I first learned about minimalism when I had my oldest daughter in 2012. While my newborn was napping, I would spend time reading the blog The Art of Simple (formerly The Simple Mom).
From there I was introduced to The Minimalists, and my desire for simplicity and less “stuff” increased.
Minimalism is gaining traction in the mainstream community, but in case you haven’t heard of the concept, minimalism is the desire for less to enjoy more.
Minimalists desire less physical clutter, a simple routine and schedule, and less material items.
By enjoying the freedom from “stuff”, minimalists are free to enjoy quality and quantity time with family, a simpler lifestyle free from the need for “more”, and more financial freedom to give generously and spend on experiences like traveling and memory making.
Although I wouldn’t personally call myself a hardcore minimalist, I certainly crave less and enjoy more when I focus on immaterial things over material things.
Duane Elgin said it perfectly when he shared his philosophy on the simple life:
The intention of voluntary simplicity is not to dogmatically live with less. It’s a more demanding intention of living with balance. This is a middle way that moves between the extremes of poverty and indulgence.
Although I believe many of us crave simplicity, the constant media bombardment of materialism and accumulation makes it difficult to achieve that. Statistically, most Americans are not living simply.
Don’t believe me? Here are some stats:
25% of Americans don’t use their double-car garages for their cars (LA Times)
Since the 1950s, the average American home has double in size (NPR)
In Britain, the average preteen has 7,000 British Pounds worth of toys. They play with only a fraction of them (The Telegraph)
Americans spend on average 40 minutes per week playing with their children. (Workplace Psychology)
If you’re not convinced, read 21 more statistics like these.
If you’re like me, you may be wondering how do you pursue simplicity without completely changing your life?
Here are five suggestions that can be easily applied.
1 | Ditch the clutter, room by room
Perhaps my most time intensive suggestion is also the most rewarding and necessary. Spend some time going room by room, closet by closet, and ditch the excess clutter from your home.
Do you have seven spatulas? You can probably manage with three.
Purge toys, clothes, and old cans of soup.
An excellent resource in Marie Kondo’s The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.
2 | Simplify your schedule
Many North Americans spend their days running from one appointment to the next. Between sports, school, work, medical appointments, and other extracurriculars, we are running on empty and have little blank space.
Consider putting a limit on your children’s activities, or saying no to a dinner event. Practice saying no and adding margin to your life, and use your margin to do things you want to do and enjoy.
3 | Get outside
80% of youth are uncomfortable with being outside because of bugs and heat. Start spending some family time enjoying free or inexpensive conservation areas, or exploring nearby hiking trails. Start small, aiming for 30 minutes of outdoor time, and enjoy the health and relational benefits of time spent outdoors.
If hiking isn’t your thing, try something else outdoors as a family, whether it’s fishing, playing soccer, or just sitting outside on your porch with a nice cold drink and a book.
4 | Avoid shopping if you don’t need anything
It’s difficult to embrace minimalism if one of your favorite hobbies is shopping. If you do spend a few hours a week shopping, you can minimize that time and create more blank space for new hobbies. If you aren’t shopping, you won’t be buying things or accumulating more stuff, which will keep you on the right track towards the simple life.
5 | Donate, Donate, Donate
Many people like selling the items while simplifying. While I do find value in selling items, I typically try and get my items out of my house as fast as possible. That’s hard to do if you’re trying to sell every item you’re minimizing.
Instead, pack your items into boxes and try spending an afternoon dropping your items off at different buy and sell shops. Whatever isn’t purchased that afternoon donate to your nearest thrift shop.
As you minimize your belongings, reduce your consumption, and simplify your schedule, notice as you feel lighter in your spirit and mind. Reducing material items will even bring your family and kids closer, and help you to see what really matters.