Minimalism

So, I guess people think minimalism is sort of like nothingism.  I’ve gotten a lot of questions about paring down, getting rid of stuff, what we do with presents, and the like.  Well, let’s debunk the mystery.

We didn’t throw away all of our belongings.   We didn’t throw away anything, actually, unless it was hopeless and broken or something.  We donated, gave to friends or family, or found some other way to downsize in a way that gave our “stuff” another more useful life since we were not using it.

I still feel like our house is full of things we don’t really use, even after ousting about 1500 articles since the beginning of this year. I have this dichotomous goal of a home that feels warm and homey and meaningful without being cluttered and tchotchke.  When you think of minimalism, you probably envision white, modern, clean lined spaces, which is so not my game.  Just one more way I’m a little batty, I suppose.  Lucky Tim.

We like things that meet two of three criteria:  pretty, practical, personal.  If it doesn’t meet two, it’s probably not going to last at our house.  We’ve gotten rid of so much stuff, but everyday I see things while I’m tidying, organizing, pondering life during my five minute nap time overlap and I think “we don’t need those four things”.  I haven’t started another pile yet, but I will soon.  We will downsize again at least once before winter holidays creep up on us since they always come with a plethora of presents.

Speaking of presents, we love gift giving.  I think some minimalists don’t–I know a family that literally donates all gifts.  She chose the toys she wanted for her kids intentionally and anything else that comes in goes right back out.  We’re not that rigid, although we did request a no-gift first birthday party for Silas.  It was largely ignored, which I think was mostly out of the weird, guilty-ish feeling it gave people to come to a party without a present.  Interesting, right?

We have a 529 college fund, which is a nice alternative if you’re looking for one for your kiddo(s).  We also keep a running Amazon wishlist for things we need (like winter fleeces for both babies, a metal sippy for Maren, a few more cloth diaper covers, things like that).  My family always got a lot of joy out of buying gifts for each other because we really couldn’t swing it any other time of year, so I don’t like to completely rob them of that sort of enjoyment by being all “529 or bust”.  I love it, too.

We do go through all of our belongings after the holidays and donate things we aren’t using, but that usually does not include presents.  We don’t buy things for ourselves regularly, so it’s nice to have new things after the holiday.  Our families have gotten really considerate about getting us practical, lovely things  or choosing experiences or subscriptions for us instead.  It rocks!

I suppose minimalism has several meanings, but to us it means having enough (“enoughism”?) without having so much stuff that the crap lying around our house takes up more time than the time we have with each other as a family.  Anyone with young kids knows that free time is scarce and messes are not.  It’s hard to strike a balance with the way we spend our very precious waking, enjoyable, everyone’s-in-a-good-mood hours.

Do you get rid of as much as you bring home after the holidays or just hope there’s enough room in the closets?  I think it’s so interesting how we tend to look at gifts as acquisitions instead of rotations.  I think at the end of the day, minimalism means being aware of your belongings and what they cost you in terms of time, space, maintenance and meaning, and choosing to keep the things that serve you well while letting the rest of it go.

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