Simple Lionheart Life: Our Journey to Minimalism Part 2

In an earlier post this month, I wrote about our family’s Journey to Minimalism. It isn’t an easy road and I don’t know if we will ever be *done* since we are all continually growing or changing our sizes or preferences. Seeing the positive changes in my sister N,  and in my friend Melissa at Simple Lionheart Life was really the catalyst for our change.

Having inspiration and guidance in any significant lifestyle change is important in order to be successful. Since I found Melissa’s mentorship to be so inspirational and really quite elemental in my success, I asked her if she would share some of her insight with my readers and she was only too happy to do so!

Below you will find an interview between Melissa and I in which I asked for her thoughts on some of the roadblocks many of us face when consider whether or not minimalism would be valuable for our families.

I hope you enjoy her words of wisdom and perhaps they will be what you need in order to start your own journey to minimalism!

Take care of yourself,
Mel

 

Mel: How did you get the rest of your family on board? What if, for example, I love having nothing on the counter except the coffee pot but Hubby likes having all the small appliances within easy reach? Or my children, who don’t want to get rid of toys that I know they don’t really play with?

 

Melissa: Definitely talk to your family about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Tell them how decluttering and minimalism make your life better. But don’t push or force them to do the same. Lead by example and show them how great life can be with less.

I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to purge someone else’s stuff without their permission. It can cause feelings of resentment and make the person feel violated. It can even make the person feel more resistant to the idea of minimizing, which is the opposite of what you want!

When my kids (3.5 and 7) were younger, they didn’t really grasp the idea of decluttering. So, I would make most of the decluttering decisions for them by paying attention to what they used and played with regularly. Then getting rid of things they showed little interest in. If there was something I was unsure about, I would put it out of sight for a set period of time and see if anyone asked for it. Usually out of sight, out of mind proved to be true! By about age 4, I think kids are definitely ready to be involved in decluttering their own things. Try to make it a positive experience by figuring out what will motivate your kids to let go. It could be passing on unused toys to kids who don’t have many toys, spending less time cleaning up, or simply clearing space to make more room to play!

You can read more about what we’ve tried to encourage our kids to declutter their toys here: 6 Ways to Encourage Kids to Minimize their Toys. Finding a way to explain WHY you are decluttering and minimizing that makes sense to your kids is a game changer.  

To make it easier for the whole family to put things away to keep surfaces clear, make sure every item as a place in a cupboard, drawer, or closet, and that it is quick and easy to put it where it belongs.

Mel: How do you blend minimalism with still being cozy? All the pictures I see show a cold looking room with one chair in the corner. It looks so stark!

 

Melissa: I don’t think minimalism has to look a certain way. If you like an all-white room with very little furniture or décor, then go for it. If you like a colourful room with books, candles, throw blankets, pillows, etc. then got for it. As long as everything in your space is something you either use often or absolutely love – that’s minimalism!

I’ve heard people use the term “cozy minimalism” to describe a home that is minimal and uncluttered, but still cozy. Sometimes it helps to use terms like this to get more specific about your vision of minimalism. Define exactly what you want minimalism to look like for you and use that vision to guide your decluttering process.

Mel: How do you avoid or deal with burnout? Whether you’re getting ready to move or just deciding to systematically go through the house to declutter, it feels never-ending!

 

Melissa: Decluttering is hard work. Physically exhausting as you move, sort, discard and put away each thing. Mentally exhausting as you make so many decisions about what to keep and get rid of. And emotionally exhausting because sorting through and letting go of a lifetime worth of stuff takes you on an emotional journey. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and get burnt out if you’ve been working hard at decluttering.

If you’re feeling burnt out, give yourself a break. Let yourself enjoy the benefits of the decluttering you’ve already done. Enjoy a clutter-free area of your home. Spend time playing with your kids in the time you used to spend cleaning up. Take some time for yourself to relax with a cup of tea and a book and notice how decluttering has already freed up time and space in your life. Take a few days off from decluttering, then get back to it when you feel re-energized.

Here are a couple of tips to stay motivated and on track while you’re decluttering:

  • Have a clear plan and vision of what you want to achieve when you start decluttering. If you feel discouraged or worn out, refer back to your plan and vision to remind you why you’re doing all this hard work in the first place. You can get your copy of the FREE Decluttering Action Plan Workbook here to help you get clear about your vision and make a solid plan to follow.
  • Take “before” pictures of all your spaces. I wish I had done this when I initially started decluttering. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or burnt out, having a picture to show you how much progress you’re making can be really motivating.

 

Mel: What articles, books and images inspire you?

 

Melissa: There are so many excellent, real-life examples of minimalism out there, it’s hard to narrow it down. Here are a few that have really inspired my journey to minimalism:

  • Becoming Minimalist – This is where I first learned about minimalism, the benefits it can bring into your life and how to put it into practice. It has a good mix of practical advice and motivating information for any stage of your minimalism journey.
  • Allie Casazza – Allie has a blog and podcast that are great. She’s a mom of 4 and has awesome advice and inspiration about why moms can benefit most from minimalism. This article is a great place to start.
  • Simple + Fiercely – Jennifer shares what she has learned over the years since she embraced minimalism. Her posts offer great inspiration and motivation.
  • No Side Bar – this is another website with a lot of practical advice and posts to inspire and motivate you.

 

Mel: What differences have you noticed in your daily life with your husband and kids as a result of living with less?

 

Melissa: The benefits of living with less are awesomeFor me, the biggest difference is that our home is easier to clean up and stays tidier. I want the majority of my time spent with my family, not taking care of and managing my stuff.

Life in general is less stressful with less. I don’t lose things. I have more free time for activities I enjoy. I feel lighter and calmer.

By being intentional about what we consume and buy, we make fewer impulse purchases and buy less in general. This gives us more financial freedom to do fun things as a family. Now we prioritize experiences over buying more stuff.

Overall I feel happier and less overwhelmed, especially as a stay-at-home-mom. The calmer and more peaceful my home is, the calmer and more peaceful I am able to be as a mother. It’s not easy raising tiny humans, I don’t need too much stuff to make the job even harder!

 

Mel: Have you faced any resistance to this lifestyle from family or friends?

 

Melissa: I haven’t faced too much resistance, mostly people just not understanding why we are choosing minimalism. In a consumer culture, where more and bigger are often celebrated, choosing to live with less goes against the norm. As with any counter-cultural lifestyle, some people don’t understand or think it’s strange.

People have questioned how and why we choose to live with less, but I’ve never felt offended by their questions. I’m so happy to be living with less and I’m always excited for the opportunity to share why it’s so much better for us.

For example, our kids still receive gifts from family and friends just like any other kids. We gratefully accept them and appreciate both the gift and the thought behind it. Gift giving is as much fun for the giver as it is for the kids. We’d never want to take that away from either of them. We just make sure that as new stuff comes in, something no longer used or loved goes out. Finding balance and the right amount of stuff for our family is what we aim for.

As another example, I recently created a 40 piece capsule wardrobe for myself. My mom saw my closet and felt bad for me that my closet was so empty and thought she better offer to take me shopping! When I told her that I was keeping my closet that way intentionally and why, she thought it was great and definitely saw the benefit.

 

Mel: Can you share with us some photos of your favourite spaces in your own home?

 

Kitchen – I prefer clear countertops and not too much visual clutter. This house has lots of cabinets, so we have space to put away anything we don’t want on the counters. But the counters still seem to be magnets for STUFF, so staying on top of it is important.

 

Playroom – We try to limit the number of toys we have out at one time. We rotate toys from storage to keep them fresh and exciting (and to help us make it through the long Alberta winters!).

Living room – We keep it minimal, but also cozy and personal. I have my favourite family pictures and a few meaningful decorations out. I would prefer no tv in this room, but my husband would never go for that!

Family room – This is our adult space where my husband and I like to hang out after the kids go to bed. It’s also a cozy room that feels very inviting to me. Eventually I’d like to hang something above the couch, but I haven’t found the right thing yet. Part of minimalism is being intentional with what you bring in your home. I’d rather wait to find the perfect thing, instead of putting something up that I don’t love.

Master bedroom – I like to keep our bedroom calm and cozy, a place where we can relax and recharge. Again, I would be perfectly ok without a tv, but my husband likes watching tv in bed, so there it is.

My closet – As I mentioned, I recently put together a 40-piece capsule wardrobe. I love the simplicity the capsule wardrobe brings to my life. And I love how neat and organized my closet is because of it! There is so much breathing room in my closet now. I walk in to my closet and smile, it’s such a peaceful place!

Sun room – Our house has a beautiful sunroom across the entire back of the house. It is one of my favourite spaces in our home. We spend a lot of time in there in the spring, summer and fall. The windows let the light flood in. The big trees outside make you feel like you are at a cabin by a lake. It’s a beautiful space. When we bought this house the previous owners left the sunroom furnished. It was beautiful, but a little too much for my taste. Slowly I have been reducing and editing what’s in there to suit our taste and lifestyle.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog Melanie! I love the positive impact minimalism has had on our lives, and I’m always excited to share it with others.

 

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