Note: This post originally appeared as a guest post at Becoming Minimalist. Some of you may have already read it but for those of you who didn’t, I thought I’d include it here as well. It’s about tapping into your power as a mom and making a difference in your family through the power of minimalism. It’s one of my favorites. I’d love to hear your comments. P.S. This advice works for dads too.
As a mom, minimalism originally seemed an unobtainable goal. I thought minimalists either traveled the globe with a single backpack of belongings or had a home with a futon and a single vase on a table…if they even had a table. That kind of minimalism works for some people and I think that’s cool. That kind of freedom must be really empowering. But for me, I have these needy little people running around my house that make it abundantly clear that kind of minimalism isn’t coming to live at my house.
Can minimalism really be applied to a family with kids? Sometimes we jump to conclusions that talk us out of starting. Let’s start with what mommy minimalism doesn’t need to look like.
Mommy Minimalism Doesn’t Have to Mean:
- Throwing out all the family photos
- Selling your television, your car, and your couch
- Owning just one pair of shoes and three interchangeable black outfits.
- Getting rid of all the toys in the house (even though we’ve all been tempted)
- Getting rid of all the children in the house (just kidding, but I’ve still been tempted a few times)
When I dove deeper into minimalism and saw the many different ways people were applying minimalism to their lives, I was greatly encouraged. I began to actually believe minimalism could work for me. As I started on my own journey towards minimalism my enthusiasm grew and everywhere I looked I saw where it was desperately needed.
Excess and the Need for Less
Since most of my friends are moms, I began to see the many areas of excess where minimalism could make a real difference:
- Toys spilling out of bedrooms and taking over living rooms.
- Drawers of kid clothes so packed that nothing else would fit.
- Kitchens full of plastic storage containers, useless gadgets, and extra items that never get touched.
- Schedules jam packed with sports and other extra curricular activities.
- Weekends filled with obligatory birthday parties from kids at school that you had to go to just because your kid was invited.
- Families that never seem to have any time spent together because they are all busy doing their own thing.
- Going into debt for Christmas presents that just end up shoved under a bed or in the next annual garage sale.
Many of these I saw in my own life and in our home. There is just so much excess everywhere – excess debt, excess possessions, and excess scheduling. It’s time for less! Minimalism doesn’t have to mean getting rid of everything. It is simply a tangible way of choosing the things that are important and getting rid of the rest.
What Can You Do Today?
If you are sitting there like I was wishing things could be different, then just ask yourself “What can I do today to get to where I want to be?” A mom can’t do everything by herself, but there is actually a lot that we can control and bring back some balance to the family.
- If you want fewer toys to pick up, walk over to the toy box and start going through those toys.
- If you want a cleaner, more organized kitchen, go throw away a few of the gadgets you haven’t touched in months.
- If you want a more cleaned out closet, get rid of the clothes you haven’t worn all season.
- If you want to get out of debt, cut up your credit cards and go sell something on eBay.
- If you want to make some family memories, cancel the plans for this weekend and spend it together as a family.
Each family is different and every journey is unique. Different doesn’t mean wrong. Whether you’re here as a seasoned minimalist or a mom still searching for answers on how to address the mess and chaos, we can all learn from each other. I’m glad to have you here.
Thank you to everyone who answered the short survey on the topics for my next book on Family Minimalism. I got some great feedback and I always love hearing from you guys.
One of the big requests for book topics was “Advice from Other Minimalist Families.” If you are a minimalist family (with or without kids) I have created a short online list of questions that will be featured in my book and I’d love to hear your story.
Article originally published on 01/21/2011