It all began with coming home from my son’s 3rd birthday and unloading the presents. We are so fortunate to have many friends and a large extended family that care about our son… and who together gave him A LOT of presents. The reality of seeing the amount of stuff brought into our home all at once was eye opening.
I knew I did not want to teach my son that things equate happiness. I felt anxious. I felt as though our house (a large suburban home) was becoming over run with toys. Our daughter was 6 months old at the time and she too had so much “baby stuff” lying around the house as well, (bouncers, blocks, blankets, clothes, bibs, balls, toys, etc.), most barley bring used. I felt as if my mind was bouncing from one item to the next, and I could not find the sense of calm I wanted my home to bring. I began to separate toys that I thought were good learning tools, but I was kind of lost in how to get control of the situation as a whole.
I remember that a good friend had mentioned Marie Kondo’s book The life-changing magic of tidying up to me previously when I commented on her very neat looking storage closet. I thought that might be a reasonable place to start. I devoured the book. I began to follow her steps methodically and started to research other decluttering methods one after another. I felt like I was on a crazy decluttering spree, and it was all I could think about.
I was lucky that I was staying at home, my baby wasn’t crawling yet, and my son went to preschool 2 days a week. That toddler free time (when not tending to the baby) was my decluttering time. I followed her phrase “does it spark joy?” However, I replaced her phrase “discard it” (if it does not spark joy) with ‘let go of it’. I knew even then that I did not want to fill landfills with things that were perfectly usable. I proceeded to recycle, donate, and find new homes for so many of our items as I went category by category through our house. Little did I know this was the beginning of a journey towards not only living with less but producing less waste (more on that in another post).
This minimizing of our possessions gave me a sense of control in the chaos of being a parent to two young children. I felt an energetic buzzing inside myself. I began waking before the kids to continue getting the “things” out of our house. I felt a switch turn on inside me. I was now dedicated to finding simplicity and calm.
I began to move on from Marie Kondo’s process to books on minimalism. The more I read about minimalism the more it intrigued me. I had always thought I loved shopping. I enjoyed the thrill of finding a good deal, or following the trends, and dressing in style, but it really did not bring me happiness. What it brought was a temporary boost in mood, satisfaction of the “hunt,” and then once the excitement wore off it only brought me a feeling of emptiness and even guilt.
The item of clothing would sit in my closet for years as I thought I would wear it again. I had kept things because I was thinking what IF I needed them? What IF one-day it would fit better, what IF one day there would be the perfect event to wear it to. What if I get bored with all of my other clothes? The reality was I needed so much less than I had. The more I decluttered from our home, the lighter I felt.
The podcasts and books on minimalism resonated with me. I knew I still wanted to feel good about how I cared for my family and myself. I also knew I wanted my home to bring me calmness and joy, so there was a limit to how much I would get rid of. I have found that it is all about balance and finding that balance is an ongoing and dynamic process.
I knew that you have to consume in order to live, however the excess consuming of goods is what I needed to put a halt to. I found it was important to remember that more does not mean better. More does not guarantee you are any closer to finding happiness. In fact, more typically means more obligations, more stuff to clean, more stuff to organize, more stuff to maintain, more stuff to think about. When you free yourself up of the excess you can simply enjoy. For me, the result of pursuing simplicity is being able to actually pursue my own interests and really do what speaks to my heart, as well as being able to be more present with my kids and husband.