Full. This is how our house feels.
While we’re in the midst of adopting minimalism, of purging Manufactured Things for manufactured needs, we still have a lot of work to do. Mostly on ourselves. And since I can’t really force other members of my family to embrace this path right away, the work is on myself.
Our minimalism is not perfect yet. And to confess, it has been a process of a few years. Even if we come from a punk no-to-materialism background, we still have a lot of stuff, even if it’s old and second hand for half of it, because at first it felt the right thing to do to fill the house of stuff passed along that we might need… someday.
But now, I just had it. It’s time for minimalstuffism.
Especially with my sons growing up and their need to explore the world and their passions instead of being stuck at home because of The Need to Clean-Up. And my need for purpose and happiness too. It’s time for an everlasting purge.
Hopefully, Zen’s middle way, where one should keep balance in this life instead of going for the extremes, missing out on life and losing sight of what’s important, for being aware, helps me to, hum, stay zen.
At first, to tackle this minimalism ideal, I focus on letting go of stuff we don’t use enough.
For example, I thought along the way that children, and especially those who don’t go to school or daycare, need lots of toys to learn, have fun, and have purpose. But I remember now what I cherished most of my own childhood was family, books, a passion, and the outdoors explored with friends. Now I see it’s about the same for my children. They have their main interests, and if we keep too much stuff, I follow their trails and keep on picking up toys instead of really being with them, or going learn and have fun in the world. According to the UNICEF in 2011, the three first elements that children said were making them happy were time, especially with family, friendships, and the outdoors. All that can be accomplished in a minimalist environment.
Minimalism for my family is for sanity, happiness, and being a better person, and that is really what I want to pass to my children too.
So step one of our minimalism is, letting go of the unnecessary.
I put stuff we have in excess to be given right away. Like everything we have in pairs or don’t use, that is not needed. The rest is stored for the moment in the basement to see if we really need it, as for another baby, and to be sold, or given to friends and charity (we mostly do the latter).
I have let go of kitchen ware, and keep only what fits in the dishwasher. We lived without a dishwasher for years and it was fine, but following the career beat of my husband we have more free time if we use it, for now. This is when modernity is ok with minimalism I think.
As for clothes, me and my sons only keep 3 items of each, like shirts or jeans, and only one for clothing like winter boots and coats. This way we wash every 2 days, the clothing monster don’t pile up, and we usually wear it until it is not good anymore. I feel this clothing minimalism is better for the environment too, since we also often choose second hand clothing.
What I find the hardest is letting go of books. I donated almost half of them, some with a notice to pass them along. It can do more good than sitting on my shelves. I still have half a library though, I want to keep the ones I use as references only so I’ll go through them again.
For our passions and health, I keep a few items. But I’ll let go of stuff we haven’t use for years like my trail rollerblades I think.
Most importantly, we don’t use all areas of the house. While minimalism is often rightly thought of happening in tiny houses, apartment, or caravans, it can be done in a house. For now, selling the centennial house, one of the other ways we reuse, reduce, recycle, isn’t in the plans. I’d love to live more in the woods, but my husband is attached to the place, it’s great for our family and not that big but has enough space for maybe other members of our family we’d love to add. And I do have a belief that there’s a divine plan for us to be here.
Of the 3 floors in our house, one is for storage (for now), emptiness, or playing music once a week. We mostly just use throughout the day only one floor. It can cut down interesting issues like electricity cost or cleaning-up. I’d like living less in our cave-house, and more outdoors, to live our natural continuum.
Also, I keep a light managing schedule for the home. I have gone from doing groceries every week, to biweekly, and now our monthly groceries frees up a lot of time. The washing schedule spoken above also helps. Next I’m tackling the maintenance schedule like painting to a minimum, most of the home will be black and white. Same with the yard, I only do the bare minimum for sanity, and let nature do the rest, like natural composting under the pine trees.
Then, the second step is letting in only what has multiple purposes or is used everyday, like a computer device. For books, I’ll go with the ebook format for almost all of them.
Another tip I’ve learned is when we let one thing get in, we let go of one. Though this one is what I forgot to practice, and why the process takes a long time.
Now I can only decided for my stuff, and help with my family’s. Though my husband often talks now of selling his stuff too, and my sons don’t seem to mind at all to have more time together instead of stuff. The process makes me feel lighter, happier, and hopeful for a better use of our time, and earth. I have more time to
go on Facebook (still managing what to do with spare times) write also, to help not only with my family’s happiness but the world’s too.
For all its benefits, minimalism is definitely not negligible. I suggest to give it a loving go.
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