how to be a minimalist

 

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR TIPS ON HOW TO BECOME A MINIMALIST MOM (WHEN YOUR HOUSE IS A MESS OR DISASTER ZONE) YOU HAVE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE!

 

Every year when our family goes away camping, I fall in love with the idea of being a minimalist. Truly that is when I am at my happiest – when we are all living out of a suitcase, with only a handful of our favorite clothes and favorite possessions.

I love the fact that it only takes me about three minutes to clean up my whole tent (one minute to do a quick sweep, one minute to fix the airbed and one minute to tidy our possessions). I love the fact that the kids don’t miss anything that they have left at home. All in all, I love the simple life.

And then we return to a house (which only a week ago seemed fine) but post-camping it feels overstuffed with possessions we don’t really need.

 

Ah, it’s a total nightmare!

 

Half my clothes – I don’t even wear them anymore.

Most of my books – I have no intention of reading them again.

Those boxes filled with the kids mementos – I wouldn’t even know what is inside them anymore.

 

Maybe you feel the same way as me, like it is seriously time to embrace minimalism and live a more minimalistic life. If that’s the case for you too, I’m hearing you because I have made it my mission earlier this year to simplify my life as much as possible.

 

WHY?

 

Well because material possessions and STUFF don’t buy you happiness.

Nope, I’m sorry but they don’t.

That true feeling of happiness and contentment that every human on this world is chasing doesn’t come from owning things (no matter what the ads on TV try to tell you).

Instead it comes from those amazing feelings of love, peace and confidence that you can only find within yourself.

If you still think otherwise – that the latest dress, book or lipstick you just bought = happiness and that the purchase was a NECESSITY, please think again.

Here’s a harsh truth: most of our purchases are not true needs, but simply wants.

Most of what you bring into your house could have been avoided.

 

TO HELP YOU DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN A TRUE WANT AND NEED I WANT YOU TO ASK YOURSELF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS BEFORE EACH SIGNIFICANT PURCHASE:

 

1 What will happen if you don’t make this purchase?

2 Do you already have something similar at home?

3 Will you be using this item more than a few times?

4 If not, could a similar item be borrowed from someone else?

5 What do you predict is the lifespan of this item?

6 What value will this item hold in a year’s time?

7 Have you actually got room for this item in your home?

 

 

WITH MINIMALISM, LESS IS MORE

 

Less stress

Less clutter

Less maintenance

Less baggage

Less cleaning

 

More space

More time

More money

More happiness

More freedom

 

 

Now I know I have it in me to be a minimalist.

 

After all, back when I was in my twenties I went on a Contiki tour around Europe for 10 days with a backpack that weighed only 5.2 kilos.

The guy looked shocked when he weighed my tiny bag (it looked like a kid’s school backpack) while everyone else lugged around their heavy suitcases. At the time I was confused. What was the point of carrying so much extra stuff around? I had packed only the bare essentials which included a few summer dresses, swimmers, a cardigan, underwear, toiletries, requisite book to read and not much else.

But that was before the advent of kids, before we needed things “just in case”, before we bought things they would “love in the future” just because it was on special.  Before life got warped and we started to think that things made us feel “happy”.

 

Whether we like it or not we live in a more materialistic society today.

 

Humans have a tendency to collect “stuff” but our brains are not equipped to deal with that much stimulation. If there is stuff everywhere you look, there’s a good chance you are feeling stressed and anxious as a result of this clutter, even if it is “organised clutter”.

 

BECOMING A MINIMALIST MOM IS A TWO PART PROCESS

 

A –You need to get rid of things you don’t want or need from your home

B – You need to stop bringing more stuff into your home.

 

If you only do one step and not the other you will unfortunately fail on your quest to minimalism (sorry but it’s true!) because these two steps are so intricately intertwined together.

 

LET’S START WITH THE FIRST STEP TO BECOMING A MINIMALIST

 

NUMBER 1: CLEAR YOUR HOUSE OF CLUTTER

 

You know the rules. If:

 

You haven’t used it for more than a year

You or your kids have outgrown it.

You no longer LOVE, LOVE it

You wouldn’t be rushing to replace it

Or it doesn’t serve you in any way

 

It is time to get rid of it.

 

 

Now don’t be so sad about saying goodbye to things.

 

My new mantra-like question is this:

 

WAS I PLANNING TO TAKE THAT ITEM WITH ME TO THE GRAVE?

IS IT SOMETHING I HOPED TO BE BURIED WITH IT?

 

Most people will admit (push come to shove) that if a particular item got destroyed in a fire, they wouldn’t be shedding tears over it.

My wedding dress, sure, absolutely I would be devastated.

That summer dress that doesn’t fit me anymore, nay, not so much.

I mean, seriously, at what point was I planning to get rid of it?

 

 

Start By Throwing 50 Things Away

 

 

Clutter causes stress, and clutter is one of the main barriers of productivity. Charisse Ward

 

If you want to find your purpose and discover what really matters in your life, get rid of everything that doesn’t matter.  Don’t think clutter doesn’t matter because it does. It matters because it takes up space – not just in your physical surroundings, but in your head.

I challenge you to throw away everything you don’t love or need. If it doesn’t bring you joy or isn’t useful to you, now is the time to bin it. You need to throw out a minimum of fifty things (but you are welcome to keep adding more items to the “bye, bye” pile if you like.)

Watch what happens when you clear the clutter out of a space. Your mood may instantly change. You may feel more at peace, more focused and more serene. The effect is potentially profound.

 

You have a few options when it comes to decluttering:

 

-If the item is still in condition, donate it to a charity shop or someone in need (this is my favorite pick)

-You can give it to a friend or family member (outside your home!) that would appreciate it

-If you are seriously attached to some things that have value, you can make money on good, quality items by selling them on eBay, various Buy, Swap and Sell groups or you can take it to a consignment shop. Not only will it make you feel psychologically feel freer, it will equal more money in your pocket.

-You can also host a yard sale. Go through each room in your house and decide what you don’t want or need anymore. Once you have your stash, plan your sale in advance. Your odds of making more money increase if you do a little preparation before the event so do your research on how to host a successful yard sale. Not only do you get to earn extra money, the bonus is you get to declutter your home in the process.

 

NOW WITH THE SECOND STEP TO BECOMING A MINIMALIST MOM

 

The secret is so, so simple.

 

NUMBER 2: YOU NEED TO STOP BRINGING MORE STUFF INTO YOUR HOME

 

How do you do this?

 

IT’S SIMPLE: STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON’T REALLY NEED!

 

Shall I repeat this point ten times just so it sinks deep into the recesses of your brain?

Here we go:

 

STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON’T REALLY NEED!

STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON’T REALLY NEED!

STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON’T REALLY NEED!

STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON’T REALLY NEED!

STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON’T REALLY NEED!

STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON’T REALLY NEED!

STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON’T REALLY NEED!

STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON’T REALLY NEED!

STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON’T REALLY NEED!

STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON’T REALLY NEED!

 

There we go; have you got the memo now?

 

To really execute this point, you will need to learn to differentiate between essential and non-essential items and also understand the difference between a want and a need.

Every time you consider buying something, ask yourself, “Do I really need this or do I want it?”   Yes, there is indeed a big difference.

 

Note: what you want isn’t always a need

 

Technically speaking, a need is something that is of paramount importance to your survival and sustains your life and livelihood. A want on the other hand is something you simply desire to have, that you may or may not be able to obtain.

Nowadays we tend to be more lax with this definition. In the modern world, needs include things like: food, rent, utilities, phone, insurance, medicine, toiletries, clothing, transportation, cleaning supplies, school fees and the Internet.

Wants, on the other hand, include new clothes, home décor, gifts, eating out, fast food, books, music, movies and extra supplies for your home and school, when you already have enough in stock.

As humans we always want more and sometimes we allow the things we want make us forget the things we have. We need to be willing however to delay short-term gratification for our long-term goals (in this case – its inner peace, less stress and more money in your pockets).

 

ASK YOURSELF: DO YOU REALLY NEED ANOTHER ….(fill in the blank)?

 

Do you really need one more t-shirt, one more pair of shoes, one more dress or another bag? The same applies for things in the home. Do you really need another coffee mug, another vase, another painting or another lamp? Do you really? Ask yourself this question before making any purchase.

 

More importantly:

 

Will you suffer greatly if you don’t buy this item?

What would happen if you agreed to walk away and see how you felt about the purchase tomorrow?

 

 

LIVE BY THIS MANTRA: USE IT UP, WEAR IT OUT, MAKE IT DO OR DO WITHOUT

 

Make this your philosophy when it comes to your life and material possessions. Don’t throw anything away without making sure you have used it all up.

If your shampoo or conditioner bottle is near empty, fill it with water to get everything out. Add your leftover lipstick to a small tub of petroleum jelly to make some fresh lip gloss.  Find different ways to use different items completely before tossing it away.

It isn’t a crime to be frugal or creative! Instead you should give yourself a pat on the back for a) doing your bit for the environment and b) learning how to USE what you have, rather than rushing to the shops to replace every little broken item.

 

REDUCE WASTE

 

Every week we toss away things we don’t need. See if you can find alternative ways to reuse disposable items.  Make it your goals to cut back on waste – just look at your trash can to see exactly what it is you are disposing of every week. Aim for a waste-free lifestyle.

 

ASSESS YOUR PREVIOUS PURCHASES

 

Take a walk around your house now and assess all the things you have purchased in the past. Are there some things you regret buying?

Do you wish you didn’t spend so much money on a particular item? When did you get over the excitement of owning it, was it after one year, one month, one week or one day? If you could take it back now for a full refund would you do it and if so why? Asking yourself these questions should hopefully help you make better decisions when buying items in the future.

 

DO THE STRANGER TEST

 

Imagine a stranger coming up to you and offering the cash value of the purchase you are about to make or the actual item. Which would you take:  the money or the item? Now remember this is exactly the way spending works: you can either choose not to buy something and keep the money in your pocket or give your cash away in exchange for the item.  This is a good test to do whenever you feel tempted to buy something impulsively.

 

AVOID THE SHOPS AND PRACTICE WALKING AWAY

 

Moms often get themselves in trouble by going to the shops to buy “one thing” and yep, we come home with more than “one thing.” How often has that happened to you (Me? Almost every time!)

My secret to buying less crap is to simply go to the shops less often and do my best to stick to a list when I am there (hint: this will require that you actually write the list before you get there).

When you pick up something you didn’t plan to buy, practice putting it back on the shelf and walking away for at least ten minutes. You will usually find you don’t really need it during this time.

 

ALSO DON’T ACCEPT THINGS OR GIFTS JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE FREE

 

Nothing in this world is truly free. It all has a secret price tag attached to it, even if it’s as invisible as the unconscious guilt you get from taking on someone else’s old baggage. They are so happy they got rid of it and now it’s your problem or item to deal with!

 

LET GO OF THE NEED TO IMPRESS PEOPLE

 

The need to impress people who don’t really matter to you is a grossly overrated behavior. To quote Dave Ramsay from the Fight Club movie: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” Don’t be one of these shallow, materialistic people.

Don’t think of it as deprivation – remember you have chosen this minimalistic lifestyle because it ultimately gives you more inner peace. When you are saying no to a purchase, you aren’t always depriving yourself but saving your money for things that really matter in life.

As Frederik Keonig so wisely said” We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” Learn to be content with what you have.

 

WORK OUT YOUR VALUES

 

A values assessment is a critical step in learning to make good choices in your life. Remember, it’s difficult to be content with your life if you make decisions contrary to your values. Your values will provide you with a guide to living a content life. What do you value? Do you value friendship, kindness, family, love, respect or independence? Or is it ambition, material possessions, intelligence or creativity that you value?

Make sure your life reflects the values you have and the choices you make and that you aren’t spending money buying stuff and trying to achieve something that isn’t in line with your beliefs, principles and greater dream.

 

TO SUM THIS ALL UP:

 

As you get older, you learn many things about life. You discover that being rich – really rich – has nothing having to do with money or material possessions.

You realize instead that being rich is a state of mind and that there are some amazing things in this world that money cannot buy. Stuff you won’t find in any store: love, dreams, family, friends, happiness, hope, time and a wish come true.

True wealth is instead about finding peace and joy in your life. It’s about having a serene sense of calmness in your heart that isn’t at the mercy of this crazy, hectic world.

It’s about having the ability to stop and laugh, smell the roses and be present in this moment, instead of living in the future or the past. The real measure of your wealth is how much you would be worth if you lost all your money.

 

And that my friend, is the real joy of living a minimalist life because you know deep down, everything of value is inside of you. So let’s keep things simple rather than over-complicating everything and drowning ourselves in STUFF.

 

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