A Beginner’s Guide to Minimalism

I’m no expert on being a minimalist. My journey is a work in progress. I’m also not striving to live with nothing. I like to have things that bring me joy. It’s about finding a balance between the things we need + love and the things that just take up physical + mental space. That being said, I feel like I’ve made progress in the last year. I’ve felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. Despite adding a baby and moving away from my support system of friends + family, I’m less stressed these days. If you are overwhelmed, over-stressed, and feeling like you’re spending your entire life cleaning or organizing stuff – I’d like to help!

First, find your reason. What are you interested in gaining? Is it time? More time with your family? More time to pursue the things you love? Is it to gain a sense of calmness + reduce stress? When you find your reason and associate minimalism with the gaining of something instead of the loss of possessions, you will be able to create a fire + passion for simplifying your life. That passion equals motivation – and in the beginning you need motivation!

I’ve read different philosophies for minimizing your possessions. You can go through each “category” of things you own, put them together, and then downsize. Or you can go through each area of your space and do the same. Personally, I do a combination. Things that are of similar categories, but that are spread out among the house (think sheets, towels, ect.) I do by category and then return them to their respective home. Otherwise, I go room by room – for this to work items that belong in that room need to make their way there. I think either philosophy works, so decide which would work best for you.

Be honest with yourself. This is usually the hardest part. We can physically go through our things, but can we emotionally let go and get rid of them? Go back to the reason you want this. Write it down. Find quotes or blogs that inspire you. Get yourself mentally + emotionally prepared so that you can be honest over what possessions don’t work for you. Some items are bought with the best of intentions, yet we never use them. Some items are given as gifts (that we appreciate the thought of), but serve no purpose in our homes. Sometimes you’ll run across a shirt that you just wish fit better, but it doesn’t and you haven’t worn it in years. Some things may feel hard to part with, but if you know deep down you don’t get value out of them I promise you’ll feel a weight lifted when they no longer take up space.

Start big! I’ve found success in tackling my biggest projects first. It takes a bit more time + effort, but the end results are the greatest. When I first began simplifying my things I tackled my clothing, my children’s play space, and the kitchen (which contained our “dump zone” and constantly collected clutter). Once I was able to accomplish those tasks and see my results I knew that this journey would continue to prove to be a positive one.

Think outside of “stuff”. To me, minimalism isn’t just about my possessions. It’s a mindset. It’s happiness, joy, calmness, and order. It’s simplifying life in all areas. It’s slowing down. Unplugging from this fast paced world + going for a nature walk with my kids. It’s baking with them + not being so stressed because the kitchen is already a disaster. It’s saying yes to them when they ask for paint or play-doh or some other craft that would have made me cringe years ago.

Before minimalism, my things controlled me. I was constantly cleaning and organizing, yet I was left with a disaster. Those of you who have young children like me – you’re told “the mess can wait” – and yes, sometimes it can, but the dishes still have to be cleaned and laundry still needs to be done. At some point we have to take the time to do those things that provide basic needs like food + clothing for our family. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have a clean house + be more present in your life? Yes, and you can. You’ll notice this guide doesn’t tell you what to throw away, what to keep, or what should add value in your life. Minimalism is a personal journey. It won’t look the same for you as it does for me, but I hope these tips give you a boost to start the process!