My story. I was a stay-at-home, homeschooling, mom of two driven kids and I was finding it difficult to find downtime. Taking time to play a 20-minute game with the kids would usually stress me out because I felt behind in everything. Scheduling was not my problem as we were plenty busy with classes, trips, errands and playdates. At one point, we even created a kanban to help manage our projects. We organized and hired sitters but those solutions only delivered temporary results. I evaluated where I spent my time and could recover the most hours in the day. Our best approach was a complete life overhaul. We needed to do a massive purge and live differently going forward.

The Purge – Too much stuff

We started with a large goal of getting rid of anything we didn’t use on a daily or weekly basis. Divesting takes a long time if you want to recover any cash from your items. Creating sales cycles for eBay and Craigslist will put a time box around the intrusions from potential buyers and the post office visits. Even though eBay has simplified the selling and shipment process by a lot over the years, I still find selling on eBay exhausting. We would do a purge, gift and sell session every month or so and took a few weeks off in between to bask in our wins. With every purge session, we were reminded that ‘stuff’ is mostly worthless and that it’s much harder to divest than it is to acquire. More about how much we earned on our first purge and second.

Stuff managment - cleaning houseToo Much Stuff – One of many purge sessions

Keep your money – Get rid of the packaging

The number one thing that most people can immediately reduce is packaging. Buying goods in packaging is a massive luxury expense and it dramatically increases a products cost by anywhere from 10-40%. Refuse packaged goods and purchase products in bulk using your own containers and bags. Bulk shopping will not only save you money, it will help reduce the amount of stuff you bring into your home and trash runs. Shopping with your own containers will also help you recover kitchen storage space. Over the last 5 years, I have spent 40% less per month on food and bathroom supplies since I began avoiding packaging. Additionally, I have recovered hours every week that I used to spend shopping and processing groceries and trash.

There are so many little ways we can spend less, free up time, and lighten our personal load. Assessing how we interact with stuff, is an important first step.

  • Refusing ‘freebies’ means nothing to pile up or process later.
  • Ordering only what we need means we leave a clean plate without leftovers.
  • Bringing our own cup to the coffee shop means nothing to throw away and a possible price discount.
  • Bringing your own to-go containers to restaurants can keep take-away food from leaking and smelling up your refrigerator. To-go containers will kept out of landfill, refuse bins will smell less and food waste can be reduced.

Even with small adoptions like these, time and energy savings will be noticeable.

Rough Patches Along the Way

There will definitely be rough patches over the first year towards minimalism. My family would complain about how I shopped, what I wanted to purge, my cooking, or what we bought or didn’t buy. The results were worth the effort, but there were adjustments on every side. I recovered dozens of hours every week to learn, exercise and play with our kids. The kids loved that we spent more time together, shopped less and cleaned less. Everyone should have been totally thrilled with our new way of life, right? Not always. It literally took years for everyone in the family to really understand the value of what we were doing and love it.

First Year of Minimalism – Our Successes

Our victories have really exceeded my expectations. I can now spend relaxing hours at a time with my kids and I do. We cuddle every morning for 10 minutes and whenever we feel like throughout the day. A regular homeschooling day at our house feels like summer vacation! We go to the pool, play games online, read, code, go to the park, library or a friends house and all without watching the clock. Play is such an important part of a child’s development and I finally feel like our two are getting plenty of it. We are all taking better care of our health through diet, exercise, reading, creating, dreaming, and growing. I’m rarely overwhelmed anymore and though I am active, I’m rarely ‘busy’.

I will finish by sharing my gratitude for Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home. I read an article in which Bea discussed her families journey to Zero Waste, which inspired a walk to my nearby library and further reading on Zero Waste and Minimalism. Our lives were immediately altered. I suppose, I found a new religion.

Refusing can be most important part of the minimalists journey and even more important than the purge. If it doesn’t come in the front door, it won’t need to be purged.

Enjoy the journey!

xo – Bar

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