what is minimalism and 4 things it's not

What is Minimalism and 4 things it’s not

Minimalism once used to be a word associated with interior design. Nowadays it has a much broader definition and has become a popular and sweeping movement amongst those who want to live a more intentional and simpler life. For those of you who are new to the whole idea or intrigued to learn more about how it can help busy mums with busy families, read my post on what is Minimalism and 4 things it’s definitely not.


Here’s a definition of Minimalism out of the Collins English Dictionary:

A style in which a small number of very simple things are used to create a particular effect.

Yes, it’s definitely true to say that the term Minimalism has long been associated with interior design, and often in a negative way where the space is usually so bare and sparse that there’s no comfort or personality to make it a place you’d want to spend any time in.

In recent years, Minimalism has become a much broader concept which includes not just home decoration but other aspects of life and general living.

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist came up with a new definition that I think describes this new form of Minimalism perfectly.

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.
Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist

Keep in mind Joshua Becker’s quote above as you read on.

Most people can relate to what science has confirmed – that we feel calmer, less stressed and more able to focus when we’re not surrounded by loads of stuff and clutter because our cortisol levels (the stress hormone) are lower.

If you’re interested to learn more about the direct relationship between clutter and stress, then do an internet search on the psychological effects of clutter and you’ll pull up a growing collection of research studies and articles.

Think how you feel when you tidy your desk at work, or the kitchen cupboards at home, or even your underwear drawer!

Immediately you can see what you’ve got, find what you’re looking for, use the space effectively and generally feel better and more productive whether it’s at work, in the kitchen, or getting dressed in the morning.

Now imagine continuing that on to other parts of your home.

  • Getting rid of anything that you don’t use, don’t like or don’t want and creating space and order where there previously wasn’t any.
  • Clearing the table tops so you can see the surface and have space for your most favourite photos.
  • Having less toys so it’s quicker and easier to clear them up when they’re not in use so you can actually see the floor and don’t have to step over things.

Most of us would agree that we feel better when we’ve got a tidy, clean home.

minimalist home

Most people get into Minimalism by clearing up and getting rid of their unwanted stuff. To use the popular term at the moment it’s called decluttering!

Then they start to think about the difference minimalising their stuff has made and go on to simplify other areas of their lives by applying the same principles. For example, to their calendar, their finances, what they choose to eat, what they choose to wear.

They get rid of the things they no longer want, need or love (to do, spend money on, eat, wear) and instead focus on what they DO want.


To give you an example, I used to fill my time with loads of activities for myself and my kids. I used to say yes to everything, worried that if I said no to an invitation to going out, that nobody would ask me again! I didn’t want my kids to lose out on opportunities, so I said yes to every after-school activity.

In the end I was a 24/7 taxi service, constantly busy and on-the-go, but with no free time to do the things that I actually wanted to do! How mad was that!

What I actually wanted was to take an online course from home, read some of the books I’d been dying to read and watch my kids muck about outside coming up with their own games of make-believe.

Unstructured free time was what I was craving for, but I’d lost all of it by filling my diary with other stuff. So, I started to say no to a lot of things, choosing only to let myself or my kids do things that we really, really wanted to do.

Click this link to read my post on how to simplify your calendar and be more intentional with your time.

I created loads more free time by being minimal about my calendar!

And there you have it. That’s the basis of how Minimalism can help you as a busy Mum with a busy family.

Only let into your life (whether it’s stuff, diary appointments or anything else) what you and your family really want, love and need – the things that are most important to you. Just let the other things go.

Remember that quote by Joshua Becker?

‘Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.’

Well, hopefully it makes sense to you now.


To help you understand more about what Minimalism means, let’s look at some common myths and misconceptions so you can understand what Minimalism definitely is not!

#1 Minimalism means going without (and my family will be so unhappy!)

On the surface, going Minimalist means getting rid of your stuff. But for those of you who are beginning to understand it a bit more, you’ll have realised that embracing a Minimalist lifestyle means you’re only getting rid of the things which you don’t need, or you don’t love, in order to create space for more of the things that are important to you.

Yes, you will end up with less stuff, but you’ll have more time, space and freedom for other things that are more important to you.

#2 Minimalism is only for certain people (not a busy Mum like me with a full-on life)

Minimalism (like people) comes in many shapes and sizes. If you’re reading this then you’re probably not a single man in his 30s, wanting to try out some weird Minimalist experiment by sacrificing virtually all your possessions to see how few you can actually live with!

What you probably are is a busy, overwhelmed Mum who’s juggling loads of balls in the air and desperately trying not to drop one. You just don’t have much time, energy or wiggle room to try out new things.

But, Minimalism can make a difference to you more than probably ANY other group of people!

By getting rid of the things that make you feel overwhelmed and making them simpler when you can’t get rid of them totally (think of housework), you can create so much more physical and mental space for other things that are way more important to you.

  • Playing with your kids right now instead of after you’ve done a load of housework.
  • An evening spent on the sofa watching a film with a glass of wine instead of washing the dishes and sorting out the laundry for tomorrow.

Minimalism enables you to create a life that you’re more present in, rather than just trying to keep your head above water. Check out my other post on why Mums need Minimalism.

minimalist living

#3 Minimalism means I’m going to have to follow rules and my family won’t want to

Who said there has to be rules? And if there are any, then you can make up your own rules for your family and on your terms!

In fact, I do have a rule when it comes to my wardrobe. If I want to buy something then I’ll buy it, but I have to give something I already own away. It’s the one in/one out rule and it works great! I get to go shopping and treat myself to something new. Somebody else benefits from having an item that I’ve swapped it out for!

But, let’s put my example of the one in/one out rule aside for a moment.

Minimalism (despite its name) is actually about enabling you to add value to your life rather than take it away.


You may not want to live with less than 100 belongings or get rid of all your furniture and live with just a mattress on the floor and no TV. So those sorts of rules definitely wouldn’t work!

What you probably have instead is a house full of kids, lots of toys, lots of things going on and not a lot of spare time or energy! So, implementing rules is just one more set of things for you to think about and remember. Nope, you don’t need that!

You can find your own form of Minimalism that works for you and your family and still call yourself a minimalist. That’s perfectly ok too!

Check out my post on Minimalism and why you should break the rule sometimes.


#4 Minimalism means I have to throw away all my stuff

Minimalism means far more than just throwing away your stuff.

Decluttering their stuff is often the first place people begin when they start going Minimalist but that’s because it’s the most obvious place to begin and also has the biggest and quickest impact on most people’s lives (particularly if you’re a mum with a busy family).

But it doesn’t mean that you have to throw away everything!

It’s about getting rid of what’s unimportant in your home and life so that you can make space for the most important. Because there aren’t any rules (see point 3 above!) you can choose to keep what you want and throw away the rest. You’ll become an expert at identifying the things you love, want and need and by default will just naturally get rid of your unwanted clutter.

But, if that means you want to hold on to something every now and then just for the sake of it… go for it!

Minimalism isn’t about sentencing you and your family to a life with nothing.


As a Mum I firstly turned to Minimalism because I wanted to reduce the amount of stuff and clutter in my home. I didn’t want to constantly be playing catch up, overwhelmed by the mess and forever moving, tidying and cleaning it. Instead, I wanted to spend my time playing with my children, looking after my family and myself.

I wanted to enjoy my motherhood, rather than be a slave to it.

However, my journey into Minimalism turned out to be so much more than just a simple decluttering. It came with unexpected and life-changing benefits and a whole new outlook.

Some of the benefits of Minimalism for my family and I:

  • More freedom to play with my kids or go out for the day on a whim
  • Less time spent doing housework or looking after my home
  • Less stress and feelings of overwhelm because I had more mental space and clarity
  • More memories and experiences because we were able to do so much more together
  • More money and a better financial situation because we spent less and were intentional about what we did buy
  • More appreciation and gratitude for the things that money can’t buy but also what we had already
  • More purpose and intention because we focused on what was important to us, and cut out the rest
  • More time to spend on looking after myself, my family and those closest to me
  • I set a better example for my children because I was happier, less overwhelmed and, as I had taken action to make our life better, I felt I could be a more positive role model

Click this link to read my post on the unexpected and life-changing benefits of Minimalism.

unexpected and life-changing benefits of minimalism

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