Help me wrap my brain around minimalism. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 21 Old 02-13-2014, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK - I completely understand decluttering.  But are there benefits to simplifying beyond even that?  For example:  In my kitchen cabinet I have two nested stacks of mixing bowls - one ceramic, one steel.  If I want to whip up cornbread, I have my choice of oh, say, ten different bowls.  I also have a small stack of pretty glass serving bowls for holidays.

 

I have plenty of cabinet space, they're out of sight on a nifty pull-out shelf.  They stow away neatly.  No problem...

 

Yet, my kitchen is a freaking mess.  Constantly.  So is the rest of the house.  We just up-sized and have tons of storage (for the first time in my life!).  And it's a disaster.

 

I have a growing suspicion that if I only had three bowls, I'd keep re-using them and have less mess.  And if I only had four coffee mugs, we wouldn't lose them all over the house.  But the part of me that's always been in cramped spaces is so glad to have my STUFF handy!

 

Those of you who embrace minimalism, preach to me!

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#2 of 21 Old 02-15-2014, 02:33 PM
 
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I am kinda minimalism- cuz i dont have alot of space .  I have ONE bowl that is a mixing bowl, popcorn bowl etc. 4 mugs and 4 travel mugs, 2 water bottles,1 set of dishes (lots of utinsels cuz of food allergies) but my house is still a messy diaseter so who knows....

 

I vote for paper/plastic then recycle


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#3 of 21 Old 02-15-2014, 05:12 PM
 
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I vote for paper/plastic then recycle

 

 

I vote for please don't do that!

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#4 of 21 Old 02-15-2014, 05:15 PM
 
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There are actually some raw restaurants that have gone with compostible plates and utensils. The footprint was much less than all the washing and chemicals that are used normally.
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#5 of 21 Old 02-15-2014, 08:33 PM
 
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I think you're on the right train of thought... if you have less there is less mess and just... LESS. Less clutter, less to clean, less to manage, less to move if you do, less to keep track of, less to keep organized... just less.

 

To keep with the mixing bowls... I can understand needing different materials (for instance, some items can't be made in a metal bowl because it's reactive) or needing something that's nice to serve from or something sturdy for mixing or something non-breakable if you have kiddos helping. I think it comes down to : do you have the space both physically and emotionally to store this item (comes back to the 'emotional rent' of items: what is it worth to you to store, clean, keep track of, etc rather than donate it said item) and do you have a real need for it? 

 

I have one set of actual mixing bowls that is stainless steel (used to have a glass pyrex set but I donated that last year - wasn't getting any use) but I also have a bowl that was my Great Grandmother's and it is a mixing bowl by definition but I use it as a serving bowl; it is a beautifully glazed ceramic. I would never use a stainless steel bowl for serving on the table, so for me all of these bowls have a use and a purpose and so I keep them.

 

Anyway, I think I have rambled, but for me it comes down to the emotional rent. I just don't want to deal with so much stuff. If, in ten years time, I think, "You know what? It was really silly of me to get rid of that awesome glass pyrex mixing bowl set!" then I buy another one. In the mean time, it's not worth it to me to hang on to it on the off chance I feel that way in the future. Now, my Great Grandmother's bowl I WOULD keep even if I felt like I wasn't using it, because it means a lot to me and is the only thing I have of hers; and it's beautiful. And I have the space to store it. :wink

 

Sorry, I kept rambling! :p

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#6 of 21 Old 02-16-2014, 03:04 PM
 
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I love that having less dishes means that it's impossible to get so far behind in washing that I get overwhelmed.  I used to line the counter with dirty dishes.  Now I don't have enough pots to procrastinate on washing.  I run the dishwasher every night and empty it in the  morning after the big kids get on the school bus.  We only have a few cups and they are different looking so that each person has an assigned cup and we know whose is whose.  No need to have an entire cabinet full of cups!

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#7 of 21 Old 02-16-2014, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the feedback! I do think there's something to the "less is more" idea, the more I think about it.

When we did our wedding registry, DH requested a large supply of fluffy white towels. At the time, it sounded like our home would be like a wonderful spa. Three years later, I'm living in a perpetual sea of freaking towels - nobody knows whose is theirs, or how many times its been used, so what the heck let's just grab a fresh one. Towels everywhere! I'm drowning in towels. It's funny that the wedding gifts are some of my biggest stressors - I only did a registry because people wanted me to, and the ensuing flood of "stuff" has really been a burden! And it was recently enough that I feel guilty getting rid of it. But that's a different discussion.

It's a new way of thinking for me. We live pretty simply and don't have much money - this isn't about that, it's about your mindset. And my mindset is stressed out! I can't keep up with the housework, and every surface is cluttered, and I daydream about sweeping everything into the trash! Then I try to downsize and talk myself into keeping everything, especially now that I theoretically have room for it. Arghh!
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#8 of 21 Old 02-16-2014, 10:11 PM
 
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I think like with most big changes it take a while to get into the mindset. I have been actively 'simplifying' my stuff load for two years and just took a whole bunch more stuff to Goodwill in the last few weeks. What was once a 'must keep' when I was doing my initial cull two years ago is a 'definitely don't need that' today, even! For some things, not everything, obviously :wink

 

I would just give it time and seems how you have the space there's no rush to cull.

 

Towels are a thing that can go crazy. They are space hogs and they are laundry hogs! How about one specific color towel for each family member? They each get a towel, and all towels get washed once a week? And keep two nice ones for company? I read that on a blog once. Goodwill is a fabulous place to buy towels! 

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#9 of 21 Old 02-17-2014, 12:31 AM
 
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I have a minimalist kitchen--like, really really bare. We live in about 100 square feet--and I'll be honest; I can trash my kitchen out in less than a couple of minutes. The thing about less stuff, though, is that I can convert an entirely trashed kitchen (like everything out and dirty) to a completely clean one in less than 30 minutes. There are days that I think, huh, we really don't need two bigger bowls--one would do. But then my little one wants to make a different salad at the same time I do and I become grateful for two of them.

 

Flash back to 6 years ago, and I had a big house with a moderate sized kitchen--every cupboard stuffed with backup things in the pantry. My whole path to decluttering happened one day when I realized I needed to quit baking. I was eating the stuff I baked, and it was not going well ;-) I gave away my kitchenaid. Then I gave away all my baking things. All of a sudden, like 3 cupboards were free. And then wondered why I had wine glasses when I didn't drink wine...and china when I didn't even really like it, and the ball rolled.

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#10 of 21 Old 02-17-2014, 08:52 AM
 
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You have a kitchen included in your 100 square feet?
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#11 of 21 Old 02-18-2014, 03:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Zirconia View Post

Thanks for the feedback! I do think there's something to the "less is more" idea, the more I think about it.

When we did our wedding registry, DH requested a large supply of fluffy white towels. At the time, it sounded like our home would be like a wonderful spa. Three years later, I'm living in a perpetual sea of freaking towels - nobody knows whose is theirs, or how many times its been used, so what the heck let's just grab a fresh one. Towels everywhere! I'm drowning in towels. It's funny that the wedding gifts are some of my biggest stressors - I only did a registry because people wanted me to, and the ensuing flood of "stuff" has really been a burden! And it was recently enough that I feel guilty getting rid of it. But that's a different discussion.

It's a new way of thinking for me. We live pretty simply and don't have much money - this isn't about that, it's about your mindset. And my mindset is stressed out! I can't keep up with the housework, and every surface is cluttered, and I daydream about sweeping everything into the trash! Then I try to downsize and talk myself into keeping everything, especially now that I theoretically have room for it. Arghh!

Can you dye your towels different colors? lol, I don't know if that's even possible it's just what I thought when I read that.

 

I can relate, I fantasize about packing my decorations up "irresponsibly" and them breaking so I can throw them away.

 

I don't know about getting rid of some of my dishes though...I have an aversion to handwashing and couldn't bear the thought of running out of mugs.

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#12 of 21 Old 02-19-2014, 07:59 AM
 
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I'm not sure if I can be considered a minimalist or not but I have an issue with disorganization and clutter that makes it difficult for me to live and parent my four children productively. I've been this way since I can remember but I don't feel like its OCD-ish. I have what we use regularly with very few exceptions (like 2 exactly). My mind set is "for everything a space and a space for everything" and "only keep what you need". Also, opt for glass over plastic because you can use the jars for many, many things and recycling isn't the first choice for being green or living sustainably. Also, another way to reduce and maybe minimalize is by examining what you buy and figure out if you can make it and then if you'd want to spend the time making it (regarding food and personal care products).
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#13 of 21 Old 02-19-2014, 10:59 AM
 
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What I do is put away a lot of things that aren't being used daily. I also don't have a lot of things. In terms of towels or clothing, I store them in a chest or cabinet and then only use one or two sets for awhile - with towels, until they are worn out. Then I get out a new set from the cabinet. So we own a little more than minimal but use things in a minimal way.

 

Zirconia, teaching your family more responsibility for order would help. Here, every family member has a dedicated place for their towel, reuses drinking glasses for the day, etc. You can use a permanent marker to discreetly initial towels. We use colored plastic sticky flags to tag drinking glasses (and reuse them until they aren't sticky any more).

 

Try boxing up stuff you don't use often and if you haven't needed it after a year or two, donate it.

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#14 of 21 Old 02-20-2014, 09:55 AM
 
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I don't think everyone is cut out for minimalism. BUT, for those who want to de-clutter their homes, simplify their lives, etc...it is a process. I've been wanting to move toward minimalism for over a year now but could never quite get it going. What really motivated me was a)learning I was pregnant (unplanned) in December and b)starting my wedding registry for our June wedding. My partner and I are only registering for what we know we truly need (I'm 33 and have lived on my own for about 13 years...so I've learned what I use and what I don't) and we are making sure that our items are quality items that will last. After our shower, all of our "old" stuff will get donated or sold in garage sale (including 4 can openers....really, how did we collect 4 can openers!?). the pregnancy has been even more helpful....I was a total clothing hoarder (as in I probably own a cardigan in every single color and every shade of said color...same with v-neck tshirts....same with ribbed tank tops.). Clearly pregnancy = weight gain. I've already started pulling clothes that no longer fit my belly. They are being dvided into "will wear post baby" and "donate"...I mean, who needs 7 cardigans in 7 shades of orange? PLUS, baby means baby stuff...we don't have a large home. If I continued the way I was then there would literally be no space for baby. 

now, if only i could convince my partner that he doesn't need to keep everything that has ever been given to him....

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#15 of 21 Old 02-21-2014, 10:07 AM
 
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Hello!

 

I've been slowly heading toward living a Zero Waste lifestyle (this includes living as a minimalist) and I've been following the advice and teachings of a woman from my area who has actually obtained a Zero Waste lifestyle. You can buy her book on amazon or just subscribe to her blog. Zero Waste Home is the name of both her book and blog. Her name is Bea Johnson. Seriously, its a cathartic experience, living minimally. I still have a ways to go as this lifestyle can't be fully adapted over night but I recommend it, especially for parents because kids and accumulate so much stuff! Plus, I want to teach my children to cherish people and experiences rather than things so I have to train myself to feel the same! Good luck. 

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#16 of 21 Old 02-24-2014, 01:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Zirconia, teaching your family more responsibility for order would help. 

 

You've got that right!  It's just me, DH, and a two-year-old, so the problem (so far) rests squarely with the adults.  Myself included.  I'm going out of my mind with the disarray, but I can't very well turn into a screeching nagging beast when my own habits - and belongings - are in a similar state!  I'm trying to start with myself and the public areas of the household, then see if I can get DH on board with his own clutter.  Declutter, pare down, minimize, and organize.  Reconsider how much STUFF we need, and reduce it to a level that's easy to tidy up.  DH has major organizational deficits - really - so we're starting from square one.  He recently told me how refreshing it is to know exactly which cabinet to open to find a drinking glass.  I thought that was odd, until my MIL visited and unloaded my dishwasher and put everything in random cabinets.  Baby steps, baby steps.

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#17 of 21 Old 03-03-2014, 12:43 AM
 
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Something that has been helpful for me...  I keep a donation box in my closet for tossing stuff into when the mood strikes me.  It is easily accessible with an open top so that I may throw stuff into it whenever, but kind of hidden by hanging clothes so that I (and DS1, and DH) am not tempted to look in and pull things out.  When it is nearly full DH and I may go through it for a last chance to keep anything we felt we needed or just really do want, but more often than not we just tape it up and haul it out!  We don't have a lot of stuff, but it is really satisfying to see boxes leaving our house.  It is easier for me to come across something (say a sweater, whilst I am looking for another) and realize that I haven't used it in a reeeeeeally long time.  Then I can put it in my donate box and see how it feels to be without it for a bit, if I change my mind I can pull it out!  Usually though I get excited about finding something to put in the box and I look for another item.  I think that is easier on my psyche than clearing out a whole room or closet.  I would surely pick baking up again as soon as I donated my baking supplies, just so I didn't feel that lack (in my life and in my cabinet)!  Good luck!

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#18 of 21 Old 03-03-2014, 06:28 AM
 
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Thanks for the feedback! I do think there's something to the "less is more" idea, the more I think about it.

When we did our wedding registry, DH requested a large supply of fluffy white towels. At the time, it sounded like our home would be like a wonderful spa. Three years later, I'm living in a perpetual sea of freaking towels - nobody knows whose is theirs, or how many times its been used, so what the heck let's just grab a fresh one. Towels everywhere! I'm drowning in towels. It's funny that the wedding gifts are some of my biggest stressors - I only did a registry because people wanted me to, and the ensuing flood of "stuff" has really been a burden!

This may seem bizarre, but on a related note, gift-giving holidays stress me out because I do feel like we have what we need, but random, well-meaning, but ultimately useless presents are a burden to me, too. I like to give consumables for presents- like roasted nuts or a pie or fresh flowers. I love when people reciprocate similarly, and they have more and more the longer I do it. But back to towels...

My husband and I really love all colors, so when we got married, we registered for really nice towels, each in a different color. It works out great for guests or knowing when each towel was used and by whom. Getting allnew towels would be pricey and a waste, but maybe you could sew a colorful ribbon across the trim of each?

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Something that has been helpful for me...  I keep a donation box in my closet for tossing stuff into when the mood strikes me.  It is easily accessible with an open top so that I may throw stuff into it whenever, but kind of hidden by hanging clothes so that I (and DS1, and DH) am not tempted to look in and pull things out.  When it is nearly full DH and I may go through it for a last chance to keep anything we felt we needed or just really do want, but more often than not we just tape it up and haul it out!  We don't have a lot of stuff, but it is really satisfying to see boxes leaving our house.  It is easier for me to come across something (say a sweater, whilst I am looking for another) and realize that I haven't used it in a reeeeeeally long time.  Then I can put it in my donate box and see how it feels to be without it for a bit, if I change my mind I can pull it out!  Usually though I get excited about finding something to put in the box and I look for another item.  I think that is easier on my psyche than clearing out a whole room or closet.  I would surely pick baking up again as soon as I donated my baking supplies, just so I didn't feel that lack (in my life and in my cabinet)!  Good luck!

We do this exact same thing. It keeps our house pretty clutter-free in a gentle way and encourages us to always examine our stuff for utility and beauty and enjoyment. We just moved and though moving is always hard, when I re-examined most of our stuff, I only found a small treasure of donate items, much less than I imagine the average person moving finds they don't need after a move.

I recommend and love a book called Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston (buy the ebook for a clutter-free experience!). She talks about Feng shui, of course, but also reasons we hold onto clutter and how we can most easily let it go. Good luck!
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#19 of 21 Old 03-06-2014, 10:28 AM
 
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Getting all new towels would be pricey and a waste, but maybe you could sew a colorful ribbon across the trim of each?

Or even just zigzagging a different colored thread along the edge.

 

I have not even considered minimalism, living with a pack rat mother, husband, and a son who has his own ideas of what is important. But in some aspects, we are minimalists. Ds and I each have our own water bottles that we never lose track of because we only have one. Even when he was little, we never lost sippy cups or shoes because we didn't have spares. We'd have to keep track of them. I can totally see the appeal of minimalism. There is SO much I would get rid of if it weren't for other people. But there is so much I could get rid of without their minding so I guess I should work on that!

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#20 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 09:27 PM
 
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You have a kitchen included in your 100 square feet?

Sure! At least, the fridge/freezer, a 3-burner stove, oven, micro, sink. Not a whole lot of cupboards, though, and the dishes are in a drawer. We have a full bathroom too! But only 5 minutes of hot water. We don't use the micro much--and if I built something to my taste it would be of much higher quality than what comes standard on an RV.

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#21 of 21 Old 03-30-2014, 09:19 AM
 
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I'm not a minimalist, though I fantasize about it. lol. 

 

I have been working on simplifying my life for several years now and am making progress. Not "there" yet, but I AM closer! 

 

I LOVE Elaine St. James book Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter. One of my all time favorite books EVER. 

 

http://How to Simplify Your Life

 

I just ordered another book of her's titled Living the Simple LIfe: A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More.

 

I've read several books on simplifying, decluttering and minimalism. There are lots of good blogs out there and even youtube videos. 

 

Personally I have been overwhelmed with all of our stuff. It's just too much. We don't even live in a BIG house, but the moderate-sized house we do have is stuffed full of things. 

 

I am thinking the point is too keep the things that you love and that work for you and get rid of the things that stress you out and don't work for you, so that if two sets of bowls makes you happy and works for your lifestyle, then keep your two sets of bowls. It may be less stressful if you do a lot of baking to HAVE extra bowls. For someone who does not bake much, the extra bowls might be a burden. 

 

Here's website that I have found interesting. 

 

http://zen habits


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