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Minimalist Living: Getting Minimal-ish from the Minimalist Mom

towelsThank you to Rachel Jonat from Minimalist Mom for this guest post. This is part one of three posts on minimalist living. Read post two. Stay tuned for more posts from Rachel and check out her site for even more great information.

When my son was 10 months old, when the shock of motherhood had worn off, I looked around my home and knew something had to change. Like a lot of unsuspecting parents, I had assumed that being off work with a new baby would be a time for both baby bonding and home organizing. I could never have imagined the joy of staring at a wrinkled newborn and the great number of hours I would spend breastfeeding in those early months.

Getting my closests in order wasn’t even on my radar with the exhaustion and elation of my new life as a mother. When my son was 10 months old I looked at our home, a modest 1100 square foot condo with very little storage, and decided something needed to change.

I had read a few articles on radical minimalists,  people living with just 100 things. I was inspired. I knew we couldn’t reduce to a set number but could I clear my home of just what we used? Could I find some peace living with less?

Owning a lot of clothing, baby gadgets, books, DVDs and drawers of things we might need someday, was taking up my time and mental energy. I never felt that my house was in order or clean. The unfiled mail, the pile of unworn clothing from my son’s early months, the sewing machine I had used once in the last year, all of it was a weight on my days.

I started with my wardrobe. I had heard that most people wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time. That was very true for me. I donated the 80% I didn’t wear and sold my wedding dress on Craigslist. My clean closets immediately brought an ease to getting dressed in the morning. I was on my way.

Are you feeling overwhelmed with clutter? Do you:

  • have drawers of things you mean to organize but never get to

  • can never find things when you need them

  • feel like a lot of your day is spent picking up and putting away

After getting rid of over half of our possessions, including our car, I can tell you that living with less will give you more time. Living with less has allowed me to stay home with my young son. It’s given me clarity about our family values and helped us get our days in line with them. Health, happiness and connection are at the top of our lists. Recognizing that I was working long hours to buy more stuff, to have a bigger home, to buy a new car, was a game changer. Realizing that buying and owning a lot of things, things I didn’t use much, was not bringing me happiness, has been a catalyst for great change in many areas of my life.

In the next few posts I’ll explore both the nuts and bolts of embracing minimalism and the many benefits. No, you don’t have to give everything away to get the benefits of living with less. We still have a dining room table and a television and yes, even some DVDs. My son has toys. But we now have more time and space to enjoy being a family and pursue passion projects. You can too.

Towels Photo Credit: EvelynGiggles | Flickr

Melanie Mayo-Laakso


Melanie Mayo-Laakso is the Content Manager for Mothering.com. Mothering is the birthplace of natural family living and attachment parenting. We celebrate the experience of parenthood as worthy of one's best efforts and are at once fierce advocates for children and gentle supporters of parents.

Comments (19)

I stumbled on your blog yesterday and then this post today: it's fate. I'm so excited for your upcoming posts on Mothering and the minimalist journey I am about to take! I'm ready for more happiness and less stuff!
I come from a family of pack rats, so trying to break the cycle is difficult. We just have to let go. Looking forward to reading more tips on how to become more minimalistic. Thanks! :)
Thanks Farren and the Composer! It is hard to break the cycle but it can be done! I've been a minimalist consumer/shopper for over a year now. Limiting what you bring into your home is the first step to decluttering. I'll have another post on the topic soon. Cheers, Rachel theminimalistmom.com
I have been wanting to minimize my life for sometime but the hubby is not very supportive. He likes to save everything "just in case." Look forward to reading the blog and guest posts.
I wrote this a few years ago... Cheers to the power we all have to 'design our set' and create the dynamic for our family, even with many exterior constraints... it takes some doing - but so does everything, eh. Thanks for sharing your perspective! http://mothering.com/parenting/the-simple-life
Our family will be moving into a smaller house due to a company move. I plan to minimize quite a bit. Thanks for the mental boost.
YaY!!! I just did a major playroom purge this weekend because my kids are overwhelmed by having too much stuff. We down-sized houses three years ago and gave away/donated/sold half of our stuff. Now, we're in a much smaller house and still feel like there's too much. We're slowly working our way through it all and freecycling weekly. My hubby and I dread the day we'll have to clean out and sort through all of our parents' possessions. We're slowly working on reducing our own "stuff" so our own girls won't have to do that down the road and so we can enjoy our lives more NOW, since every day IS a gift. : ) pink and green mama, MaryLea
Thanks, Delia. I understand where you're coming from: my husband isn't a minimalist either! Start slow and eventually they come around. Now my husband gets excited when we donate or sell something. It also helps that we've saved a tonne of money in the last year from buying less and selling things we don't use.
Good luck, Theresa. Moving is a great time to reevaluate what you really need in your home.
Good for you MaryLea! And I agree on not leaving a burden for your children or family to clean up. I've read a lot of articles of children of hoarders that have had to spend months cleaning out their parents homes.
Perfect timing for this blog. We are purchasing a much, much smaller house because we decided less stuff and less space is what we want and need. People can make us feel like we are nuts sometimes, but in our hearts we know it's the right thing for us. I'm looking forward to more tips! TY!
Can't wait to read more! Not finding too many like minded people here in the burbs so loving the online resources! You should also check out http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/ "Live simply that others may simply live!"
I really look forward to hearing more about this. We've been trying to live a minimalist lifestyle, but it's a constant battle.
I am definetly not a pack rat, i am constantly weeding out. I often dread birthdays/christmas for all the materials thrown at my kids (shame shame, how ungrateful i am!) We are ready to move, and we are going to fit only our favorite things in a trailer and drive to California to a new life (due to job changes). My question is this...how to handle decorations? For me I only have stuff that is sentimental...but maybe plain walls are not so bad afterall. Maybe candles,etc, can be kept to a minimum to spend money on happier things (except some good art pieces or travel memories) and prettiness can keep to the garden. Where do you draw the line on how many table clothes/knick knacks/decorations you have? what does that look like? We have very few things as is but sometimes i pine for more when i see magazines, but realize i don't like the clutter in real life!
Oh i agree, i'm watching my mom deal with all her mom's stuff, and her mom isn't even passed yet! its been YEARS of weeding and storing all the "gifts" from her mom...and i dread having to take all that plus my mom's stuff. Mostly because my mom puts a symbolic/sentimental attachment to everything she owns. everything has a story...how do you get rid of that? oy. I like having minimal for sure.
I'd like to ask one more thing...what to do with sentimental stuff? Like yearbooks i never look at (but kids might enjoy?), many cards/letters, journals,etc. Do you store them? I just bought a tote to put them all in and wonder if i even should keep the stuff i never look at...maybe i will one day?
Excellent teaser...I look forward to the upcoming articles on mothering.com. We've always wanted to buy a house so that we could have a yard. After reading this I am inspired to get organized and do more with less. I'm not as worried about getting a big house -- I prefer a small house with a BIG yard! :)
I definately fall under the "save it for when(rather if) I need it" category I have a fairly large house for just the four of us with closets that are full of untouched stuff! We are thinking about some big life changing transitions we may be headed into in the next few years and I realize if we did I would have to get rid of 3/4 of the things I own.... might as well start now... My main problem is that I don't know what to do with it. I have a love/hate relationship with throwing things away. And garage sale is a lot of preparation work that I don't know if I could do. Thanks for posting!
I am sentimental about things too! good thoughts
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