The worst thing about clutter? It’s a time waster. I’ve been playing a little catch up over the past day or two and it has put me a behind. Piles have collected of stuff that I’m actually REMOVING from our house; things I’m selling / consigning / donating are temporarily taking over. AH!
But no matter what, I always go back to my “WHY”. What are my goals in trying to live a more minimalist, intentional lifestyle?
🏠 Create a beautiful and functional home with kids
🛍️ Decrease the amount of “stuff” we have around and feel less frustrated and smothered
👨👩👧👦 Calm the chaos with two kids under two using efficient systems
⏳ Make more TIME to make more memories
When I’m overwhelmed and stressed, my usual patience is diminished. I get frustrated easier, I snap quicker and I’m not the parent I want to be - no one is perfect!! My favorite mantra of the past year that I repeat to myself in my head often is “progress over perfection”. I told my husband the other day that I think I am MORE frustrated over the past few weeks because I’m on the cusp of all the STUFF disappearing, I’m just not all the way there yet. Yesterday and this morning I had 5 items picked up that I sold and today I started donating. By the end of the week, the piles will have hopefully mostly, if not fully disappeared. It will always be a process, but the time alone I've gained back so far has been a massive improvement at home!
One of my hubby’s favorite sayings, “Buy once, cry once,” is a reminder to spend a bit more (hence the “cry”), and buy a higher quality item that will outlast something cheaper and of lesser value.
Living a more intentional, efficient and minimalist lifestyle means reevaluating your mindset as a consumer - making deliberate purchase decisions, delaying gratification and seriously considering the quality, purpose and benefit of your purchases. When you shift your mindset, you bring less into your home and the items you DO buy are more…
Whatever you bring into your home should serve you and your family a distinct purpose. While I think LOVING what you buy is important, I’m also realistic - you may not LOVE your cleaning products, but you can love the brand/scent/ingredients!
I have been consciously trying to avoid impulse buys and seriously considering the “why” behind my purchases. My bank account is benefitting too - I buy higher quality products less frequently and spend less money replacing and duplicating!
Have you changed how and what you buy and bring into your home? How has it affected your family?
Saying “No” can be one of the hardest teeny words to say. BUT, a “Yes” can actually be equally as difficult.
I have serious analysis paralysis. Embarrassingly, it can take me MONTHS to pick something as simple as a new bathroom rug. In the case of decluttering, it can take me multiple go-rounds of “should I keep this” to actually get rid of something. Analysis paralysis is basically the fear of choosing what one perceives as the “wrong option” - causing overthinking, anxiety and decreased productivity - spinning your wheels and getting nowhere.
As a consumer, when it comes to what you actually want to bring into your home, the endless choices can be incredibly frustrating. Instead of making a quick, thoughtful decision, you may literally feel paralyzed as you stare at all of your options. Think about the HUNDREDS of varieties of yogurt, baby food, peanut butter and canned soup - and that’s just at the grocery store!
If your goal is to maintain a decluttered home and live more intentionally, it’s important to consider what you bring into your home, but NOT to the point of making you frustrated and LESS productive.
If you have trouble making a decision, try using the “4 Q”s below to make a swift, determined, definite decision:
🌟 QUALITY - buy the best for your budget
🌟 QUANTITY - determine if you already have an item that serves the same purpose
🌟 QUESTION - is this something you really need and will use?
🌟 QUICK - make a decision quickly and stick to it - set a timer if necessary
Did you use this strategy? Do you have any tips for making a quick decision?
Minimalist joke... Ha! Seriously, though. As a people pleaser, and person who tends to put their own needs last, I am trying my best to put this tiny, impactful word at the top of my vocab. Bonus is my toddler also knows it well and loves the word, she just doesn't know what it means yet. HA.
NO is a big part of minimalism, and has also really helped me with RUTHLESS decluttering. But it has also helped me try to live a better quality of life as a stay at home mom, parent and wife. When parents are well taken care of, kids are even more well taken care of!
"No" tends to be a taboo word in our society. Because if you say no, it means you're not doing more, buying more, taking on more responsibilities, etc. But isn't less, really more? I'll take quality over quantity any day.
What IS minimalism? “Something that is stripped down to its most essential elements or uses only what is needed. Both minimalist and minimalistic can be used to describe things that are simplified and include only the most basic components.”
Minimalism as a lifestyle looks different for everyone, and it doesn’t necessarily mean a white couch in a bare room with one plant. It could though, if that’s what you’re into.
Minimalism means living simply, intentionally, efficiently and with purpose. A minimalist family’s home surrounds us with things we need, love and use. Items add positively to family life, limit clutter, frustration, stress, excess and duplication. Ideally, minimalist home design incorporates both functionality AND style; that style is whatever YOU make it for your family, and it's great because it's YOU.
So many times on Instagram, when I had a home decor only account, I would see the same designs, colors and styles over and over again. Yes, gorgeous and great, but honestly, boring after seeing the same thing over and over again. I think minimalism has actually helped my design aesthetic because I keep and display things that I really love and have meaning to us - my favorite thing about minimalism.
How has your life changed after beginning a journey to a more minimalist lifestyle?
DECLUTTER (as defined by Merriam Webster) - Verb: ‘to remove clutter from a room, an area, etc.’. Sounds pretty simple, but decluttering can be incredibly hard. Over the years, you’ve accumulated SO much STUFF. And while you may not enjoy all of it, or want it around you, it can be a daunting task to remove it from your home and life. Especially when that stuff evokes powerful emotions.
When I first started decluttering, the sentimental factor really got to me, but I faced additional hangups too, like “this was expensive”, “this was a gift” and "what if my mom asks if I still have that?".
While these thoughts were well-intentioned, they prevented me from being utterly ruthless, relentless and cutthroat with the limited number of things I really wanted to keep. It’s normal during this process for these feelings to creep up, but you’re stronger than them. You’re growing into a new mindset of minimal, intentional living, which is meant to benefit YOU and YOUR FAMILY and no one else. As a sentimental person, it took a deep dive into my brain to realize that whatever it is, it’s simply a REMINDER of a memory, NOT the actual memory itself. Before that realization, I wouldn’t have been able to declutter as ruthlessly as I really wanted to, even if I tried.
You don’t have to get rid of everything. You can keep some momentos from your wedding, your grandma’s bracelet or that book from Aunt Mary. As long as you love it and it’s benefitting you, it has purpose in your life. Once it becomes a stressful burden or frustration, it’s time to go.
What’s something sentimental that you’re ready to get rid of?
It is normal to feel overwhelmed by the thought of decluttering your entire home at first. It sure took me a while, and I put it off day after day, month after month, thinking that the frustrations and stresses at home were just "part of life".
It can even take longer than you’d expect. I’ve been “mildly” decluttering for years, and until I got completely unrelenting and ruthless about it, including changing my mindset, clutter continued to creep back over time.
Instead of shutting down, I’m pushing you to JUST START. As I mentioned in my last post, take that snowball effect and use it to your advantage. Give yourself a realistic goal and WRITE IT DOWN, tape it in the room you start in. Make a realistic goal (“I will completely declutter this room including throwing things away and dropping off donations by September 1, 2021”).
Ready to get back your TIME, take back control and create an efficient home with little ones that you absolutely love?
Decluttering is the first MAJOR step to calming the chaos. Take these 8 simple steps to dump the excess stuff and begin your journey to minimal, intentional living.
1️⃣ Start small, but just START
2️⃣ Set a goal and realistic timeframe in each room of your home
3️⃣ Start in the right place (easiest to hardest; yes, your closet is THE HARDEST, think about all those feelings those old clothes bring up!)
4️⃣ Ask two big questions - When did I last use this? Do I love this and is it benefitting me or is it wasting my time and distracting me?
5️⃣ Figure out what areas of your home are taking up the most time for you; declutter these areas and plan to implement efficient systems
6️⃣ Use the one-minute rule, plus set a boundary - ex. All laundry items returned to laundry room / donate all items by end of month
7️⃣ Face the hardest-to-tackle items; the sentimental items and small remainder piles aren’t going to declutter and clean themselves up
8️⃣ Use Montessori's principle, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
I challenge you to take 5 minutes TODAY and declutter ONE drawer. Your efforts will pay off and snowball and you'll be on your way to a simpler, less chaotic and more functional home.
Why declutter your home? Psychology Today cited a study by the Univeristy of New Mexico’s Catherine Roster and colleagues in 2016 - the premise was, “Because so many people identify so closely with their home environments, the extent to which it’s cluttered can interfere with the pleasure they experience in that environment”. Roster went on to define “home environment” as more than just a dwelling. It’s, “The broader constellation of experiences, meanings, and situations that shape and are actively shaped by a person in the creation of his or her lifeworld.” Love that!
A few reasons you may want to consider decluttering…
🥴 You’re feeling suffocated, frustrated and overwhelmed at home
🥴 You’re drowning in stuff you don’t use, don’t like, or isn’t helping you in any way at this stage of your life
🥴 You can’t find the stuff you actually need and use
🥴Your home isn’t working for you, it’s working against you and you don't feel comfortable or like it reflects the real you
My goal in decluttering is to live a purposeful, simple, well-intentioned life with my family and have time and energy to make great memories. Prior to decluttering, (even just "Decluttering Lite" over the past few years - ha!) I felt that overwhelm, suffocation and frustration ALL.THE.TIME.
That excess accumulation of stuff that’s not working for you - AKA clutter ("scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness”) can actually negatively affect your health, specifically your STRESS level.
For many, clutter leads to feelings of stress, including anxiety, depression, inadequacy, confusion and decreased focus. Chronic stress can manifest physically and suppress the immune system. Not to be morbid here, but chronic stress is linked to the SIX leading causes of death (via NIH.gov)!
There are A LOT of stressors today, and we’re also spending a lot of time at home. The time you spend at your home doesn’t have to contribute. Though removing the clutter takes some time up front, that time spent will give you BACK even more time. Time that you can spend making memories with your family, and NOT time spent searching for things to make those memories with, or even NOT making those memories at all because you’re feeling stressed and burnt out.
To remove clutter and stress is to gain time and energy. It starts with one small step - a drawer, a bag, a cabinet. But once you start it often turns into a snowball effect - start from an initial state of small significance and build upon it.
I have gained significant time back since beginning my decluttering journey. What’s something that you want to make more time for?
My goal for The Tidy Tot is to help make your life at home as a new or seasoned parent "easier", surrounded by things you love, freeing up valuable time and energy to make lasting and less stressful memories as a family. I've never been a type-A, super tidy person, although I've become more like that in some ways with more people and things to be responsible for over the years.
I’ve said it to myself before I really took a deep dive into ruthless decluttering and minimizing. I’m sure you can relate…
“I’m just a naturally messy person."
Guess what? Clutter and mess aren’t the same thing and don’t go together! Clutter is ‘to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that IMPEDE MOVEMENT or REDUCE EFFECTIVENESS’. Where as messy simply means, ‘disordered, untidy’. Having things out that you actually need, love and use is MESS. Having things around that waste space, energy and time is CLUTTER.
Sigmund Freud supposedly once said, “Don’t clean up the mess. I know exactly where everything is.”
What kind of "stuff" do you surround yourself with?
I do a lot of household chores when the kids are awake so they can help me (if they choose to, I never force it), and see that stuff doesn't just magically get picked up when they're napping!
As I've mentioned, we practice some Montessori principles at home, and "practical life" is a big one that I love. Learning to take care of yourself and your surroundings is so important!
When doing something like this, break it down into a few age-appropriate tasks. Every kid is different, my son, at about 9.5 months now is not there yet and working on his mobility skills. Since about 15 months (now 22m) with my daughter, we've done the following...
1️⃣ Carry a small bin into laundry area or a few clothing items
2️⃣ Putting clothes in/out and/or transferring between machines
3️⃣ Matching socks, outfits or putting specific colors in a pile to be put away
Some other great practical life activities you may want to try...
✨Cutting veggies and fruits (transferring to/from a bowl and learning safety around cutting tools)
✨ Loading/unloading the dishwasher (learning to be gentle)
✨ Picking up toys in their room (caring for their own spaces)
✨ Cleaning up small spills or using a small vacuum (caring for home and being tidy)
Did I miss any great chores/around the house activities? Tell me your favorite to do with your little!