You know when you form a habit how you start to think of it as completely normal? It doesn’t take much effort to live your own personal version of normal, and soon the new doesn’t feel very newsworthy anymore? Well, after nine months of not accumulating new things with our family More Than Enough Stuff minimalism experiment, it feels so NORMAL to not buy stuff, I sort of stopped talking about it.
Actually, my slow puttering stop to talking about the minimalism challenge, as well as the halt of my regular DIY projects, and most other routines are likely attributed to the total insanity of receiving a job offer, selling our house, packing up and spending the summer adventuring with family, moving into our tiny rental house, and purging and painting, and trying to settle into a whole new life over the last four months. When we began our minimalism challenge in January, we could never have anticipated the many changes that this year would bring.Luckily, our challenge and focus on not accumulating, minimizing belongings, and focusing on patience and gratitude played a major role in some of the big decisions we made during our change. For example, downsizing by more than half of our living space was definitely inspired by the idea of experimenting with minimalism in a new way. Also, as we moved, I found myself much more able to readily let go of things that no longer served in our family.
My kids already pretty minimal playroom has been downsized to one basket of toys and a couple small boxes of legos, all stored in their shared bedroom. Three kids and all the toys and books in one room has turned out to feel so much easier than I would have expected!
Everything that didn’t fit into our small closets, dresser, and under bed storage was donated, forcing an even more drastic capsule wardrobe than we had been using before.
Of course, moving added some new challenges, and not everything fit perfectly into our new little home. We traded the boys bunk bed and Plum’s twin for a new bunk bed with trundle option, so all three kids can stack up in the same room. I got rid of a couple large book cases and dressers, and replaced them with some smaller, more sleek versions that fit the rooms with ease. In all of the switching and trading, I’ve tried hard to stay focused on the ideals of minimalism, and stay true to not buying a bunch of new stuff just because. I’ve reused so much of our old furniture that this small house feels a lot like HOME, which is a very comforting feeling in a new city.
As I look forward to the fall, and a true change of seasons for the first time in several years, I know we will need to buy the kids some new winter wear, despite our initial plan to not make clothing purchases this year. And after the summer of adventures and their capsule wardrobes literally wearing out, we decided to buy a couple new items per child for back to school. Rather than feel disappointed about the change in plans, I am excited to make some intentional and meaningful purchases still in the spirit of our challenge.
I was anticipating trying to refrain from adding anything to my own capsule wardrobe until the end of the year. Then, a few days ago I pulled on my favorite pair of leather booties that had been in storage since we moved. I wore them on a family outing, and as I walked down the sidewalk after the rain realized my feet were getting wet. A quick glance confirmed that there were holes in the soles of my shoes. Add them to the pile of pants, shirts, and sweaters with literal holes in them, and I am realizing that clothes just aren’t built to be worn as thoroughly as we have been wearing them. In a more normal closet, a pair of shoes may be rotated through every couple weeks or so, and in my capsule closet, those booties were worn daily for six months or more for two fall/winter seasons in a row before wearing out. In short, the increased use shortens the lifespan of the stuff, to where maybe a whole year of such frequent use isn’t even possible?
These are things you think about after nine months of not shopping for clothes, shoes, furniture, decorations, and all the other things that might normally be part of regular consumption in a family of five. And maybe that’s not normal. Maybe this challenge is still noteworthy.
I think I am rambling now, but it feels like a good time to check in and say, “Hi, we’re still working on this. Imperfectly experimenting with how to live a more minimal, more meaningful life.”
Even as it becomes normal for me to not pay attention to the piles of new, shiny goods in the front of every store, scattered on pages of the glossy catalogues, and dotting social media, it feels more and more freeing to intentionally write my own story, choose my own priorities, and not feel pulled so regularly by the beck and call of consumerism. And, at the same time, I am excited and looking forward to a few months from now, when I can replenish my thread-bare closet with increased wisdom and intention, and begin, more thoughtfully, to choose what has place in our life and what can stay on the pile or page.
9 months down, 3 to go. Wish us luck for a strong finish.
Some links to explore if you are new here:
Five Days to Freedom: Tips for Choosing Less Stuff and More Adventure in your Daily Life
Five lessons with practical tips and exercises to help you feel more in control of your life!