One for one

Over the next few months I will be sharing bits and bobs about our minimalism journey.
Because we are in the throws of it, many months down the line, it’s difficult for me to know where to start, so I am going to just see where the keyboard takes me and share whatever comes to mind at the time.
Here is something I wrote a couple of days ago, that should give you a great place to start if you were thinking of going minimalist.
Everyone’s journey is different, but the kitchen has made the biggest impact on my life.

When I think back to my pre-minimalism days, I picture the piles and piles of washing up to be loaded in the dishwasher the most.
Towers of bowls with weetabix sludge slowly cementing, dried curls of pasta from the night before and mug after mug after mug of tea stained porcelain.
It would never all fit in our slimline dishwasher in one go because we left everything until there was nothing left. Left it until we had no choice but to wash up, or we’d starve.
I never bothered to rinse anything, so half of the load would have to go in for another round and I always ended up having to wash most of it by hand.
Annoyingly, because I waited until we needed something to wash it, it was immediately dirtied and then sat back in it’s spot on the counter, waiting until we needed it next.
(Our cupboards were very minimalist… nothing was in them!)
I would have done it if I had the time, (probably) but I didn’t.
There was always a pile of laundry, a mountain of toys to tidy up and kids to organise instead.
Too much.
There was always too much of everything and not enough time to sort any of it out.
I lived my life playing catch up, way behind.
It was depressing.
I felt like a failure.
I would spend my evenings ogling all these perfect mums on Instagram with their spotless houses and pristine, brightly coloured wooden toys being played with on fluffy cream carpets with unnaturally squeaky clean toddler hands… and I felt inadequate.
‘I’m just not that kind of person and I never will be.’ I’d say to myself. ‘I should just learn to deal with the fact that I am not good at this “perfect mum” deal and accept that this is my life now. This… is all there is.’
But I’d still wake the next morning and feel a strong sense of ‘Today is the day I get my shit together!’ and try to tackle the house, but one thing after another would interrupt me. Life with kids doesn’t really stop for spring cleaning.
As always, that evening, I would slump myself on the sofa, next to the pile of washing I’d dumped on the pouffe that never got folded, the toys shoved into the corner of the room with a promise to sort through the next day and the same clothes I was wearing the night before because I didn’t have time to shower again… searching through Instagram for a clue.

We had so much stuff. As I said, I would use everything until I didn’t have anything clean left and then I would have 6 greasy trays to wash, 8 pots and pans, 10 big plates, 9 little plates, 12 knives and forks, 7 mugs, 3 serving spoons, 2 wooden spoons, 9 glasses and a mixing bowl growing something sinister in the bottom.
No wonder I always put it off!

One evening, when I was reading an article about respectful parenting by Racheous, I clicked a link in her piece that lead me to another one of her posts.
It was a house tour.
She was showing the world what she had in her house and how she manages to keep it tidy and organised so she has more time to spend on her kids and even herself.
This time, instead of feeling like a failure, I was introduced to something that made me light up with hope and excitement!
Of course, I’d heard of minimalism before, but I’d always just pictured pretentious art galleries with one smear on a canvas, lit up on a wall that’s supposed to explain the meaning of life, tall skinny men in berets staring at it for hours, dressed in all black and stroking their tiny beards pretending to be intrigued to look cool.
Or houses with barely anything in them, people living off green smoothies and seeds, no tv or electronics of any kind and sitting in silence on a cushion to eat because furniture and noise take up too much space.
But this was different.
She had stuff.
Colourful stuff!
The kids had baskets of toys, she had actual furniture, tv, art, photos on the walls etc… it didn’t look pretentious at all.
It looked like a home.
I looked like the home I wanted.

I began digging deeper on the internet and found countless people writing about it. Giving their tips and tricks and showing their homes.
It was my ‘Eureka!’ moment!
I wasn’t a failure!
I had been duped into thinking I need ‘stuff’ to be happy, successful and for my life to have ‘leveled up’.
I thought I needed to have enough stuff to entertain the guests I never actually invited.
I thought I needed to have enough bedding for unexpected visitors to stay over in emergencies.
I thought I needed all the latest kitchen gadgets to be a good cook.
I thought I needed to buy things to be competent at adulthood, but in reality it just pushed me further and further backwards, I couldn’t keep up with the pressure of looking after all these things.
I watched the documentary ‘Minimalism’ by ‘The Minimalists’ and my mind was made up.

I started in the kitchen, seeing as that was where most of my problems were.
Then it took me 3 whole days to gut my house.
There were bags and bags and bags of crap to get rid of and it all went!
Now, life is simple.
There are 4 people in our household.
There are also:
4 knives.
4 forks.
4 spoons.
4 plates.
4 bowls.
Only 4.
Because we only need 4.
I have 2 baking trays because I only ever use 2 at the most in any given situation.
We used to have 6, sat on the kitchen side waiting to be cleaned!
Only one person in this house drinks hot drinks so there is one special mug for me.
Ah! But what about when you have guests over for a cuppa?
Well, I have 3 spares, but they are right at the back of a low cupboard which gives me enough time whilst I am struggling to squat and reach for them to remember to just wash my own damn mug if no one else needs it!
Ah! But what about when you have a dinner party?
Well, I never do, but if I ever have anyone over in future then the kids will probably be in bed and i’ll have enough of everything to serve a meal.
If I do end up hosting dinner parties for more than four, then I can always get some spares for the back of a cupboard, like the mugs.

No more piles and piles of washing up on the side!
No more festering leftovers!
If I ever am in a situation that leads to me having used all our dinnerware, cutlery and mugs etc, then the entire job takes around ten minutes because we hardly have anything.
We have everything we need instead.
No more excess.
No more dingy feeling kitchen.
No more mum guilt.
No more feeling inadequate.
More space.
More cleanliness.
More time.
More calm.
More happy!

Is it time to get rid of the things that are sucking up your time, energy and happiness?
Is it time to free yourself of the pressure of having to look after possessions instead of looking after yourself?
If this resonates with you, start in the areas that take up the most of your life, and be honest with yourself…. do you really need it?
Do you have too many?
Does it add to your life in a positive way?
Then what are you waiting for?!

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