The Minimalist Mom is One!

a before photo of our overstuffed storage closet

One year ago today I published my first post on this blog.

The day prior, amidst excited discussions with Katy about de-cluttering and the minimalist movement, I went and registered the domain, set up a WordPress site and decided to document the journey.

In the beginning I linked to my posts from my personal Facebook page. Most of my friends were intrigued but not on board. A few were excited about the discussion and soon passed the link to my blog onto other friends. A very small group of people were reading my accounts of purging my home, my wardrobe and getting rid of stuff. It was fun. Occasionally I would get a comment from a friend of a friend and it was a exciting that someone I didn’t know personally was reading my blog.

For the first month my blog was up I didn’t know how to check traffic or the number of subscribers. Prior to writing here my blogging experience came from a personal Blogger account I had to stay in touch with family. WordPress, the platform I use to publish posts, was completely new to me.

.... and after. Most of this was sold or donated before we moved to the UK.

In addition to the massive changes in our home in the fall of 2010, I also had some fsurprising media attention. I was interviewed by CBC radio for a series they were doing called Pinched. This was where we first came clean about our consumer debt situation and how we were attacking it. It was a bit scary to tell radio listeners, and subsequently family and friends, that we had been $80,000 in debt. But it was cathartic. It not only gave us motivation but it let us let go of our guilt and shame over it. We were making changes and moving forward. That’s what was important.

The next big thing to happen to this little blog was that a piece I wrote for the Globe and Mail’s Facts and Arguments section was published. It happened quite suddenly. I had submitted the piece at least a month prior and then one week I got an email that it would be published the following week. I was ecstatic. The Globe and Mail is Canada’s version of the New York Times. It’s a widely respected paper and my writing would be in it.

I never could have guessed what my little piece about being a minimalist family, a piece I had written quite quickly one afternoon between Christmas and New Years, would bring. First of all, massive traffic to this blog. It was fun to see my stats go way way up for almost a week. Another byproduct of the Globe and Mail piece was requests for interviews from other media outlets. I had two radio interviews and even made an appearance on local television. The Globe and Mail piece has continued to bring reporters my way asking for interviews about living with less.

It was the Globe and Mail article that gave me a little push to reach out to other bloggers and online magazines. There was interest in my story and what we were doing and I wanted to share it with people. I wrote a three part series for that brought a number of new readers to my blog. New readers brought new readers and readers nominated me for things. Tina nominated me for a list of newer bloggers that Joshua Becker put together. That brought another onslaught of traffic.

Here are some fun stats about this blog in the last year:

Number of comments: 3067

Number of posts: 141 (including this one)

The numbers are fun and interesting but what I’ve enjoyed the most are the comments. This is where I keep learning about living with less. Some of the readers here are born minimalists. Their suggestions, encouragement and insight have been invaluable to me on my journey.

It’s been a year and we’ve let go of most of our stuff. The overseas move gave us a huge push to downsize even more – deadlines help! We’re also conscious consumers now and don’t casually buy things anymore. We talk about the purchase and wait it out before adding anything to our home.

I’m still learning.

It’s a journey, not a destination. As we shed our stuff I started to evaluate how we spent our time and money. It lead us to ditch our iPhones and rent smaller accommodations. I know there are more hurdles down the road for us. I know that life will change, we might find we need a car or we have a second child and reevaluate living space. I’ll constantly be balancing leading a healthy full life with our need to own things. I’m excited for the challenges ahead.

I love writing here.

My blog posting dropped off in August and has been less frequent while I work on The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year. I’ve been tied up with other work but think about this space, and the things I want to write about here, every day.

I want to continue sharing what I learn, encouraging those new to the idea of living with less and getting feedback from those of you on the same journey. The topics here may lean to areas outside of stuff: simple travel with kids, reducing screen time and more ways that I’m using the mantra of a rich life with less stuff to inform how we live and what we do. Of course, I’ll always detail how we continue to edit our possessions and share it here. Because, it really is about the stuff. That’s where it starts. Living with less so you can do more. Even if the doing more means sleeping in or taking an extra long shower. Especially if it means those things.

Thank you for all of your comments, emails and support in this last year. Raising my glass (really a coffee mug) to all of you and the work all of us have put in!

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  • I am so glad I found your blog. I’ve enjoyed reading about your journey!

    This weekend, I did some purging in my son’s room and I was angered and sickened over how many items I had to throw away. I give away the nicer toys, but so much of what we get is junk. I’ve tried to steer family members toward experience gifts or even clothing and accessories that we can actually use. Not everyone gets the hint!

    On the upside, my son is actually enjoying the remaining toys in his room and now has the space to play with them.

    It is not a minimalist child’s room by any stretch, but it’s a start!

    Happy Anniversary! 😉

    • Thanks Sara. I agree, it’s hard to steer people away from toys and towards experience gifts. I’m trying to clear things out as Henry becomes less interested in them. I end up donating half and keeping half for our maybe next baby.
      Sounds like the toy thinning was a success!

    • We are going through this as well. We already rarely buy things with/for our kids (not even once a year). But everyone ELSE buys things for them. I have already begun the conversation with family members about how we don’t want “stuff” for Christmas. We would much rather spend the day at an amusement park all together, or doing something like serving food at a soup kitchen. Even slurging on an amazing dinner as a big family during the holidays. Maybe renovating a room in a house. Something we will all really remember. Not the most recent trend in toys for 10 year old boys that they won’t be able to recall 6 months from now, let alone have a memory of it 10 years from now. Thankfully, our family seems to have embraced our paring down and I think it might happen this year (the lack of excessive gifts). We’ll see.

  • Congratulations on the anniversary! It has been great to follow your family’s journey into minimalism this past year.

    I think I’ve embraced minimalism about a year ago. My boyfriend joined me a couple of months ago. It’s amazing what we got rid off in that time!

    Limiting my screen time and iPhone obsession will be my next challenge…

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Congratulations.

    I just wanted to say that I’m one of those readers who came to your blog after the Globe and Mail article. I’ve enjoyed hearing how you have organized and purged your stuff and your posts have definitely given me ideas. So far, I’ve managed to get rid of all the baby/kid stuff, a few odds and ends we don’t need/use, and simplify our clothing. Next task is to “tackle the crawl space” and convince family and friends that our kids don’t need any new toys! My goal for Christmas is to suggest experience gifts only (except for Santa). We will see how that goes.

    I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself a minimalist (or our family), but I definitely appreciate living more simply.

    Thanks for the ideas!

    • Hi Dara,

      Thanks for all your comments here! Glad you got some inspiration from the G&M article.

      I’m also hoping to stick to experience gifts this Christmas for family and friends. There will be lots of posts on that topic in November/December. Love to hear others ideas for making experience gifts meaningful and customized.

  • Happy Bloggiversary! I started reading after your article in the Globe and was hooked. Although I did find it ironic that the cover of the same section had an article that talked about coupon hoarders and showed a pantry that had like 2 yrs worth of food!!!

    Thanks for keeping us inspired to stop buying, and keep donating.

  • Congratulations Rachel on writing such an interesting and inspiring blog. It has been lovely reading about how your little family has grown and developed and how minmalism has helped you, and so look forward to up and coming posts (and i really missed you in august)

    Your so right it’s a journey not a destination. I have always been a minmalist but never really knew that was what it’s called, i just knew that stuff bothered me and i was happiest when i owned fewer possessins and lived simpler, despite years spent consuming i never fully understood it. Once i realised that this was a whole lifestyle, and not a ‘part’ lifestyle my life began to move forward and gave me confidence to pursue some of my dreams.

    So Thank you for your documenting your journey!!
    Sharron x

  • I found your blog after the Globe and Mail article, like others who have already commented. That article really stood out to me…not everyone who is a writer, is a GOOD writer, and I think you’re an exceptionally good writer! As I read your posts it feels like we’re in the same room, having a conversation. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed your writing, and especially the topics you choose to write about.

    A while ago I saw a bumper sticker that said “the best things in life are not things”. I’m not sure I want to go out and buy one and stick it on the back of my car, but I will repeat the saying to myself when I’m feeling the urge to buy another thing I don’t need :)

  • Here I raise my coffee mug to you!
    Inspiring, well written posts. I also like the discussion that unfolds in the comments and you always make the time to respond.
    Well done!

  • Happy Blogiversary! I have really enjoyed reading about your minimalist adventures. I think I began reading shortly before you moved to the Isle of Man (where I ALMOST visited, but got stuck in Leeds – damn British trains…). Thanks for sharing your journey.

  • Congratulations! I’m a new reader and love your blog. I’ve been going back and reading the older posts (especially the ones regarding your move overseas, as that’s a dream of mine).

    Minimalist blogs have been a huge source of inspiration for me in my journey toward less. I may never get to true minimalism, but over the past three years, I’ve probably gotten rid of over half of what I own, and am making inroads on the family’s non-essential stuff. I’m toying with the idea of starting a blog of my own. All the different perspectives have been so valuable to me. I wonder if throwing my voice out there could be useful to someone else.

    • Getting rid of half of what you own is huge. Well done on the work! We’re never going to be ‘countable’ minimalists either but there is so much good that comes from paring down.

      Blog: start one! It’s quite easy to set one up and you’ll soon find out if you enjoy writing regularly.

  • Have you really only being going for a year? I assumed this had been a much longer part of your life (if you see what I mean!)
    I love reading your blog and it was one of the first that started me on my own journey.

    • It feels like five years (in a good way). We started working on our debt in February of 2010 and then got to the purging/selling stuff phase in September.

      Good luck on your journey and thank you for commenting.

  • Happy Blog-iversary to you!

    I’m starting on the de-cluttering, minimizing journey. We have a 2 year old (28 months) and another little one expected in November. And our 2 year old has lived in 5 states. I don’t mind the moving, especially since we’re settled for a year at least now, but I’m tired of moving ‘stuff’ and having ‘stuff’ I haven’t gone back to your beginning yet, but the posts I’ve read are lovely. I cannot wait to continue to follow your journey.

  • for a change i’m speechless when i read your blog– just an empty vessel feeling myself fill with hope. thank you. blessings!

  • Happy Anniversary!
    I’m still on my journey of purging, organizing and de-cluttering and your posts keep me inspired. Thank you!

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