Since February, we’ve been living with less as a family. We’ve all worked at de-owning (a step above de-cluttering) by going through every drawer, closet, cupboard and surface in our home, garage, shed and vehicles.
It feels fantastic. I’ve learned that to get at the essential, you must clear away the unnecessary. Minimizing is a process of paring down, cutting back, eliminating what you don’t need so you can better appreciate what brings you joy and freedom.
As a culture, we are inundated with physical possessions. We are told that the marks of success are material: a new car, a huge house, lots of furniture, the latest technology and gadgets, shiny toys in the garage and driveway. But everything we buy has to be paid for, maintained, stored, used. It depreciates overnight and clutters up our lives.
Getting rid of our excess possessions has brought us liberation. We did it little by little, in fifteen minute to one hour increments of time. We started with the easiest areas, like kitchen junk drawers and linen closets, then moved on to tougher things like clothes, photos, books, CDs and DVDs. By the time we got to the kitchen, it wasn’t hard to give away extra bowls, spatulas, corn cob holders, measuring cups and fancy teapots that hadn’t been touched in a decade.
If we don’t use it, we donated, sold or junked it. No more holding on, organizing and moving items “just in case”. We love The Minimalists’ 20/20 rule: if you can replace it in 20 minutes drive for $20 or less and you don’t use it regularly, get rid of it. This rule helped in moments of indecision.
We also repeatedly asked ourselves, “Would we pay to move this item?” In previous house moves, we packed up anything and everything without discriminating. Now we are intentional about what we want to bring along into any future stage of our lives. When the kids outgrow their toys, games, movies and music, it’s time to let them go, not drag them along to clutter up a new season.
Living with less also means not bringing in mountains of fresh stuff. We automatically buy less now. We practice saying “no thank you” to the free gifts we are offered in stores or at events. We attempt to purchase only what we need and use instead of impulse items we’ll later have to sort and toss.
I’ve enjoyed watching our kids absorb this minimizing mindset as well. On a recent trip we browsed in gift stores but felt no impulse to buy any items. Ava and William are now motivated to save for certain things they really desire instead of buying what’s in front of them.
I love these changes in our family. Clearing away clutter gives more meaning to what remains in your home, your life, your soul. It’s beautiful, freeing, inspiring. I’d love to hear your stories of living with less. What benefits have you experienced?