Leaving Minimalism

The title Minimalist Mom isn’t that accurate for me. If you’ve read a few posts here you’ll know that I aim for less and what we can live comfortably with rather than a rigid goal of a handful of possessions.

I chose the name while in a burst of zeal for the idea of what Minimalism could give me. I was excited, hopeful and had grand dreams of sparsely furnished rooms and a wardrobe that could fit in a small carry-on suitcase. After many rounds of decluttering I’ve found that the things my family want in our home, the things we use, is often in flux. I’ve found that I’m not interested in counting our possessions or living a nomadic lifestyle. I am interested in the space, time and money having less can give me and my family.

I’m not really a minimalist. We have a television, my son has a push bike he has yet to master and I recently bought a blender and a crock pot.

While I’m not a true minimalist I’m still fascinated by the idea of fewer possessions and the many returns from living with less. That’s why I keep writing here. That’s why I deliberate a lot longer on purchases than I used to. That’s why I have just two pairs of jeans, why we don’t have a car and why I keep a pretty sparse pantry. I like what having less gives me.

Friends Saying Goodbye to Minimalism.

Recently two of my blogging friends have discussed why minimalism is no longer right for them.

Rayna, a contributing writer to Frugal Mama, wrote about shutting down her blog The Suburban Minimalist almost a year ago. Embracing the movement had been positive at first and then lead her to a place she wasn’t comfortable or happy with.

 I’d learned the hard way that although there’s much to be said for living with (much) less than the average American, there are also quite a few things to be said for creature comforts and man-made beauty. Fluffy towels and familiar mugs sweeten our daily rituals. A closet with enough flattering choices makes me feel feminine and confident on the days I’m just not. – Rayna St. Pierre

Her new blog, Bright Copper Kettles, explores simplicity, design and the small things that make her life wonderful. It’s a nice read and I recommend popping in particularly for her links round up. Rayna has a great eye for articles and design that will inspire you to find more beauty in your life without making you feel bad about your living room that is covered in children’s toys or that you have yet to replace the glass on a picture frame that broke three months ago (guilty).

Faith started writing at MinimalistMoms around the same time I started this blog. Later she moved to MinimalistatHome and has written several e-books on minimalism and families. Recently she decided to move her writing away from minimalism.

… it became harder and harder to write a “minimalist” blog after two years. I’ve grown tired of wondering if what I have to say is minimalist enough or even if I am minimalist enough.. – Faith Janes

Faith’s new home online for living with less is a digital magazine called Simplify that launches October 1st. You can sign up to receive the first edition here.

Still Sticking With The M Word

I’ll still be here writing about my own brand of minimalism, the challenges of living counter-culturally and if I really needed that crock pot or blender.

While the term minimalism sounds extreme I think there is a lot to glean from the movement for even non-radical folk like myself. I like the discussion here about how to live with less, the benefits of it and how to go about it happily in a world that doesn’t support slow and simple living.

Real Simple magazine always told me that it was ‘life made easier, every day’ but I found that when I read it, I hated my home and felt the pressure to buy a lot of baskets and label makers and organize instead of truly simplify. I used to flip through those glossy pages and tell myself that I’d have a show worthy home if I just tried harder and made bread from scratch and a jar of lemon curd for an Amalfi Coast inspired luncheon replete with Limoncello ordered direct from Sorrento, Italy.

Life wasn’t made easier. Life was harder and the expectations bigger in ways that just made me tired. I had zero of the 20 must-have classic wardrobe staples for a woman in her 30’s. My vintage mason jar collection was nonexistent.

I wasn’t inspired by the supposed ease of this everyday beautiful simplicity. I was overwhelmed.

There is room in my life for beauty and minimalism. I keep fresh flowers on our kitchen window sill, not the dining room table, because that is where I enjoy them most. When I’m washing dishes I see my vase, sometimes it’s just a water glass, filled with the cheap and cheerful white carnations I buy myself or roses, a gift from a friend, and it’s enough for me.

Because I have less I appreciate what I do have more.

I’ll still be here writing about minimalism and how we’re making it work for us. With our roses on the window sill, our blender and even my expensive ballet flats that fell apart.

Your Clutter Coach


Sometimes you need more help than a book or a blog can give you.

Sometimes you need a friend to remind you to donate those bags of unworn clothing that are sitting in your basement.

Sometimes you need someone to make a plan for you, motivate you and keep you accountable.

Sometimes you need a Clutter Coach.

I get a lot of emails asking for help. I always respond (even it takes me a while) with advice, suggestion and encouragement.

And I always wonder, did they carve out a weekend to clean out that attic? Are they in the throes of home purging and feeling beaten by the process? Did they pull out some boxes from under their bed, lose a few hours looking through old junk, and then decide it was all too much work?

For some time I’ve wanted to help beyond the posts on this blog. Something very personal for paring down and living smaller.

A book wasn’t the answer. There are already some great books out there like Family-Sized Minimalism and Clutter Bootcamp for inspiration and how-to. A book can’t hold your hand, give you a kick in the butt or suggest another method for dealing with all that mail.

I want to do those things.

I want to see closets go from jam packed to roomy.

I want to help people get more sleep.

I want to find solutions for the mud room clutter that can be so hard to reign in.

So I’ve started something new.

Your Clutter Coach

This is for people that:

  • can’t make the time to declutter even after reading a lot of books and blogs on the subject
  • get sidetracked by old photos and trinkets every time they attempt to clean out the guest room
  • have pared down their stuff but it crept back quickly
  • need motivation and accountability to clear clutter for good

Your Clutter Coach is a personalized decluttering program. It’s tailored to your lifestyle, your needs and your schedule. It’s me kicking your butt and you kicking ass.

You can read more about the services here.

If you’re interested in the program I am currently giving away one free Four Week Clutter Coaching Program at Parenting with Crappy Pictures (if you haven’t visited this site before it is hilarious). The giveaway is open until Tuesday May 8th at 8pm PST. Head on over to read the details and enter.

PS. This will be the only time I mention Your Clutter Coach in a big post like this.

Stop Organizing, Start Simplifying


A television crew is coming to our home this weekend. They’ll be filming my little family over a few days for a lifestyle show that airs in North America. Another interesting experience this blog has brought my way.

I am neither obsessively cleaning nor crash dieting in preparation.

I am not buying expensive throw pillows or mirrors to glam up our little home.

I’m not paying a professional cleaner to take a toothbrush to our bath tub.

I haven’t bought myself a new camera ready wardrobe.

I haven’t booked a make-up artist to beautify me each day of the shoot.

What am I doing?


Organizing is a dirty word to me. A loaded word.

“If I just got more organized my house would be _____, my kids would be ______ and my life would be ______.”

For so much of my life I thought the reason I failed at housekeeping or couldn’t find the time to write or couldn’t “do it all” was because I wasn’t organized.

I developed elaborate and time consuming systems for keeping my wardrobe in order. T-shirts stacked in perfect squares, underwear and bras placed in alternating rows in drawers and my closet divided into sections for work, casual and formal wear.

An afternoon of hard work was undone within a week. A few loads of laundry haphazardly put away and, once again, I was back to drawers that would barely shut and a closet that I had to weed through every morning to put an outfit together.

This same cycle repeated itself with so many areas of our home. The office, the kitchen, the living room. I’d invest in a piece of IKEA furniture that was going to “save us” and after a weekend of work our home looked fantastic. Books lined up by height, picture frames tastefully displayed and a few pieces of decor for fun.

It wasn’t long before opened mail was wedged in next to the picture frames, the books were dusty and out of order and the decor was hidden under leftover packaging from new electronics.

Until this week I had given up on organizing. Simplicity and owning less stuff has brought more order to my life than organizing ever did.

So why am I organizing now? There’s a process to this television shoot and a timeline. Our possessions will need to be moved out of our home and then quickly moved back in and unpacked. To make the process smoother and faster I am organizing.

Of course, I am organizing and doing some decluttering as I go. We have a garbage bag full of Chris’s clothing for donations and a small box of toddler toys to give away. Henry’s just had a growth spurt so I’ve put away all his 12-18 month clothing and transitioned him into 2-3 year sizes. I do love how we skipped buying a size – another reason to buy adjustable sized clothing.

The beauty of organizing when you own less stuff: it’s an easy process and the results last longer.

Tell me, are you still organizing or have you moved onto simplifying? If you’ve reduced what you have do you find it easier to keep everything organized?

Could you inventory your whole home?


You guys are awesome.

A few times a week I get emails with great links to articles and videos about living in a smaller footprint. I can’t thank you enough. It’s hard to keep up with what is out there (and not be tied to a computer for many hours of the day) so having your eyes and ears out there listening and watching for me is a big help.

There have been quite a few interesting articles that I have found or have come my way and I wanted to share them with you. You never know what story or article will click and help you let go of some things, resist buying things you don’t really want or decide to make a big change like living in a smaller home or getting rid of the second car.

For the motivated: how to inventory your home. From Joanna, a piece in the NYT with app and software reviews for creating a home inventory. The one that is tempting me is Delicious Library. It’s software for Mac that would allow me to inventory everything we have. It even scans bar codes (!). We’re actually in a very sweet spot of not having a lot of stuff so it wouldn’t been the months on end project it would have been a year ago. Also, it would be really useful to have our possessions itemized for a future move.

For the window shoppers (online too): Why Pinterest May Actually Help Curb Shopping. Thanks to Aida for this one. If you’ve lost hours to Pinterest they may not all be bad. It seems Pinterest could actually quell your desire to buy rather than push you to break out the credit card. From the original Atlantic article:

Now that our economy has declined, we have less money available for unnecessary purchases and more people are realizing they need to consume less for economic and environmental reasons. I think it makes sense that we are seeing a rise in social-media services that allow us to enjoy hunting and gathering behavior without financial costs.

Of course, the other side to this story is that Pinterest has become a top traffic driver for retailers.
For those of us cutting back on screen time: Free E-book A Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Digital Overwhelm. This book is a gem. Short, to the point and provides some good resources. Go grab it! And then sign up for The Big Unplug. I’ve added a sign up list and more details about my digital sabbatical campaign. You can also opt in for three or four days instead of the whole seven. I’ve set an ambitious (read: crazy) goal of getting 1000 people to sign up.
More good reads:
  • Kim from Little Stories had her Minimalist Playspace featured on Childhood 101. Looks great, Kim!
  • Linked to this video on Facebook the other day but here is the video + interview on the 90 Day Amish Project. This 24 year old copy writing student cut off tv, Internet and phone communication for three months. He did a lot of fun things during his digital sabbatical. Hope mine is the same. Thanks to Debbie for the link.

Feel free to link to any simple living or minimalist articles you found this week in the comments.


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