Cleaning House :: An Attempt At Minimalism

I’m going down a rabbit hole, folks.

I’m chasing this white rabbit named Minimalism, and while the chase is a bitch, I’m liking what I’m seeing on the horizon.

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A couple weeks ago I came upon Allie Casazza’s blog and joined her newsletter, and reading about a minimalist lifestyle just clicked for me. I ate up her every word, her encouragement, and now I’m on a mission.

Sean is skeptical.

But here’s the thing – we’ve moved three times in ten years. We’ve lived in four different homes now. Our first home was a one bedroom in a multifamily home. Our next was a shoebox two bedroom apartment, where we welcomed Lily into our family. The third was a two bedroom single family home with a nice sized yard. And now we’re in a two bedroom townhouse, with three full floors of living space.

It’s a lot of space. And we’ve filled it! When we moved from our first home to our second, we made several trips to Goodwill. We probably brought 4-5 car fulls of junk, things we didn’t want or need anymore. It felt so freeing. And then we had Lily at our next place, and a whole other person’s worth of stuff got added to our small space. So we moved to a bigger space. And we filled that. And jobs changed and we made our biggest move to a bigger space. And we’ve been here for two years now, had Andrew, and have filled the space and then some.

The last two moves? We didn’t really do a big cleanout. We threw stuff in boxes and off we went. So we’ve accumulated, collected and held on to things that we may have otherwise let go.

Does having kids add to the amount of stuff you have in your home? Absolutely. But it doesn’t have to be the insane amount of toys, books, clothes and other…whatever, that we are told we’ll just have to deal with for the next 18 years.

No, thank you.

I started looking around. I started thinking about what we have, and why we have so much. Why do I have a closet full of clothes I never wear? Why do I have 4 winter coats when I really only ever wear one, maybe two, regularly? Why does my daughter have 20 pairs of shoes when she only wears four or five? Why do I keep buying these little toys and games at Target’s dollar section, or whenever we go somewhere, as a “momento” that will only be lost under the seat of the car or forgotten in a bin of other small things that held her attention for less than a moment before she was on to the next.

Allie’s blog brought up another good point as well, which I relate to on so many levels. When you have so much stuff, you are devoting time in your life to that stuff, whether you realize it or not. Dishes, clothes, toys, things that need washing, putting away, care, and attention. I think about the value of my time and how I want to spend it. I certainly don’t want to be picking up a pile of toys that got strewn on the floor, but not played with. I don’t want to be designating tucked away dark corners of cabinets and closets to piles of stuff that I just can’t wrap my head around dealing with in the moment.

And kids? They don’t need much. Lil will spend more time with an empty shipping box or a towel tied around her neck like a superhero than she will with the $200 worth of toys we got her for Christmas. We recently spent an afternoon at a friend’s house and she spent a good 3 hours outside just running around, playing hide and seek, exploring, no toys and so much energy and fun. It’s like a lightbulb went off.

We want to give our kids everything, but the best thing we can give them is an appreciation of very little.

So I’m cleaning. I’m clearing out. I’m letting go. It’s hard, because we’re taught to hold onto things. And there are sentimental things that should absolutely be kept and cared for. But something’s gotta give. Lots of things have got to go.

My goal is to be able to start the homebuying process in the nearish future, and Lord knows we will not be able to afford a ton of space. The sooner I can get our current living space to a place of having some breathing room again, the easier it’ll be (I hope) when the time comes to pack up and move. And if I can start teaching Lily and Andrew now to appreciate being happy with less now, hopefully that will help them to have empathy for those who go without, and to find joy in spending more time outdoors, and inspire them to find creative ways to entertain themselves. Kids have SO MUCH potential. I really hope this helps our family find more time for enjoyment and quality time, and less time picking up every day or week.

I’m starting on my kitchen. Pray for me.

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I will be updating as I go along here, because Lord knows I’ll need to have a little writing therapy to deal with why I’ve held on to some of these things for so long. If you’ve ever done a major home purge or are interested in starting, I’d love to hear from you about your experience! Leave a comment below with what you found the most challenging, or the most rewarding!

Sleeping Alone Sucks

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The other night, Lil woke up and stumbled into our room, climbed up onto my monster of a bed, and fell asleep on Sean’s pillow. She mumbled something about not wanting to sleep alone.

I didn’t have the heart to put her back in her own bed, so I let her be for a while.

I can’t blame her for not wanting to sleep alone. I don’t like sleeping alone. Most nights, I stay awake much later than I should simply because I do not like falling asleep by myself. And I’m thirty-….something. I should be ok with this, but I’m not.

Last year, Sean worked overnights for 6 months. It was awful. I barely slept, I was restless, I was anxious. I actually bought an essential oil blend called Anxiety Ease because I was lying in bed listening for any little noise, convinced we were going to be robbed. I would get heart palpitations if our neighbors bumped the wall. I played soothing music on Spotify in an attempt to lull myself to sleep.

It was not easy.

Yet we expect a four year old to go to sleep by herself every night and sleep soundly and be ok with that while we have each other’s company just down the hall. Oh, and we’re grown ups. We should be ok with sleeping alone.

So if I’m not, why should I expect her to be?

So I let her curl up. I rub her back and comb her hair with my fingers. I snuggle up to her and we keep each other warm and cozy. And although it breaks my heart (and almost breaks my back because she’s pushing 40lb), I lift her sleepy, heavy body onto my shoulder and bring her back to her room, tuck her in, give her soft cheeks a kiss and tell her I love her and will see her when the sun comes up. I pray that she’ll sleep soundly and peacefully, and climb into bed, anxiously awaiting Sean to come home from work so I can finally fall asleep.