Inside: Adopting minimalism with kids may seem impossible, but if I can do it, so can you. Here is a look at my ah-ha moment and how minimalism helped give me back my life.
I recently heard a friend of a friend say, “I’m a minimalist,” while talking about something totally unrelated. I sat straight up in my chair and my heart started pounding. “She has five kids,” I thought. “How could she possibly be a minimalist with kids?” I have three and I am drowning in my life.
As the week went on I could not shake the idea that minimalism could be exactly what I was looking for. I started to realize that I had been on a journey toward a more simplified life for a couple of years. I just didn’t know it until now.
The Overwhelmed Life
You see, something inside me had been unsettled, overwhelmed and discontent. Motherhood sure looked a whole lot different than I thought it would. I felt more like an inventory manager than a woman in charge of the hearts and minds of my little people.
As the days went by, I constantly felt a great divide between where I spent my energy and the kind of life I wanted to live.
I was living on auto-pilot. Life seemed to be passing me by as I went through my day to day routine. I remember watching TV with my husband in the living room while my kiddos were asleep, and glancing around at all of our stuff. The stuff I had just spent my day taking care of. I began to feel like the walls were closing in around me. Is this all there is? While was wildly in love with my husband, my kids and my God, I couldn’t shake this discontent I had with the trajectory I saw my life on.
We had been considering the possibility of moving, building a new home or adding a third car stall to our garage, because our family of five was outgrowing our space. I figured “space” was my problem.
It started to feel so meaningless. I felt like I was missing something.
“It’s Just The Season I’m In”
I had come up with a few defense mechanisms for when I would feel this sense of overwhelm rise up inside me. “It’s okay,” I’d tell myself. “You’re in a season of life where it’s just nuts. Someday it will be easier.”
Even better, I have a small sign in my kitchen that says, “Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens and happy kids.”
As my house fell apart around 4pm every weekday and I struggled to pull together a healthy dinner, I would occasionally pour myself a lovely glass of pinot grigio and toast my sign. The acceptance of the “season” I was in became my explanation for this overwhelm.
I often described myself as a really great mom, but a not so great homemaker. Accepting my reality that we were doomed to live in chaos until my kids were old enough to finally keep their things picked up…so like, four hundred more years (over the top eye roll).
Messy Minimalism, available now where books are sold.
As I started researching what minimalism stood for, and whether or not it was even possible with children, I realized that maybe I wasn’t just bad at cleaning and keeping things organized. Maybe I just had too much crap!
Why did I believe that my daughter needed twenty two Little People for her Little People princess castle? What if the reason my kids rarely play with their toy kitchen is because it is so jam packed with accessories that it gives them as much anxiety as it does me? What if I could be free of the couch pillows I loathed so much? I had eight pillows on my living room couches. Who needs to exercise when you spend an hour a day bending over to pick up the pillows knocked on the floor by your kids?
I really started to get excited about the potential.
Then I started thinking about how this lined up so well with my faith in Jesus Christ. John 10:10 says, “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.”
I always assumed living “abundantly” meant more. More health, more things, more house, more money, more success, more, more, more. But, what if abundant life looks completely different?
What if living abundantly means living with more peace, more contentment, more trust in His provision, more time to invest in what matters? What if a rich and satisfying life doesn’t involve accumulation?
I recalled an article I had read within the last couple of months linking depression to clutter.
It turns out that clutter has a profound affect on our mood and self-esteem. CELF’S (UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families) anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found: A link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects. The more stuff, the more stress women feel.
Mind…blown! I felt like it all made sense! The fog of monotonous living had lifted and I could finally see clearly. I knew what we had to do.
I presented this idea to my husband and the next day we were minimalists. Ok…so not exactly like that, though it didn’t take long for him get on board. This process has taken some serious work. But the good kind of work.
I am free from living life as if I’m on a treadmill, going nowhere, though constantly moving. It’s the kind of work that proves to be worth it. The kind of work that leaves you feeling empowered, accomplished and hopeful.
We have purged a ton, and right now we are enjoying the fruit of our labor. The freedom and peace in our home is almost palpable. We are looking forward to going deeper, removing even more of the unnecessary, so we can pull from the clutter, things that bring us joy. Things that bring a truly rich and satisfying life.
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