Google search “minimalism” and you will find a plethora of results. From art movement to lifestyle change, this can take you down a few hours of interesting online reading after hubby and babies have passed out (and for some unknown, cosmically ironic reason your hormones are not allowing you to sleep!)
Do the same with “essentialism” and that’ll take you down a different (but just as fascinating) path. But let’s be honest. Unless you’re an oddball like me you probably have a few other things you’d rather be doing. So let me help you cut to the chase and explain how both of these are relevant to MOTHERS who are just like you. In this blog post, I’ll share with you what minimalism and essentialism mean to ME and how getting in this new headspace impacted my life in the most magical way.
In a nutshell, minimalism is simplifying the stuff you HAVE (purging the excess, whether that be physical, time-based or mental clutter) so that you can have more time and space to DO the things you really want to do and thus BE the person you what to be.
How, exactly, does this work? Let me dive in deeper…
#1: WE CONSUME MORE MINDFULLY
Once the dust settles on Operation Declutter House, we feel lighter. We feel a sense of calm. We breathe in the new space that we have created and it feels good! Decluttering can sometimes seem like the hard part, but the real challenge actually comes afterwards. In order to avoid becoming a “chronic declutterer” and ending up back at square one in a couple of months, we need to address something I like to call our “mindless consumption”.
We consume many different things each day, from the moment we wake to the moment we rest our heads on our pillows at night. Consumption includes absorbing beliefs from popular culture and social media, and it also includes buying “stuff”. Why do we buy stuff? A few different reasons. Sometimes it’s because we need it. Sometimes it gives us a small rush, like a salve for our boredom. Other times, we buy stuff because it makes us feel like we are a certain person, living a certain lifestyle.
This is how it played out in my own life. Not too long ago, I was a shopaholic. I LOVED shopping. If it was an Olympic sport, I could win gold. Once, I went on a 3 day shopping vacation in San Antonio. I was known to go overseas with an empty suitcase to bring back the fruits of my shopping labour. On my wedding day, my dad spoke about my love of shopping in his speech. I am not a stranger to mindless consumption! It has been one of the hardest habits to kick.
Shopping was a bandaid for my boredom and lack of clarity with what I wanted to do with my time.
By assessing what we truly need and truly love we can become more aware of the habits of our consumption and begin to embrace an authentic minimalist life, rather than bear the burden of routine decluttering and reorganising.
#2: WE REDUCE OUR ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT
In this epidemic of mindless consumption, we keep reliving our habits and buying stuff, until we have a lot of stuff. We run out of space to store the stuff, so we buy a bigger space to fit it in. At first, this might be a cute storage container or a new Ikea box cube shelf. But over time it might be a paid storage space, or “upgrading” to a bigger house.
Having fewer “things” allows us to use only the space and resources we truly need.
#3: WE OWN THINGS THAT WE TRULY LOVE
Magic happens when we shift our mindsets over to more mindful consumption. When we buy fewer throw-away, fast fashion-type items, we free our finances to consume higher quality items with a longer lifespan. We have the opportunity to truly enjoy and appreciate every item that we now own.
#4: WE HAVE MORE TIME TO DO THE THINGS WE TRULY LOVE
How many minutes today did you spend packing away your kids’ toys? Doing laundry? Tidying up your lounge room?
Excess stuff takes up more of our time. We spend our days using it, cleaning it, organising it, maintaining it. It steals the time that we want to spend on the things that are important to us.
We also feel the need to work more, to make the dollars we need to afford that bigger space to house the stuff.
We are left feeling too busy and overwhelmed to do #allthethings.
It steals our joy.
And the vicious cycle continues.
#5: WE GAIN MORE CLARITY ON WHAT WE TRULY WANT
Paring back our belongings and creating more time to do the things that really matter to us, it forces us to re-evaluate what our true priorities are. We now have a real opportunity to cultivate the things that are important to us. And by doing this, we can actually create the lives that we truly desire.
The Essentialism puzzle piece surfaced for me a little later in the game. I had decluttered my home, and I had more time, but I still felt discontent and unfulfilled. I began searching for why. And with this, I realised that I had done it backwards. I had no anchors. I had no vision. I had no idea what I actually wanted my motherhood to look like.
In hindsight, this seems a little ironic. A core part of my role as a teacher and later as an occupational therapist is to be goals-driven, yet I was floating through life not having any clarity on what I wanted.
If I could have a do-over, I would recommend starting with the end in mind. It is crucial to understand and define your why. That may evolve over time with the changing seasons in your life, but to have any success, meaning, happiness – you must define your why.
Understanding why this mindset shift is important to you and what you aim to gain from it will drive you to remain focused and motivated as you navigate the road to a simpler life!
To help you do this, I have put together a worksheet just for you. It’s called Define your Why, and is available right here in my Free Resource Library.
So that’s it! 5 reasons why modern-day mamas need a little minimalism and essentialism in their lives. Weaving aspects of both into my motherhood have had such a massive impact.
I spent most of my adolescence deeply discontent, always seeking MORE. More clothes, more trinkets, more experiences, more self-help books, more friendships, more travel, more happiness. I was always looking at external factors. I often thought, “When I have (this), I will feel happy. When I achieve (this), I will be that person that I aspire to be”.
Ironically, the answer all along was to seek LESS and to look within.
Motherhood magnifies the impact of mindless consumption because often we are often the ones responsible for caring for our families. And in modern times our jobs extend beyond caring for our children and homemaking – we contribute to our family unit in other ways. We often have careers that we spent time building and cultivating, often before starting our families.
Minimalism and simplicity is the answer to this epidemic of mindless consumption and habitual waste. It is challenging the status quo. It is freedom.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I have by no means mastered minimalism or essentialism. I am SO not perfect! Ask my friends. Ask my husband! Or just walk into my house, have a coffee and a chat with me and you’ll see that I have not reached a destination and I am still learning and navigating each day as it comes. What I do know is that it has been so refreshing to tread down the path less taken and own it and finally start to be comfortable in my own skin.
I am so passionate about sharing this message. Help me do this by sharing this post with a mum who needs a little minimalism and essentialism in their lives right now!