In the summer of 2010, my husband and I went through a small financial crisis. He was a recent graduate with his master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. We were new parents and had also just moved cross-country for my husband’s fellowship year (CFY.)
Our daughter’s birth, the move, setting up a new (rental) home all cost gobs of money. Money that we didn’t have. July rolled around and so did our student loan notices. In 6 short months, we would have to start making payments on my husband’s quite massive loans.
So we sold over 50% of our belongings, moved in with my parents for 7 months, paid off about $5000 in debt, put another $5000 in savings, and financed a move cross-country back to our old stomping grounds.
It felt liberating to get rid of so much stuff. And with each move we’ve had since, we have continued to pare down our belongings. Inspired by other writers like Francine Jay and Joshua Becker, we’ve also embraced minimalism as our family lifestyle.
So how does minimalism look in a home with 2 adults, 1 toddler, and 2 lazy Welsh Corgis?
- Own enough to be comfortable, but not too comfortable: We make sure that all of our basic needs are met, first and foremost. This means good quality clothing and shoes (but not in massive quantities), healthy and nutritious food, and activities to exercise our minds and bodies. But we don’t buy stuff just because we can. This means our closets, cabinets, and drawers are not overstuffed or even full. Our home has room to breathe, and so do we.
- Keep a Simple Home: We don’t own knickknacks, keep collections of things, or allow our one (very large) bookcase to become too full. Although we love art (and my background is in art history), we only have a few much loved pieces of art and family photos on the wall. The majority of our walls are bare and are painted bright white as a soothing background for our furniture and art. Nothing in our home is fancy, but it is well-kept, classic, and harmonious with everything else.
- Everything Has a Place: We’ve worked very hard to build a simple organization system for our house. My daughter’s toys are stored in two plastic bins in her closet, and I rotate her toys every couple of weeks. If she isn’t playing with something, then I put it away. This means that she has 5-7 items available at a time, nothing more (but not including books, we are a family of book lovers!) Clothes are put away immediately, and we have one laundry basket for the entire household. This means 1)wearing clothes more than once and 2)keeping up on laundry.
- Goodwill is our Friend: We don’t mess around with clutter. If something isn’t a necessity or adding beauty to our home and lives, it goes. We try to find friends or other organizations that can use our unwanted things, but inevitably some of it goes to Goodwill. We rarely donate anymore because we’ve pared down so much. But every few months, we paw through our closets and drawers and make sure we’re only hanging on to stuff that is needed.
Since become minimalist, we have more time to spend together, less cleaning to do, and we just feel happier in our home. Our belongings do not control our lives anymore, and it is so freeing to not have a bunch of stuff to clean, maintain, and worry about. I strongly believe that minimalism can be beneficial for any family and leads to a calmer, more simple and family-centered home.