I became a mom on my 26th birthday. Every year is so much sweeter celebrating my birthday with my daughter. No birthday present will ever compare. I knew becoming a mother would be fun, challenging, rewarding and real hard. But you know how it is when you know something, but you don’t really know.
Parenthood is a very special thing—you will lose a lot of sleep and be on-call 24 hours a day for the rest of your life. You may be told your food tastes bad. While whisking your child through the grocery store, you may even talk about yourself in the third person, because you’re pretending to be the babysitter.
You might go the entire day before realizing you didn’t put deodorant on. And best of all, you probably won’t be able to hear yourself think for really long stretches of time. You may be tired of being tired, and tired of all the things left undone.
So let’s say we stop raising our bar of perfection—and let go of some things undone? Maybe they are things we don’t need to get to; we just need to let go of. Maybe less really could mean more?
The Benefits of Being a Minimalist Parent
Minimalism has helped me identify those things that don’t need to be gotten to. So I can pursue parenting without feeling like I’m carrying a truck full of cement bricks around. To set more bricks down, consider these six benefits of minimalism in parenthood:
1. Less multi-tasking.
Multitasking is the nature of being a mom. And when it comes to multi-tasking, more is not better! If you’re feeling burnt out from multitasking, consider the idea that you may still be just as happy as you are today (more likely happier) if you got rid of 50% of your household possessions and deleted 40% of the activities on your calendar. Tame the burn-out from multitasking.
2. Better mental health.
There is nothing like not sleeping well for months to make you feel unwell. Maybe it’s just me, but very few things in life have tested my mental health like motherhood. Parenting is typically mentally exhausting. Many strive for the impossible ideal of the “perfect mother.”
We (raising my hand here) set ourselves up for unrealistic expectations. Being responsible for less stuff and fewer activities helps you see the unrealistic expectations you’re holding to—and how they’re affecting your mental health. How do we expect motherhood to feel when we’re taking on too much, owning more than we can take care of and scheduling activities for our family every-single-day-of-the-week.
3. Better finances.
Every parent wants to provide financially for their children. We may want to buy them all the things we didn’t have ourselves growing up. When you become minimalist, you focus your finances on the things that matter and add value. You realize if your child has 75 toys, purchasing another one isn’t going to improve their life and it certainly isn’t going to make them happier.
4. Fewer distractions.
I don’t know about you, but I can be easily distracted. Distractions have even led to awarding myself the bad mom of the year award. The nature of parenting is distracting—stop whatever you’re doing and tend to your child. Young children have immediate needs to be met. How many non-essential distractions do we want to give ourselves? A home filled with stuff can be a significant source of distraction and stress. We keep more than we can take care of and subsequently, all that stuff becomes a distraction to the very life we’re trying to live.
If our purpose is to care for our children, but the work environment is riddled with excess stuff, our job will be that much harder. We will constantly be pulled to clean this, sort that, and organize more. When you bring minimalism into parenthood, you’re removing the distractions that do not matter.
5. You will model what matters.
That old expression, do as I say not as I do, never goes very far. Children model our behavior. When you exhibit the daily habits that matter, you’re modeling to them and cultivating what is important. When you intentionally say no to all the stuff that doesn’t matter, you’re also modeling what does matter.
Shift the scale of your ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When we say ‘yes’ to needless stuff, we are also saying ‘no’ to the meaningful stuff. Giving more ‘no’ to busyness and accumulation makes it possible to give more ‘yes’ to the meaningful requests of our children.
6. More time for what matters.
You will get tired of hearing yourself say, “I didn’t get to it yet.”And when you’re sick and tired of all the things you didn’t get to, and all the stuff, I hope you will consider, maybe some of them don’t to be gotten to. Maybe they just need to be let go of.
Minimalism in motherhood is by no means the answer to all of our problems, but it can be a better path to face them. Purging many possessions brought me greater awareness for all the other things in my life that need(ed) purging.
I’m not made to have it all, do it all and be it all. And trying to meet society’s expectations of super mom just leaves me super tired.
I’ve found living a more minimalist lifestyle is a path to cultivate more space for my values, passion, and purpose in life. Maybe it would be for you too?
*Note – This article was originally published on Raising Simple.