To say that I’m not sold on minimalism is an understatement. Maybe it’s not minimalism as a whole that I’m skeptical of. Just the kind that comes with a podcast and a really expensive travel bag for sale. But the idea of decluttering and being more intentional with what is allowed to take up space in your home, your schedule, and your life is absolutely something I am trying to whole heartedly get behind. While there are plenty of excellent blogs (Hi, Britt!), interesting Instagram accounts, and countless other resources on the topic, no one has shown me the benefits of minimalism quite like my son.
Capsule Wardrobes Really Work
I really like clothes. And shoes. And handbags. For years, one of my personal aspirations was to have a closet just like Cher in Clueless. Mine still isn’t automated, but it’s a walk-in closet that I adore. Much of the aesthetic is lost to the fact that it’s bursting at the seams. I haven’t bought new clothes aside from a handful of maternity items and a few things to replace true staples that had worn out in years. Why don’t I blog about this years-long clothes-buying ban? Because I still have an embarrassing amount of stuff. No matter how many episodes of decluttering or purging or selling, I haven’t figured out how to part with it all. Part of it is because I’m a bit leery of the idea of a capsule wardrobe, and part of it is because I’m looking to streamline without wreaking havoc on the environment.
My son, though, has been rocking a capsule wardrobe from day one. While there are more items in his repertoire than true minimalists might allow, he mix and matches nine pairs of pants with a dozen tops (because spit up, duh). He also has a few other rompers and a few pairs of pajamas. But he rotates through the same outfit combinations every two weeks. And you know what? He’s warm, he’s clean, and he’s cute as all get out. Plus, it makes mornings a lot faster.
Blank and Empty are OK
The walls are pretty much bare in my son’s bedroom. Truth be told, the one wall—the accent wall—has beautiful birch tree decals that we lovingly hung while we eagerly awaited his arrival last summer. If I’m telling the truth, the birch trees are half finished. Because after we got done with the first two, we realized that despite the manufacturer specifications, they are a good two inches shorter than a standard wall height. And if you think you can lovingly hang anything when your belly looks like you’ve stolen a watermelon and it’s approaching 78 degrees in your house but you can’t turn on the fan because it blows the decals off the wall, well, you have another think coming. We received new decals and a heartfelt apology from the seller, and we do intend to hang them this summer. But the other walls will stay blank, and his dresser has two empty drawers. Very little of his closet has anything in it (and that’s a good thing because my wedding dress still lives in it). I always understood the idea of having extra space, but I have never been able to resist the urge to fill things up until now.
Use What You Love & Ignore the Rest
I have spent a lot of time returning or exchanging the majority of the gifts my son has received. While that practice merits a separate post, the essence of it is this: he already has everything he needs and everything he wants right now. Yes, there are other adorable outfits. Each one is cuter than the last. Yes, there are gadgets and gizmos that promise to not only keep him entertained but will also train him to love classical musical while fine tuning his motor skills and setting him up on a trajectory for mastering all things STEM by the first day of kindergarten. Each one is equal parts innovative and adorable. But he doesn’t care. He has all the clothing he needs (he would prefer to hang out in his diaper anyway) and a handful of toys that we rotate through; there’s no need for anything else. By keeping only his favorites, he has more space to play and more room for his imagination to grow.
Know When to Say Goodbye
When my son was born, his medical team gave me such grief. He was full term but he was scrawny. Low gestational birth weight. That phrase haunted my days and my dreams. Newborn clothes hung off of him. Don’t even get me started on the diapers. I’m not sure if it was the sleep deprivation or just general stupidity, but it took my husband and me an embarrassing amount of laundry before we realized it was time to buy preemie diapers.
After about a month, something happened. My son discovered the joy of eating. The baby who was born in the 2nd percentile for weight now spends his time smashing the scale in the 90th. The first time I packed away a size of outgrown clothes, I wept. Now, though, I am much faster at saying goodbye to things he has outgrown or things he is disinterested in. By being willing to part with the things that no longer add value to his life, we have more room for things that do. (Plus, Vanguard sent me a really stinking cute onesie, so I’m counting down the days until he fits in it.)
Time is Greater than Things
For someone who has always subscribed to the belief that countertops need to be clear at all times and the sink should always be empty, I have a remarkable amount of stuff. The only difference between me and an episode of hoarders is that my piles are carefully concealed behind cabinet doors and in the recesses of various drawers. As a result, I spend far more time looking for things than I care to admit. This has always bothered me, but it’s only started to bother me enough to actually do something about it recently. When there’s a little hand tugging on my pant leg because he wants to be picked up or played with, it’s really hard to justify spending another five minutes looking for an ID, a scrap of paper, or something else that isn’t important enough to be stored in a proper place.
Time is Greater than Money
For a long time, I would take great joy and pride in saving money. It still thrills me. But I don’t work at it like I used to. The days of extremely stupid couponing on long past, but I have also made some other big changes recently. With the exception of one grocery store circular, all of the junk mail goes right in the recycle. I’m also working on manually unenrolling myself from the hundreds thousands of retailers who have my email address on file all in the name of a $10 off birthday coupon or 15% discount. (Real talk: I once gave my email address to a company to save thirty cents on a can of beans. I bet you didn’t even know S&W Beans had an email list.) All that time I spent combing through papers—dead trees and virtual versions—is time that I could spend playing. Or napping. No coupon, loss leader, or sale price can compete with that.
So Tell Me…What or who reminds you that less really can be more?