For more than a decade, my family and I have enjoyed the benefits of minimalism and owning less. Although we didn’t necessarily know what minimalism was at first, we made a purposeful decision to own fewer possessions and worked hard to make it true in our lives.
The decision to own less was powerful. It allowed us to focus on what matters: family, faith, and making a difference in people’s lives.
But our family isn’t the only one that has experienced these life changing benefits.
I have seen, countless times, how the simple act of removing unneeded possessions helps people discover joy and peace in their lives. How it frees us up to pursue our greatest passions. And how it blazes the opportunity for life-change to happen.
Recently, Erin told me her story of how decluttering her home helped her transition from a stressed-out mom to a present one.
Can decluttering your house really bring about meaningful change in your life? Absolutely!
Erin Perkins is a wife and mother of two young boys: Joseph, 3 years old; and Jonathan, 17 months old. An independent stylist, Erin and her husband, Alex, live in Alexandria, VA.
One year ago, the new mom of two was feeling overwhelmed. But she heard about minimalism at just the right time and embraced it like a life raft. Here, in her own words, is Erin’s story:
“Before minimalism, as a new mom of two, I was constantly stressed with endless things to do. Every time I sat down to play dinosaurs, color, or play with my children, my mind was busy thinking of all the stuff I needed to manage. I could never just be in the moment.
One day my 2-year-old threw a temper tantrum, and it was a wake-up call. He yelled, “Stop it!” When he did, I heard my own voice in his outburst… he had learned that from me.
I became increasingly angry at the level of anxiety that was creeping up on my mind every single day. I wanted to create a calm, peaceful environment for my boys to grow and learn.
I knew something had to change.
Finding My Path
One day, while listening to a podcast, I was intrigued by the idea of minimalism. I liked what the guest was saying and knew I could grab onto a few of his ideas to incorporate in to my daily life.
So I signed up for the Uncluttered Course, at first just to dig deeper into my curiosity. I had already done some good cleaning on my own. A few closets had less. My kitchen was getting better. The process of cleaning out the toys had begun. But I needed some guidelines, concrete steps, and, most of all, I needed a support system.
In the end, I found the course and the community and the process of decluttering to be life-changing in the best ways imaginable.
Following the course guidelines has not only helped me to unclutter my home, it’s helped me become aware of other aspects of my life that can be simplified as well. My mind was opened to a way of life that I’d been searching for, but wasn’t able to clearly define.
The strategies I learned helped me switch my mindset from an anxious, depressed mom of two young boys to a woman who now feels present and calm while playing dinosaurs and reading books before nap time.
When I decided to simplify my life, I started small. I cleaned out my car, which we already keep fairly clean. Still, it felt good to get rid of things that were causing clutter.
Next, I invited a friend over and she took two hours and dug in to a basement closet that was driving me crazy. I would literally start to feel stress and anxiety just thinking about the closest. My friend had recently read The More of Less and was in the same decluttering mode as me.
My friend inspired me to ask the questions “Why do I have this item? Is it helping my life? Do I really need it?“
To this day, I don’t know what she took out of that closet to Goodwill, but I’ve never missed a single item. I do know that my basement closet has luggage, out-of-season coats, wrapping paper, and some extra cleaning supplies—and that makes me feel so much better. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by that space, I feel peace knowing it contains items I actually use.
Dealing with Challenges
While I love the results of becoming minimalist, the process wasn’t always easy. One challenge I found was that instead of celebrating small successes, I put too much pressure on myself. I was focused on moving quickly, just to get as many items out of the house as possible.
Now I know that I need to go section by section and try not to cram too much ” simplifying” into one day. You can’t unclutter an entire house in one afternoon, or in my case, one naptime while my children sleep. Minimalism is a process. The week-by-week approach of the Uncluttered Course helped me see that.
I’ve been working on simplifying and minimizing my home since August of 2018. I have made major steps, but I’m not done. I have to be patient with myself and give myself grace; because as much as I would like to be “done,” this isn’t a decision that happens overnight.
Rather, I’m slowly changing my mindset and starting to make better decisions.
The biggest benefits I’ve experienced through minimalism are time and money saved—with time being the most valuable of the two.
To be clear, I don’t identify myself as a 100%, full blown minimalist. I sold three pieces of furniture. We have less Tupperware. In my kitchen cabinets I have four plates and four bowls—in a house with four people, that’s all we need. I got rid of 50% of my clothing and kept the 75 items that I love and make me feel good.
I’m also buying less, which gives me more time for the things I value most. I still love Amazon, but before minimalism I was spending hundreds of dollars per month. It was starting to feel like a part-time job, managing all the returns and recycling all the boxes. Now, I spend far less and enjoy the extra time even more than the money we’re saving.
Minimalism also helped me find homes for many items I used to spend time searching for in the clutter. Once again, this saves me time and energy.
Most importantly, the changes helped me become a better parent. I’m teaching my 3-year-old to get his shoes, and he knows where they live! He takes his plate to the sink after he eats. He cleans up his mess. We’re still working on the toy situation, but we’ve made huge progress.
We even watch less television. We canceled cable and subscribed to Playstation TV. It saved us $100 per month, plus we don’t watch nearly as much television. That in itself feels rewarding.
It may sound cliché, but through all these changes I’ve learned that less is truly more.
How to Start Your Own Journey
For me, I had a voice inside telling me that I needed to simplify my life. I found help by seeking out a community of others who were going through the same journey. My family has only felt better and more at peace since I started to implement minimalist ideas.
If you too feel the need to simplify your life, my suggestion is to dive in with grace and patience. Allow yourself time and enjoy the benefit of each small change you embrace.
Looking back, I see how minimizing has allowed my mind to have space for the things that matter most to me, but I’m not done yet. A minimalist life is a journey, not a destination, and the journey is truly rewarding.
Uncluttered is a 12-week online course with videos, interviews, webinars, articles, weekly challenges, accountability, and community. Strategically packaged for one purpose: To help you unclutter your home, own less stuff, and find space to live the life you want.