Have you decluttered before, but now you’re feeling overwhelmed and crowded by your stuff? It sounds like it’s time for minimalism refresh!
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What is a minimalism refresh? It’s where you reclaim the cleanliness and freedom you had once achieved in your home through minimalism. Have you ever accomplished or achieved something that you were so proud of, but over time life creeps in and crowds that achievement back out? That’s how my life has been lately with my minimalism journey.
We had gotten to a point where everything was tidy, I had gotten rid of the things that weren’t “bringing me joy” if you will, and things were easy to keep tidy. Well, then life happened. We got busy and started to have major life shifts. My husband started working more hours to finish a Master’s Degree. We had a miscarriage. We started home schooling which had its own set of new purchases. We had a surprise (and miraculous) pregnancy, and then the pandemic hit. We, like most everyone else in the world started a slew of “pandemic projects”. Through all of this, we started to accumulate things, and just kept going and going. I got into the habit of shopping to relieve grief, we bought on Amazon to get through the pandemic. We accumulated SO. MUCH. STUFF.
At this point in time, I know that I can declutter my things because I have done it before. This time though, I want to be even more ruthless than the last time, and I want to also build into place systems that will help me to keep the clutter away for good! I want to take you along with me on this journey because it’s hard! It’s hard to say goodbye to things, especially when they were purchased during times of grief or uncertainty. It’s hard to jump in and declutter your life again when you have done it before because you have to admit that things have gotten out of control, which is admitting defeat to a certain extent. So, let’s embark on this journey together, shall we?
How do I Define Minimalism?
First off, I want to define what minimalism means to me and my family of 9 people! Minimalism to me is not the stark white house with absolutely nothing in it. It also is not owning only what I need to get through that week or month. I have read so many books defining minimalism, and realize that everyone defines it a little differently!
Minimalism to me is keeping the things that I love and know that I will use in the near future. We try to keep a 3-6 month supply on hand of pretty much everything. So consumables, food, toiletries, etc. This may seem like a little much until you remember the toilet paper crisis of 2020. Having this supply of all essentials on hand gives me peace of mind should anything happen such as illness, job loss, and now a pandemic can be added to that list!
I also store hand me downs for my kids, but not to excess. I will store only the best clothing free of holes and stains, and that are pretty timeless pieces and won’t go out of style before they are handed down to the next kid. We have two very distinct seasons where we live with extreme heat and extreme cold, so we also have all of those accessories like swim suits and snow pants, and the other items we need for our regular sports within those seasons.
Where do I Start?
Start with YOU and YOUR things!
Generally speaking, I am not much of a sentimental person. It might be good to figure out if you are a sentimental person or not, but regardless, as you get started in your minimalism refresh, your stuff should be your starting point. To start with the items that belong to your children or your husband would bring an all around mutiny to the whole project. When you start with your own things, others will see how nice it looks, and see what it can do for your mental health, and will want to join you in minimalism.
What if my Spouse isn’t on board?
I promised my husband long ago that I would never throw away or donate his things without asking him first. He is not a minimalist, and that is okay. We have worked out systems that work for us to help him keep his things, know where they are, and have our home still look nice.
What about my Kids?
I think you could approach this two different ways: you could threaten that you are coming in with a black garbage bag of doom if they don’t clean up their things, or you could teach them! If we are constantly going in and cleaning up after our kids, they won’t learn. If you set a regular time (ours is the first Saturday of each month) where you help your children to declutter their things, it will make the process much more doable. They will realize the value of letting go of things they don’t use anymore so that someone else can enjoy that item. They will also learn that a cleaner space is more peaceful to be in!
I find too, that the one time I went through and got rid of some very well-loved books that had been repaired until there was more tape than paper, is one time that my kids remember. I hadn’t asked permission, I had just gotten rid of those books on my own and tried to explain it away when they noticed the books were missing. That put them on alert and they wondered what other things I had taken without them knowing.
Since this experience, we have both sold and donated countless toys and books with everyone involved. The kids are eager to share what they have with others, especially when they realize they don’t use those items anymore.
When to Declutter…
I could tell it was time to declutter when I looked around and could see piles everywhere. There were piles of papers to be filed or shredded, recycled or graded. There were books to be donated, read, or shelved. There were clothes to sort through because the seasons were changing. There were just piles everywhere and after awhile, I had had enough!
We could still easily clean the house up to be completely presentable in a very short amount of time, but I knew there were things lurking in the bottoms of bins and the backs of cupboards. When the kids would clean up, they were cleaning up broken toys, and garbage and putting them away. We needed a complete reset! When my mental energy is being spent on thinking about the clutter, I know we have come to the point that I need to do something about it!
Another way I can tell it’s time to declutter is when I start feeling discontent with my life. When I start feeling like my house isn’t big enough or I need more stuff, I need to really take a step back and look at all that I do have. I really am so blessed to be where I’m at. We live in a house with three toilets and two showers to get our army ready day and night. We have enough bedrooms for our boys to be all together and our girls to be all together, and still enough room for the baby to be in his own space and not be keeping people up during the night. When I realize that I can take multiple trips to the donation center of items that I haven’t used in a long time, I realize that I really am so blessed to have excess.
Also, just in the process of mentally preparing myself to go through and declutter the whole house, I have realized that my kids are growing up. I want to remember the times we got to spend together having fun. I don’t think they will ever remember the best deep clean Saturday ever, and I certainly won’t be looking back with fondness on cleaning the carpets. But I will remember the fun adventures we are able to take on the weekends because our house is already clean and we don’t have to spend the day doing chores and maintaining our stuff.
How am I going to Declutter?
I decided I wanted to start where I would see immediate success. Everyone else wouldn’t, but I would. We’re in a pandemic anyway, who’s going to come over and see my piles in the common areas of the house, right? The easiest areas for me to see success quickly are our bathrooms. I am going to start with the smallest bathrooms/toilet areas first, and then work my way up from there.
I think I am not alone when I say that things will get worse before they get better. I have chosen our music room as the designated landing zone for everything while I declutter. This room was strategically chosen because it is a room that our entire family never gathers in, so it isn’t going to become a huge nuisance if this process takes a bit of time. This room IS however, the absolute first room you see upon entering our house, so I am highly motivated to get this space cleaned and won’t let piles sit stagnant for too long!
Hopefully something in this post has given you the motivation to declutter your own space! I’ll keep you posted as to how my journey to reclaim my space is going!