Defining My Minimalism

Over on Instagram Stories, where the best conversations happen these days, I decided to share as clear a definition as I could about how I practice minimalism. Minimalism is not a one size fits all practice and so I don't expect my minimalism to be the perfect for your family, but I'll share my definition nonetheless, in hopes that it might inspire or challenge us all towards more intentional living.

credit: Rachel Cheng

I am often asked about how I balance minimalism with children, minimalism as a decor lover, minimalism as a blogger who receives free gifts regularly from companies, and minimalism as someone who enjoys exploring trends. All of these things describe me and can actively work against the goal of minimalism. For our family, it's been a constant tug and pull of what we allow ourselves to buy and keep and what won't bring into our home. As I said before, there isn't one right way to do this, so I hope I'm not coming across as too authoritative on the subject because truly, I'm constantly growing in this area and have by no means arrived as an expert.

Here are five rules I aim to live by and which define my minimalism. These rules help us decide what we keep and what we toss, how we view our belongings, and the heart behind it all. I hope you find them helpful!

1. We follow a strict 1 in 1 out rule.

Every time I receive an item from a company or come home from the thrift store with a bag full of new treasures or go shopping, the same number of items has to go out. Usually it's easy to replace something if it's already broken or no longer fulfilling its potential in our home, but other times we need to get creative if there's something we really want to bring into our home. The kids practice this just as well as I do. They're not immune to having to toss possessions after gift waves like birthdays and Christmas.

2. We aim not to buy (or receive) on impulse.

To help with this, I've unsubscribed from all shopping and store related e-mail newsletters. If I know I don't need anything, why should it matter if The Gap is having 40% off this weekend? We think about our purchases and question our desires to buy if they're new and untested. For example, I recently thrifted a brass tea pot made in Holland. I already have a couple of tea pots (and use them all) but one has a chip in the spout and is 10 years old. As my Dutch friend came into the house, the chipped spout left. I also recently received new linen bedding from a collaborating brand. Linen bedding has been something I've been shopping around for and hoping to own for about three years, so when the opportunity arose to collaborate and receive the sheets, it wasn't a reaction to have more, it was a measured desire to thoughtfully fulfill. Waiting even a couple of months from the moment you want something to the moment you allow yourself to buy helps you buy much less (because likely you'll realize it's not worth buying or that you don't really want it too badly) and save tons of money!

3. We use and love our things, and if we don't, they don't stay.

This allows for a "minimalist" to have bookshelves full of books or a kitchen teeming with gear (I have both and still don the moniker of "minimalist"). So long as the things in your home are used and loved, there is no magic number to what I'll allow myself to keep. It's about the things we keep having intention, not just keeping as few items as possible.

4. We see our things as gifts to bless others with both as we own them in lending and as we give them away.

Minimalism to me is not letting your things be so precious that you can't give freely. We regularly lend out our car for weekends at a time. Whenever I buy new clothes, I give things away to friends before donating the rest. Books I won't re-read to go my book club or local libraries. Soon, we'll be getting a new dining room table in a collaboration with a furniture store, and so we've given our current one to a newlywed couple in our church. Lending and giving are some of the greatest gifts a community can boast and minimalism fosters them so well.

5. Lastly, we're thankful.

This sounds simple, but it really changes everything in this materialistic world. Gratitude fuels contentment. Just as we say thanks before tucking into a meal, we say thanks on the way home from the store or after receiving yet another Amazon package, or folding the laundry. Cultivating gratitude for what you do have dampens the desire for more, and minimalism plays a large role in that. Being thankful for what you have means you aren't always looking for what's next, or what you don't have. Having less makes it all easier to do :)

1 comment:

  1. Ana Alves18.9.18

    what a lovely post, I really enjoy your blog and how you are raising your kids. I will try to remember the points that you have made next time I have the urge to shop. I must also remind myself to be grateful on a daily basis, I started a gratitude journal last year but I have not kept it up, I need to start again.