Hello, sweet friends! It's a GORGEOUS day here in central Indiana - I hope wherever you are, you're having a marvelous Tuesday, too! I just opened all the windows and laid sweet baby Xave down for a nap, and wanted to pop in and answer some questions I've been getting over on Instagram about my decluttering/minimizing process. I'll start with this: I am no expert at downsizing/decluttering/minimizing. I have gleaned a ton of wisdom from other, smarter + more eloquent people on the subject, so I'm going to do my best to link to all of those people and send you their way. That being said, I have figured out a few things that seem to be working, so I'm just going to dish about all of it right here, right now. Ready? Lettttttt's go!
WHERE TO START?
I want to start off by saying that this decluttering process, at least for me, is NOT a weekend project. I consider my "starting point" as two years ago, when I first encountered the idea of a capsule wardrobe, and began whittling down my wardrobe. From there, it has evolved and snowballed to every aspect of my life. But it's been a LONG process. Start slow. Don't expect to overhaul your entire home in one weekend. For me, my closet was the area of the most stress. Or I guess a better way to put it is that it was the area of the most disconnect. How I viewed myself and my personal style in my brain wasn't reflected in my wardrobe. I shopped emotionally, bought trendy things that only lasted a season, and had a hodge podge of clothes - most of which I didn't love. If you're desiring a simpler lifestyle or more streamlined home but have no idea where to start, my advice is to pick the area stressing you out the most. Does your craft closet instantly fill you with guilt every time you walk by, because of all the money spent on projects you've never completed? Is it your wardrobe, dressers and hangers overflowing with clothes you never wear? Is it your kitchen - do you love to cook but feel overwhelmed by the jam-packed cupboards and drawers? Whatever area it is, start there. If you want a plan outlined for you, I'd highly recommend checking out + following Amanda Gregory on Instagram and following her #my_minimal_mondays series. She's been super helpful and has really great, practical advice.
TIPS + TRICKS
Organize by category, NOT by space. This was a new approach for me, outlined in detail in Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (more on this book later.) I used this method and it helped a TON. So, instead of organizing my bedroom, then the guest bedroom, then the laundry room, etc., you organize by category. For instance, clothes. I got ALL my clothes from ALL the places (my car, the laundry room, the coats hanging in the guest closet, etc.) and laid them all out at once. Same for every single category. It was so, so helpful to do it this way and helped me get a grasp of how much stuff I had total - not just in each room.
Have designated spots for things that need to go. For instance, start out with a bin for things you're donating, a bag for trash, a bin for things that need to be returned. Putting things STRAIGHT into the proper place as soon as you decide to let them go will be really helpful and ensure that you don't just end up with stacks of stuff around your house. I keep a donate bin and a "to return" bin at all times. Whether it's a shirt that needs to go back to the store or a book I need to return to a friend, it goes into the bin and doesn't just sit out on the counter, which really cuts down on the clutter.
If you decide to sell things, set a time limit. I've been selling lots of things on Instagram, eBay and Amazon to offset the cost of some new things we're purchasing, and it's been really beneficial. But the key, in my opinion, is to set a time limit. I'll give things two weeks to sell. If they haven't sold after two weeks, I delete the listing and donate the items. Otherwise, you just end up with piles of stuff sitting around, inevitably leading to second-guessing about whether you really want to get rid of it. If you decide to do a yard sale, plan to box everything up that doesn't sell and take it straight to Salvation Army (or similar.) Don't let the piles of stuff sit in your garage and tell yourself you'll have another garage sale. Just let it all go.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are there any books that inspired you? Yes. Jen Hatmaker's book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess was a springboard to this new mindset of L E S S overall, and quality over quantity. Although it's not necessarily a book about minimalism and I don't think Jen would describe herself as a minimalist, it will really shift your perspective about your relationship with material goods (and lots of other things, I would guess.) Also, Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was very helpful. I strongly disagree with the spirituality presented in the book - I am never going to thank my socks for a job well done and I don't really believe in "chi" or fung shui or any of that - but there is practical advice that really helped me. I "tidied" my whole home last spring and got rid of soooo much stuff using her methods. Also, the blog Becoming Minimalist has been a great resource. Definitely dive into that if you're curious.
How does it work being married? Is your husband on board? As a rule, I don't get rid of any of Matt's stuff without asking. That's just general respect. Anything that I consider our shared stuff - things like home decor, kitchen utensils, etc. - I always ask his opinion on getting rid of it before I do so. There have been some things that he really didn't want to get rid of, so I don't argue. Of course, this is totally dependent on your own particular situation and your own particular spouse. Matt is very laid back and rarely has strong opinions on anything, and he definitely doesn't get attached to stuff very easily. So if there's something that he really doesn't want to let go of, I feel like I need to honor his opinion and hold onto it.
What about baby stuff? The short answer to this is that Xavier isn't old enough to have opinions about his stuff, so I decide what's best for our family when it comes to baby stuff. I seriously downsized his clothes - he has eleven onesies, four pairs of soft pants, and probably eight or ten footed sleepers that also double as outfits since we mostly just hang out at home. I designated one basket for toys and board books, and kept the handful of toys he plays with most - there are about ten or so. We have one activity mat that he lays on and plays with, and a doorway jumper. We decided to not get an exersaucer or any of those giant stick-the-baby-in activity centers, because our house is small and those things are huge. From very early on, we've let him play independently for periods of time and he seems to be getting better and better at is. As he gets older, we'll make intentional decisions about what toys to buy, but I do know that my preference is for toys that encourage open ended play, like legos, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, blocks, dress-up costumes and craft supplies. Both my husband and I grew up in families that encouraged imaginative and creative play, and this is the kind of childhood we want to give our kids, too. If you have kids who are old enough to voice their opinions about toys, Amanda has some great tips for navigating that.
Any other questions? I feel kind of silly even posting this, because I'm really just winging it and figuring it out as we go. I will say this: getting rid of material possessions has been incredibly freeing. Our house feels calmer. We have an entire closet that is EMPTY. We have empty shelves and empty drawers. We have room to grow. We live in a two bedroom, one bathroom house that is 1100 square feet and I don't feel like we're going to outgrow it in two years, even if we have more kids. We spend less time cleaning, dusting, maintaining and fixing our STUFF and more time LIVING. It feels good. '
That being said, I have no desire to ever pack up and live in an airstream on the road or anything like that. I don't really even want to live overseas or anything. I feel like many people who call themselves "minimalists" desire this nomadic lifestyle, but it's totally possible to be minimal-minded and also have a house in the suburbs. In fact, we have plans to renovate our home and add a second story, doubling our space! Which might sound contradictory to everything I just talked about, but I really don't think it is. The thing is, until you change your mindset, I believe your stuff will always multiply to fill your space. I feel so much better about someday doubling the space in our home, because I feel like the work I've done in my head + heart when it comes to STUFF will keep that space from being overrun by more Target knick knacks and things we don't need.
Feel free to shoot any questions my way and follow along on Instagram for more glimpses into our simplifying process! xoxo!