Several years ago, I discovered minimalism through Joshua Becker’s blog, Becoming Minimalist. I was drawn to the concept of making more room for joy in my life by removing possessions. I recognized that I was spending a lot of time cleaning, organizing, and managing our home and its contents, instead of spending that time enjoying my family and friends. I must admit, minimizing is still a struggle for me today, but the progress I’ve made encourages me to continue. Does this mean my goal is a stark white house with only the most essential items inside it? Absolutely not! My goal is to rid my home of items that are draining or distracting to me, while keeping the items that are meaningful and/or useful. Today I’m sharing five areas where I’ve minimized, so if you’re looking to start clearing the clutter, one of these could give you a good place to start.
1. Kitchen Supplies
While preparing to move into a smaller house in 2014, I realized my new kitchen would have about 60% less cabinet space than my old one. I went through my kitchen cabinets, pulling out anything I didn’t use on a regular basis. I put those items in the dining room, and asked the movers to pack them separately and mark the boxes “Garage.” Those 3 boxes remained unopened in the garage for about a year. When I finally opened them, it was because I needed to retrieve one item. Since then, I’ve sold or donated many of the items in those boxes. This summer, I moved into a new house with more cabinet space, so the items I chose to keep came in from the garage, and those boxes are finally gone!
2. Decorative Items
In our 16 years of marriage, my husband and I have lived in seven homes. For each home, we bought new things to suit the space. Furniture, window treatments, picture frames, mirrors, baskets/bins, shower curtains…the list goes on and on. It’s tempting to keep all that stuff “just in case” we need it again, but storing it becomes an issue. I’ve learned to let go of most of it, keeping only our favorite items. When we really love something, we find a way to use it again, but if it’s just taking up space, it has to go. When something takes up space in our house, it takes up space in our heads. Clearing the clutter from our home helps to clear our minds as well!
All the products in my bathroom fell into one of three categories: used daily, used regularly, and never used. Things like toothpaste and deodorant are every day essentials. Items like nail polish remover and Band-Aids aren’t used daily, but are needed on a regular basis. But what about that scented lotion I never used because I didn’t really like the smell of it? Or that eye cream I always forgot to put on at night? Or the nail polish that was gorgeous in the bottle, but looked terrible with my skin tone? Why were they taking up precious real estate in my medicine cabinet? No matter who gave them to me or how much I paid for them, they had to go!
The toys. Oh, the toys! Lord, have mercy! Here are two stats I read on Becoming Minimalist:
British research found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys, but plays with just 12 daily.
3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally.
I’ve never been one to buy a lot of toys for my kids (one or two for Christmas, maybe one for a birthday), yet we amassed a collection that filled a 180-square-foot playroom. Now I’m doing three things to tame the toy monster:
Sell or donate anything the kids have outgrown or stopped enjoying.
Plan smaller birthday parties that include fewer gifts.
Ask extended family to give my kids consumable Christmas gifts such as art supplies, ice cream shop gift cards, or tickets to local attractions.
For more inspiration, I recommend reading “Why I Took My Kids’ Toys Away” at Living Well Spending Less.
5. Baby Gear
When my boys turned eight and four, I still had all their baby gear. I called it my insurance. We all know someone who tossed her baby gear, just to find out she was pregnant again, right? That year, I sold or donated most of the gear, but some things were so old that no one wanted them. The baby-product industry is constantly changing and improving their merchandise, so it’s best to unload that baby stuff before it becomes too outdated. Better yet, don’t buy all that stuff in the first place! Babies need diapers and a blanket. Ok, maybe a few other things like a crib and a car seat. But everything else is really for the parents! If you can live without it, your baby probably can, too. Buying less for our babies means less purging to do when they outgrow it all.
Who else is working to clear the clutter? What are you minimizing to create more space? Share your experience in the comments!