I’d like to tap into something that, for a very long time, I didn’t realize was a problem. Noise. I’m not talking about the noise that comes with family life: the sound of the TV, the laughter, or the fighting that comes with raising small children in a too tiny house with too many pets—I’m talking about clutter—and the mental noise it brings with it.
This summer I embarked on an accidental journey brought on by a few rabbit holes that I stumbled upon, and oh, the places I wound up—including the Desert Moms account! I’ll drop a few @’s shortly, but let me tell you first what I found.
This word means something simple, but it’s quite a practice to wrap your head around. Let me be very clear that I’m a work in progress. It takes an entire mindshift an it cannot be expected to happen overnight, or even after a few trips to the GoodWill.
In fact, one of my first small victories is a countertop that’s been cleared. This, in a house that’s just over 1,000 square feet, is an accomplishment. I can make sandwiches without using the stove as a makeshift space, and that has simplified my routine immensely. I’m working on decluttering more, including creating a capsule wardrobe for my children and me. The husband, I hope, will follow suit.
Here’s the key idea behind minimalism: when you have less things you have more time, more energy, and more money.
But...how? After every holiday more things enter the house, and, before you know it, it’s another party bag from so-and-so’s birthday and an art project from school, or that bag of hand-me-downs that your sister dropped off.
I finally pulled the band-aid off. The frustration that comes with head noise was ready to be silenced. So I decluttered one drawer. I donated five shirts that I never wore. I tossed out those sneakers that are too tight for my daughter, or too smelly for my son. I went to Once Upon a Child and re-sold those outgrown costumes—Halloween isn’t far away! This became my summer hours—wash, rinse, repeat. And so I began my journey to "minimal-ish."
One book that put it in perspective for me was Cozy Minimalist by Myquillyn Smith. In this book, Smith discusses what it means to be a Stuff Manager. I had, somewhere along the line, become one. A "stuff manager" is someone who spends far too much of their time shuffling things from spot to spot, or lifting things up to clean under and around them, or washing dusty things over and over again though they serve no purpose at all but to clean. And even when I’m done I just want to buy the next cute thing at Home Goods to put next to the other cute thing I’d bought the week before. See the pattern?
How did I decide what to keep? Marie Kondo, in her infinite wisdom, asks, “does it spark joy?” If it does, it stays. But what if it does for my children and not for me? My answer: I keep it. It’s their room. Their choice. Full disclosure; my son wants to keep everything, but he only plays with what we’ll play with with him—which means I can donate a lot and he’s likely not to notice. My daughter, 6, is so different. She’s fine with me getting rid of just about anything—yay! This plan works too—if she lets me resell/donate a laundry basket full of toys, I’ll let her pick one new-to-us toy at a resale store.
This works nicely for several reasons: the resale cost is significantly less than a new toy, she loves the freedom to pick something out (under $20), and she will definitely play with one new toy over ten old dust collectors for quite some time. Plus knowing that what we’ve donated will go to another child that will love and enjoy it is reward enough—what a great lesson for her! And maybe her brother, along the line, will see this too.
If any of this sounds familiar, let me suggest some other resources —I’m reading Minimalism for Families by Zoe Kim. Lightly by Francine Jay, is phenomenal for those who know they need to declutter and need to start somewhere. Jay will take you room by room and help transition your thinking into living with less.
Instagram is really what sparked this interest for me, because the power of visualizing a space before you declutter and the after effect is astonishing. If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by clutter, check out the incredible Erica Flock on Instagram, @erica.flock. I also love @minimalismandmotherhood, as well as @thecaseforsimple. These moms sparked something in me, and I hope, if you find yourself struggling similarly, you take a look at these wonderful ladies and see if you want to join me on the journey of quieting the clutter in your house, and hopefully some of the noise in your head.
If you give minimalism a shot, @ me on Instagram so I can see your before and after pictures!