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Coming at you with some real talk - my home was not always Instagram-ready.
Life coaches talk a lot about Limiting Beliefs - these are ideas that we believe in our core are true, but are in fact just stories we tell ourselves based on how we've acted in the past. For the better part of 20 years, I believed that I was a messy person and resigned myself to the fact that my house could never look as put together as other people's. I just didn't have it in me. See, exhibit A of my shame:
As this photographic evidence from my high school yearbook shows, I clearly had a Stuff Problem for a loooooooooong time. And while (blessedly) my messiness did get incrementally better after my teenage years, I always felt like to a degree that I was drowning in stuff. I figured everybody else had the same amount of stuff, but somehow they were better than me at staying on top of it, had more closet space than me, or had some sort of organizational gene that I just didn't have.
It bothered me, but I felt like I didn't have it in my control to do anything about it.
Now that the holidays have come and gone another year, and you might be looking around your house and realizing – everything is overflowing. The abundance of the season can often leave us with a Stuff Hangover. Combine that with the New Years time of reflection and you might be thinking to yourself – I NEED A CHANGE.
Our awakening to our “stuff problem” started at this exact time in 2012. We had one kiddo, were planning to have another, and after a very abundant Christmas (this happens when there is only 1 grandbaby on both sides of the family) we found ourselves bursting out of our 2 bedroom house.
2022 Tara would have seen this as a big flashing signal to minimize, but 2012 Tara hadn’t heard of minimalism yet, so we did what everyone we knew would do – we bought a bigger house. An extra 1000 square feet would solve our stuff problem, right?
Turns out that even if you have more space, if you don’t get to the root of WHY you have too much stuff, you’ll just end up accumulating more stuff. I’m a slow learner so it took me a few more years to figure this out.
Fast forward to January of 2016, and I had reached the end of my rope. I knew I needed a big change so I could spend less time cleaning up after my kids and more time enjoying time with them and growing this business. Then The Lord (and Instagram) sent me exactly what I needed:
The #declutterlikeamother challenge. This 6 week program was the systematic kick in the pants and structure that I needed to start to get a handle on our stuff. It took time, and several years of ongoing purges and exploring new resources until we got to a place where the amount of possessions we have feels just right. It was a ray of hope (and the guide I needed) to get started taking back control of our lives.
GETTING STARTED WITH MINIMALISM
If you’re reading this and nodding your head because your house (and life) feels out of control, I want to share with you my 4 favorite resources that helped me get a handle on my house (and then my life).
Begin with the stuff that is causing you stress (house clutter), but minimalism goes so far beyond just things. It can free up your schedule, your finances, and at the risk of sounding really woo woo, your soul. But let’s just start with THE STUFF.
DECLUTTER LIKE A MOTHER
Allie Casazza is the first resource I found that presented minimalism in a way that I could relate to. I found her through Instagram and wove my way through her annual decluttering challenge, and then onto her Podcast, The Purpose Show. As I dove head first into getting my house in order, I purchased the Your Uncluttered Home digital course which shared advice on tacking each space and issue in your house one by one. It has topics like “what to do if your husband isn’t on board” or “how to deal with sentimental clutter.” She recently released a book, Declutter Like A Mother, which sounds like a condensed version of much of her content. FYI - I have not read it, since I (blessedly) have made it through to the other side of decluttering!
Might be a good fit for you if – you’re a mom. Allie’s message is very much about enjoying motherhood and minimizing your possessions to free up more time and joy with your family. Allie is very chatty, so If you aren’t a mom or you like a shorter, more concise message you may not love this flavor.
Joshua Becker is the founder over at Becoming Minimalist, and I discovered him when I was watching a Minimalism documentary (more on that a the end of the post). He speaks to what it looks like to embrace minimalism as a family, and minimalism with kids isn’t something that is talked about much.
I first dove into his blog and then began following them on Facebook. Fact – they are the singular brand/blog that I follow on Facebook and subscribe to for updates; the content is that good. Earlier this year I bought his book, The More of Less, and it was a spectacular read. The book and blog dive deeply into life beyond just decluttering, and how removing the extra stuff from your home and life can free you up in your time, your finances, and to be able to focus on what matters most. If you are at all interested, buy the book immediately. You won't regret it.
Might be a good fit for you if – you have kids, or find yourself struggling to free up the time and energy to pursue your life goals and passions (or just to stay afloat). Joshua’s writing is direct and to the point, so each piece of content doesn’t take up much of your time to read.
COZY MINIMALIST HOME
The first two resources were great for me when it came to purging my stuff and my schedule, but the Interior Designer in me would never be satisfied with an uber minimal home. I enjoy decorative things! Throw pillows, blankets, artwork, houseplants. Spartan interiors won’t work for me. Then enter the missing piece in my minimalist puzzle, Myquillin Smith, @thenester on Instagram.
Myquillin’s book, Cozy Minimalist Home, walks you through how to go around your house and make each room exactly how you want it. It’s minimalism in that you are curating your space and removing every last thing that isn’t bringing something to the party and helping to create the calm, cozy space you’re after. But it’s COZY. There’s space for blankets and pillows and decorative objects that exist because they are beautiful and happines-sparking.
I couldn’t have begun here, because this approach doesn’t walk through clearing your closets and drawers and paper clutter, but it was an excellent exercise once the other hard work had been done.
Might be a good fit for you if – you’ve done the work of clearing out “hidden clutter” and are looking to make your spaces more minimal but still beautiful and enjoyable.
These are a couple of other resources that I explored during the last 10 years on this path to minimalism. They have some really great content to share, but weren’t my favorites enough to make the short list. They might be a great fit for you though since minimalism looks different for each of us.
I watched a Netflix Documentary called Minimalism several years back and were introduced to the Minimalists, Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus. The documentary follows their story of how they found minimalism and how it’s changed there lives. This is also how I was introduced to Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist that I referenced above.
The documentary is a great watch and a good way to dip your toes in to see what minimalism is all about. Their particular brand of minimalism wasn’t a great fit for me personally (I somehow couldn’t relate to two bachelors in sparse apartments with no kids…weird) and their podcast feels a little too New Agey for me, but it might be a fit for you!
THE KONMARI METHOD
You can’t talk about decluttering without mentioning the Queen who really got this ball rolling a decade ago, Marie Kondo. Her best selling book, the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up took the world by storm. Her method focuses on going through your home and keeping only items that Spark Joy. While I do like the heart of that, the problem comes when you have more items that Spark Joy than you do space in your house. It’s a measuring stick that didn’t work for me past the first wave of decluttering. She also has a Netflix series that I LOVED watching. It’s a great motivator to watch people clean out their homes and gives you the itch to want to do the same.
I hope this list gets you motivated to try out minimalism and find the variety that works for your life. Your house can become your source of calm, your favorite place to be rather than a stressful reminder that life is a little bit too chaotic. There is a world where you don't have to panic-clean because people are coming over, or spend 10 minutes tidying a corner so you can take a photo to post on Instagram, or worse - not even posting the picture of your kids because you're embarrassed about the world seeing your mess.
It is possible.
You CAN do this.
Please pop any other resources or questions you have into the comments!
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