Nope, I don’t have 200 shoes again. Although if you’re not familiar with my journey, that’s where I started. I was raised by a nana who took her shoes seriously (she picked up pennies, too!), and I followed in her footsteps…a little too well!
After my closet reached a literal breaking point, I realized that I needed to simplify my life and dial back on the impulse purchases. Treating shopping as a competitive sport just wasn’t sustainable.
I’ve flirted with the idea of minimalism for years. I don’t keep it any secret that I think Thoreau was a chump and the suitcase sellers aren’t far off.
But I do think we are all better off when we own less, living and spending more intentionally.
After practicing this for years and years, I finally…got three things wrong and have never been happier.
We bought a shoe cabinet
I used to firmly subscribe to the notion that if you got good enough at minimalize, you don’t to buy any organizers or storage solutions.
Organized clutter is still clutter.
I still believe that. But I also believe that I’ve never loved my house more than I do now that we have a shoe organizer in our main hallway.
As a Midwesterner, it really never occurs to us to enter our home through the front door. That’s what our garage is for. Especially when it’s muddy and wet outside, which it is approximately half the year.
We take off our shoes once we enter the house–toddler included!–and we then proceed to trip over said shoes for the remainder of the evening. Even if we did use our front door like a normal family, there isn’t more space there to stash our shoes. Our house isn’t exactly big. Or particularly well designed.
So we contemplated stashing our shoes in the teeny tiny hall closet (it’s so small, we had to custom order a door for it!) that already serves as a winter coat corral, pantry, diaper bag receptacle, and so much more. As you can probably guess, this wasn’t terribly efficient.
We also thought about storing our shoes in our garage. But I don’t love the idea of taking a few cold sock-footed steps in and out of the garage multiple times a day, especially when it’s a balmy 0 degrees in the morning like it was the day I wrote this post.
So for years, I just convinced myself that we should be better homeowners. Maybe we could bring our shoes to our respective bedrooms each and every time we wore them. Possibly we should just declutter more.
But finally, I ordered a shoe cabinet from Wayfair, and I’ve never loved my house more.
Now, if we could just do something about the never-ending winter and all these snow boots.
My son got a new closet
Years ago, we took the doors off my son’s closet. Originally, his closet had two hollow accordion doors. Think builder grade but cheaper. All he did was pinch his fingers in them. So we took them down one day…and never put them back up.
I had originally envisioned reframing the closet for French doors or possibly even doing a slider. But then we realized closet doors don’t serve a terribly important purpose. So the doors stayed off.
As HP grew–and collected more things–his room started to get a bit cluttered. He had a pile of toys he played with in a bin and then four or five more bins that held his more beloved books. We just kind of accepted the fact that one corner of his room would have a bit of organized clutter.
Until it dawned on me that we could buy a closet organizer. We do a terrific job of editing both our kids’ clothes. Our Buy Nothing group is a passion (fine, obsession) of mine. So I love to rehome clothes that they either don’t wear or outgrow. That’s why it never occurred to me that we could use his closet space better.
But now that we have, I can’t imagine living any other way. His books are all still perfectly within reach. As an added bonus, he can also get to all of his favorite puzzles. That means that when he wakes up at 5:30 am, he can entertain himself before waking us up. At 5:37.
Still, I’ll take an extra 7 minutes of sleep!
Our kids reclaim their stuff
We know that having less stuff is better for our kids. It makes them more creative, and it allows them to engage in play more fully. It also greatly reduces my stress level.
So we’ve learned to be pretty ruthless with culling the crap that they no longer use.
But we also let them reclaim items that they realize they want.
This felt like the biggest minimalism sin, but we want them to feel like they have autonomy, too. Just like an adult might realize they aren’t quite ready to part with something, we give our kids that chance too.
Rather than immediately posting something in our Buy Nothing group (or tossing it or donating it!), we set things aside. As our kids get older, we enlist their help with this more and more. If the kids ask for the items after we’ve set them aside, we have a frank conversation about what it means to actually “play with” toys.
And if they really intend to use the item and follow through with it, we’re happy to keep it. We rotate items between our family room and basement to keep things fresh anyway. So it’s not too disruptive to add something back into the toy rotation.
Final Thoughts on Getting Minimalism Wrong
I’m not a minimalist, I don’t think. But I love to declutter and I believe strongly in living a simple life. I think many tenants of minimalism can serve us well, offering both salve for and solution to capitalism’s push for overconsumption.
But I also think it’s important to remember that you don’t have to get everything right when it comes to minimalism to benefit from it.
Just ask my shoes.
So Tell Me…How do you feel about decluttering and minimalism? Are there any “rules” you break that serve you well?