As a long-time sufferer of anxiety, I had always liked things being in their place. I knew instinctively that clutter was affecting my mood and my relationships. I hated the amount of time it took to tidy up, all the time.
I became overwhelmed by managing a home and working full time. Then when I fell pregnant, I realised it wasn’t sustainable nor practical to have a house full of stuff. I started selling and donating everything I didn’t use. I read The Minimalists website voraciously. I discovered I loved white space, clear counters and knowing what I had, were things I used.
Enter children. It’s not as easy to be a minimalist and to stick to your beliefs and practices with small children. It’s not impossible, but it’s more difficult.
Toys, baby gear, washing, nappies and food – it all has the capacity to take over. It’s key to implement routines to reduce the stress that builds from piles of washing or toys all over your home.
There is absolutely no doubt that less stuff equals less tidying up. But with kids, it is unlikely to be no stuff equals zero tidying up – there is going to be a reckoning. I have had to raise my clutter acceptance level and learn to cope with piles of washing and toys, otherwise, I would be even more exhausted (is that possible?) from caring for my children AND constantly tidying. As I write this now at my desk, there is no clear desk space around my laptop. I have piles of paperwork to file, crayons, glue and a few magazines. But I know it’s only temporary.
Cutting yourself some slack on your journey through life is a true skill that comes with time. Some people are instinctively more kind to themselves, and others need to learn self-compassion. I’m unfortunately in the latter group! But, it’s a constant practice just like minimalism.
Once I got past the ‘stuff’ phase, I was able to incorporate minimalist thinking into all areas of my life.
I gave myself permission to give up the corporate life which I never enjoyed.
I gave myself permission to dress in comfortable clothes I liked, and eschew ‘fashion’.
I gave myself permission to stop colouring my hair and trim it myself.
I gave myself permission to read instead of cleaning.
If you think these things are silly – you’re lucky. Perhaps you were raised in a household that valued rest, or you’ve just always felt certain your needs were valid. Not everyone has that experience – and minimalism can be a way to build these coping skills.
Now five years since I discovered minimalism, I’m proud to say it still excites me to think and write about. I enjoy the ongoing process of examining my life and finding ways to improve it. I’m enjoying the benefits of spending less, having greater financial security is so helpful with small kids. Having this security has led me to be able to not work and thus pursue hobbies while raising my children.
Minimalism looks different for everyone but I believe each of us can benefit from adopting the mindset and finding ways to improve and simplify your own life.