Since my oldest daughter was born I have tried desperately to minimize all the “things” in our house.
It is hard, because I enjoy having quality toys, and educational, hands on learning experiences for them here. And being in your home most of the time (versus daycare or school) means we enjoy having games to do together, and open ended toys to play with.
Somewhere between quality/useful and too much/excess is a line. That line looks different for every family, but let me tell you I am SO OVER being on the excess side of that line.
When I say I am constantly getting rid of things, I mean our garage is always, always full of boxes to go to donation.
And it is stressful! Just cleaning out every week is stressful; continuously having things come in and out of the house is stressful when you don’t believe in having so much stuff. And when getting rid of things, you have to do something with it- drive it to donation, find someone to pick it up, or simply throw it away, which often times feels wasteful! And I hate being wasteful just as much as I hate having too much stuff.
I limit what we buy for our kids, but gifts seem to abound. I don’t like when others’ money is wasted on things that I just get rid of. I *love* having a small home, because quite frankly the bigger it is the more stuff you move in. But I do NOT love having a small home that is overflowing.
What is Minimalisim
Honestly, I don’t have a definition for that because I think it is different for everyone. I know that for many, it looks like a LOT less than what we live with.
For me, as the keeper of our home, it means that we don’t have a lot of extra things because they only make life harder. In reference to the kids’ things:
- if it doesn’t get played with or is broken, it goes
- if I deem it junk, it goes before it ever gets out of the packaging
- if it is a duplicate of something we already have, it goes
- if it is an outfit I know they won’t choose to wear, or I don’t really like, it goes-not because we are ungrateful, but because why have it in our home if I *know* we won’t grab for it? Someone else can use it, if I know we won’t
Picking up toys and messes is just as hard on the kids as it is me– because THEY are in charge of their things and clothes from 2 years old and up. If it is in the floor, after asking them to pick it up, I throw it away. If I need to vacuum and it is in the floor- to the trash it goes. The more “stuff” they need to manage, the more stressful it is on them, and it takes away from the enjoyment of playing!
When they have so much stuff they can’t enjoy it, there’s a problem; so I try to keep the “stuff” factor as low as possible.
For my things, it means if the shirt doesn’t fit, if I always reach for the same things over others-get rid of the “others.” Why have it hanging in the closet if I never reach for it? It can go! If it is a book I won’t read, have read and won’t read again, or something I never use- it goes.
The thing I struggle with the most is holding on to kids’ clothes for the next. We have 4 children, 3 of which are girls. It does not seem practical to get rid of everything once one has outgrown it, because the next can wear it. The baby is still wearing some things that belonged to my oldest!
So while I loathe having boxes of children’s clothes filling my storage space in the basement, it is sort of a necessary evil because, *hello* Buying clothes for kids is a task-they are expensive, every store sizes differently, and you never know if it will be in stock when you’re ready to shop. And I am *not* taking 4 kids under 7yo clothes shopping. Might as well hold on to the things I know they will need again.
Where I fail
Books. I love books. I love reading to my children and I love having nice, quality, non-twaddle literature on hand for every topic, season, and age. They are a passion. I am good about throwing out twaddle or ones that are falling a part. If we miss the book, I will replace it.
But we probably have too many? =/
I know many people like utilizing the library but for us, in this season of life, it is more of a hassle and expense than anything. We have to drive to the nearest big city for the library, and there always seems to be a fine for damage or late charges on our books, because 4 kids 7 and under … In order for us to actually use the library I need to pay for the extra benefits like “extended due dates” and interlibrary loans because our closest branch doesn’t have much. And the cost adds up.
But honestly? I’d rather just buy the quality books and have them on hand, because we tend to check out the same ones over and over.
Resale- it is hard to move homeschool curriculum. Or more accurately, it is hard to get it all listed and shipped. There is a hassle there, but selling and making money back on it is really helpful when you need to buy homeschool supplies, books, and curricula each year. So, I usually have a stack of things I need to resale … same goes for the boxes of clothes and toys in my garage.
Linens- I sorta have this things about dish rags and towels. Once they have holes (which is only a few months after buying them) I move them from rotation, but being on a farm old linens are *very* handy. So I hold on to them …
Sewing- well. ok, fabric. Enough said.
So yes, lots of room for improvement. =)
Where I Stand and Why
Basically- I loathe consumerism and commercialism. I hate that every time I buy our toilet paper and pull ups from Amazon that it comes in a million different boxes, even when I select for it not to. I hate that using cloth for everything just isn’t always practical for our family. It is sad to me that my minimal, looks like someone’s dream; so many people do without, while we have an excess. And over buying, or buying just to buy “stuff,” even as gifts, is worse than doing without.
I hate that sometimes loved ones waste their money on things that we get rid of, when it could go towards something we truly need or would enjoy- like experiences. Memberships pay for themselves so easily, especially when we can use them with friends and our homeschool co-op activities. Money to go towards their lessons is helpful; my dad likes to send them money for dried fruits, and extra food specials they may not always get.
Kids will get excited over anything you share with them– whether it is a plastic dollar store toy made in China, or a quality hand made wooden toy from a local shop, books, a membership to the zoo, or just a hug and reading to them.
But it is what we want them to be excited for, that is important.
My job and biggest goal as their mother is to make sure their hearts don’t focus on the things.
And quite honestly, that is hard to do when we or others give, and make it all about the things. I know it is fun, and easy to do, but it just isn’t what we want for our kids.
I don’t believe adults can give the message of “what’s inside is most important” and “things and money aren’t as important as love and kindness/Jesus/family” while always flooding children with crap. Seriously. That is a very confusing message.
Budgeting, living within your means, and feeding children healthy, nutritious diets is often hard to do! In trying to be good stewards of our gifts from family, and blessings in general, it is mine and my husband’s job to keep things simple and not the focus of life.
Do we still have too much? Yes. I know we do.
But keeping it minimal for a family of 6 is my goal. I don’t want every inch of our home filled with things and stuff. I know one day the baby toys that have been handed down on after the other will be gone, and
thankfully there will be fewer “things” in the house. But in the mean time I work really hard to keep it minimal.
Do you feel overwhelmed by the “stuff” and noise of too much in your home? How do you change it?
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