I wrote back in January about how we simplified in order to go from 900 square feet to 2 bedrooms. I was loving the mantra: Less is less. I could breathe because most of our things were in storage, and what we had kept out had purpose and a place to live.
But over the course of the last 6 months, the less that we had grew – and I was growing frustrated with the increase. There were more toys, more notebooks, more bags full of treasures, and more clothes (meaning more laundry).
And if this season of all things temporary has taught me anything it is that I cannot go back to life as usual. This point in time for me personally, and for my family will be a monument to living with intention.
In order to live with renewed intention, and to battle the increase – I needed permission to change. For me, it came in the form of a key.
So, I made a mind map for moving. What needs to be done and in what order. I asked myself this question:
Just to live and be responsible – what do I need?
I came up with this list:
- Places to sleep
- Food and tools for cooking
- Towels, toothbrushes, and other bathroom items
- Writing and homeschooling supplies
After breaking our needs into these major categories, I then created steps for transitioning the category from one home to the next while simplifying, minimizing, and organizing.
Joshua Becker makes a great point about why minimalism is an on-going, regular challenge – stuff is always coming into the house. Taking things out must be an engaged and intentional process or it won’t be done, we’ll be cluttered and a slave to our stuff. (See the recommendations below for links to the articles and podcast.)
Simplifying our Clothes
I like Becker’s Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes, especially the “embrace the idea of one.” For my kids, while we transition, I asked them to pick out 2 outfits for each category of activity: 2 pajamas, 2 play clothes, and 2 dress clothes. We set these clothes aside and packed the rest of their closet and dressers into suitcases.
This means not only will we be able to empty their room faster and with less mess from laundry, but it cuts down on the amount of time it takes them to dress themselves in the morning because they already know their choices.
Our current bedtime routine is quite cluttered with extra requests, toys on the nightstands, books we are reading and not reading, extra blankets and pillows, and stuffed animals. We have allowed it to get to this point all out of good intentions to give our kids the things they want, but the clutter has created more clamor than calm.
Again, a rule of 2 is going into place while we transition and possibly afterward to keep things continually simple.
2 stuffed animals, 2 books on the nightstand, 2 items on the bed (1 pillow and 1 blanket), and 2 minutes of tidying before climbing into bed. There’s something about the kids’ room having a completely cleared floor that makes everyone breathe easier.
Summer is a glorious time to move because eating outside is enjoyable and stress relieving – most importantly with a toddler – no crumbs to sweep. Salads for dinner are acceptable, grilling leaves the oven and stovetop clean, and nothing makes me feel better than a belly full from the garden.
To simplify our transition and not succumb to drive-thru-every-night, I have to meal plan and shop accordingly. The only thing I need is 1 sharp knife, 1 cutting board, 1 bowl, 1 platter for grilled foods (raw meats get delivered on this platter then a good hot wash before putting meat back on it to serve), and enough plates and glasses for each person to have 1.
Simplifying the Bathroom
This is similar to packing for a long trip. I take a small hang up organizer (like this one and a caddy like this one is useful for items that are regularly wet) and after I use each item, I put it in the bag. This leaves behind all the extras that I don’t use on a daily basis – those get boxed up and labeled. The hanging bag stays out and gets used wherever we go.
Towels can be limited to one/person per size. These will have to be washed every other day or so after air drying in between uses.
Simplifying Supplies for Learning
We own a lot of books. I’ve lived a year without 80% of my books and I’m OK. It was terribly distressing when I had to box them up and store them, but I knew if I truly needed a title – I could put it on hold at the library. Books are everywhere. We are so blessed to have such quick access to them everywhere we go. I have the Kindle app on my phone – “1-click” and I own a new ebook.
Deciding how many books will not get boxed up then is the hardest decision. I can’t keep out all the books I “want” to read. So I limit myself to only the ones I read daily. Same goes for the kids. For us, books are such a dearly loved part of our everyday life that they get packed up after all the other categories I’ve listed. Clothes? They just don’t hold a candle to books.
After books, I will keep out a pencil box and notebook for each of us. The rest of the arts and crafts supplies, lesson plans, office supplies, etc. will get boxed up.
Since we have been living on 80% of what we own, there isn’t much for us to simplify with furniture for this move. But looking to the new home, I want to be intentional to not continue to own any item that we don’t love or use.
We have lived a little over a year in 2 bedrooms, with the bulk of our belongings in storage. It would defeat the purpose of our goal to own less, live on less, and maintain less if we just set up house in a rush. Once a couch is moved in it is harder to move it back out. That is why we will be emptying our storage unit into our garage and evaluating everything before it becomes a part of our new home.
In this process, I am grateful for these opportunities that life hands me to learn and to teach my kids what it means to live free. To enjoy the little things in life, but not be burdened by them. To receive something new with joy, and to let go with grace.
Learning to simplify doesn’t mean that we view all things as bad and attempt to eliminate as much stuff as we can, rather we evaluate our priorities and then surround ourselves with just what we need in order to be filled with strength and purpose for each new day.
Recommendations for further learning
- Tsh Oxenreider’s Organized Simplicity and One Bite at a Time
- Crystal Paine’s The Money Saving Mom’s Budget (I was surprised when I read this that she starts out by teaching how to declutter. The money saved by simply knowing what you already own is a smart way to start.)
- Joshua Becker’s (Becoming a Minimalist) interview on The Art of Simple Podcast #67
- Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes and 8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day
- Jen Hatmaker’s 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
For more encouragement from The Home Learner, click here.
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