Minimalism once used to be associated with interior design but has now become a much more wide-spread and popular movement for people who no longer wish to spend their time, energy and money looking after lots of stuff and chasing lifestyles which are bigger and better than everyone else.
Instead, they choose to get rid of anything that doesn’t add value, purpose or bring happiness into their life, so they can focus on what’s important to them.
Overwhelmed, busy Mums who juggle so many demands and endless To Do lists need Minimalism to make things simpler, easier and to enable them to enjoy and embrace motherhood rather than just struggling to get through it.
Check out this post on why Mums need Minimalism to make life easier.
HOW LIFE CAN CREEP UP ON US WITHOUT US REALISING
Minimalism was the thing that saved me when I was at my lowest point, juggling small kids, a busy career and a million other things – every day, all day. I hadn’t realised how far I’d sunk until a melt-down at work jolted me back into reality and I started to take control of my life, my home, my family and myself.
My melt-down and my search for a new and better life for us all led me to Minimalism and being able to embrace a simpler, more intentional life, by only saying Yes! to things that felt right, added value and which I loved.
In the words of Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist,
‘Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts from it’.
The more I read, the more I understood that my life had caught up on me without me even realising it. I had always worked hard and was proud of my career but I thought I could carry on doing it and look after my babies and my step kids, virtually on my own. My husband worked long hours and was rarely home.
However, I soon found out that I wasn’t actually Superwoman and that it was impossible for me to give 100% to everything, all the time, without some kind of side effect.
It wasn’t until I reached the point of burn out that I, and others, realised that I’d been carrying on, ignoring the warning signs and pretending to myself and everyone else that I was fine, when actually I was far from it.
Overwhelm had crept up on me and I finally admitted that the anger, irritability, tears, insomnia, lack of focus and concentration and just generally feeling like crap were the precursor to my melt-down and I should have seen it coming long before.
But I didn’t. I had carried on regardless up until that point. Either I was too proud to admit I had a problem, too pig-headed to ask for help, or I was in denial to myself that things were as bad as they were.
Whatever the reason, once I’d reached this point, I promised myself that things had to change and I was the only one able to make those changes. I owed it to myself and my family.
A few years ago I was working many hours for a business that I had been at for well over ten years. Before I had children I threw myself into my job which I loved passionately.
When I became a Mum, I tried to carry on but I was working too many hours and struggling to balance work and home. I was on a knife-edge and ready to tip at any point.
Both my daughters had been in childcare from a very (too) early age. They were both just weeks old when I had to return to work out of financial necessity. Both had been born in difficult circumstances and I immediately resented the fact that I had to hand over my tiny beautiful babies to be looked after by someone else when I had been through so much to bring them into the world in the first place. But, financially I had no choice. Many of us Mums don’t and that’s just how it is.
Too many hours at work and juggling two small children is a lot, but something that many of us have to deal with. On top of that though I had a husband who worked long, long hours. Six days a week, early morning to late-ish evening, 6 days a week.
My husband’s children (my step-kids) would visit every other weekend and our small house would swell with children, noise, movement, toys and general stuff.
Not great when you’re an introvert through and through and my natural craving would be for calm, quiet and peace! I’ve since learnt that there are ways to make things easier for introvert mums like me. If you’re in the same boat, check out my post on 5 tips for the introvert mum.
I had a limited social network and not a lot of family. My Mum has always lived near and she is brilliant and does so much. But, she has her own life to live out.
One day I lost the plot at work and broke down in tears in the office, totally worn down from the unrelenting overload.
I was totally consumed by the fog of stress and overwhelm. My life was definitely NOT in balance and all I wanted to do was scream and cry into a pillow. I was desperate for some help, guidance and inspiration. A way to get me through these tough times and that there surely must be something more than this. Was I destined to feel this way forever, was this what motherhood was all about and what sort of Mum would I be in this state of mind?
Something desperately needed to change and I was the only one who could make those changes…
I talked to my husband, went to the doctors, changed my job, and researched the hell out of motherhood, overwhelm and ways to improve my situation.
HOW I STARTED TO TAKE CONTROL AND TAKE ACTION
I identified trigger factors, times of the day, the week, things that would happen, situations that would make me feel extra-overwhelmed. I realised that the times when I felt most stressed and overwhelmed was when I thought about all the stuff I had to do, the state of my home, when I was trying to juggle too many balls in the air.
It was also when I didn’t get any time to re-charge my batteries, when I was too tired and when I tried to push myself way beyond my limits in my constant quest to be perfect, to get it all right, to set a great example and so on…
If you struggle with perfectionism, read my post on why it’s better to seek progress, not perfection over here. It might help you!
I did loads of research and found there was an actual, scientific basis for when I felt so overwhelmed and unable to focus, concentrate or see a way through.
BACKED UP BY SCIENCE
I read up on studies which showed that, putting it simply, too much stuff and clutter around you is directly related to increased stress levels. Therefore, by removing this stuff and clutter, stress levels would go down. You can read about one of these studies here and there’s plenty more if you run an internet search for the psychological effects of clutter.
What happens when you reduce your stress levels? For me, this included:
- I shouted less at my children and my husband
- I was less irritable
- I enjoyed life more
- I was more fun
- I had time to give to myself and others
- I was, basically, a much better and more present Mum
HOW I SIMPLIFIED MY LIFE AND FOUND MINIMALISM
I looked at my life, all the different aspects of it and systematically worked through each and every one to ensure that I was prioritising the things that were of most importance to me and saying no to the ones that didn’t fit in with my values and objectives.
I simplified my life and was intentional about what I let back into it. If something didn’t feel right, or it didn’t bring value to me or my family or our life, then I didn’t let it in!
I later found out that what I was doing was actually called something – Minimalism!
It wasn’t just an interior design style but a philosophy that you can actually apply to pretty much every aspect of your life, whatever that life might look like. After all, I’m a working Mum with a big family. I chose Minimalism and tweaked it to suit my family because I saw the value of it to every aspect of my life and I adapted it to suit my situation.
- throwing out the clutter
- streamlining our possessions – clothes, closets, toys, everything in the house
- clearing my calendar of unnecessary commitments
- saying no to things that didn’t feel right
- simplifying my finances
- developing routines for the day
- getting up earlier in the morning to create quiet time for me
- and so on…
What happened was a gradual and general lifting of my spirits. I had time to think, time to play, time to be intentional with my day for the benefit of both my family and I. Anything that wasn’t aligned with my intention and didn’t sit right with me, I didn’t do. Or found a way around it without offending anyone.
My kids said I was more fun, more relaxed. My husband said I was more positive, happy and self-assured. I didn’t have a panic attack when guests came round as a quick pick up would make the house more than presentable. I didn’t need half a day’s warning to clean and tidy!
I wasn’t buried under a pile of laundry. I wasn’t constantly picking up toys from every room. We could go for a trip to the park at the drop of a hat. Not only would the kids love it but I did too! Instead of spending the time thinking about what mess I had left behind at home, I could totally enjoy their play and the sound of their laughter.
Our finances also improved. Our wants changed, we bought less stuff, we were intentional about those items that we did buy. We began to spend more money on experiences, days out and time spent as a family creating memories for the future.
It was a relief, an unburdening and a freedom that I had never felt before.
We may have less, but we are richer for it.
And it didn’t stop there. Because I felt balance and purpose in a general sense, I was then able to use this in other areas of my life. I spent more time on self-care and personal development, learning to love myself and develop my identity beyond being a mother and a wife. I treated myself with compassion, grace and kindness.
I carved out extra time to start this website and blog, without compromising on the time and energy I give my kids, husband, myself or anything else.
HOW CAN MINIMALISM HELP YOU?
Minimalism can be applied to all aspects of life when you remember the quote earlier in my post – ‘Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts from it’.
Think about how many times you’ve spent ages doing the following:
- sorting out your laundry
- the children’s clothes
- picking up their toys
- cleaning the house
- rooting around in the kitchen cupboards unable to find something nutritious to feed the family
- sorting out your finances yet wondering where all your money went at the end of the month
- get to the evening but totally worn out because you’ve taken on too many commitments and there’s no time for anything else
- Forgotten who YOU are beyond being a Mum
The list goes on…
And yet, Minimalism can be applied to all these aspects of life and motherhood in a way that can relieve the pressure and the burden.
If you simplify your life through Minimalism you are letting go of a massive weight. All that time spent doing the things that you HAVE to do, detracting from the time that you could be spending doing things that you WANT to do.
- You can have more time to play with your children, to read with them, play a board game, build Lego, anything that helps strengthen the bond and you can enjoy together.
- You can also develop time to spend with your other half; quality time not just time spent at the end of the day when you’re both half dead with exhaustion.
- You can learn to spend time on yourself, have a bath, meditate, read a book, take up home study – without feeling guilty that you’re being selfish or wasting time.
Minimalism helped me completely turn my life around and I am eternally grateful that I discovered it when I did. It has given me so many benefits that I’m now passionate about helping other Mums find balance through simplicity and living a more Minimalist and intentional life.
My website and blog came out of this passion because I believe wholeheartedly that Mums needs Minimalism.
How you interpret Minimalism is different for everyone and what suits one family may not suit another, but there’s definitely something, if not lots, that you can take from it to help you get control over your life and enjoy being a Mum, rather than just struggling to get through it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please comment below or drop me an email at email@example.com.
WANT TO DIG DEEPER?
Here are some of my other blog posts which might help you understand how Minimalism can help you. They’ll hopefully encourage and inspire you to try it for yourself.
- Unexpected and life-changing benefits of Minimalism
- 8 ways to simplify your life
- 3 things to try if you’re not sure Minimalism is for you