I would like to bear my testimony about minimalism.
Our landlord called on June 8th and gave us 30 days to be out of our house. He sold the property, so I am in the middle of moving! It’s been a little stressful around here, but not as stressful as it could have been. Luckily, I have been decluttering, dejunking and de-owning ever since I found minimalism two years ago, so I simply have less to move.
Don’t get me wrong. I still have lots of stuff. I swear all of our bikes, big wheels, scooters, and plasma cars take up the whole 3rd garage. But between cousins, neighbors and co-op kids, they all get ridden so I keep them. But I am using this move as a chance to further pare down our belongings.
For me, minimalism just feels good!
I still need reminders and help and am continually working on owning less. Here are 6 practical tips that help me stay on the minimalist track:
1. Limit Hangers
I bought a certain amount of hangers for each kid’s closet and that is it. If they don’t have enough hangers to hang their clothes on, then they have too many clothes. If I buy something new, I don’t use the store hanger. I transfer the clothing to my own hanger. Sometimes something has to go, to make room for the new article of clothing. I also hold my closet to this same standard.
I find that when I limit my kids’ clothes, all the clothes get worn; their rooms stay cleaner, and they feel more in control of their personal space.
2. Designate Space
I designate a certain amount of space per category whether it be toys, clothes, keepsakes, etc. For example, I have a bin for toy cars labeled “Cars”. Lately, the lid has not been able to close because Locke has so many cars. I didn’t go out and get another bin to accommodate the extra cars, rather Locke had to get rid of some of his cars so that the lid could close. He got to chose which cars to get rid of. This “limiting space” method works for art work, clothes, shoes, toys, books, etc. Designate the needed space and then don’t overflow.
3. Have a Donation Box
I have a donation box in my storage room — always. That way if I find an item I don’t need or doesn’t fit, I have a place to put it immediately. I don’t have to wait until a big clean out day or have a pile laying around somewhere. All the unnecessary items just go straight into the donation box the moment I realize they are unnecessary. When the box is full I make a run to the local thrift store. I always get the box back and put it in it’s home in my storage room. You could also have a garage sale box, or sister-in-law box, or recycle box — anything that will help you get it out of your home and on to someone that needs it more than you.
4. Keep a List
I keep a list of places and spaces that need to be dejunked. I include obvious ones and not so obvious ones. Sometimes out of sight means out of mind, and I forget what areas need to be gone through because I don’t see them regularly. The list acts as a great reference point when I can’t think of what needs to be done. My list right now includes keepsakes, paint, games, school supplies, holiday decor, photos, and computer files.
5. Take Pictures
I can’t keep everything that my kids do, make, and create, especially the big projects. After the work has had sufficient time to be displayed and appreciated, I take pictures, so I have the memory but not the mess. Projects like science fair, state reports, arts and crafts, etc. need to be archived, but that does not mean that the original needs to be saved.
6. Teach Your Children
I have my children purge their closets, dressers, shoes, toys, books, etc. regularly. I want them to understand that “things” don’t matter, and I also want them to feel the peace that comes when there is space. Too much stuff is claustrophobic and chaotic and can make life feel out of control. Everyone in our home feels better when drawers can shut and desks are cleared off.
Because my kids have been paring down with me as well over the last few years, they have really helped me as we’ve been packing. Elle will say things like “when was the last time you used that?” or “we don’t NEED that, mom”. She is using my own logic against me, and I appreciate it because we all have weak moments where we think we need things we really don’t.
I hope these tips helped in some way — if nothing else they reminded me that minimalism is a journey that I want to be on. It takes effort and consistency and vigilance, but the rewards are great.
We are working together as a family to have more time and more space and less stuff. We will still need a huge moving van next week, but maybe we will only have to make one or two trips this time.