Clutter can be incredibly overwhelming, and minimalism or a serious reduction in possessions may seem like a wonderful idea, but in reality … where do you find the time to go through that overwhelming amount of belongings? You may have simplified some in the past, but the “stuff” just slowly creeps back in. I want to help you go beyond decluttering, to experience the freedom of minimalism with a family.
I need to say this right off the bat: minimalism does not mean owning nothing. Minimalism does not necessarily mean owning two sets of clothes and a toothbrush, having no furniture or decor, and bare, stark walls (unless that’s what really makes you happy). Minimalism simply means paring your belongings down to just what adds value to your life, or lines up with your vision for your best life.
On the other end of the spectrum, too much stuff, no matter how valuable each item may seem, can take away from a fulfilling life. Taking care of things, cleaning things, cleaning around and under things, fixing things, replacing batteries, and continually trying to put everything away in some semblance of order saps our time and energy. Maintaining, storing, replacing, upgrading, and repairing things costs money.
Car payments, credit card payments, insurance, and repair bills can tie us down. We get stuck working long hours, paying for the stuff we “need,” because that is what has become normal in our society.
Many of us don’t even have time to enjoy most of the stuff we own, and we spend more of the time we are at home taking care of our stuff than we do connecting with others, relaxing, and recharging.
And then there’s the wasted money. The more money we spend on stuff, the less we have to pay debt, save, and accomplish big, important things. And how much of the stuff you buy ends up sold, donated, or in the trash? I think we would be surprised if we added it all up.
A Simple Plan to go Beyond Decluttering (No, Really!)
I believe you can get through your stuff and live a radically different, happier, freer, and more fulfilling life, even if you’re overwhelmed with the sheer amount of belongings you have now.
I am excited to announce that over the next eight weeks, I will be sharing an easy, step-by-step method to go through every area of your home, and reduce the amount of stuff to a level that you are happy with. And the amazing part is that it will not take nearly as much of your time as you think!
Today, we’ll talk about finding the kind of motivation that will encourage and guide you through the whole process. Then I’ll introduce the EASY method that will get you where you want to be, much more quickly than you think.
I am going to be walking through this method with you every step of the way. While we have simplified a lot at our house over the last several years, we still have more clutter than I’d like. I also have some serious problem areas that I have never fully dealt with (I will even be sharing pictures of our dreaded basement and homeschool room).
Over the next eight weeks, I’ll post about each area of the house, and some tips and tricks to get through it, as well as pictures of my own process. (I’d also LOVE to hear about your progress each week). During the series, I’ll post about dealing with the things that keep us from letting go of stuff, and offer some help with donating or selling your items. Let’s do this together!
Real Motivation to Make this Work
There is some inspiration out there in places like Pinterest. You could easily find thousands upon thousands of photos of beautiful, clean, minimalist homes to “inspire” you. But pretty pictures by themselves are never going to be enough to do the work of going through all our stuff and getting rid of the excess.
We have to dig deeper.
You need to decide what it is you want out of life.
Do any of these sound familiar:
- I wish I didn’t spend so much time cleaning up my house.
- I wish my house wasn’t so messy.
- I wish my kids kept their toys cleaned up.
- I wish I could find what I needed.
- I wish we didn’t spend so much on ______. (Fill in the blank with some item you own).
- Add any other reasons you can think of!
This is a good start, but we can still go much deeper. We need to ask “why” to get the real answers.
Why do you want to spend less time cleaning? Why do you want to spend less money? Do you have massive debt to pay off? What would you be able to do if it was paid? What would you do if you suddenly had more free time?
You may even want to answer those questions, and then ask why again. Keep going until you begin to think about your deepest desires that really motivate you.
You could end up realizing that you want more than just the convenience of a clean house.
- Maybe you want to be there for your family or friends in a way you never have before.
- Maybe you are always taking care of your stuff (and your kids’ stuff), but you need time and freedom to take care of your own health problems, so you can be the best person you can be.
- Maybe you are overwhelmed and need some breathing room to be able to handle everything on your plate with grace. Then you could be the kind and gentle mom you always wanted to be.
Clutter and stuff is not worth the pain of feeling too burdened to be the person you want to be, to love others deeply, to realize your greatest goals and dreams. You might even want to write down a few of the deep motivations you find for doing this, and post them in a place you will see them (or type them and make the list the lock screen on your phone). When you see it, you’ll be reminded and encouraged to keep going in this process!
NOTE: I’m thrilled to add that we’ve created a FREE workbook to help you find and record your motivation and goals. Click the picture below to get it!
The Method: A Packing Party for Minimalism with a Family
Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn of the Minimalists talk about “imagining a life with less.” Josh and Ryan have gained a big following with their blog (theminimalists.com), podcast, books, and documentary … over 20 million people, to be exact.
If you haven’t seen their documentary, Minimalism: a Documentary About the Important Things, (which is also available on Netflix), it is a must-watch!
My husband and I had the amazing opportunity to hear Josh and Ryan speak and watch them record a podcast on their live tour a few weeks ago, and even got a couple hugs after the show (I was a little star-struck, lol).
After their motivational talk, I was more inspired and prepared than ever to do a “packing party.” This is an idea Ryan came up with to pare down his belongings very quickly, after he saw how happy his friend Josh was on his own journey into minimalism.
The video below is a great introduction to The Minimalists and their “Packing Party” idea:
Basically, you pack up everything you own into boxes, and take out only what you NEED over the next three weeks. After experiencing this simpler life with only what you need, it is much easier to get rid of the rest of the items in the boxes that you don’t need (and haven’t touched for three weeks).
This sounds like an amazing idea, but I wondered how it would work for families. The thought of packing EVERYTHING for a family of five into boxes, and then trying to find what we need, when we need it, is pretty overwhelming. (I imagine being home with my three kids, and the baby screaming, refusing to be put down, while I dig through boxes for the right lid for a sippy cup)! I decided to modify a little bit, and created my own guidelines for the Packing Party – Family Style.
Here are our family’s modifications:
- As we go through each room, we will not be packing the items that we KNOW we will need in the next week. These are staying out, so they are easy to find.
- We are leaving up the home decor that we are SURE we want to stay put. I am keeping in mind the minimal feel that I want in my home, and if there are home decor items I’m not sure about, they are getting packed up.
- The furniture follows basically the same guideline as home decor. If I’m SURE we need it, it stays. Items I’m unsure about go with the boxes in the basement.
- We are picking a minimal number of outfits and pajamas for each of the kids to leave out, and the kids get to help pick which outfits they want.
- We are letting the kids pick a stuffed animal and a few other favorite toys to leave out. The rest are getting packed. We will also be letting them take a few more toys back out over the next couple weeks (more on this when we talk about the kids rooms and playroom in detail)!
We will still have a LOT of items to pack up, but this saves us the headache and stress of having EVERYTHING for a family of five packed away for weeks.
If this is something you want to do, feel free to change or add your own modifications. This needs to be something that works for your family.
The End Result
Don’t forget to think about your motivation this week. This is what will inspire and encourage you.
The end result will be so worth it. I can’t wait to be free from the stuff that is keeping me from living a simpler and more meaningful life. I am so excited to hear how reducing the amount of stuff you own makes a difference for you too!
What questions do you have? What modifications would you make? Are you committing to join us on this journey? Please take a minute and let me know in the comments!
Here are the next posts in the series:
- Packing Party in the Kitchen! | Decluttering and Minimalism for Families (Post #2)
- Stop Toy Clutter for Good | Decluttering and Minimalism for Families (Post #3)
- How to Declutter Kids Clothing with a Capsule Wardrobe | Decluttering and Minimalism for Families (Post #4)
- Minimizing our Master Bedroom + Toddler Items | Decluttering and Minimalism for Families (Post #5)
- Your Questions About the Packing Party | Decluttering and Minimalism for Families (Post #6)
- Finding “Hygge” and Decluttering the Living Room | Decluttering and Minimalism for Families (Post #7)
- Decluttering the Books! | Decluttering and Minimalism for Families (Post #8)
- 14 Alternatives to DVDs, CDs, and Media Clutter! | Decluttering and Minimalism for Families (Post #9)
- The Art of Letting Go | Minimalism and Decluttering for Families (Post #10)
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