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.

Getting Over The Want


I’m putting up some popular post from my archives this week.

Today: getting over the want. This was one of two posts on the subject of getting over the want of more and better things. You can find Part 2 here. This is such an important concept and habit to make once you’ve decluttered your home. Why did it get that way and how will you keep yourself from going to Target for butter and leaving with a half dozen outfits for fall?

The bad news: all that work you put into getting rid of things in your home can be for naught. If you don’t halt the invasion of unnecessary items you’ll be back to stuffed closets and cluttered surfaces in no time.

The good news: you can beat this.

There are many ways to combat stuff. Right now I’m looking at the basics: why do we want it and how can we tame the want.

Because, make no mistake, I have a sparse closet but when I see the well dressed women of my ‘hood I notice what they’re wearing. I see the beautiful hand bags and boots and the perfect jeans. And I think about how I would feel in very expensive denim.

So how do you escape the want vortex? How do you resist the call and false promises of new and more?

Read More

Simplify For Fall: Paper Clutter & Budgets

I’m following along with the Life Your Way Simplify for Fall Challenge. Six days, six areas of the home to simplify. I’ll be sharing my progress here as I complete each day. Here’s what I’ve already tackled: clothing & laundry room, toys, kitchen and meal planning and bedrooms and bathrooms.

Well this is embarrassing.

I let things slide for a bit and this is what we have.

Blaming pregnancy. It’s terrible for paper work.

At least half the stack is notices and information leaflets from the hospital. Every test result, ultrasound booking and OB appointment is confirmed with a letter in the mail. Almost every appointment has seen me leave with 1-3 brochures or leaflets in hand.

Paper Clutter: My Nemesis

As I am posting this a few days late I will have to come clean that this project was moved off our dining table not once, but twice, in the last three days.

Which is sad because actually getting it all sorted only took an hour and half. Every time I started the task I got pulled away to do something else. Or, uh, I guess I let myself get pulled away to another task.

Sorting Paper Clutter

You can see my system above. Nothing fancy.

Our little accordion file box is getting mighty full so I emptied and sorted it as well. Pulled a few things out that could be shredded and found one gem worth $350.

We purchased new appliances for our Vancouver home almost three years ago and I got talked into a three year extended warranty on all three appliances. One of the perks to the warranty was that if you never use you can get the equivalent dollar value back in Sears gift cards.

Just put a reminder in my calendar to make a call in late October for our gift cards. Gift cards that I will probably flip into cash.


We use a reverse budget and it serves us well. You can read about it here.

Cutting Back on Travel

Two months ago we reduced our monthly contribution to our travel account by a third.

We’re heading into a year of a lot of time at home (no air travel in late pregnancy and then a newborn) and we’d like to use it as a chance to save more. Our travel account will still grow, albeit not as quickly, in this year of less travel.

Budgeting for a New Baby

We do have a few things to buy for this new baby. Co-sleeper crib, infant car seat and infant cloth diapers. We should be able to buy them between October and January out of our monthly budget.

We’ll also have a few expenses when the new baby arrives. Chris will take a week of paternity leave and one week unpaid meaning a loss of income. I’d like to hire weekly cleaners for the first six weeks after the baby arrives. Less spending on nice-to-haves/do and Chris’s baby bonus from his employer should cover all of it.

Stuck on paper clutter?

Paper clutter seems to be a lot of people’s nemesis. Mine included.

You can read about some of our efforts to reduce the amount of paper coming into our home and the epic sorting, scanning, shredding, recycling and filing we did in the following posts.

Going Paperless

How to Reduce Paper Clutter

Has anyone else been following along with Mandi on this challenge? She set a blistering pace last week and even with a head start I couldn’t keep up.

Tomorrow: Routines & Schedules

Thinner, Richer, Smarter: The Magic Bullet

Source: amzn.to via Rachel on Pinterest


If you’re new to the idea of minimalism or stumbled upon this site while searching for a method for deciding what shoes to keep (1. you have to be able to walk one mile in them and 2. you have to have worn them in the last year) you probably haven’t read the wave of minimalist writers and bloggers that appeared in 2008 to 2010.

These were the people I was inspired by. They gave most of their possessions away and built small paperless online businesses that they ran from a beach in a developing nation. Their income was derived from sharing one secret: how they built a passive income business so they could live on the cheap and out of a backpack without a care in the world or a house plant to water.

Everyone wanted in.

I wanted in.

How could I do this? How could we, Chris and Henry and I, live in a hut on a beach in Thailand with just an Ergo baby carrier, a few cloth diapers and our swim suits? How could we do it and get out of debt and all our obligations?

We could read books all day, study Muay-Thai fighting and write novels. We’d eat nothing but fish, rice and local fruit and be super lean to go along with our awesome tans. Our passive income would grow and we’d pay off all our debt and wouldn’t have a care in the world.

We’d be thinner, richer and smarter.

It sounded really good.

Then I started reading more from these writers and bloggers. I even bought a few of their e-books and read those too.

Something didn’t add up. All of them had a passive income low-cost location independent lifestyle based around selling the same idea: selling books about creating your own passive income lifestyle by writing books. A vision of an Ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail, came to mind.

As Katy and I decluttered like mad in the fall of 2010 I stopped reading the bloggers who were touting passive income and location independence, and their e-books that showed you how to do it. I realized I didn’t want to live on a beach. I liked my life. I liked it even better without all the clutter.

After purging my home, ending the spending and cutting bills I realized there was no magic bullet for the modern ailments of stress, debt and that extra 20 pounds.

You don’t have to take a course or buy a product. You just have to change your mind. – Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro

No book or class or person can do it for you. You can buy the Nutri-System package or hire someone to organize your garage but YOU have to do the work. There might be a catalyst or inspiration but it’s up to you to make the change.

Simplifying has given me a lot but I can’t say it’s made me richer, thinner or smarter. Simplifying has been a trigger for change but I still had to do the work.

I still HAVE to do the work.

I have to debate purchases instead of impulsively opening my wallet for the latest shiny gadget that’s caught my eye.

I have to resist that slice of homemade cake. Or not.

I have to put away my laptop in the evening and not watch another episode of Damages on Netflix (so good!) to read a few more pages of Shantaram, a novel I have been doling out pages to myself from for over a year (beautiful writing).

If there is a magic bullet it won’t come in the form of a book or a course or anything that arrives with a receipt or money back guarantee. It’s not a blog post or a slogan on a t-shirt.

If there is a magic bullet you already have it. It’s waiting patiently for you. It’s always been there for you even if you buried it under years of shopping to feel good or using the guest bedroom to store all the stuff you never use but are afraid to let go of.

You’re the magic bullet.


Source: simplemom.net via Rachel on Pinterest


I’m not perfect. I’m not a perfect minimalist or mom and I’ve tried, and failed, at a lot of things. I don’t do it all.

While I’m really happy with my life, the balance of family time, the chance to be a stay-at-home mom and also a work-at-home mom, I still fail, and fail regularly, at a lot of things. I either try them out and they don’t work for me or I set a goal and don’t meet it.

My home usually looks okay but far from Pinterest worthy. I enjoy tidying the kitchen after dinner, wiping down counters and washing pots and pans, but I’ll put off cleaning windows until the dirt disturbs the view. I like to, and have to, invite people over to force my hand at some of the dirtier household tasks.

This morning I pulled a pair of Henry’s jeans out of his dirty laundry hamper and spot cleaned them so he could wear them. You need to be really on top of laundry if your two year old only has three pairs of trousers/jeans and it’s a cold summer.

Here are a few of my confessions for recent failures or things I’ve tried and given up on for now.

I’m back to using a dishwasher.

Since moving into a new home with a bright and spacious kitchen, I’ve gone back to using the dishwasher every other day. I still do all of my pots and pans by hand and a few dishes. But our dishwasher is doing the lion’s share of work. I liked doing all of our dishes by hand but at some point I slipped into using the dishwasher and I liked it more.

The other thing that changed is that our new home came furnished with a lot of dishes. In our previous flat all of the mugs, plates and bowls only filled half the dishwasher. There wasn’t really a point to running a half full dishwasher.

Last Friday our dishwasher bit the dust so I’ve been doing everything by hand until it gets fixed later this week. It’s really not that bad. But I will fully admit that when the dishwasher is back in working order I’ll be using it.

My home isn’t feeling that minimalist right now.

In the last two months bits and pieces, books and pens and the usual detritus of a home, have found their way out of their drawers and shelves and I haven’t put them all back. I’ve got a pile of clean-ish clothing hung over one of the doors on our wardrobe. I sorted Henry’s toys and books the other week and I’ve yet to do anything with the ones that need to be donated or stored.

I’ve been getting the vacuuming done and dinner on the table but not a lot else done around our house.

This is my excuse:

Arriving January 2013












My son has watched more television than I’m comfortable with in the last eight weeks.

Due to severe afternoon and evening fatigue and bouts of nausea, Henry’s watched way too much Bob the Builder. We’ve been able to get out in the mornings but the afternoons have been a struggle. I am so thankful for the beach across the street and the horse tram the comes by every twenty minutes and that my husband will come home in the evenings and play the chasing game with him. Henry has definitely gotten a raw deal the last two months thanks to his sibling.

Accept the season you’re in.

Tsh over at Simple Mom writes a lot about the season of life that you’re in and that you have to accept the limitations of them.

I’ve had to accept that I’m not in a season of getting a lot done at the moment. I’ve been too tired to write in the evenings and some of my home projects, like decorating, have fallen by the wayside.

It’s okay. I’ll get back to them. I’ve turned a corner now that I’m in the second trimester and I’m not so tired.

I’ll get back to them but the last two months has been a good reminder about the season I’ll be entering in January. A season without a lot of sleep and with a new baby to take care. I’m not lowering the bar but I’m trying to be mindful of what’s realistic in the next year and a half. I’m trying to keep my mind open about the adjustment period and the growing pains of adding another person to our family.

I’m trying to remind myself that life is going to change and the best way to deal with that is to change with it.

Anyone else in a season of life that has lead to a bit of clutter and letting some of your goals take a back seat?

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