To start off, yes, this post is called “Minimalist Lifestyle Tips” but…
I think we need a disclaimer before we get too far in. I haven’t done a lot of actual research into true definition of minimalist. Of course, I understand the general concept but I have read posts on other blogs that mentioned how particular certain groups are about accurately representing that word. So I am here to say that I have no idea if my home actually fits the technical description. And, truly, it doesn’t matter to me.
I am not a minimalist. I am a mom trying to eliminate clutter and the stress that comes with it. After finding my orderly and clutter-free world turn upside down after have three kids, I have finally found solutions that keep every inch of our home under control! And that is what I am here to share about today.
Set Your Priorities and Change Your Mindset
My Great Grandmother always used to say, “If you keep something for seven years, you will find a use for it!”
That is a very cute saying and she was definitely raised in a time when that was necessary, but it does NOT lend itself to keeping a clutter-free home!
Is your home overrun with chaotic mess? It is scary to think about a friend dropping by to visit unannounced? Are there certain drawers/closets/rooms in your home that you dread to open and would rather pretend simply do not exist?
It is time to ask yourself THE question:
What do you want more: STUFF or PEACE?
That is the question of today because I understand that in order to get peace in our home, it will require sacrifice. Like making the tough decisions about what to keep and what to chuck. Choosing to let go of things that you thought you would have with you forever.
But picture this:
Open ANY drawer in the house and see an orderly space with EXTRA room!
Know that WHENEVER you need something, you will know EXACTLY where to find it!
ALWAYS be 5-10 minutes away from having a straightened house that can receive company!
Sound like something that is worth a few sacrifices? Let’s do it!
The Great Elimination
Making the decisions
To start this off…there is absolutely no need to be intimidated. We truly make this whole idea too complicated. They make shows about, create formulas for it, and make it seem like decluttering your home is an art that you need a special education to excel in. Not so!
Here is my method:
Pick up an item in your home and ask yourself: Does anyone in my home ACTIVELY use this item. Yes? Find it a home. No? Chuck it. That’s all.
As a side note, when I say “chuck it” that can mean sell, donate, or throw away…whatever you feel is appropriate. Simply get it out of your house!
Sometimes, as we go through different spaces in our home, we find something that seems oh so very cool. We sit there for a moment and try to think of a way to use that item in our daily life.
This activity is not “Find a way to use every hidden item in our home”. We are here to ELIMINATE CLUTTER AND FIND PEACE! Chuck it!
If you have been living life without it and only found it because you were decluttering…you DON’T need it!
Ultimately, we need to change our decluttering mindset and ask a different question. Instead of, “will I ever have a use for it?” we need to ask, “can I get by without it?”
I find that there are always certain areas in my home that keep getting “re-cluttered”. No matter how thorough I am with my chucking, I turn my back for a minute and – BAM! – chaos has found its way back! That is apparently an area that needs a boundary.
- Toy box – choose a smaller toy box and make the boundary that all of the toys must EASILY fit into it (LINK)
- Kitchen – only keep appliances in your kitchen that you use at least once a week
- Sentimental – Each family member can only keep five purely sentimental items
This is an area where I believe I differ from the technical definition of minimalist. My goal is NOT to own the fewest items. I simply want to own the most useful items. This is about eliminating clutter, making life more simple, and making it easy to keep a straightened home.
If certain items are not used on a regular basis but still need to be kept – store it!
We are talking storage shed, garage, attic, basement (LINK), or even rented storage space. If it doesn’t need to be readily available, don’t use up that valuable real estate in your everyday living areas.
- Seasonal decorations
- Purely sentimental items
- Kitchen appliances that are needed infrequently
Minimalist Lifestyle: Decor
Have you ever entered a home and noticed that everything is orderly and in its proper place but it still gave you an immediate impression of being cluttered? Maybe that is your house?
True peace and lack of clutter includes the DECOR! Just because everything has a home does not mean it is decluttered.
Let me take this moment for another clarification. I am NOT an interior decorator! I am not here to make suggestions on style or taste. That is not my specialty at all. I am simply talking about a principle that can be applied to ANY style to eliminate the feeling of clutter, help aide in quickly straightening a room, and add to the simplicity of life.
My rule with decor:
Decor must either be usable or off a usable surface.
Let me explain. A lamp serves as decoration but also is usable to spread light in a room so it may remain on a usable surface. A knick-knack serves as decoration and is not usable for anything else so it much go on a non-usable service.
I define a usable surface as either a surface you can do activities on (like a dining table) or something that tends to be a catch-all surface in a room. So the knick-knack could go on a bookshelf or actual knick-knack shelf but not on a dining table to dresser. Make sense?
Bottom-line, the more clear surfaces there are in a room, the less cluttered it will appear and the more peace you will feel when you walk in to it. But it gets better…this rule also eliminates an entire level of straightening. If you have decorations on usable surfaces that tend to get clutter on them, you will have to remove the clutter AND straighten the decorations in order to organize that surface.
Maintaining the Bliss
So, you just spent several weekends going through every nook and cranny of your home. You are beyond thrilled by the results! But let’s be real – the whole house will be a train wreck within 6 months unless we can figure out how to maintain this fabulous transformation!
Create a routine
Every week I pick 1-2 declutter spaces depending on what I have noticed needs it throughout the week.
Every month I walk through the ENTIRE house with a garbage bag (or two if you want to divide trash and donate). Keep asking yourself, “is EVERY item in this space actively used?” If not, CHUCK IT!
The more consistent you are with these two routines, the easier they will become. There will be less and less in that garbage bag and you will become so familiar with the organization of each space that you will just have to glance over it to make sure it is as it should be. You will get to the point that opening up a cabinet and seeing messy clutter will send chills up your spine and you will immediately go write a note to add that spot to your to-do for the next week. It will all become SO natural!
Everything has a home
As you do “The Great Elimination”, anything that is not chucked NEEDS to be given a home. Once you start living in your newly decluttered space you will probably be shifting things around until you find the most convenient home for everything.
This is NOT optional – if things have a home than they can be quickly put there during daily pickups. If not, they will be left out or shoved in the nearest drawer – chaos will ensue!
Of course, the next step to this rule is to not consider it optional to actually put things in their home when you pick up a space. This habit, too, will become easier with time.
Get the family involved
All of these habits and routines that we have been talking about will make your family’s life soooo much easier! If you train your kids in these same habits and routines it will not only make it easier to keep up your home, but you will also be passing along this clutter and chaos freedom to the next generation of families!
When the kids are little they can declutter with you. Whether you are working on their closet or any other area in the house, they should be by your side watching you put the house in order and learning that this is simply the way it is done in this home…no options.
When the kids are older they should declutter their own spaces and you can simply check afterward.
I’m a firm believer that kids should be taught clutter and continual messes are unacceptable. This isn’t based on personality types anymore than hygiene requirements. A certain personality in a child may make them less inclined to be particular about personal hygiene, but we don’t use that as an excuse to let them run around filthy- it simply isn’t painted as an option. The same should apply to orderliness and clutter.
When it comes to your spouses’ spaces, everyone has a different way of organizing their space. I would suggest having a drawer/set of drawers/closet set aside for them, depending on what they need other than clothing storage. If some of their stuff is found during a pickup, it can just be put in their space and they can organize it at their convenience.
Thank you so much for reading! Please chime in with questions or thoughts down below!