*This is part two of our minimalist series. For the introduction of my clutter-free journey click here: Wannabe Minimalist
From where I’m sitting right now on our living room couch I can survey our main living spaces and for the most part they’re tidy and clean. The table is bare, the floor isn’t scattered with toys, and if someone showed up unannounced, I could welcome them in and not feel embarrassed from the mess.
EXCEPT. FOR. THE. DISHES.
Ugh, dishes are my arch enemy. My least favorite chore. My nemesis to a tidy home. I wash dishes regularly but they still manage to pile up at an alarmingly fast rate. (Though, for those of you who know my children, you know how much they like to eat!) BUT the rest of my home is tidy so I shall be content.
We all have areas in our home that we don’t seem to get along with. Maybe it’s the spare bedroom that gets piled with clutter, maybe it’s an attic or basement full of rarely used Christmas decorations, outgrown clothes, and old keepsakes, or maybe it’s your garage that’s so full you can’t even park your car in. Or you could be like me and your house is ‘mostly’ clean except for daily chores still to do like laundry or dishes.
In Part One of our minimalist and simplicity series I talked about what event in 2012 changed my perspective in living with less stuff. Well, now let’s fast forward a few years.
We got married in 2013, had our first baby in 2014, and number two in 2015 and found our house full of lots of toys, lots of clothes, lots of baby items, LOTS OF CLUTTER. It’s amazing how in only a couple years of marriage we could accumulate so much stuff. I mean, when we first got married we could fit most of our possessions in two SUVs!
In early summer 2016 my mother let me know about an online course called Uncluttered. I signed up as they were having a free promo at the time and let me tell you, it was 12 weeks that changed my home around! I started learning that it’s okay to live with less and reiterating what I already knew. I highly recommend it.
I’m going to share with you what I believe are the benefits of living with less stuff and the freedom it’s brought to me personally. Being a Christian homemaker it’s very important that I do my job as wife, mom, and follower of Christ to the best of my ability. The key focus of minimalism to me is to be able to accomplish my jobs as best and most efficiently as I can and having time for what is most important. Getting rid of lots of my stuff and clutter is key to that. Here are some top benefits to minimalism:
Less to clean, organize, find a home for, etc.
As a mom to three little ones, wife to a youth pastor with a busy schedule, and lots of church and family activities, I only have so much time in a day to get things done. A good portion of humanity has that same problem. When I decided to seriously declutter and get rid of lots of stuff in my home, I all of a sudden had more days where the house was clean with less effort. I didn’t have to spend all my time trying to find space in the closet for stuff. I found freedom in less to take care of.
More time for what’s most important.
Even now that I’ve downsized our home tremendously over the past year and a half, I still could spend all day cleaning if I had the time. But that’s mainly because I have three kiddos at home and between diaper changes, fixing sandwiches, and acting as judge between sibling squabbles, there’s just a lot to do. I can’t imagine though the stress, mess, and effort it would take to have a well-run home if I hadn’t decluttered my home over a year ago. I’m now able to get my home presentable, have clean clothes for my husband, healthy meals for my kids, do Preschool with the kids, write for the blog, play and read with my kids, AND attend any other evening activities we might have, all in one day. I have time to spend with my kids. Time to spend in the evenings with my husband, and time to relax during afternoon naps MOST days. I say ‘most’ because obviously there are days and seasons where it’s just not possible, but a lot of the time it is.
I actually LOVE organizing and do enjoy cleaning up my home. I’m not naturally the type of mom who likes sitting on the floor playing with the kids. It takes effort for me to do that as I’d much rather be working on some project. BUT I do HAVE the time to spend with them and try to do that play time daily. I have time for what’s most important.
I have a realllllllly hard time relaxing when my house is a mess. I could totally be one of those crazy OCD people who have to have everything ‘just so’; but I chose not to. Having less stuff in my home allows things to be cleaned and picked up so much easier which allows me mental clarity to focus on things that are more important than cleaning. I can sit down and read my kids books without having to stare at a cluttered house and wonder when I’ll get around to cleaning it. I can sit down and talk to Willis in the evening and not stress about all that needs to be organized the next day. I do think though that the more I’ve gotten rid of, the more I desire ‘clean’. It’s then that God reminds me that peace comes from Him and not from how messy my home is at the moment. I’m reminded that my worth comes from what He says I am and not from how well I keep house. It’s a constant balance, one that I’m growing in.
The more you buy – the more you spend – the more you have! I’ve never really liked shopping unless it was to find a really amazing deal on something I already NEEDED. That’s one of the benefits of minimalism is that you usually only buy what you really need. Only buying what I really need means that I’m spending much less money. When I’m thinking about purchasing something I usually ask myself something along the lines of: “Do I really need this? Would I use it enough to be worth the money I’m putting in it? Could I use something I already own instead?” Buying less allows you to save more for larger things like a vehicle, house, vacation, etc. It’s give and take.
Helps teach children creativity and contentment.
It’s the common parent joke that you get your child a nice toy for Christmas and they end up playing with the box it came in instead. Why don’t we take some advice from this?!?! Allowing your children the freedom to imagine and use their creativity that God gave them is huge to their development. Not allowing them to have rooms full to the brim with toys aids that goal. The less toys they have, the more creative they can become with the ones they do have. If they get tired of playing with toys, send them outside with a shovel and Tonka truck! I use a toy rotations system of sorts. Most of the kids’ toys are put up in labeled totes in their closet. They are categorized according to what they are: Duplo Legos, Cars, Baby Doll Accessories…When they want to play with something I’ll get it down and they can enjoy it as long as they want BUT once they want another box of toys they must clean up the others first. This accomplishes a few things: 1) It keeps the mess down. No overflow of toys everywhere all the time. 2) They are learning to clean up after themselves. 3) They learn to be content with one thing at a time and not be overwhelmed with choices. I’m constantly reevaluating what toys my children play with and enjoy the most and which ones just sit to the side the majority of the time. I go through their stuff regularly and get rid of what isn’t important. At this stage they are little and don’t really realize when things go missing but as they grow up I hope to teach them the benefits of having fewer choices. It also teaches contentment with what they have and to take care of those things.
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content…” Philippians 4:11
I want to instill in my children a heart of contentment, contentment with whatever God gives them in life, contentment with few things, contentment in not having the latest trending items, and contentment in God.
I hope reading this helps whet your interest in having a simple home. I’ll be continuing the series on minimalism in the coming days/weeks and hope you’ll join me for more. In the next post, I will be covering some practical ‘How To’s’ and what helps me when deciding what to keep in my home.