Less is More: Moving toward a minimal lifestyle

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It’s easy to think of “minimalism” as having less. De-cluttered, over-simplified… boring?

I say, not at all!

Those who have tasted and enjoyed the benefits of moving toward a more minimal lifestyle can attest to the fact that having less stuff doesn’t equate to having less. In fact, simplifying your life and clearing out all the stuff that accumulates actually yields more – more freedom, more joy, more space for the things you truly treasure.

I love the way Joshua Becker, author of numerous minimalism books, answers the question “What is minimalism?” on his website: “At its core, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.

Whoa, that hits home.

1. TRIM THE TOYS – Encourage family time and more imaginative play with less toys. Aim to do at least two toy purges a year, with one just before Christmas. If there are toys, games, or activities that your child loves but that consistently gets dumped out on the floor into a big messy pile, put these in a closet for your child to play with when they ask. Once they’re done playing, it gets cleaned up and put back in the closet. This is great for things like crayons, a box of toy animals, puzzles with lots of pieces, etc.
2. SIMPLIFY THE SCHEDULE – It’s easy as parents to look back on our day and feel like we just did a lot of crazy running around to get our kids to and from point A to B and everything in between. Chances are, our kids probably feel the same. Cut back on the number of activities your family has scheduled on a weekly basis, and leave room for more spontaneous family time or get-togethers with friends. Before you sign up for activities, sketch out a calendar of what your week will look like from a logistical standpoint. Be choosy with the activities you select, making sure one kid’s soccer games won’t overlap with another’s gymnastics class on the other side of town. Over-committing might feel like the only option, but it leaves you and your kids run-down and burned out.
3. CUT THE CLUTTER – How often, when we get back home from running around like crazy, do we walk in the door and just drop all the things onto the nearest chair, table, or counter? As parents, we can set an example of minimizing the build-up of clutter by immediately putting things where they belong. If this feels too stressful, create a cubby or designated space near your entry door where you can easily set belongings, and be sure to consistently tidy it up. Do the same for your kids by creating a space for them to set shoes, jackets, backpacks and water bottles when they walk in the door.

As someone who has moved cross-country three times in less than ten years, I’m no stranger to paring down. I’m pretty good at being reasonably sentimental and saying goodbye to things that just don’t get used or that I just don’t love, but with every move, I find myself staring with jaw dropped wondering how and why our family has so much stuff!

When our family made the move from North Carolina to Billings, it was a chance to be intentional about decreasing our distracting possessions and increasing the space for reading and learning, sharing meals and hosting friends, and of course, spontaneous family dance parties!

But it wasn’t just the clothes and toys and kitchen gadgets that needed the boot. It was also the overworking of jobs, the over-scheduling of activities, and the over-committing of our time. Embracing life-enriching minimalism meant an evaluation of all areas of life, cutting out even some of the good, in order to actually enjoy the best.

The quest to lead a more minimalistic lifestyle requires constant evaluation of needs versus wants, where we’re spending our time and resources, and how we can shift the focus from self-gratification to being more generous and giving. I’m always surprised at how fast stuff just piles up and feels out of control, and how often I catch myself desiring superfluous possessions. With a new year upon us, it’s been a good time to re-center and be more intentional.

Thankfully, minimalism isn’t just a one-size-fits-all prescription that you either take or leave. It’s different for each of us, and it’s totally achievable. We can take small steps or make big moves. Our lifestyle can constantly evolve.

For our family, it has certainly happened in waves. The more we simplify, the more we want to simplify. The blouse I couldn’t bear to part with six months ago was a simple toss in the give-away pile last week. And I’ve discovered anew this year the joy of giving versus the fleeting enjoyment of accumulating.

What does “minimalism” look like for you in the coming year? How will you intentionally promote the things you value most and remove the things that are distracting you? I wish you a simpler and more life-giving 2019!

about the author…Anna Rogers is a transplant from the Carolinas with a background in marketing and graphic communications. She is a wife and mother who loves to garden, cook, and practice yoga. Anna is passionate about travel, which at its core is really a passion for people, as she believes people and community are what truly bring life and beauty into a place.

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