In today’s world of relentless notifications, endless promotional content and a window to what the majority of the world are doing at the touch of a button, I feel like most of us are craving more simplicity and less demands on our time and headspace. This is what led me to want to simplify my life – I was terribly overwhelmed, stressed and suffering from chronic comparison-itis. I’m a person who needs order, peace and a lot of sleep to feel calm and happy. 

Photo by  MARK ADRIANE  on  Unsplash

Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

I remember the first time the local early childhood nurse visited our little apartment to check on the new parents and their wee baby boy. She ran through a standard list of questions, one being: “Are you a person who needs order in their life?”.

I remember the way she looked as me when I answered simply, “Yes.” With a knowing look she didn’t say anything but her face screamed of “Well love, you’re going to struggle then.” She wasn’t wrong.

What is minimalism?

To me, minimalism is a way of simplifying your life and removing excess items you don’t need or want, so you can enjoy the things that enrich your life and make you happy. Rather than depriving you, it highlights what makes you happy and frees you from the things that are holding you back from truly living.

Minimalism is not about counting your things or conforming to a certain way of doing things. Everyone has their own definition of minimalism or simpler living and you should embrace whatever works for you. In any case, it is possible for you and anyone else to simplify and start living a calmer, more content lifestyle.

You don’t have to become a “minimalist”

I guess I’ve been reluctant to even call myself a minimalist, in case people look at me and think I have only one chair and one table in a stark white room in my home, and don’t let my kids have toys. I usually describe myself as an “aspiring minimalist” because I am constantly decluttering (there is always an inflow of stuff coming into my home), or a “practical minimalist” because I feel it more accurately describes how I am simplifying my life and home without it restricting or depriving me in any way. 

I have friends who would not call themselves a minimalist, but they do like to live in an uncluttered home.

How simplifying has changed my life

Here’s just some of the ways that simplifying has improved my life: 

  • By removing the things I don’t use and don’t cherish, it quickly became clear what is important to me and what I do cherish. I discovered new (and renewed) passions and it has helped me to narrow my focus to what is truly important in my life.

  • My children love the toys they have and play with them more often and in more imaginative ways.

  • I’ve made a lot of extra cash selling things that I don’t want or need anymore.

  • My son is learning the value of money by selling the toys and books that he no longer wants or use.

  • I’ve saved more money because it’s made me increasingly conscious to spend my money intentionally. This is something I’m constantly working on – after all, I am normal and love to shop at Kmart.

  • I’ve become more intentional with how I spend my time. By discovering a passion for decluttering , I was able to channel this energy into starting my YouTube channel, Simply Mel. I regularly publish videos with tips on how to declutter your home and your life.

  • It is quicker to tidy and clean my home. Picking up toys at the end of the night takes 5 minutes or less, even my husband can’t disagree that is a huge benefit!

  • I am much more content with my own life and don’t compare myself as much to other people. I appreciate what I have chosen to own, because it’s on my own terms and I don’t feel the need to fund an aspirational lifestyle because I realise I have everything I need for a fulfilling life.

  • I’m not as reluctant to have people drop by at a moment’s notice. I’m no longer embarrassed at the state of my home. Ironically, I love visiting friend’s houses that are messy – it makes me feel like I shouldn’t have to try so hard to keep up a perfect home, and I feel much more comfortable with my friends that “keep it real”.

  • I enjoy my home much more. I love having more space. I even like the parts of my home that still need organizing because I get excited at the thought of being able to purge and sort!

  • My friends are indirectly reaping the benefits, because they have been encouraged or inspired to start decluttering their homes. And I have helped friends and clients declutter their homes either directly or indirectly.

  • I have learnt and now appreciate that life is less about stuff, and more about living. I feel much less weighed down by my stuff and I feel like if something happened and we had to suddenly move house or we lost everything, that I would be able to deal with it.

  • I don’t feel guilty having stuff because I know that I am choosing items with more intention and that what I do choose to own has a purpose and enriches my life in some way.

  • My husband (who would rather stab his own eye with a fork than declutter) has even been motivated to declutter some things. It started with a pair of holey socks and some expired food, but hey, small steps.

You don’t have to be a minimalist to simplify your life

I think a lot of people are put off by the idea of minimalism because they think of the “minimalist” interior decorating style and get a picture in their mind of people sleeping on the floor or drinking all their beverages out of mason jars.

I don’t think you need to become or identify with being a “minimalist” to get the benefits of having a simpler home and life. It can be as simple as starting by cleaning out one kitchen drawer, one toy box or the boot (trunk) of your car.

Whether you decide to simplify and call yourself a minimalist or not, you do you.