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.
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 week day afternoon he’ll unexpectedly drop by between sales 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!
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, used to freak me 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 a couple of 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!
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 often morph into zombie-sloth like creatures with knees that can’t bend and fingers that won’t grasp. 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.
(Unless the zombie-sloth creatures have come to life and then it just means eventually tidied.)
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! We just get to spend more time making it and less time cleaning it.
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