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I don’t know about you, but I get overwhelmed very quickly with clutter and stuff. I’m at home with my kids most of the time, so having an aesthetically-pleasing, uncluttered environment is key to the amount of peace I experience with two small children.
I started a journey toward limiting and decreasing possessions (otherwise known as “minimalism”) several years before our first child was born in 2018. I’m by no means an minimize expert nor am I anywhere near perfect. We’ve acquired more baby stuff than I care to admit, and so much of it has either had a very short lifespan or has gone unused completely.
With the New Year still fresh, I’m thinking about how I can create more peace and space in my home this year. If you’re feeling the same, here are a few mindset shifts I’ve made over the years to help me minimize and maintain fewer possessions in my home — and less cleaning up!
A Good Purge Is Not the End-All, Be-All
Purging an area of your home feels so good. Can I get an amen? I love a good purge with the rest of ‘em, but purging for purging’s sake will only lead back to the continual need to purge and minimize. After recently feeling frustrated that we still have so.much.stuff, I realized I haven’t been limiting the inflow of things to our home. I know when I’m having to pile books sideways on the bookshelf or cram yet another bottle of shampoo in the linen closet, I’ve got to pump the breaks. I will never experience true minimalist zen if my home is a revolving door of stuff out, stuff in. You can have space or you can have stuff.
Avoid Shopping Traps like the Plague
There’s a very specific big red box store I’m thinking of right now (ahem). I, too, used to love throwing an extra little something into my cart at the end of the shopping trip for toiletries and paper towels. But to me, those $25 to $35 purchases added up, not just monetarily but in terms of things that cluttered shelves and closets of my home. I made a very strict commitment in 2017: Absolutely no impulse purchases at Target. Don’t even walk down those aisles. Stay away from the dollar section. Do not pass by clothing. If that sounds severe, you’re right. But guess what: I eventually broke myself of impulse purchases (at least at that particular retailer). This is what’s required to minimize!
Make a Seasonal “Shopping List” to Keep from Going Overboard
For lovers of the capsule wardrobe, a seasonal shopping list may ring old-hat. While I don’t currently keep a strict capsule, I do try to be mindful of what we need (and what we don’t need) especially when it comes to clothing for our family. Near the beginning of a new season, I will assess what I feel is missing from my closet and make a small list of things to keep an eye out for. Maybe I already have an item in mind. But I actually write down a list in the notes app on my phone. I’ve started doing the same for my kids.
Yes, the graphic tees at Target are cute as heck, and they’re $5, but honest-to-goodness, my son doesn’t need another one.
I highly recommend taking stock of what you wear over and over again, what your kids wear over and over again, and asking yourself whether anyone actually needs seven more pairs of shorts or if one or two will suffice.
When Purging, It’s Okay to Start Small and Go Slow
Admittedly, there are parts of my house still a jumbled mess from when we moved in a year and a half ago. My kids are less than two years apart, and they require nearly every second of my attention. I simply don’t have the time (or energy) to pull apart entire closets and bedrooms. I’ve found purging and organizing even the smallest of spaces like a drawer or cupboard can go a long way. But many professional organizers will tell you to pull everything out of whatever space your purging, and I agree. It’s so much easier to edit, minimize, and categorize things when you can see it all at the same time.
Aim for Fewer, Better Things
I’ve realized buying a lot of cheaper toys that either break or get tired quickly could sometimes amount to buying one or two higher-quality toys that would last through however many children we decide to have. Do I always buy expensive toys? Heck no. In fact, a vast majority of ours are secondhand or thrifted. My son loves when I rotate toys every few weeks, and he rediscovers something he forgot he had. And I’ve noticed the more toys I keep out, the less interest he seems to have in any of them. Another bonus of fewer toys on display? Way less of a hassle to clean up.
Minimalism can be a loaded term in our culture. It’s not about austerity or living with as few possessions as possible. For me, it’s meant inner peace, learning to be a mindful consumer, and teaching my children how blessed we are to truly have enough.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into minimalism, here are a few resources that have helped me:
- 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker (book)
- The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker (book)
- The True Cost (documentary)
- Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline (book)
- Minimalism (documentary and blog)
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (book and Netflix show)
- Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More by Erin Boyle (book and blog)