Minimalism and the Messiness of Family Life Can Coexist

Inside: If you’ve ever felt as though your minimalism and your family life are constantly butting heads, this post is for you. With minimalism comes the pressure to maintain a tidy and picture perfect home at all times. However, the mess doesn’t disqualify you.

“Minimalist check!”

I don’t get very many unexpected knocks on my door. While I live in a subdivision, it’s not one of those subdivisions. People are very nice, but mostly keep to themselves. If I’m being perfectly honest, I have a love hate relationship with hearing a knock on my door. Could this be my Ed McMahon moment or has tragedy just struck?

I know, I know, always with the extremes.

However, my initial panic always subsides when I see it’s just my brother. On any given weekday afternoon he’ll unexpectedly drop by between appointments to say hello. Though I often wonder if he’s just using me for my bathroom, but hey, what is family for.

But every time he shows up, he walks in and jokingly shouts out, “minimalist check!” As if he’s popping in to make sure I’m really living minimally.

His lag in appointments usually fall around the 4 o’clock hour and if you’re a momma with little ones, then you know that’s the absolute worst time to receive an unexpected visitor!

Messy Minimalism

Something happens during this time. It’s as if the clock strikes four and instead of pumpkins my kids turn into wild maniacs of varying sorts. Some days they become hyperactive maniacs. Other days whining maniacs, angry maniacs or goofy maniacs. The only thing consistent about it is the insanely loud decibel level by which they communicate with themselves, each other and me.

Needless to say, my house is always a wreck at that time. John typically finds me standing in my kitchen, prying at that morning’s cereal bowls which have now become one with the counter by a ring of hardened milk. Though his visits are typically unannounced, they are always appreciated because he keeps my manic children engaged during said cereal bowl excavation.

Minimalism and The Messiness of Family Life

However, early in my pursuit of perfect minimalism, this kind of intrusion delightful visit, would cause me to freak out. I spent much of my day preparing for this exact scenario asking myself, does my home look minimalist enough? What would people think if they saw the state of my kitchen right now?

But after many years of making this life of less my own, I’ve learned that family life, and the mess that often accompanies it, doesn’t exclude you from a minimalist lifestyle. It’s during this messy phase of life we need minimalism most

minimalism and the messiness of family life

Sound Familiar

I recently sent out a questionnaire to readers asking about their experiences and struggles with becoming minimalists.

One thing was pretty consistent in the replies I received from moms in particular. They almost always apologized for the current state of their minimalism. After sharing their stories of finding minimalism and working to unclutter their homes, they’d typically follow it up with something like, “I mean, you might not notice the difference but…” or “It’s not by any means perfect but…” or “It still gets messy though.

I’m guilty of doing the same thing and here’s why.

Deep down we’re afraid someone is going to show up at 4 o’clock for a “minimalist check” and take away our minimalist membership card.

The Mess is Inevitable 

As a parent, it’s not just me and my possessions I have to contend with. Though even if it were, I’m still guilty of tossing my clothes on the floor and leaving coffee cups about. On top of my own mess, my daughter has a thing for pipe cleaners and my son origami and paper airplanes. Markers still get left out, pajamas don’t always get put away and toys (no matter how few we own) are still distributed all over the place.

We build forts, bake cookies, paint rocks and after each of these activities my children forget how to tidy… every time. With five people under one roof, our home still gets messy.

But here’s the best part about it all. The fundamental principal we often forget:

Minimalism doesn’t mean always tidy, it just means easily tidied.

minimalism and the messiness of family life

Once we embrace this truth, our minimalism begins to serve us, instead of the other way around. It can’t be about maintaining perfection, otherwise you’ve only traded your clutter for control.

Embrace the Mess

Let’s stop overcomplicating what’s intended to simplify.

Once I stopped fearing the imaginary minimalist police and embraced my own real life minimalism, this life of less could finally gift me what I was after in the first place. A more present motherhood. And with that comes mess, because the mess is the point! With minimalism, we just get to spend more time making those messes and less time cleaning them up.

You May Also Enjoy Reading: Dear Messy People, Minimalism is Especially For You


Sick of the clutter, but not quite sure “minimalism” as you know it is for you? You’re probably right. Minimalism as you know it, probably isn’t for you. It wasn’t for me either.

messy minimaism

Because of that, Messy Minimalism was born. Messy Minimalism is a doable, grace-based approach to living a clutter free life. It frees you up to embrace the mess, live with less and create an imperfectly perfect home for you.
Messy Minimalism is available NOW from your favorite book retailer or library. 😉

For more information on Messy Minimalism head to

Need Some Serious Decluttering Motivation?

Sign-up for my new, FREE 3 Day Email Series, Unstuck.

Here we will tackle 3 common decluttering obstacles so you can let go and get uncluttered for good. If you’ve ever gotten started and then gotten stuck, this FREE resource is for you!

minimalist bloggers

For more inspiration

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook


7 thoughts on “Minimalism and the Messiness of Family Life Can Coexist

  1. Sounds like you visited my home at 4 ???? I indeed tend to trade clutter for control… and I am not the nicer mom for it. Good point that the mess really is the point! Thank you for the reminder. And yes to more grace for ourselves… we would never be as judgy to a friends mess as we are to ours…

  2. “ It can’t be about maintaining perfection, otherwise you’ve only traded your clutter for control.”!!

  3. Just love these words of truth! “Let’s stop over complicating what is meant to simplify.” We have so much freedom and living a lifestyle that involves maintaining less possessions allows me to focus on the things that TRULY matter. Great post, Rachelle. Thank you.

  4. I’m just getting started and Rachelle, I surely do appreciate YOU!!!! Great cheerleader!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.