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.

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

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