Often times beginning something new, taking that first step, is hard. We want to do it but many things can hold us back. This is very true when it comes to minimalizing the stuff and clutter in your home. In recent months many people have asked about our family’s journey into being minimalists and I’m happy to share our first steps and a few tips for you if you are wanting to start.
Our journey began when I finally gave in to my husbands countless requests that we get rid of our clutter. Intellectually I had always agreed with him, but I didn’t know how or where to start. So, I got serious, read some of the Becoming Minimalist blog and Francine Jay’s book, The Joy of Less. These both gave words to my feelings of being overwhelmed and desperate for change. They also gave me the know-how to begin. It was also inspirational to see how their lives had changed and I wanted that for mine.
I jumped in and began drawer by drawer, space by space and room by room. I made piles to keep, piles to pass on. I threw away bags of broken and no good stuff. I let go of papers that we “might someday need.” I trimmed down toys and clothes and kitchen utensils. It was so incredibly freeing. Each day our home and our lives felt lighter. Each day everything got a little easier to manage.
This is not to say there were not some road blocks. Having two small kids definitely proves to add to the task (ahem, Nolan that box is NOTmeant to be dumped out!) I found myself unknowingly attached to some of the clutter areas. I also would get frustrated when areas I had minimalized suddenly became cluttered or when “stuff” would so easily enter our homes.
But the peace and ease of cleanup are just two of the benefits that have made this journey worth it. I have earlier posts about what a wonderful ride this is that you can read if you need more motivation. Before I share some tips I learned along the way, I will say that these will probably echo what other minimalist bloggers say, especially Joshua Becker and Francine Jay.
1) Knowing that this is not a quick and painless process is important. You can easily get frustrated if you start in a fury and want to accomplish it all in one weekend. Which leads to…
2) Start small. I know you want to toss 2/3 of the kids’ toys, but DO NOT START THERE. Start with your desk drawer or one cabinet in the kitchen. Do one thing at a time and let that feeling of accomplishment feed to the good feelings! It gets addicting after a few small areas are minimalized!
3) Whatever area or space you are working on, clear it out completely and ONLY put back the things that are going to “live” there. For something like a room, know that you will need a few hours to do it.
4) As you’re clearing out, quickly throw out all trash and then have three piles. One is keepers, two is for things you will pass on whether its a yard sale or to Goodwill. But plan to pass it on soon or it will creep back into your living space! Three is for the “maybes.” But a word of caution with maybes. You have to think very hard if this is really something that is worth the space it will take up in your home. If you truly are not sure if you can part with it. Put all the maybes in a box and see in 6 months time if you’ve pulled it back out. If not, send it on!
Do a little bit everyday. In my case, I couldn’t commit a whole day or weekend, or even a few hours to purging, but I was determined. So little by little I did various areas and rooms. You can even make a game out of it. Commit to getting rid of 10 things everyday for a week and see if you can feel the difference.
I hope these few tips help those of you who are beginning. I’m actually beginning the “Pre-Christmas Purge” in our home. If you have questions, I’d love to help and answer any of those for you.