5 Ways KonMari Minimalism Improves My Life

5 Ways KonMari Minimalism Improves My Life

I can’t claim to be an expert minimalist.  I don’t count my possessions, I can’t fit everything I own in a backpack, I don’t have a spartan tiny home.

But goodness, do I have less stuff than I used to.  I aspire to minimalism.

I applied the KonMari method to my entire home when pregnant with my second baby.  Call it extreme nesting if you will.

I did it again as we were packing up that house to move.

And I’m doing it again right now in my new home (how did this stuff even get MOVED here?!)

It is the best homemaking decision I’ve ever made, and here’s why:

birch trees. Text: Minimalism Changed My Life

1 – Minimalism forces me to think deeply about purchases and gifts

Before I buy anything for my husband or kids, I think seriously about whether it is amazing and going to be used frequently.  This results in usually buying one joint large gift for Christmas – and this last year we skipped in entirely.  We went on a 2-day vacation with our dear friends instead, and it was so much better than a gift!For our children, we follow the 4 gifts principle – something to wear, something to read, something fun, and something they need.  (Clothing, a book, a toy/game/ticket to somewhere, new sheets, dishes, etc.)  Since they have grown up this way, they don’t expect anything more lavish.  My 3 1/2 year old still gets excited when we put his “new” sheets on his bed, and talks about how he opened them on Christmas.

2 – I am more motivated to finish the laundry and the dishes.

I only have enough sippy cups and coffee mugs for two days.  I also only have enough kid dishes, good knives, and pans for two days, so if I’m feeling unmotivated I can only possibly let the dishes go for a day before we run out of necessary items.  (Sippy Cups and Coffee Mugs would make a great blog name – feel free to borrow that one!)Likewise, we have pared down our wardrobes to the point where I can’t skip laundry.  Maybe this doesn’t happen to everyone, but before KonMari I could skip laundry indefinitely.  I had SO. MANY. CLOTHES. that it didn’t matter if I washed them or not, the closet just kept giving!  Now, my boys only have 6 pair of pants, so I have to wash them.  I use a capsule wardrobe, so I actually wear every piece in my closet and need to wash them to have options for the next week.

3 – Broken items rarely bother me

Fact: Kids break things.  Little Known Fact: My husband, somehow, breaks even more things.This used to bother me immensely, but the process of decluttering and reducing my possessions has definitely changed my mindset about material possessions.  Minimalism functions under the theory that possessions are not important, period.  Because of this, I’m not going to get upset at a person who accidentally ruins one.  I actually say, “Well, there’s one more thing I don’t have to own!”  It helps me let go of even one more item – it has been decided for me by being broken.

4 – Less guilt

This is a problem I didn’t even realize I had until I became familiar with the KonMari method of minimalism.  I had no idea how much guilt I was inviting into my daily life by keeping possessions around that I didn’t love.

“I should really be using that, _____ gave it to me.”

“Forgot I had that.  What a waste of money!”

“I need to go find _____ and set it out so _____ thinks I’m using it.”

“I should dust.  Haven’t touched that shelf of things in months.”

“Here’s the box of ugly things I have to keep around.”

“Let’s sort the Christmas ornaments: Ones we like, ones we can get rid of, ones we don’t like but can’t get rid of.”

“I need to find a place to put _____ where nobody will really see it.”

These are true.  Not exaggerated.  I actually had to think these thoughts routinely about possessions in my home.

I heard it so many times, but didn’t truly believe it until I decluttered objectively: The people you’ve loved don’t cease to exist just because you get rid of “things.”  I didn’t need to keep around heirlooms, gifts, greeting cards, what-have-you from deceased or faraway relatives simply to remember them by.  I’m not going to forget them!  I do have some heirlooms and gifts that I really, truly love and use almost everyday.  I enjoy that those particular items happen to have come from people close to me.  Beyond that, I’ve learned to let go.  And now I don’t have to hear those guilty thoughts inside my head anymore. (Katie from The Decluttering Queen wrote a great post about “keepsakes!“)

The same goes for money spent  You already “wasted” the money.  Having the items staring at you all the time isn’t going to help the situation – it’s just going to make you feel bad daily, instead of once by decluttering the item.

5 – Ease of cleaning, dressing, packing, etc.

Less clutter on surfaces = easier to wipe or dust.
Fewer toys = even if the kids empty out the whole playroom, it’s not that much to pick up.
Capsule wardrobe = just count outfits to pack.  Everything goes together, everything fits, everything feels good to wear.

And this is why I continually look to minimize our home even more.  It has brought such a relaxed, peaceful mindset about possessions and really helped me curb my attachment to them.  There is so much more mental space and time in a day to work at things that truly matter, because I’m not devoting time to shuffling items around (physically or mentally!) picking out clothes, avoiding housekeeping, lingering over decisions about keeping or storing.

What benefits are you hoping to see from your minimalism journey?

What positive experiences have you already had along the way?

Bringing Vacation Home

Is there such a thing as an adult who does not enjoy vacation?
I went on a little New Years’ getaway with my husband and our best friends, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes vacation so wonderful, and how to incorporate some of that into my daily life.  I’ve come upon a few different concepts.

From our recent vacation – relaxing in the middle of nowhere.

Relaxing, minimalist environment
Think about what made the vacation so relaxing.  Was it that your space was clean?  That you were living with just a suitcase of possessions and no clutter?  Odds are good you were even living in a significantly smaller space than usual, possibly even with extra people, yet the hotel room/cabin/condo was relaxing.
This is great to replicate at home!  Living with fewer possessions naturally helps your space stay cleaner.  I will forever be indebted to the Kon Mari method of decluttering for making my home more peaceful and easier to keep picked up.  Consider a capsule wardrobe to replicate the limited options of a suitcase (and the ease of dressing that comes with it!)

Fresh linens
That may seem super small, but really.  When’s the last time you changed your sheets and washed your throw blankets and bleached your towels? (I keep white towels for this reason.)  Try it, and really pay attention to the sensation of sinking into fresh linens – savor it!  (By extension, all your nicely folded laundry in your suitcase?  Ey?) If you find this as valuable as I do, plan it into your housekeeping!

Pre-planned activities
Now, this is probably personal preference,  but I usually  have some pre-planned activities on vacation.  On this recent vacation, we brought along decks of cards to play our favorite game, one board game the husbands specifically like, and books and facemasks for the wives.  Nothing fancy, nothing that involved leaving the couch.  The aspect of this that makes the day so enjoyable is that there was no sitting around saying, “What should we do?  I dunno.  What do you want to do?  I dunno.”
Consider planning your leisure once you’re back home – would you like to read a book in the evenings? Journal in the mornings?  Have a family movie night?  I have actually taken to pre-planning my leisure activities for my miracle mornings and for my evenings after the kids go to bed, and it’s great.

Personal growth time
Like I said, this recent vacation included intentional book-reading.  For me, leisure reading is a part of self care and personal growth, because I truly love reading (like in the depths of my soul, love, reading.  #nerd)
Odds are good that during a vacation, you take more time for these kinds of activities.  Perhaps hiking is your personal growth.  Maybe meditating.  Some people probably experience personal growth by touring important landmarks or museums.  Whatever it is that feeds your spirit, you’ve probably made up your mind and planned to do it during your official vacation.
You should really do that kind of stuff during your regular days.  Seriously.

Moments of complete stillness
There are moments in vacation where absolutely nothing is going on.  Nothing is calling your attention.  Nothing needs to be cleaned or cooked or put away.  Those moments may be in an art gallery, in your hotel room in the wee hours, sitting on a beach kid-free, or doing a face mask on a couch while your husbands play a board game.
See if you can recreate those moments in your daily home life.  For me, those moments exist at 6:00 am (after my husband has left for work, my kids are still soundly asleep, and I’m alone in my office with a cup of coffee) but you can jam them anywhere.  On a commute using public transport, on a walk, etc.

Pick one thing to try – make your daily life more like a vacation.  Maybe commit to it for 2 weeks.  Write it down.  Plan it out. 
Share what you’re going to try or what you already do!

P.S. – we used Air BnB to book our vacation, and it worked like a charm!  I even got email copies of text messages sent by our host.  Recommend!
(Not sponsered.  I wish!)

Fall Wardrobe Inspiration

Ooh, fall clothes!
Fall/Winter clothes, really.

My favorite season. Honestly, I’m pretty inspired by a stack of scarves and a pair of riding boots.
But! This will eventually accompany a video about my wardrobe, so here we go.

Chambray Shirt + Cream Cardigan + Plaid Scarf + Skinny Jeans + Boots:
Where I found this!

Let’s be realistic- this sums up what I would wear on a daily basis. Black skinny pants, chambray shirt, brown riding boots, scarf, sweater, simple earrings, chunky watch.

For a rainy day:   :
Where I found this!                                           And this!
Since I bought some rain boots for myself, and I have a poncho-esque garment, this will probably make an appearance.  I don’t carry a handbag, and that’s definitely not a practical way to use an umbrella, but it’s just an inspiration photo, right?  The second photo is less of a stretch, essentially just substituting my rain boots for riding boots in my normal outfits.

I wear a lot more pants in the fall and winter.  As in, in summer I keep out two pair of pants in my capsule and I occasionally wear one of them.  In winter, I have more like 5 pair of pants that I wear almost every day.  (I don’t believe in leggings AS pants, but I love me a tunic and leggings.)

 :
Where I found this

If I do wear a dress, it’s probably like this, plus leggings.  I have never figured out in what climate it is appropriate to wear riding boots and a scarf with bare legs.  But I recently got a chambray dress (at Goodwill, for $1.99!) so this is going to be in heavy rotation.

So there we go!  Three major “lobes” to my fall/winter meal planning.  All designed for a mom who wear real clothes (no gym clothes here!) but are easily washable, appropriate for a Midwest fall/winter, and transitional from nursing to not.  (What?  Crewneck shirts? Where have you been for the last year of my life?)

Stay tuned for an accompanying video of my fall/winter capsule wardrobe!

Souvenirs for Kids

…that aren’t garbage.  Or toys.
When I was a kid, my dad traveled a few times a year for work.  He always brought back souvenirs for my sister and me, which was ridiculously exciting to my little hoarder self.  Postcards, t-shirts, stuffed animals, plastic travel mugs, tiny statue replicas… You name it, I had it.
I love what my dad was trying to do – generate a fun surprise for when he got home.  And it was wonderful!  
But the stuff.  
Oh my.
Going on a trip, and wanting to buy your children/grandchildren/nieces and nephews/nanny charges something? Great! Here’s some suggestions on how to do that without clogging up their room with stuff.
Washcloths or towels.  Especially those kind that come all compressed into a little brick and then revive when you wet them.  It’s super fun to make them grow, but then you have a very useful item left over.  Those washcloths are actually really soft and big!  Bonus: easy to fit in your suitcase!
These adorable washcloths are from Grandma and Grandpa’s trip to Hawaii.  I don’t know what “A Coconut Named Bob” is about, but it’s SO CUTE an SOFT.  Big L enjoyed wetting them and watching them “grow.”
A pen/pencil or eraser (for school aged children.). They can can use it at school and tell their friends about their cool relative who went cool places.  And it is consumable.  Rulers and folders are also good possibilities!
Candy/regional snacks.  Does your location have a particular packable food item that kids would like?  Saltwater taffy from the coast? Fudge from Michigan?  Maple sugar candies from Vermont or Canada?
1 T-shirt, 1 size too big.
Because they are already wearing their current size, so obviously mom and dad have dealt with their current wardrobe and they have enough clothes.  The shirt will get more wear if it is an intentional part of their next wardrobe.
A book.  Now, I am a softy for books – it is the one area of my home I have yet to purge.  That being said, a book about the cool place you went (at an appropriate reading level, of course) might be a perfect souvenir.
A useful item they can grow into.  For example, if your special child is almost ready for a water bottle, or a plate, or a baseball cap, or their own cocoa mug.  That way is not an extra of that item, but  it is the one the child uses daily because his/her parents know they already have one.
Any other great ideas for souvenirs for minimalist kids?  Leave them in a comment!  Happy travels.

Gifts and Souvenirs for Minimalist Moms

… or people about whom you say, “They’re hard to buy for!”
One word.  UPGRADE.
This has been my shopping philosophy for myself, anyway, since going all KonMari on my household.  Consider replacing something the recipient already has, but getting them a fancier/better quality item. This can be a little tricky if you don’t know them well (it could come off as judgy) so be careful that what you’re replacing is not an heirloom or favorite old battered item.
Examples?  Better oven mitts.  The kind that fit on either hand.
Fancy hand soap or hand cream
A high-quality spill-proof Thermos-like coffee cup
Longer charging cord for laptop, cell phone, etc.
A really lovely pan, or dutch oven
High quality knives
Two words. USEFUL SOUVENIRS
No, a keychain is not really useful.  It is clutter.  It might look cool, and the recipient might actually put it on his/her keys, but it is clutter non-the-less.
Examples?  Kitchenwares.  I have received and loved potholders from Hawaii, and a rolling pin from Disney World.
Clothing items, IF you know the recipient’s style well enough.  (Chances are if they’re a minimalist, they have a carefully cultivated wardrobe.  Perhaps loungewear pieces.)
Food items from that locale (fruit or coconut products from tropical vacations, sourdough from San Francisco, cherry preserves from Wisconsin, apple butter from Vermont…)
Three words: STUFF TO EAT
I love food gifts!  Trying to live simply also generally involves a budget (and you know we love a budget here on MCM!) so I don’t usually splurge on “fancy” food items.  Homemade foods are often wonderful, as well.
Examples I have actually received:
Home-canned pickles
Local honey
Artisan bread
Jams/preserves
A ham
Good quality wine or spirits
“Fancy” soda