I read this blog post by Allie Casazza a few years ago when I first began delving into Minimalism. I then wrote this post in January 2017 explaining how my eyes had been opened to the benefits of minimalism. I started to make changes paring down our clothes, crockery and toys. I was consuming content from all over the internet. Blog posts, podcasts and youtube videos. As Ryan and Joshua from the minimalists say, Minimalism is a tool to help us on our journey, not our final destination. I think this is where I got a little lost. I started following accounts on instagram, with these perfect pristine minimalist homes. It all felt so unobtainable for me and my family. Slowly things started to creep back in and in April 2018 I found myself in a situation where I felt like I was drowning underneath stuff. Every room was bursting at the seams much like my brain. I always felt like I was suffocating and no matter what I did it was never enough to make any form of real impact. I had a difficult few months earlier in the year which I wrote about here. After I came out the other side of that, I had this feeling in my gut, like I really have to start living and creating my best life. To paraphrase Allie I no longer want to survive I want to start living.
My catalyst was Easter Sunday. My Mother in law was coming to our house and had offered to cook. In all honesty I was filled with dread. Our kitchen was awful. It was always dirty, like actually dirty, There were always piles of dirty dishes and pans on the side even though we have a dishwasher. The cupboards were disorganised and it wasn’t uncommon for us to do the shopping and find we had duplicates of stuff as we just couldn’t see what we already had. We had tupperware coming out of our ears and the sides were packed with stuff on every surface as although we have plenty of cupboard space it just wasn’t being utilised.
The night before Easter I spent hours in our kitchen and I gutted it. I emptied every draw and cupboard. I looked at every item and I questioned if we needed, did it work for our family and did we have the space for it? I had two bags to donate, things such as our kitchen roll holder. We very rarely buy kitchen roll and I couldn’t justify keeping it. I felt a physical sense of relief when I decided to get rid of it. I went through all of our food and reorganised Every. Single. Cupboard and I am pleased to say the kitchen has stayed clean and organised everyday since. Our kitchen is not beautiful, its actually quite ugly, it is not aesthetically minimalist, but it is now functional and in these past two weeks we have had more home cooked meals from scratch than we have in a long time.
Beginning this process has had quite a significant impact on our whole family. Our dining room table has been used every evening to eat at as it is no longer a place to store things. We have baked, done more arts and crafts and the most surprising thing has been middle two boys have not used an iPad, Console or DS in over a week. They have also greatly reduced the amount of time they have been watching TV too, which is something I have wanted to happen for a long time. It is funny how it all happened organically with me changing the amount of stuff we have. I truly believe my children were overwhelmed not only by the sheer volume of things, but also the lack of structure and respect for those things. It is not really surprising as that is exactly how I felt.
I can genuinely say hand on heart, the boys imaginative play has sky rocketed. The amount of drawings they have produced is astounding, we went through over 300 scrap pieces of paper in 2 weeks, before that would have lasted us months. They have painted, created crafts, built with legos and love playing with their dolls and teddies too. Oliver who is ten has started spending more time with us as family, he is more open to the suggestion of helping out in the house too. We are starting small, he is now responsible for sorting and taking the recycling out to the bins every other day. They all put their dirty washing away and put their shoes away. These may seem like small things but picking up 3 sets of washing and shoes from around the house was extremely frustrating.
The biggest change has been our morning routine. Previously we have had some really hard mornings. Especially when Zachary started reception and the same when Darwin started a year later. It had recently got a little better, it was still very hectic, with lots of shouting and a feeling of chaos. I had resigned myself to the fact that this was as good as it was going to get. I was so wrong. Our morning routine now flows as it is designed for our family. It isn’t something we are trying to copy from a book or someones day in the life video on Youtube. I have looked at our mornings and really looked at what works.
Ironically our morning routine starts the evening before when they get in from school. They now have designated places for school shoes, coats, hats and book bags. I go through their book bags as soon as I am home, so I can get rid of rubbish, read letters and action anything I need to. In doing this, all these things are ready to go for the next day. I attempt to iron the uniforms the night before (I am still working on this). If not they get done before the boys wake up. They come down stairs and they make their own breakfast. This has been a revelation for us as family. The bowls and spoons are placed on the table the night before. The children get the cereal storage boxes, which are now stored in the dining room rather than the kitchen. This was a total game changer. They get the milk from the fridge, they choose, pour, eat their cereal and clear their dishes away pretty much independently. I find this crazy as Darwin is just four years old.
Sometimes they will all eat together, sometimes if they take longer to get up they eat separately, there is no pressure around breakfast anymore and its now one of my favourite times of day. After breakfast they brush their teeth, wash their hands and face, once again pretty much independently. Get dressed into their uniform, normally whilst watching some TV, then it is free time. Their favourite time. Then before getting in the car they put on shoes, coats (sun screen if needed) and collect their book bags. Then its into the car and off we go with me having barely having to even raise my voice.
I have felt some much calmer the majority of the time and am learning to slow down, accept life for what it is and where we are right now. I am in a state where I can get stressed when it starts to get a little messy or if I am feeling really tired and I know its better to leave a few jobs till the morning. I guess a part of me is scared its going to go back to how it was before and I can honestly say I never want to go back to how it was. I also know the boys feel the same. Oliver has told me he had a better week at school , because his mornings have been so calm, he has gone into school feeling ready to learn and less stressed, anxious and angry. Although my first instinct is to feel guilty that my shortcomings as a Mama ever made him feel that way, I quickly override that and appreciate the fact the changes I am making are having such a profound impact on him.
So In The End
I am beyond grateful to all the people that produce content that has inevitably inspired me to make these changes. I am excited as I feel we are at the beginning of where this journey will take us. We still have lots to learn and change, but I am focusing so much on the positive things and the small wins I have every day. Minimising our things has genuinely impacted on our whole family. It has been so much more than just removing the excess things from our lives. It has changed my mindset and my thought patterns in many, many areas. It has also taught me it is OK to say No, but that is another blog post.
Much love and many thanks
♥ Have you minimised recently? What is the biggest thing you have learnt? What is the advice you would give to someone like me?