Danielle Chassin was on of our first supporters at heymama, listening to our ideas and giving her honest feedback when we only had like 200 followers!! She’s about as real as real can get and shares her creative, intentional, adventurous, connected, and slow way of life on her blog Hippieindisguise.com. She’s the perfect mama to help us cut back, destress, and connect with our lives! Here are her 11 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Life With Minimal Living.
Minimal living is getting more and more air time these days. There’s definitely an appeal to have a clean, sparse living space, and to simplifying our busy lives, so we can have more time and energy for the things we really enjoy. I don’t think there’s an authoritative definition of minimalism or minimal living out there, so I’ll tell you what it means to me. Minimal living is about reducing quantity so you can increase quality, whether this applies to the things you own, to your commitments and responsibilities, or to any other aspect of your life. In simple terms this means having less stuff, so you have less cleaning to do and more time and more money for the things you really want in your life. It also means having fewer social and work commitments, so that you can focus your energy on work and friendships that are really important. It’s simple: reduce how much you have and do, so you can increase the quality of what you have and do.
Simple, yes, but maybe not entirely obvious where to start. Below, you’ll find a few tips and tricks that worked for me. I hope they help you move toward a more simplified life and living space, so you can have time to read that stack of novels on your bedside table or have the money to go on a dream vacation to Bora Bora.
- Start with minimizing your stuff: I find it easier to start here, eliminating excess stuff from your life, then moving on to minimizing responsibilities and commitments.
- Limit your purchases: Set yourself a goal to not buy anything new for a week or a month, whatever would be a challenge for you. Most likely after the time has passed, most of the things you wanted to buy will be gone from memory.
- Occupy your free time with fun activities: Don’t choose shopping as an extracurricular activity. Instead, fill your time with fun activities like coffee or wine dates, spa visits, meals with friends, walks in the park. Adventures around town keep me and the kids more than busy and never missing the mall!
- Help your children cultivate a love for experiences over things: This will naturally limit how much stuff they are asking for. You will find your children asking to do things or visit places, rather than asking for a toy or a costume. You can easily develop this in your children by taking them to new and different places often, parks, river spots, forest, alleys full of murals, construction sites, parades, and so on.
- Get rid of extra things in your living space: Purging stuff can be the hard part, so take baby steps. If you look at your whole living space, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff to sift through and purge. You don’t need to simplify everything in one day or one week. It takes time, like learning to walk. As long as you take a step each day you are moving towards a simpler life.
- Start small with something manageable, like your sock drawer. No matter what you tell yourself you don’t need more than 10 pairs of socks.
- Establish goals: Set goals for your progress, such as 5 minutes of purging each day or 1 room each weekend. This will keep you on track and ensure you are always making progress. Reward yourself for finishing a space, not with stuff, but with an experience. How about a trip to the botanical gardens?
- Start purging with things you aren’t attached to: If you are having a hard time getting started, try beginning with kitchen items or magazines or something that won’t stir up sentimental feelings. It will be easier to let go.
- For sentimental stuff, put them out of sight: With things you aren’t sure you can part with try putting them in a bag or box out of sight for a week or a month, if you don’t go back to take it out and use it, then you don’t need it in your life. Donate it. I do this all the time with the children’s toys, I remove them from their play area, if they don’t notice after a week or two, then I can safely donate it without any worry of tears.
- Educate your children about the impacts of stuff: Help them understand the lifecycle of production and consumption and the environmental impacts of waste. Children are naturally empathetic, they will want to do the right thing and curb their consumption. Similarly, exposing your children to the natural environment and creating opportunities for them to love their time spent in nature and outdoors will encourage them to want to take care of the earth and to make decisions that support a healthy planet.
- Establish good maintenance practices: I have a giveaway bag or basket on every floor of the house, this way anyone in the family can add things to it when they come across something they don’t want. When the children tidy their rooms or put away their laundry I always remind them to add to the giveaway basket anything they don’t love, so they can minimize their tidying.
Take one or two of these tips and implement them today, try adding another one or two each week. Start small and build on your success, before you know it you won’t need any encouragement, you’ll be hooked on minimal living. You’ll also find that once you take a minimalist approach to your stuff, you’ll start to take a minimalist approach to other aspects of your life.
For me, the big change has been my approach to activities with my children. I no longer take toys and supplies out with us, they have as much fun, and usually more, when they are playing at a park or in a forest without a toy there to tell them how to play, they get creative and innovate more. When they want to dig they don’t think to complain that I brought the wrong shovel, they just find a stick to do the job. Bonus for me is that I’m not walking around town with a stroller weighed down with stuff. It’s win-win. Similarly, simple activities like just being in a new outdoor space is easier and often more fun than an organized activity like a museum or play group (which requires money, specific timeframes, planning and so on, not exactly minimal). Ultimately, being a busy mom, working full-time outside the house, I don’t want to spend a second of my time with the children doing chores and tidying. Minimal living is an approach that helps me maximize my time with the kids and get out of the house for an adventure.
You can read more about minimal living and meet some interesting minimalists and their tips through my blog series “Interview with a Minimalist”.