As we’ve pursued a minimalist lifestyle, I generally come across these questions:
Was your husband on board right away?
He was pretty neutral. Within about a month he began noticing that our house was staying clean on a regular basis. He really appreciated that and has become gradually more and more supportive. We still have some areas in the garage to tackle, but that is his domain so I’m trying not to be too pushy ;)
How long did it take to pare down your home?
About a year. This sounds like a long time, but keep in mind I was trying to do it while taking care of three little kids and having our fourth (although, a good dose of nesting hormones can be VERY helpful for the cause!). If I had even one uninterrupted hour a day to work, instead of sporadic 15 minute segments, I could have done it in a month.
Are there any things you regret giving away?
Not. a. single. one. (Seriously, honestly, truly :)) Almost anything we have given away was worth $50 or less, so I just remind myself that if I really needed or wanted this again, I could buy it without denting our budget.
Does your house feel bare?
I did worry about this a little bit in the beginning, but as long as there are people in our house it never feels bare. There is usually a child playing with play doh at the counter, or a meal being prepared, it is interesting how just living in our home fills it up.
Do your kids have a choice?
This is something that I have had to put a lot of thought into. Between art projects, toys and all of the little things that children treasure, kids can generate massive amounts of stuff. What we have decided to do is let each of our daughter’s have their own magnetic board in their bedroom to display their most recent artwork and their own desk. Each of their desks have drawers that they can keep whatever they like in. For now this has worked out just fine, but I know we’ll have to continue to adjust as they get older.
Do you decorate for holidays?
Yes. Now that we have kids I love celebrating holidays with them and decorating is part of it. We have an artificial Christmas tree stored in its box in the garage and a rubbermaid tote each for Easter, Fall, and Christmas.
Does your house ever get messy?
Yes. Short of locking my kids in a closet, giving up cooking and sending my husband on safari, there just seems to be no way around it. BUT, the difference between messes now and messes before: I can clean up our entire house in about a half hour. No more full days dedicated to cleaning before holidays or hosting guests…and that is AWESOME :)
Do you think everyone should live this way?
No, definitely not. If you are living harmoniously with your things, then why change? If you are annoyed and stressed by your house, feel like you have outgrown it, or are tired of it always being a mess like me, then why not challenge status quo and see if paring down brings relief. (You might even discover that you have plenty of space, and even appreciate the tighter quarters once you purge :) )
Do you consider yourself a minimalist?
No, not in the truest sense of the definition. We have a TV and cars (we’d have to walk 8 miles to get to the nearest grocery store!) and some things in storage in the garage. But when it comes to the number of material possessions we have, we’re getting close. But this is what I’ve really come to appreciate about this community…no one cares! I’ve encountered wonderful people who are genuine, encouraging, helpful and glad to be on this journey together (and who definitely aren’t looking to qualify or disqualify people).
And in the end, I don’t know that earning the title of minimalist is our goal. I just wanted to get rid of stuff until our home felt manageable…and it turns out that has brought us pretty close to the minimalist line, will we cross it in this lifetime? Who knows…but for now, things are good :)
Does it get easier?
Absolutely. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Part of the reason we put off dealing with our stuff is because it can be a really emotional experience. We’re faced with buyer’s remorse, memories of loved ones, and guilt over things we haven’t taken better care of. So again, don’t be too hard on yourself. We all face the same things…but it does get easier, and while we are probably never “done”…when you arrive at a less cluttered home, it is so, so worth it :)
And now that we’re here, living a near minimalist lifestyle doesn’t actually feel that extreme. We still have everything that we need to live comfortably (we didn’t get rid of our microwave or washing machine), we just got rid of all the stuff that we thought we needed but don’t actually. It feels totally natural and has worked out well for our family.