IN WITH MINIMALISM, OUT WITH THE KIDS

If you‘ve ever had a roommate, houseguest, children, or husband, then chances are you have felt crowded by someone else’s stuff. I have two sons who I love dearly, but what I don’t like is cleaning up after them. It is easy to place blame when it’s another person’s things in the way, but what about when it’s your stuff? I’m sure you’ve felt crowded by your own things, and who’s to blame then? As frustrating as it can be, have you ever asked yourself why? Why can’t I get, and stay organized?

I asked myself the same thing. Generally, I thought it was other people things that were in the way, not mine. And most of the time, I was right. It is easy to blame things on others, but it’s not especially productive. I don’t care whose items are always left out, I just don’t want to see them. I like things to be tidy. Just because I have a 4-year-old is not an excuse for the house to look like the Tasmanian Devil blew through. Besides, I think it’s equally irresponsible to ignore a child’s tidiness around the house as it would be to ignore their table manners when approaching five. In our house kids are taking out the trash by six. So, I am gonna need you to pick up your toys, thanks. I kid. Actually, I’m not. Pick up your shhh.  

Enters Minimalism and says, “Wow, you have a lot of stuff.  Maybe too much. Oh, and where does that go? Oh, it doesn’t have a home? So where do you put it when you are done using it? Ok, anywhere? I see.  It’s amazing how a fresh perspective can deliver a solution to your problem. I have always considered myself a problem solver, but you have to have the tools to do the job. The tool is Minimalism.  Because no matter how many problems that you have in life, become a Minimalist and you will have less. Because it is disturbing how many of our problems are created by our stuff.

I am not a perfect person, much less a perfect Minimalist. Minimalism is a journey. As a family, we are consistently removing things from our life. Objects, desires, addictions, even people. At home, we established a sound system of everything having a home.  I recently finished reading Fumio Sasaki’s “Goodbye, Things.” In the book, he suggests when items have a home, we are less likely to duplicate those items. Some of us might have five pairs of scissors or four spatulas. Why? Mainly because these items are not centralized. Out of sight, out of mind, and into your shopping cart.

We get the less part, we all know Minilasm is about less, got it.  But try taking and donating a lot of unnecessary kids items, and designating a home for all things. It will transform your home into a more comfortable space. If you live alone, you can make this transformation in a weekend.  Allow more time if you have a family. I am always very open and honest when purging with the kids. We often purge, at least a few times per year, or even better once per season. I help them to understand why we don’t need to hold onto everything. We discuss how great it is that someone else can benefit from it if we don’t need it any longer. Of course, we also consider and practice not accumulating unnecessary items to begin with. This makes purging very quick and easy.  

Don’t tell me that the gospel of Minimalism isn’t the truth! I have children who are learning about making more responsible purchases.  I have two beautiful boys who are learning when they aren’t hoarding things they don’t need, someone else could be benefiting from it. Sometimes that person could really need those things. A warm winter coat is still a privilege to some.

Meanwhile, we don’t even feel privileged to have two or three of them in the closet. Did I mention that my home is almost always clean?  Now that there is less stuff, and the things that are left have a home, my house feels like home. Minimalism is no question changing lives. Now I don’t spend even half as much time to pick up Hotwheels, headphones, Legos, and snack wrappers. Which leaves me plenty of extra time to lecture my two boys about peeing into, and not onto the loo.          

Live modestly, and live your best life – A.C.

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