The 6 Step Minimalist Method That Finally Worked For Our Family
Minimalism may seem like a fad to some, but the idea of it is truly ancient. We were never meant to have this much
sh*t stuff. The truth is, our consumer driven culture is the fad (and I have hope it's a dying one) because it isn't sustainable. We literally can't continue to live on this planet if we continue the way we have since most of the environmental issues we see are linked to consumption.
For me, minimalism is far more than a great way to help heal the planet and be conscious, it is one of the main ways I stay a calm & sane parent. For anyone else that identifies as Highly Sensitive or who is just very effected by their environment, you may feel me on this one. Stacks of papers, knick knacks and mess on every horizontal surface... it overwhelms me to no end. I've heard it said many times that a messy house = a messy mind, and for me that is absolutely true.
But while many people resonate with the ideas of minimalism - whether because of the sustainability aspect or the calming environment one - getting started can often seem like an overwhelming task. And when we get overwhelmed, many times that is when we decide it's just easier to quit.
I know because it happened to me for several years. We went through a lot of intense change all at once (getting married, moving to a different state, buying our first home, and having our first child), talk about overwhelm! It took me almost three years before I felt any improvement on the house after moving in.
For me, minimalism is far more than a great way to help heal the planet and be conscious, it is one of the main ways I stay a calm & sane parent.
- Stephanie Aberlich
(It's important to note to those who may have just moved, that moving is a huge transition period. It will take you some time to understand your new surroundings and how they work best for your family. Moving the pantry from closet to closet or the board games around, is going to happen for a while. So be extra patient with yourself if you've moved in the last couple years.)
After getting absolutely fed up with the house and learning more about why my environment was so incredibly overwhelming for me, I started to make some subtle changes that ended up becoming huge shifts. It started very small - one closet or cupboard at a time - but eventually things started to fall into place.
Today, let's be real... my home is still not the perfect magazine picture I have in my head, and it probably won't ever be until maybe when my children leave home (watch what you wish for mamas). Like all things in life, it is a constant work in progress. But it feels much more spacious, calming, and peaceful to me, and that is the real goal.
I tried many techniques and schools of thought when trying to get started, and ultimately I had to do what came most natural to me. I basically made up my own method, something that made the most sense to me. Here it is, step by step. See if it resonates with you, or if there are other new ways of thinking about your home that work better for you. Get creative. There isn't one "right" way to do this, there is just the way that feels right for your family.
1. Get Informed
This is the first step on any of my journeys, and it's naturally the first step for most people. We don't even know we are doing it, but we start reading about the thing, start watching documentaries or YouTube videos about the topic, and looking for Instagram pages or Facebook groups around it. Before we can decided what we want to do, we need to know more about it. That's typically a smart move.
Resources that were most helpful for me were Marie Kondo's The Magic of Tidying Up, and The Minimalists (documentary & podcast). Ultimately the KonMari method didn't exactly work for us, but I use a lot of the thought processes I learned in the book (not to mention the way I now fold clothes). Even if the method doesn't resonate with you, it is still an unbelievable resource especially for reframing how you think about the stuff in your home.
2. Get Clear on What You Want
Often we rush too fast into change and skip over the inner work. If we don't have a clear vision of what we want the end goal to be, it can be easy to get sidetracked and give up. So getting clear on exactly what you want your house to look like and most importantly feel like, is extremely important.
For me, I wanted to feel calm and relaxed in my home. Visually, I wanted clean lines, lots of white space and very minimal clutter. I am a very visual person and needed to have some inspiration to look at and encourage me, so I made a Pinterest board of homes and rooms that resonated with me. (It's HERE if you want to check it out). I mulled over this board for weeks and still look at it often when I need to feel inspired. An alternative way may be to write down what you want and how you want to feel in your house, or make an inspiration board of feeling words and pictures of the design aspects you like.
3. Visualize Your Ideal Home
This is the heart of the method and the big difference from anything I had ever tried or read about. While trying and failing at the KonMarie method, I had an ah-ha moment. What if, instead of going through all the stuff in each category, I instead just designed each room to be what I ideally wanted and THEN make my stuff fit into that vision?
I am such a visual person and have always been interested in interior design, this just seemed like the most obvious way to get my home to where I wanted it. Plus, the KonMarie method requires you to go through each category, one at a time, by gathering every single piece in that category from your entire house. This is a great option for many people, but since we hadn't unpacked absolutely everything from our move still, and had a garage and other room jam packed of crap, this just seemed far too overwhelming to me. So I decided I'd start with how I wanted each room to look.
4. Make a Plan
Once you have a general idea of what you want for each room, make a plan. Figure out what furniture you want to stay and what you want to go, how you want the room laid out, and what you want in the room. It's important to base this on what you want, not on what you currently have in the room. If you want to get rid of a large piece of furniture to make more space, put that in your plan.
5. Make Your Stuff Fit into Your New Vision
It started with our master bedroom. We had a dresser in there that was too big for the room and made it feel crowded. So I decided we would loose the dresser and figure out a way to fit all of our clothes in our small closet.
Going through that process required us to go through our clothing and get rid of a good amount. The room felt so much more spacious and calming once we got rid of the clunky dresser (and the piles of clothes that always seemed to end up on top of it). This one shift started the snowball effect, so we continued it throughout the house.
6. Be Patient with the Process
Remember, this is a process. It likely will take you a lot longer than you want it to, and the trick for any transformation is to have a boat load of grace and compassion for yourself. You'll get on a roll one month, and the next life will "get in the way". Try not to think of this as a set back, but as a normal part of the journey.
If it becomes more stressful than helpful, take a break, or stop the process all together for a bit and refocus. This isn't a race or a competition, it's a way to take care of yourself and your family. So if it doesn't feel right for you, then maybe it's not right for you, or the timing isn't right.
Awareness Over Perfection
If this still seems overwhelming for you, start really really small. I mean one drawer or cupboard or dresser small. Or, just give yourself space to daydream about what you want for a while before taking any action. Whatever you do, do it from a place of self care and love for your family and planet, not a place of fear, anxiety or perfection.
Tell Your Story
Well, that's it! That's the process that finally worked for our family. Have you tried anything like this? Did it help? What finally worked for you? Tell me in the comments.