Stop The Madness: Where We Began Our Journey into Minimalism

YOU DO NOT NEED MORE BINS!

In the past, when I would get fed up with my insane clutter, I would head out to Target or Hobby Lobby for some organizational supplies. I used to have a bin for super heroes, a bin for little people, a bin for princess pets and a bin for hot wheels…I really could go on. I even had a bin for bins!

My kids never cared to remember which toy went in which bin. They were required to pick up, but it looked more like a couple of chipmunks frantically packing their cheeks for the winter. It was all just shoved anywhere they could fit it. I would regularly spend an entire morning dividing them up and putting them back where they belonged. I would then walk away feeling so accomplished.

However, 30 minutes later I would watch all of my hard work destroyed by my 18 month old, 23 lb little monster we like to refer to as Amelia-zilla. Nothing makes you feel more defeated than time wasted and effort unappreciated.

Remember, the goal is LESS stuff! More bins are not the answer. We want to get away from spending our time cleaning and organizing. Do yourself a favor and stop the madness!

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STEP 1: Stop the Madness

You have everything you need to become a minimalist! Purchase nothing that isn’t absolutely necessary…I mean, like toilet paper “necessary”. Take time to be intentional with whatever you do have to buy. Even your groceries! Start thinking about what actually gets used.

Step 2: Lead by Example

I so badly wanted to head straight for my kids rooms and start gutting toys. Joshua Becker, has some excellent tips for getting started. One passage that really stuck out to me was:

Minimize your personal belongings first and your shared family belongings second. It would be unfair to ask your child/teenager to thoroughly adopt the lifestyle until you have done it personally. Also remember, you will learn valuable lessons when you remove your personal clutter – valuable lessons that will put you in a better place to help your son or daughter navigate their journey.

The first place I headed was to my own closet. Prior to Christmas, I had purged a ton of old stuff that I hadn’t worn in years. What remained was an embarrassing amount of clothes in really great condition. Some were dressier than I regularly wear. Some tops were just a couple of inches shorter than I liked and I never felt great wearing them. Some were adorable but a little itchy. So, sometimes I just struggled through wearing it out of guilt or lack of ability to find what I really wanted to wear that day.

It took me a moment. Standing there, staring. There isn’t even enough time to wear it all! I started pulling out anything I didn’t LOVE to wear. I removed probably 60% of my wardrobe in less than an hour. It was a fabulous feeling…and a horrifying feeling…but mostly fabulous.

There seems to be a lot of talk about capsule wardrobes. A capsule wardrobe is where you select a limited number of clothing articles that can all be worn to match each other. You can change it up a little with a different scarf, jacket or cardigan. A lot of people have great success with that.

Another concept I came across is the 333 project. Where you only allow yourself to wear 33 items or less for 3 months. A lot of people seem to love this as well. These ideas did not seem very sustainable for me. Knowing myself, I would spend too much time trying  to figure out exactly what pieces I needed in my “capsule.” I was afraid I would just give up or even worse, convince myself I needed to head out shopping for a few articles of clothing that would really complete the capsule I was creating. As for right now, that’s not for me.

I was on a roll and I wanted it to stay that way. With this first phase I was more interested in just getting rid of what I didn’t LOVE and keeping what I did. Brutal honesty and an almost emotional detachment was necessary. There was no room for, “well maybe I would wear this if…” I went with my initial gut reaction on each piece and tried not to over think it. I hate to admit this, but some of the clothes being chucked into the donation pile still had tags on them. Some had only been worn once.

Transparency is important to me. Here are a few before and after shots. You can see my husband even jumped on board after seeing all I had accomplished. I didn’t even have to sneak his hoodie t-shirt (that’s right, I said hoodie T-SHIRT) out to the trash in the middle of the night and claim ignorance as to its whereabouts.

before-3  after-5

Step 3: Find Ways to be Generous

This next step is the best part! Find ways to be generous. There are lots of ways you can purge items and make a few bucks. This cash can go a long way in paying off debt. Maybe it could be used for a trip that seemed financially unattainable before, or even just a night out to celebrate your new found freedom.

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However, I encourage you, in the midst of all this purging, to find ways to be generous. Hand off some items to a family member or donate to local charities. It is wildly rewarding! There are people who genuinely need some of the things we are holding on to so tightly. We have the opportunity to demonstrate to those around us how to love our neighbor. I love that I get to demonstrate for my children how we act out our faith through giving. Passing these things on has even allowed me to take a further step toward fully trusting in God as my provider. We believe He always has and always will provide for our needs.

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