Isn't this what minimalism looks like? Boring white walls, uncomfortable furniture, and definitely not kid friendly.
Then I had my second daughter. My pregnancy and birth was amazing, beautiful, and soul feeding. (If you're curious to read my birth story or posts on pregnancy and postpartum those are right below this post.) But as I lay tucked into bed with my newborn during my postpartum baby moon I felt this nagging sense of anxiety that crept into the edges of my happiness. It was hard for me to push away. Even from the bedroom, the house felt too full. Not with people but with stuff. There were several large boxes of maternity clothes and baby clothes in the walk in closet that had been there for months. My home birth supplies sat in a corner of the room. My daughter's plethora of toys, which had only grown recently when she had her fourth birthday, were scattered around the room. Gifts for me and our new baby were sitting on the dresser. It was hard for me, a neat person by nature, to ignore the mess and concentrate on resting and nursing the baby.
Some of this chaotic mess may be inevitable with a new baby and a woman who greatly values the under appreciated art of rest in the postpartum time. But I knew something had to give when I got up from that bed a few weeks later. My husband was in his final year of his master's degree and would be gone from the house six days a week for his full time job and internship, plus homework in the evenings. My good friend told me about how she had started to get into minimalism. I knew a few other people who had done that but I didn't know how feasible it would be with a husband who had a lot of trouble letting go of things and two young children. She suggested we watch the documentary Minimalism. We did and our perspective totally changed.
The documentary doesn't focus so much on the how to's of minimalism but more the philosophy behind it. After watching it we had a long discussion about this minimalism concept and how we could adopt it.
For us it came down to: what would we really miss if there was a fire and our house burned up? Would we miss all those hand me down knickknacks? The books we kind of liked but hadn't read in years? The extra stuff we kept in the closet "just in case?"
Or maybe, our life would be better, richer, more full of meaning and less stressful if we pared down the excess and kept only what was truly useful, meaningful, or beautiful to us?
We prioritize what we value most and remove everything else that distracts us from it.
We started our minimalism journey in ways typical to us. Ryan dumped a bunch of his stuff into boxes for Goodwill. I watched more documentaries and read several books. I definitely don't recommend starting minimalism when you have a newborn, a preschooler, and are in the final year of your master's program! But I knew this was going to be a journey and not a race. I would go through things gradually and have probably taken over ten trips to Goodwill with the van full of stuff. We've been purging things for about nine months now and we're still not "done!" I don't know if we'll ever be "done" though. Again, the whole journey thing.
This was actually a trip to my friend's house for a garage sale, but you get the idea
Another important aspect of our minimalism journey is the prioritizing of how we spend our time and what we focus on. I've realized that I would really love to take horseback riding lessons again. Horses were my whole life during my much of my childhood. At one point I thought I wanted to become a professional rider. Although I don't think that will happen I do want to get back into that passion. So for my birthday and Christmas I am going to ask for money for riding lessons instead of material items that I don't want or need.
We've probably gotten rid of about half of our material items at this point. And it feels great! In my next post I will talk about how we did this: my thought process while going through things and how I figure out what to keep or what to toss.