Embracing minimalism with a kick up the bum!

I’ve been reading about minimalism for a while now.  Various books and websites address this lifestyle approach and it is growing more and more in popularity as more people realise that it is not their stuff that defines them and how much it can weight them down and hold them back.  I’m not talking about box rooms where everything is white, not am I really talking about living out of a backpack and travelling the world (although were I single and childless, I can definitely see the attraction!).  What I am really talking about is living with only what you need and what you love (and in some cases stuff you don’t need, but definitely make your life easier!).  We own so many things, most of us couldn’t even say what we own, so why do we need it?  Contrast this with Dave Bruno, who wanted to fight against the modern evil of consumerism and reduced everything he owned to 100 things.  You can read his book The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul if you want to know more.  I bet, if you were to write down everything you owned, everything you use, need, want, love, everything you can see as you glance round the room, I bet you wouldn’t only remember half of the stuff that you actually own.  I know I couldn’t list it all.  So why do we hold onto stuff we don’t even remember we own?

Most stuff is accumulated throughout our lives, half the time without us even noticing it is sneaking in.  My husband cannot throw anything away, he is a serious “just-in-caser”.  I have boxes of clothes in various sizes that one day will fit me again, and a rather worrying notebook infestation and craft supplies stash.  We also have three small kids, who have accumulated toys and clothes, one who has inherited my notebook problem, and another who likes to collect fircones and pebbles!  Plus 3 well-meaning grandparents who spoil them rotten on Christmas and birthdays and my MIL who cannot just walk away from a sale, and there are ALWAYS things on sale!  She likes to shop, and most weeks, will call me over to tell me she picked a few things up for the kids and give me the details of exactly how much they cost, and how much she had got them for.  Until recently, my boys had a double wardrobe each and I still couldn’t fit all their clothes in them!  I also have a two year old girl, who, apart from being inundated with new clothes cause she was the first girl grandchild after two boys, has also inherited around 2 black bin bags full of clothes from her two cousins who are a few years older than her.  So you imagine the state of our house!  We are lucky enough to have 2 ensuite bathrooms off the children’s rooms and yet both of them are used for storage, and I couldn’t tell you what was in them.

So I decided this summer was the time to embrace at least some minimalist ideals.  I am keeping a watchful eye on what comes into the house and have learned to tell my MIL on a weekly basis that my children have plenty of clothes, thank you.  I’ve tried decluttering before, and the general order of it is that I throw myself into a huge job, which results in it getting half done, and then results in boxes of stuff destined for the tip and charity shop sitting around the house for months afterwards before they get stashed back into storage bathrooms or cupboards, or under the dining table which is hardly used but the chairs conceal boxes of stuff really well!  In my defence, lugging boxes of stuff to charity shops with a toddler in tow is nearly impossible.  So I needed to prevent this happening.  I knew at the back of one of the bathrooms there was an old treadmill which my husband bought about two years before we met and which he has used a handful of times.  A couple of weeks ago he finally gave me permission to get rid of it (yay!).  So I rang a local charity and asked if they could come and collect it. On a whim, I asked if they collected bric-a-brac and they said yes.  I told them I had several boxes as well as the treadmill and they gave me a pick up date for about three days later.  So when I hung up, I realised I had three days to attack these bathrooms so I actually had these boxes of stuff to hand over or I would look a bit daft when they showed up and I had nothing to give them.  So with that urging me on, I attacked both bathrooms.  I filled the car boot and seats with rubbish so that I had to drop it off at the tip before I picked the boys up from school otherwise they wouldn’t be able to get in the car (and I drive a people carrier!).  Other stuff got put away where it should be, and the rest got boxed up.  I ended up with nine huge boxes of stuff to give the guys when they come on Friday as well as the treadmill, which they can now get to!  I haven’t finished yet, as some stuff in there was my husbands, but I did pretty much reduce these two full bathroom to one box of stuff that needed putting away, a car full of rubbish and nine boxes of stuff I can give away that will raise money for charity.  Two empty bathrooms that can now be used and the space just feels amazing.

This worked so well for me, I am going to call another charity next week and get them to come next Friday for all the boxes of stuff I will definitely have for them by then.  Try it, it’s a great motivator, plus you don’t have the hassle of taking stuff to the charity by yourself.

Before I get rid of everything, I am actually going to count everything that heads out of the door.  You don’t have to, but I’m really interested in how much I can get rid of, and use it as another motivator when I get tired or bored.  Just imagine all the space you can create in your home!

If you want to read more on minimalism, check out www.theminimalists.com to get your started!

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