A Simple Approach to Living With Less

6 Steps to Living Peacefully with Non-Minimalists

You won’t always see eye-to-eye with your family about minimalism. I know this first hand because I live in a household of 10 people. I don’t think anyone would walk into our home and say, “Wow, you guys must be minimalists!” (Perhaps that will happen someday, but for now it’s just a dream of mine.)

It is more difficult when the people you’re living with don’t agree with you and your minimalist perspective, but it’s not an impossible situation. So how do you proceed?

6 Steps to Living Peacefully with Non-Minimalists

1) Focus on yourself first. It’s easier to notice other people’s messes before our own, however, start by dejunking your personal belongings first. There is probably plenty of clutter to keep you busy for awhile that has your name all over it. The great thing about focusing on your stuff first is that the progress you make feels amazing, and the people you live with can’t help but notice the changes. This brings me to my next point.

2) Let your example speak for itself. It didn’t take long at all for my husband and then my parents to see how much stuff I was getting rid of. They started asking me questions about why I was getting rid of so many things. In turn, I simply said, “I just don’t need it anymore.” Without turning into a lecture or pushy ultimatums, seeing me make choices about what I really valued automatically stirred the same thoughts within them. If your loved ones ask you about minimalism you can clearly share what it means to you without being judgmental or argumentative.

3) If they don’t have any interest in minimalism, don’t lose heart. Some people are slower to come around and admittedly some people won’t ever be on the same page with you. Don’t let that change how you feel. I know that minimalism gives me peace and I know without a doubt that I don’t want to go back to how life was when I was drowning in my clutter. Even if I were the only minimalist in the family, I wouldn’t change how I’m living now.

4) Make a space that feels at home to you. Our bedroom is really the only room of the house that looks and feels “minimalist” because we live with people who aren’t at the same point we are. That’s ok, because we’ve found a way to make it work. I love how a clean and open bedroom makes me feel and it’s comforting to spend time in my clutter-free zone. Find a space you can clear out where just being in it causes you to sigh a contented sigh. It may even cause those you live with to appreciate the cleaned out space so much that they welcome the idea of decluttering more of the house.

5) Remember, minimalism is not “one size fits all.” We don’t all define minimalism and living with less in the same way. You can’t drag someone down the road to minimalism, so if someone else is making an effort to declutter make sure you encourage their efforts. Most of my family isn’t very minimalist at all, but I enjoy their progress and we encourage each other and that’s what makes it work.

6) Seek out like-minded people. Sometimes it’s just nice to be around people who get where you’re coming from. Ready minimalist blogs and talking on Facebook and Twitter was so helpful to me in the beginning of my journey to minimalism. It’s a nice feeling not to have to explain why you want to declutter and instead just get support and tips from other people doing the same thing.

I’d love to hear from you. Are you the lonely minimalist? How do you make things work at home?

If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living for families, please consider reading my book, Family-Sized Minimalism or  sign up for updates. Thanks so much for reading!

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  1. What great timing! The Hubs is definitely NOT a minimalist. In the midst of a huge argument that spanned a few days, the whole minimalism thing came up. Eventually, we agree that I get to have the bedroom as “my space” since I have to live with 3 boys…I NEED a space just for me! Hopefully, we’ll actually get there, but we’ll see. Those are such great tips, and I definitely need to remember them 🙂

    • Faith Janes says

      I definitely feel your pain, Megyn. 🙂 I’m definitely the most minimalist in my family, but my husband loves my bouts of decluttering…as long as I don’t attack his beloved possessions. We’ve both come along way though.

      I would have to say living my example has had the biggest impact. Thankfully most people enjoy clean spaces.

  2. My Hubby is a born minimalist, so there was no issue he doesn’t have to work at it, it’s second nature. I am a recovering sentimental hoarder, so once I started on the decluttering etc he was overjoyed. The area of difficulty I still face is decluttering my Kids stuff. They are too young to do much of it themselves still, and that decision making process day in day out can become exhausting. I’ve tackled it more by not buying or replacing things, rather than a massive cull (although I am gradually reducing stuff also), and slowly and surely as they grow out of things and things break there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  3. I’m definitely the minimalist. My husband and I each have a room that is our study (we have a four bedroom townhouse), and mine is very minimalist–almost zen-like, whereas his has piles and pathways. It doesn’t bother me–it is his space and he can do whatever he likes with it, as I can mine. We agree that the common areas are tidy and neat, if not totally minimalist. He noticed my minimalist tendencies recently when a charitable donation contained three large lawn and leaf bags, and I explained to him just as you did, Faith: “I don’t need it any more.” Example is a great teacher!

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