A Minimalist Mini-Transformation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The first few weeks after I embraced minimalism I moved like a wildfire through my house. I tackled the living room and kids room with quick precision and while I know I will continue to minimize what I keep in those in those rooms, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot there. I have not formally “done” my room and I want to say it remains untouched but that isn’t true. It’s way neater than it ever was before, but in comparison to the others spaces in the house, it feels like a disaster are. I look forward to making significant progress there in the near future. The kitchen is going to be harder because I need to work closely with my husband in that space; the kitchen is his domain and the last thing I want to do is get rid of something he deems necessary or important.

I continue to get rids of lots and lots of stuff. I’ve thrown away five big garbage bags, given away four bags of clothes (mine and the kids), gotten rid of three big bags of toys and lots of larger baby items and made two trips to the electronic recycling center. Plus I’ve dropped off four bags worth of books (all mine) at the library. My hall is currently bag-free, though I’ve already started a new clothing donation bag in my room and I really need to make some hard decisions in my daughter’s “library.”.

I also still need to pare down my own wardrobe significantly. That is going to be hard but I’m getting in the right mindset. I’m starting to take note of the pants and shirts I don’t wear much and I’m giving myself ultimatums: if something isn’t worn a lot in the next month or two it won’t make the final cut.

I’ve only been pursuing minimalism for a couple months but already the effects have been significant. My house looks so much better and I feel so much less stress. In the living room, where I spend the majority of my time, the surfaces and the couch are all clear, and every night I clean up the floor and sweep or vacuum it (this is out of necessity–my son’s “cheerios habit” is totally out of control and remnants of it are left EVERYWHERE). The hallway is also totally clean and swept or vacuumed. The bathroom is even in good shape, which is nice because that space is small and becomes unmanageable quickly. My son’s room is always super clean but I struggle more with my daughter’s. I need to create a “pick up your stuff” routine with her every night. We have been thinking about giving her a quarter a day allowance so she can start working towards things she wants after the “you can ask Santa for that” card expires. Obviously these two things will dove tail nicely.

One of the spaces I most appreciate being clean is the entry way. Normally a depository for all our shit as we walk in the door, I’ve been really careful not to let things accumulate there. I’m always taking stuff back up into the house as I make trips to and from the laundry (in the garage). Now, when I get home, I’m greeted by clean floors and even some open space on the shoe rack bench. It’s a really refreshing way to return home and it sets an expectation for what the rest of the house will look like.

There is still a lot of work to do and already stuff is accumulating in some rooms that I spent a lot of time simplifying. But all in all, now that I know where everything goes in each room (and I’ve thrown our or given away the rest) I am able to actually keep the spaces cleaned up. And after only a few weeks of doing so, I find I CRAVE that clean, open space. It seems I’ve already created a habit for myself of picking up as I go along and then doing whatever needs to be done in the last hour of the day to make sure everything is in its right place. It really bothers me now when things are awry, which I think is hilarious because I used to live in such abject chaos.

{More on habits later–I’m reading a fascinating book about them, recommended to me in a comment on a previous post–THANK YOU!.}

So yes, minimalism has already created massive positive changes in my life. I know I still have a LONG way to go and I’m realizing that there is so much more I can get rid of and that even though I have spaces for some things, it doesn’t mean I need to keep there. I believe 2015 will be the year of truly redefining what is important to me and determining what I (and my family) need and that by this time next year my space, and my life, will be transformed.

11 Comments

    1. I didn’t take before and after pictures. I thought about it, but doing that made it feel more like a one time project and not like a huge foundational change I am trying to make in my life, if that makes any sense. It probably doesn’t. 😉

  1. Wow! That is such a quick and dramatic transformation. You really can do anything you put your mind to, girl! I’m really proud of you (and inspired to tackle some clutter of my own). I have a hard time with the kids’ stuff. Its hard for me to let go of baby toys and books, especially since they will still occasionally pick them off the shelf for bedtime reading. Is the 1% chance the book will be read one time worth it taking up the 1cm of available library space? Hard choices. I at least need to chuck the stuff that doesn’t really work anymore or has fallen apart. I’m sure I’ve got a trash bag’s worth of toys to throw out.

    1. The kids’ books are hardest for me too. I was realizing that just because they might read something again doesn’t mean I should keep it. They would read ANY book we have lying around eventually, does that mean I have to buy them all? We have two boxes of board books in my son’s room and I keep thinking, I don’t need to keep these all. He will read just as much and learn just as much if we only have one box. So I’m going to make some hard choices and get rid of a box’s worth, even though he’s still in the board book stage. And my daughter has WAY too many books. I’ve bought a lot AND my mom gave me a lot and there are a ton in English and a ton in Spanish. We need to pare down her books and it’s going to be hard but I want to do it because I spend HOURS picking up her books and it’s just not necessary. I might also take out a few boxes and then cycle them back in later and have them in her book shelf on a rotating basis.

      1. “They would read ANY book we have lying around eventually”. Yes! Same with toys, they will play with anything we have lying around (and have! L spent an hour with his head in a cardboard box from pull-ups chugging around like a train one night). It doesn’t mean I have to keep it. Seriously our toys/books are OUT OF CONTROL right now, and Christmas and B’s birthday is in 10 days.

  2. I love this! Living clutter-free (or at least with less clutter, b/c nothing is ever clutter-FREE with kids) definitely becomes a habit. I can relax so much better when I look around to a tidy space!

    For clothes, this is what works best for me:
    1) Take everything out of your closet. EVERYTHING.
    2) Sort out what you can get rid of now and don’t even put it back in the closet.
    3) When you hang everything else back up, hang it all up BACKWARDS on your hanger to start…you’ll hang it up the “normal” way after you wear it and wash it. Then after a predetermined time (I do 1 yr b/c many clothes are seasonal-specific here, but 3m might work better for you?), get rid of anything still hanging backwards on the hanger, b/c obviously you haven’t touched it in a year!

    1. I don’t do the hanger trick (though I’ve read about that before, and it seems to work for a lot of people), but every 6 months (season change) I make myself get rid of anything I did not wear the preceding season (unless it was something really specific, like snow boots and it didn’t snow–ha!, or a cocktail dress and we had no parties). That’s also when I inspect everything for holes/stains/fit/frumpiness. If it fails, no need to store it away for next year, it goes.

      1. Yeah, we don’t really have seasons here, or at least not enough that it changes what I wear (especially what I wear from my closet–I do switch out tshirts for long sleeve shirts at some point, but those are in drawers). But I could just choose to go through my closet every six months regardless. If I haven’t worn it for that long I probably won’t wear it in the next six months either.

    2. I’ve read about this trick and I might try it. I would be helpful for me because there isn’t much seasonal stuff in my closet. I wear pretty much the same stuff all year round, I just add layers as it gets colder.

  3. Wow, you’re doing really well. Usually it’s just my office that is out of control, but lately I feel that it is spreading! I’m also feeling out of control and a bit panicky about it, but maybe that’s because we have visitors coming in a few days, and I have no idea whether my “acceptable” will meet their “acceptable,” and I know I will have to do a frenzy of cleaning tomorrow and Monday! After that I will be able to relax a bit more, and hopefully gradually clean up my act. Meanwhile I am taking inspiration from you, and wishing you well. Trying to do even five minutes a day is progress.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *