I feel that within the minimalism movement, gentle minimalism is needed. I’ve heard of people selling it all and traveling the country in trailers. Others in sparsely furnished homes and living with bare walls and floors. There isn’t anything wrong with those lifestyles, but I haven’t found it to be reflective of my own goals. This kind of lifestyle doesn’t seem appealing to a majority of us and doesn’t meet our goals.
Is there a place in the average American family for minimalism? Can minimalism help us live better without throwing away all our decorations, journals, and children’s toys? I believe that it can with a resounding YES!!!
Why Live with Less?
First of all, what is the appeal of living with less? When we own less it takes less time to clean and we are able to spend more time with our kids and serving our communities. If we live with less we are able to have more headspace and studies have shown that both we and our children are less stressed. It also allows us to learn contentment and step away from the wily advertising schemes that make us believe that we will only be happier if we have the latest and greatest gadget. (once you’ve cleared the clutter out of your home you may be hesitant to add stuff back)
What is Gentle Minimalism?
Gentle minimalism is the practice of intentional ownership. Not owning stuff just for the sake of having it. It is practicing intentionality in the purchases we make. You can move away from ordering without thought online, and toward only buying what we truly need with thoughtfulness behind it. This process with help you realize that by holding on to something you do not and will not use, you are depriving someone that needs it of its ownership.
How to Begin to Become a Gentle Minimalist
The first step is to analyze every item you own. Does it make your life more beautiful or does it clutter your space? This line is going to look differently for everyone. The key I’ve found is not to rush this process. Don’t try to do it in a day. Try to live without something for a bit, and then if you find it is not convenient to choose to use it. The keyword being CHOOSE. Don’t allow your stuff to just “show up” but choose what you allow into your home.
I loved the book “Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” I love intentionally digging out every item of our home one closet and room at a time. Touching every item and deciding if it had value in our life. (Yes- I still love this painting. No, I don’t need these dishes any more.) It’s okay to still want belongings in your home. It’s okay to want throw pillows, your wedding dress, and the outfit you brought your baby home from the hospital in. If those hold value for you keep it. The key to gentle minimalism is keeping those things on purpose.
How to Know what to Keep?
Ask yourself these questions, if you’re struggling to know what to keep and what to get rid of. These are some of the same questions we analyzed when doing our closet. You can find that article here.
- Is this useful?
- Do I think this is beautiful?
- Does this serve me and my family, or make cleaning up more difficult?
- Do I own something similar that does the job?
- Have I used it in the last 6 months?
- Does this reflect my style?
- Does this serve my lifestyle right now?
- Is it in good condition?
- Do I have space to store it?
- If this broke would I buy another one?
If it doesn’t past this list, chances are your life would be better off without it, but if you still are struggling to get rid of it box it up. Keep it in a closet or the attic for three months, and see if you miss it. Chances are if you haven’t missed it you won’t miss it long term.
Don’t Forget to be Gentle
There is nothing that strikes fear in the heart of a family like a mom running through the house with a trash bag. Be thoughtful, kind, and gentle. Include your kids in the process of simplifying, or wait until they aren’t watching you to deal with the problem. Yes, chances are their playroom is your biggest cause of stress. Yes, 80% of what is in there probably needs to go. Go slow, think of the project in phases. Maybe the worst offenders (papers, and cheap clutter toys) disappear the first round. The second round may see duplicates and toys never used disappear.
I have found only keeping out what they can pick up easily has dramatically changed the attitude around “clean up time”. If they aren’t overwhelmed cleaning is much more likely to succeed…. who are we kidding the same is true in my own life. Try to only keep what you are WILLING to clean up!