictive behaviours and causes debt.
My mantra is to definitely consume less, make do with what I have. Thinking back to the period of World Wars, the ‘make do and mend’ adage has become popular again; without the world war. But in many ways, what we are facing as humankind is a war of a different kind. There is a war on the environment due to our consumption and waste, many people are facing difficulties in getting enough hours at their casual or part-time jobs, the government continues to let the wealthy off the hook and cause a wider divide between the rich and the poor.
Minimalism may be voluntary simplicity for middle-class people, myself included, but for many, it is probably a fact of life. Those with less don’t need to worry about consuming less, but we can all learn lessons from minimalism; aspiring to have items of particular value or brand name will not bring happiness. In my previous career in marketing, we talked a lot about aspiration in branding and marketing and the use of celebrities to encourage sales… marketers are clever and have many strategies for influencing our purchasing decisions.
As mamas, and particularly in those early years of sleep deprivation and constant play-feed-sleep-feed-sleep-play-sleep routines, learning to exercise some of our own intentional choices serves as a form of control over a life that is ruled by a tiny human. Being creative is crucial to humankind, by creating more, positively and intentionally, we are serving and helping others. Creativity is much broader than drawing or painting, creativity is about your mind and being imaginative. You may start a blog to share a simple message, knit blankets for premmie babies in the hospital, start a business that helps the poor or girls in Africa; whatever you feel is your calling, perhaps now is the time to start imagining it?
The life lessons I have gained from two + years as a mama has been deeply enriching. I have learned that debt can cause more stress than it’s worth (and perhaps a consideration given our household debt level is soaringly high). I have learned that being creative isn’t limited to having a lot of time, I can be creative in short bursts. I have learned that being a mama requires compromise, but I shouldn’t compromise my own goals too much, as I will be unhappy and unfulfilled. It’s OK to say that motherhood is boring and relentless, and having something else to do (work/study/volunteering/creating) might be just what you need.
Whatever you do, know that your choices are yours alone.