I first heard of minimalism in A level music, it’s the kind of repetitive music with only a few instruments that they use for BBC adverts, or at the start of dramas about serial killers. Anyway it’s not that minimalism I’m talking about. Or even the minimalism that features in every single episode of unrealistic property development show Grand Designs, sleek glass box anyone? (Who am I kidding, I love Kevin McCloud).
I’m talking about minimalism as a lifestyle movement, and how I feel it can be helpful to consider when you have young children.
I came across the term over Christmas 2016, when, having just returned to work, my house and mind were full of chaos, there was just too much: too much to think about, to fit in, too many toys, too much packaging, too much food. I found myself wanting to sit quietly and watch Nigel Slater programmes ( which was obviously impossible- it was Frozen on repeat as usual). The phrase ‘pare back’ kept entering my head, and a new year’s resolution to do so was emerging.
Then I did what all unimaginative 30 year olds do when facing an existential crisis/ bored half an hour, I went on Pinterest. Turns out the world was way ahead of me, and there is a whole movement dedicated to the pursuit of less(this was popular about 2 years ago, finger on the pulse etc). There are myriad stories of people eschewing the excesses of consumerism, and reducing their possessions, clutter, work and social lives to focus on what really matters to them. Whilst a lot of these are rich Californians in their 20s, there are definitely messages that resonate to mums with young children.
- Do you have too much ‘stuff’ in your house?
- Are you fighting against clutter?
- Are you constantly, terrifyingly busy?
- Are you constantly looking for bigger, better, more?
- Are you struggling to make ends meet?
This was definitely me, on all counts, so the promises that minimalism offered- clear house, clear diary, more money, less work, seemed irresistible.
How I am implementing minimalism.
I’ve really taken on board the messages of minimalism but the two main practical ways I’ve implemented minimalism have been:
1) a major decluttering project, using the Konmari method (I’ll document that separately, because I think it’s worth covering in detail). We’re not finished with this, but so far, it has as the book promises, been ‘life changing’.
2) Quitting my job. Instead of working to make money to buy more stuff we don’t need, I’m now focussing on living within our means and enjoying free time with our children when they’re young (and enjoying even more the 6 hours a week they’re both at nursery!) I know it might seem privileged but we are an average family, average mortgage, income, lifestyle etc. If you read the post on money you’ll see that my salary was barely covering childcare, so the impact of my leaving hasn’t made a big impact.
Since decluttering I definitely enjoy my house more and have quashed any desire for more ‘stuff’, which has helped make sure we’re living within our means and able to save a little too. I’m still working on the busyness, although obviously that’s been helped by the unemployment, I could still definitely scale back on filling my days.
So go, look on pinterest, read up a bit on crazy people who own fewer than 100 things and live in tiny houses (note, no-one in England feels the need to live in a tiny house, they could just move to any major city!) and see if you could benefit from the pursuit of less.