When our second daughter arrived, my husband (mostly him, actually) and I went on a major clean-up drive in our home. The result: five big boxes filled with clothes and toys for donations and several garbage bags for trash. The donations are fine, although I was also surprised how many that was, it was the trash that affected me more. Perhaps it’s the prevailing environmental issues plus the fact that we have two small daughters, but I couldn’t stop myself from feeling guilty over it.
Although our family has undertaken small steps to minimize our carbon footprint, this year, we plan to take it one step further by trying to practice a minimalist lifestyle. According to The Minimalists, minimalism is a tool to rid [oneself] of life’s excesses in favor of focusing on what’s important — so [one] can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom. So yes, we’re definitely a long way from being full-blown “minimalists,” but we do plan to start working on it especially in terms of excess uhm stuff — ie excess clothes, excess toys, excess clutter at home. Interested? Here are a few ways on how we plan to do it.
Identify the important.
It can be too easy to throw away everything when you’re on decluttering mode, but try to hold your horses for a bit to identify what’s important. And this goes for everyone in your home: you, your husband, and kids. Let your family members select the possessions they love, use, and couldn’t part with and set these aside — this includes toys, shoes, and even clothes. Then try to get rid of everything else as much as possible.
Purge, purge, and purge some more.
Just like what we did a few weeks ago. And one tip I can impart for this massive purge is to go through one space at a time. I went through my makeup drawers and self-care shelves first, then my daughter’s closet, then my closet, then our other closets, then my daughter’s play area. One day is assigned to each area — except for my daughter’s toys which took almost one weekend. For each area, we did three piles: one is for the important stuff, one is for donation, one is for trash. We also ensured that those items that go into the donation pile are still good and useful. In the end, only the important stuff is left with us.
Contain as much as possible.
We live in a small space so to maintain a clutter-free home, we need to contain our stuff as much as possible. So we make use of a lot of boxes and bins. In the kitchen, we have a box for snacks and a box for desserts. In our room, we have a box for my self-care stuff and another one for my husband’s. In my daughter’s play area, we have a box for Lego’s, for My Little Pony, for Disney, for Barbies, and so on. Yes, her Barbies still make an appearance in our kitchen every once in a while, but bins for each toy category do help her clean up most of the time.
Organize and find a home for everything.
One of the premises for maintaining a clutter-free home is to “find a home for everything.” We’re still working on this part but I think by being OC about each bin and its contents, we’ll get there. And of course, all of us are also working on putting everything back to its place after use — which can be a bit challenging especially on days when you’re just too tired. But like I said, baby steps.
Remember: less is more.
Try to move away from the mindset that more stuff = happiness. Because (1) we can’t possibly use everything anyway and (2) most, if not all of it only ends up as clutter at home and since studies have shown that clutter can also contribute to stress then it seems we’re just stressing ourselves over it. At the same time, curating the stuff we bring into our home can also mean that we can then go for better quality items (see next tip).
Go for quality over quantity.
Instead of getting piles and piles of cheap junk, we should go for quality items and toys that will last long. For toys, this could be classic wooden toys instead of the typical plastic ones. While for clothes, this could be basic and classic pieces that can withstand wear and tear instead of fast fashion pieces that easily break down in the wash. Spending money on a few great things is better than buying loads of cheap stuff that will easily break and end up as clutter in our home.
And I mean, way less. One advantage in doing a major decluttering first is that all of us re-discovered an item that we loved and can still use, so going into the year, each of us has more or less an idea of the items that we do have. This means that we don’t have to resort to going to the mall outright whenever we need something. Having an organized home can also help in this regard as seeing the items that we already have can minimize the impulse to go out and shop.
Do quick clean-ups.
Clutter tends to build up each day and cleaning up gets harder to do once we’re faced with mountain-loads of stuff. So perhaps the best way to prevent this is to practice a “clean as you go” mentality and even schedule quick clean-ups regularly. Clean as you go goes hand in hand with putting every item in their proper place in the sense that each family member should be responsible enough to clean up their messes — yes, even kids. At the same time, regular small clean-ups will take care of any starting pile-ups.
So that’s it. Good luck to our journey of being minimalists (at least, with stuff) this year.