Until 2019, I was drowning in clutter. I'm a mom and a military wife. On the brink of deployment in 2019, my family of five moved to a new home and accepted delivery of our belongings that had been left in storage over the years. We suddenly lived with clutter in boxes stacked to the ceiling. Rooms became unusable. I slowly began to realize how a downward cycle of keeping every item move after move, buying more things, not knowing how to let go of belongings, and allowing storage to hide stuff along the way led to mounting debt, massive clutter, and major stress.
This was my tipping point. I wanted to get rid of stuff but didn't know how. Not just the logistics of donating, selling or giving away items, but the actual decision making side of decluttering. I didn't know how to let go. I turned on my camera to share with 90 subscribers on YouTube, mostly homeschool friends I shared homeschool content with, and I began sharing my struggles, hurdles, tears and laughs with the world.
Today, 2.5 years later, I am still sharing my journey of living with less stuff, less debt, and less stress. I am constantly seeking simplicity in the nooks and crannies of our home and in how I spend my time.
There is less to declutter and get rid of on "this side" of my minimalism journey. Having curated a wardrobe I like, donated thousands of items, learned to recognize what clutter looks like to me - and more importantly - how to deal with my triggered stress when clutter happens, I have a home that is easier to keep clean and I have less stuff to manage.
In my mind, back then, I envisioned a house without clutter, simple and easy to maintain on a daily basis. In reality, there are 4 daily tasks that keep me on the path as a minimalist that if I stopped doing them, we'd regress to the chaotic clutter of our life prior to 2019. In planning this video, I realized that designing a simple life is not always, well, simple.
Three Daily Habits of Minimalism
Habit 1: Regular Decluttering
Sometimes I am motivated by larger projects like this closet, and sometimes it's simply a drawer than needs to function better by having less in it. On a daily basis, I can find something to live without. It's actually quite easy now that I've identified how to live more intentionally. It may be one thing like a book we did not enjoy, or it might be a pair of jeans that I keep wanting to fit. Sometimes a category creeps up on me - like my recent supply closet series - and I strike the motivation to do something about it.
Why do I still have to declutter if I'm a minimalist? Stuff still comes into our house on birthdays, Christmas, Easter, and as interests change for me, my husband, and my kids. We find new hobbies, new likes, new things we want to buy. Each season of life introduces new learning levels in each of my kids, their hobbies and activities require stuff, and I've learned to appreciate the importance of prioritizing myself.
In this video, I chatted last summer about things I spend money on as a minimalist. I have curbed my overactive spending habits and added in budgeting and spending rules. However, I still spend money on things.
Minimalism is not about depravation. It includes appreciation for the important things in life and it is about intentionally. I intentionally spend money but just on less stuff than years prior.
When it comes to decluttering, drop offs at donation centers seem to be more available as an option now than 18 months ago when they were flooded with donations while people stayed home and evaluated their stuff.
Buy Nothing groups, Facebook Marketplace, and resale apps like ThredUp, Mercari, and Poshmark provide online choices for purging items from your life. As I've said many times on my YouTube channel, decluttering is a mainly a two-step process: deciding to let go of an item and actually physically removing it from your life.
To manage items I've chosen for decluttering, I keep a bag or box at my front door to collect items for donation or give away.
Habit 2: Finding a Home for Clutter
When clutter happens in my house, it is usually means the items do not have a home. Otherwise, they are quickly tidied back to their designated space in our house. I have one shelf that is the designated toy shelf in our family room. I would love to see their toys organized by type in individual bins, but my kids do not think that way. Their job in this season of life is to tidy their toys back to the shelf. I'm not in the business of micro-managing how I want it to look and simply focusing on building the habit of putting things away.
My favorite bin for organizing items quickly onto a shelf or an area is this bin. It's clear and easy to see what's inside, holds a good amount, and is affordable. I use these all over my house for playdoh, cleaning supplies, homeschool supplies, and more.
Habit 3: Actively Choose Less
Living with less is a choice and it's not a one-time choice. I have to choose minimalism each day. For instance:
Less Spending = More Saving
Less Clothes = Easier to Get Dressed
Less Toys = More Intentional Play Time
Less Time Tidying Clutter = More Family Time Together
Choosing less in my life is a daily choice for me. I have ongoing carts in Amazon and Target that are beckoning the "place order" release from my finger. For instance, we need a ruler in our house and I have them sitting in my Amazon cart. Next time I'm at the Dollar Store, I will likely find one so I'm waiting. We just use a book if we need a straight edge or we use the fabric yard measuring tape to measure.
Books are my Achilles minimalist heel. I often will have books in my Amazon cart, and spend one or two days a week researching our local library, or state-wide network with the library, or finding them used online at Half Price Books, at our local used bookstore, or used through Amazon before finally spending the money.
The three daily habits of maintaining a minimalist lifestyle are:
finding a home for clutter
actively choosing less
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