Minimalism is a life-changing, soul-changing experience that can make your life easier, simpler and more intentional. You are removing everything from your home and your life that doesn’t add value or align with your and your family’s needs and only keeping the things that mean the most and bring you the greatest benefit.
Some of you will say ‘Yes, I get it and I want to start now!’, but others will be thinking it’s a load of old nonsense – how can getting rid of my stuff actually make me happier? If you need a bit of convincing then check out these 3 things to try if you’re not sure Minimalism is for you.
WHAT TO DO
Below I’ve listed three of the main areas in your home and life which are often the cause of stress, particularly for busy Mums – clutter, clothes and commitments.
There’s a simple exercise for you to carry out for each of the three points which I encourage you to try just for a week. Read the section, carry out the action step and see what a difference it makes to you and your life.
Try to be strict with yourself and be consistent throughout that week. If you feel it’s too much to do all three, pick one that feels right for you and just do that one. But don’t do all three half-heartedly!
The point of the exercise is to give you an insight into the difference Minimalism can make, without it being yet one more thing you have to do, decide on or remember. As busy Mums, we have enough of that already!
Be honest with yourself, record your feelings at the start of the week and again at the end of the week. Imagine what it would be like if you could stick with it for longer, so that it becomes second nature and you went on to apply the principles to everything else in your home and your life.
3 THINGS TO TRY IF YOU’RE NOT SURE MINIMALISM IS RIGHT FOR YOU
Pretend you’ve just walked in through your front door and look around you. What is the first thing you see? Is it mess, clutter and lots of ‘stuff’ on the floor, draped over furniture, piled on the stairs? Or is it clean, open space with room to breathe. Only your favourite items are on display and nothing where it shouldn’t be? How do you feel when you walk in through your front door? Do you want to turn around and go straight back out again because the mess and dirt is stressing you out? Or do you feel calm, with a sense of belonging and proud of what your home says about you?
Minimalism is more than just an interior design style. By removing the excess in your home, you can appreciate the things that you really want to keep and bring you the most pleasure. They’re no longer buried in a whole pile of other stuff.
A more minimalist home with fewer possessions is easier to keep clean and tidy – it doesn’t mean it has to be bare though! Your time won’t be spent looking after your stuff, doing chores and housework will be easier and quicker, your mind will be calmer and you’ll have more time and mental energy to do other things.
Try this… Go around one of the rooms in your home with a laundry basket, say the living room. Gather up anything that doesn’t belong in that room (clothes, for example, should be in the wardrobe, empty mugs should be in the kitchen), or that you don’t absolutely love or use regularly.
For the moment forget about that hideous photo frame that was given to you by your grandmother, just decide whether you love it enough to keep it there. If you don’t absolutely love something or it doesn’t serve any purpose and you don’t use it, then for the moment just put it in the laundry basket.
Make sure the surfaces don’t have any random clutter on them apart from what you’ve chosen to keep. When you’re finished, plump up the cushions, straighten the rug (if you’ve kept it), give everything a quick clean and take a step back.
Does your room look more inviting? Do you feel it’s more peaceful, calm, comforting, cosy (whatever suits you)? Is it a room you want to spend time in without stressing about the state of it?
Go to your wardrobe and open the doors. What do you see? Is it full to bursting with clothes but how many of these do you actually wear? Is it all beautifully organised so that you can see and get to everything or is it a mess, clothes falling off hangers, stuffed in so tight that when you pull an item out, another three come with it. Do you have clothes that still have the tags on? Does everything fit and do they all make you feel wonderful? Do you have mornings when you still can’t find or decide on anything to wear even though you have a lot of clothes?
A minimalist wardrobe doesn’t necessarily have to contain so few clothes that you dread getting dressed every morning. You don’t have to limit yourself to a set number of items or stick with a capsule wardrobe if you don’t want to.
If you love clothes then by all means keep as many as you want. But, the point is to be INTENTIONAL about what you do keep. Everything should fit, look good on you and make you feel fantastic. Your wardrobe needs to be versatile, well curated and neatly organised.
It should be easy for you to get dressed first thing in the morning without feeling stressed because you can’t decide what to wear, feel as though nothing looks good so that you end up wearing the same things as yesterday or resign yourself to staying in pyjamas if you’re in the house all day.
Try this… Pull everything out of your wardrobe. Only put back what you regularly wear (items that you’ve worn in the last 2-3 weeks except for seasonal items and clothes for specific occasions).
Make sure the clothes that do go back into your wardrobe are clean, in a good state of repair without rips or stains, that you love to wear them, suit your shape, fit you and make you feel fantastic.
When you put the clothes back, try to ensure they are in some form of organisation either by item type (trousers, tops, jackets) or by colour. Make sure they sit on the hangers nicely without being pulled out of shape and that there’s plenty of space for you to see what you’ve actually got in there. Put as many of your clothes on hangers as possible so everything is right in front of you, rather than tucked away in drawers.
Spend some time looking at the clothes in your wardrobe and mentally putting outfits together. [PRO TIP – Take photos or make notes and stick these on the inside of your wardrobe so you don’t have to think too much in the mornings about what goes with what.]
Put the rest of the clothes that haven’t made it back into the wardrobe into a bin bag or keep it in a separate place. For now, don’t throw them away but don’t be tempted to dig into them when you’re looking for something to wear.
For the next week or so, live with the clothes that you’ve got in your wardrobe.
You should find it easier to decide what to wear as you’ve got less clothes to choose from, you can see everything, and what you’ve kept is actually your favourite stuff that you mostly wear anyway.
It will be quicker for you to get dressed, it’s easier to make the decision and you can get on with all the other stuff you’ve got to do in the mornings knowing that you’re put together, looking good and set up for the day.
Want to carry on?! I’ve got a whole post on how to declutter your wardrobe and love your clothes. There’s a free toolkit with that post too!
Look at your diary for the coming week. How many of the things on it do you really need to do? Is there anything on there that, just for this week, you could politely decline, decide not to go to or postpone until next week?
Once you’ve minimalised your possessions, you can start to see how you can minimalise other areas of your life.
Minimalism is so much more than an exercise in scarcity, it’s not about making you live (aka survive) with less of your stuff, but instead it actually makes you happier and more content by allowing you to fully appreciate and build on the things that you do already have.
Your life becomes fuller despite having less.
It’s the same with time. Your time is precious and by minimising the number of commitments you have that use up your time, you’ll actually create MORE time for yourself to do the things you want to do, rather than the things you feel you have to do.
Try this… When you’ve decided what activity, appointment or commitment you’re going to decline or not do (just for this week) then choose how you’re going to spend that time instead.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s just 10 minutes, or 2 hours. Look at the time available and decide to do something with it. It can be whatever you want, but it has to be your choice.
Clean the house, meal prep for dinner, go to the park with the kids, read a book, wallow in the bath, knock out some work. What ever you want to do…
How did it make you feel being able to choose how to spend your time, rather than have it dictated to or decided for you?
You chose to do something which would make a difference to you. Either it made your life easier because you did a chore or got some work done. Perhaps you’ve been meaning to do it for ages but never had the chance or kept putting it off and it’s been getting you down or stressing you out not having done it. Or maybe you took some time out for you – read a book, worked on a hobby, painted your nails.
Instead of rushing from A to B or doing something you don’t want to do just because you’d signed up for it, you were able to choose and focus on something else which was more important to you and/or your family and you felt more productive, relaxed, on top of things [insert your own word here].
Want to watch how you spend your time (no pun intended!). Check out my post on how to simplify your calendar and be more intentional with your time.
If you’re not sure Minimalism is for you but you read to the end of this article, then well done! That’s a great first step! Maybe you tried out one or all of the three ideas above. Even more of a well done! They were designed to cover three main areas where Minimalism can help you 1) clutter, 2) clothes, 3) commitments.
This is by no means the end though! Minimalism can be applied to so many areas of your life but trying these three will give you a sneak peak into the benefits of Minimalism and why it could be for you.
But, if you need any more persuasion then you might like to know that there’s a scientific basis behind all this!
THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT
Over the past few years there have been several studies around the impact of clutter on mental health and emotional wellbeing. The consensus is that when an environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts focus and limits your brain’s ability to process information.
Clutter has also been found to raise cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and leads to stress and depression.
If you do an internet search around the psychological effects of clutter and its impact on the brain, in particular, for women, then many results pop up which you might find interesting reading.
In a nutshell, by keeping your home and mind free from clutter we feel less stressed, calmer and ready to take on more. As Mums, this is pretty useful!
KEEPING IT GOING
Like any changes, it will take a bit of time and effort for you to see what a difference they can make. Depending on the state of your home and your mind, the difference might be immediate or it might take a while, but hopefully they will entice you to make further changes!
Minimalism needn’t be all or nothing and it can be done at a pace that suits you and your family but my hope is that you find a way that Minimalism is for you.
To learn more about Minimalism and how it can help you and your family, please check out my other blog posts.