When I first heard the term “minimalism” in the summer of 2017, I was intrigued.
I started listening to The Minimalist podcast, then Allie Casazza and Kelsey van Kirk’s The Purposeful Home podcast with topics on motherhood and minimalism. As I listened to more podcasts and read more blog posts, I realized, with ever growing excitement, I was a minimalist at heart! These people were putting words to how I’ve felt for years!
Purging excess items, especially clothes, comes natural to me.
Even avoiding the dollar section at Target comes naturally for me (gasp!), except around Valentine’s Day because I am a sucker for Valentine decor. I have a hard time justifying buying items that I will throw away within a month, or that my children will break easily. Which is the opposite of who I was in high school, when my friends and I would go to the dollar store weekly and stock up on cheap items.
As I dove deeper into minimalism, the idea of “less for the sake of more” kept appearing.
I realized, even as someone who naturally lets go of things, I wasn’t truly experiencing more. There wasn’t more joy, more time in my day, more room in my budget – at least not that I could quantify. Sure, my house stayed a little neater, but with two toddlers running around nothing stays clean for longer that 30 seconds. So in search of what I was missing, I read a book called “Essentialism” (which I highly recommend). It talks about making room in your life for the essentials, and doing a few things well instead of trying to pursue everything. While this book helped me set more boundaries, and to narrow my focus on a few priorities, I still didn’t feel “put together” so to speak.
As I reflected on 2018, and all it brought, and all I didn’t accomplish …
I felt this tension and frustration. I realized, too, that I carried those feelings throughout the whole year. We bought a house in 2016 that needs a lot of cosmetic work. Having two young kids and a husband who works 50+ hours a week, a lot of the cosmetic work has been put on hold. I often found myself, in 2018, being mad at my house for all the unfinished projects or the messy rooms, and in turn, searching for the magical antidote that would transform my house and my life once and for all.
Spoiler alert, it doesn’t exist.
I will always have to clean and there will always be clutter to get rid of. Life is ongoing and I can’t control each and every action of my husband or kids. What I can control, is how I approach the mess, the unfinished kitchen, and the office that ends up as our catch all room.
In 2018, the frustration of my home was always on my mind. The mental weight of it robbed me of enjoying my boys and my house. So, I jumped on the Marie Kondo bandwagon and watched “Tidying Up” on Netflix. (Her book is on my “to-read” list, so I’m sure there is more in the book than the show.) As I watched each episode, I saw that she wasn’t barking orders at these families, or being very stringent in even the order that they were to get rid of clutter. She showed them a way and allowed them to work most of it out on their own. What I took away from the show is that it isn’t even so much about keeping what brings joy, but being thankful for what you have and what you had. When Marie Kondo asked the family on the first episode to say “thank you” to the clothes they were giving away, my mind was blown!
Finally, here was my answer!
I simply wasn’t thankful. I was so focused on what I was lacking that I wasn’t thankful for all I do have, like a kitchen to provide meals for my family. It’s such a simple notion, but when frustration and stress loom over us, day after day, it’s easy to stop being thankful. When I’m not thankful, I don’t want to put the effort into tidying. What’s the point in making things look nice, if I’m not happy with it in the first place?
Well, my change of heart has renewed my gratitude not just for my home and my family, but for all the lessons that 2018 taught me. Going into 2019, my only resolution is to stay focused on what I have, and to simply say “Thank you.”