Our First Year as Minimalists

IMG_1929.JPGLast year about this time I gave myself the gift of minimalism for my birthday. I joined a class offered by Joshua Becker and bought his book “The More of Less.” I wrote at length about it here. When I wrote that blog, I was only 4 months in. Looking back now, I can’t believe how much I got done in a short amount of time. But the truth is, I was desperate. I had reached my limit. So I dove into the course full steam ahead. I pulled more than one all-nighter. It was a priority, an obsession, because the freedom I began to feel as I dug my life out from under all that stuff powerfully propelled me to push even harder. I gave away things I might need. I gave away things that I loved. I gave away gifts from people I love because I had no choice. We didn’t have the room. Our house was bursting at the seems.

SPOILER ALERT: At the beginning of the course, you are asked to think about your “Why.” And mine was simple. I wanted more time with my family. I wanted to stop spending so much time with their stuff and more time with them.  I have seen many people sharing their success on the Facebook page for the course. But I have also seen many people that don’t really move forward. And while there are obviously extenuating circumstances like a death or life altering event, for the most part, I would say that the main reason it doesn’t work for some people is that they don’t make it a priority. And the reason they don’t make it a priority is because they don’t understand how amazing their life will be when they finally do it. So I wanted to share some of the ways my life is exponentially better.

  1. My kids get it. We were never big consumers because we have never had a big wallet enabling us to do so. Therefore, my kids weren’t the type to ask for toys or candy at the store. But since minimalism, the reason is so much more grand. So much more noble. When it comes to getting a new toy/outfit/game they truly understand that we just don’t need it! They inspire me and each other. “We’re minimalists,” they say and move on.  This is way better than “We don’t have the money,” because it’s actually more true. Even if we did have unlimited resources, constantly buying the latest gadget isn’t good for anyone! It breeds discontentment and overflows landfills. My youngest regularly gives back the toy at Chik-fil-a, even when he doesn’t trade it for ice cream. Mind blowing. But they are tired of picking up stuff off the floor too.
  2. Our house is typically neat instead of always a mess. And even when it looks like a disaster, because there are still seven people in a 1700 square foot house, we are typically only about 15 minutes from it looking really great. The reason for this is two fold. First, we have less stuff which obviously means less to clean and put away. But the other less obvious and even more important part is this. Since we have purged and purged and purged all year, the stuff we do have, actually has a place. It used to be that if all my clothes were clean, I couldn’t fit them in the drawers. But now we live within our parameters making cleaning that much easier for the kids.  They can put toys in the closet because the closet isn’t bursting at the seems. They can put books on the shelves, because they aren’t full. The old adage, “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place” is actually a thing! Who knew??
  3. We have more time to do what we want. This year, like many years before, we hosted Easter. But this year, unlike any other year in my life, we went to the beach two days before. There was almost no stress about cleaning. Even when I looked around and thought, “This place is a disaster!” we were able to straighten up in no time. Now, for perspective, my children are older. I have three girls ages 10,12, and 14, and my oldest is fantastic at straightening up, when she wants to be. I don’t have babies anymore, and that makes a huge difference. But the stuff is just gone. And I DON’T MISS IT!
  4. I have new floors!!! They were literally a gift from God. Free. I wrote about it here. And because my house had been minimized, we were able to install them without a huge hassle. I looked at my husband, and we just marveled at what a mess it would have been had this happened months before. All this time I have been praying for new flooring, maybe God was just waiting for me to get rid of all our stuff so there was room! Think about that for a minute. You think you are saving money by holding on to all the stuff you might need someday, but all that stuff has a cost. And you never know what you are missing because of it.

Here are some things I learned:

  1. I didn’t need to be more organized. I needed less stuff. That’s me. Some people are great at organizing and such. More power to you. I am not. And further more, even if I was, I would still rather be with people than at home organizing stuff. No offense introverts 😉
  2. This is not “Decluttering.” It is purging. It is uncomfortable. Some people say to ask “does this thing give you joy?” But I actually *did* get rid of things that gave me joy because I just don’t have room! Also people are constantly decluttering because they are constantly taking in stuff they don’t need or could do without. Of course you will have to get rid of stuff occasionally. But living a minimalist life means you stop taking in. It means you stop valuing stuff over people. It means you stop buying stuff just because it’s a holiday.
  3. You need real support that most people can’t give. I found some people are kind of intimidated by this whole thing. They feel judged. We all tend to do that when someone makes a big life choice that sheds a light on a possible problem in our own life. That is why the support you get in the course is invaluable.
  4. I was lying to myself. I told myself I was fine. Chaos didn’t bother me. I am laid back and fine, I rationalized. Nope. Not true. As evidenced by the way I regularly lost my cool when I couldn’t find something I lost in the piles of stuff or how I got so frustrated cleaning up before an event. It bothered me. I just ignored it.

Sometimes when I look at pictures of an old chair, or think about books I gave away, I do feel a bit sad. But when I look at my house any sadness is gone in an instant. And when I hear my kids say “We don’t need it mommy,” I feel relief. We are all So Much happier and more free.  I have struggled my whole life with keeping things neat. My mom always quoted this proverbs from the Bible: “A wise man prizes his possessions.” And now I finally can. But only because I have less.

The course is just about to start again and right now you can even use the code FF25 to get 25% off at http://my.becomingminimalist.com The deadline to sign up is April 30th.  I will be signing up again and again! After your first time through you can keep going over and over for free! If you still don’t think you need the course or the book, read here.

If you are minimizing now or have in the past, how has your life improved? What have you learned? Share in the comments and inspire! 

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19 thoughts on “Our First Year as Minimalists

  1. I read the art of tidying and began a massive cull, about half my closet went and many other things. But I lost momentum because it didn’t resonate with me. Then a friend posted a link about the minimalist doco and after watching that I thought yes! I started researching, reading, listening to podcasts, and now my 12 yr old son and I are playing the 30 day minimalist game. He decided to cull half his room after we stayed at my sisters a while, he realised he felt better away from his stuff and felt overwhelmed back at home in his own room. I didn’t need to talk him into it, he made his own choice. It is changing my life. I can already feel the anxiety and overwhelm of my stuff and responsibilities lifting, it makes you feel clearer and leaves space to figure out how to live more meaningfully. I realise I always wanted to live this way I just hadn’t figured out the reasoning. You can start slow and go easy on yourself, just keep at it and you’ll feel it. This works for me and my son loves it too!
    Thanks for sharing your journey x

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    • Yes, exactly! Just keep at it!! I have a LONG way to go! I just try to remember how far I’ve come and how good it’s going to feel if I just keep going! Thanks for your encouraging words!

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  2. You’re making your kids dress like Mennonites and yet you still have a smart phone, social media and the internet! Pretty sure you’re not a minimalist!

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    • Mennonites? They picked out their dresses from Target. Sorry you don’t approve.

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      • I think you girls look lovey, modest and BEAUTIFUL. Actually this family picture it’s beautiful ♡

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think you look all very pretty !! And being a minimalist doesn’t mean to live in a shed in the wood. It means letting go what you don’t need anymore. And it’s ok if it’s more for some people than others. To give away old things means for me to be open to the future. Maybe I buy knew things, or not. But now I have the room ! I think you made great change !!

        Liked by 1 person

      • You shouldn’t apologize to Beth’s mean comment! If that is what she focused on from your article, she doesn’t get it and is one of those things you need to let go! Minimalize her! 😃

        Liked by 1 person

    • Elizabeth Wright

      I don’t think you’ve actually seen Mennonites if that’s what you think they look like….you have missed the whole point…maybe you need to do a little more reading a little less jumping to conclusions.

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  3. I watched Minimalism: A documentary and LOVED it. Then made my husband watch it who was fascinated and liked the concept but would probably not have started the process with my enthusiasm. I have cleared my wardrobe, kitchen, basement and feel physically lighter. I even encouraged my children to let go but that’s is going to be a longer term project! I am not getting despondent with that though, you can’t make someone be minimalist and now I’ve cleared I have a different attitude to stuff and what I need in my life. I continue to use the ‘does this add value to life?’ Question before bringing something into my house.

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  4. You’re so right. You definitely can’t force it on anyone. And my kids are just normal kids. But it’s amazing how after time they begin to see that it does bring an ease to life, and they will catch on. You lead the way 😀

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  5. I read this and your linked articles and something you wrote really spoke to me. I’ve been following Joshua for over a year, I’ve read Marie Kondo’s book, and I’ve purged as much stuff as I can without attacking my husbands clutter (he likes the idea, but hasn’t been motivated to apply it to *his* stuff, yet). I feel lighter, I feel better about our house.
    But this spoke to me about *me*: “We live in a culture that tells us “You deserve it! And you can pay for it later!” However, the truth is that we deserve nothing and will likely pay dearly for it later.”
    I love to reward myself, and I come up with the most ridiculous reasons to justify it. Usually it’s food related, so all I’m doing is hurting myself, by eating too much, or eating food with little nutritional value. You have inspired me to apply some of the minimalist principals to how I treat my body, as well as my home.
    Thank you for this. And good luck on your journey of minimalism! Your family sounds wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. (BTW your Family photo is absolutely beautiful, it reminds me of my Daughter, Son-in-law, & 4 Grands 😊💓) Thank you so much for this wonderful sharing of your journey. I tried to do the course the last time, but a few weeks in, knew I wasn’t ready. I am now one year & 4 months into the death of my husband & feel like I can & need to do this, for me. As I look around our little 900 sq. ft. home we had built after he became ill (which now feels like a mansion!) I feel like I am drowning in ‘stuff’, & become overwhelmed, then paralyzed. I’ve actually already started, right after signing up for Joshua’s next course. I began w/something non-emotional…the Pantry & it’s almost done! And, it felt so freeing, yet as I look @ it, I already know, I can & will pare it down some more.
    Reading your entire post has truly inspired me. (Oh, I also am not an organizer/decluttetterer, lol. It must be purged, & now I finally realize & know there is a difference!) Thank you again, & Bless you for sharing. Judy 💜

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    • I am so sorry for your loss! That can make this process incredibly difficult. Take your time. So wise to start with the pantry! Start easy and gather some friends for the harder parts. My prayers are with you!

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  7. “This is not “Decluttering.” It is purging. It is uncomfortable.”

    This is so true! I am in my 60’s and I have a whole life of stuff, including the stuff from my 3 30-something boys and my husband. My goal is to sell our house and move using 1 small rental truck. I have been purging for about 2 years now and still have a long way to go. I go in bits and spurts and it is hard work! On Memorial Day I read through 2 shoe boxes of letters that my college roommates sent to me on summer breaks. (Yes, I had to read them all before disposing of them!) Be thankful that you’re minimalizing while your kids are still young.

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  8. This is amazing! I also loved how you shared how God provided flooring for you! God is good. May our trust grow!

    Liked by 1 person

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