Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I think I'm becoming a minimalist...

Wow, two years since I've blogged here. For a while I was thinking that this blog didn't serve much purpose anymore, but I browsed through it a while ago and decided there was some good direction here. My other blog (simply-vulnerable.blogspot.com) is more about sharing poetry and profound thoughts. This one I feel should be more about day-to-day stuff, which I have not been very good at recording lately. Since my last blog post here, I've had another baby, we've sold our old house and moved to a new one in a different city, my husband changed jobs--life has just been busy. But I'm ready to start recording again. I'm not sure if I'll do it here or if I'll switch to a regular pen-and-paper journal, but this will do for now.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about simple living and minimalism. When we put our home up for sale last summer, we did a lot of decluttering and dejunking. We had a very successful yard sale, paid to have our house professionally  deep cleaned (which was heaven for me as a pregnant mom!), packed away the rest of the stuff we could easily live without for a while, put grass in the back yard, did a little redecorating and staging, and made our home look beautiful in a simple, clean way (which made me sad to leave it!). Because we had to be ready for a showing pretty much any time of day (we opted to have only a one-hour notice before showings), we tried our best to keep the house pretty clean most of the time. It was a lot of work with two toddlers running around and my ever-growing belly (stooping again and again to pick up all the toys off the floor was murder!), but we were confident our house was priced right and would sell quickly--except it didn't. It sat on the market for six months--once we didn't have any showings for over three weeks, which drove me crazy. But that was six months of doing our best to keep our house as clean as possible at all times (though we did finally say that we needed more notice before a showing when I was super pregnant and just after Jenna was born). And things got a little more lax the longer our house stayed on the market. Even so, it was definitely the cleanest and most clutter-free our house had ever been, and I realized that I really liked it that way. I liked having clean countertops and tidy floors. It brought a greater amount of peace to our home. When we moved into our new house in February this year, I felt this was something I'd like to keep up.

I made and tried several different cleaning schedules. We were already rotating our toys before we moved, but I reduced the amount of toys in each rotation a little more. I took a few ill-fitting things out of my closet, and tried to keep papers from piling up. It helped, but I began being really bothered with something. Maybe I'm a bit of a baby when it comes to housekeeping, but I began to be really bothered by the fact that if I took even one or two days off to do something like a fun family outing or to care for my kids or myself when we got sick, the house would become disastrously messy very quickly, and I would have to spend an entire day cleaning just to catch up (more if I had missed a Friday, which is when I do all the deeper cleaning). Even just doing every day cleaning felt burdensome and too much--in order to keep my house reasonably clean (but not sparkling) took up a lot of time every day. I felt I was missing all my opportunities to be doing fun things with the kids, using all my energy and patience for attacking the dishes and floors and leaving little to none for reading to the kids, going outside with them, or even my own personal development.

At first I told myself that I should just woman up and accept it--taking a day off means working harder later when you're in the job industry, why should my home be any different? And maybe I should just be fine with messy floors and piles of dishes (Pinterest quotes like "Excuse the mess--we're making memories," and "Excuse the mess, but we live here" come to mind). As President Monson said, "If you are still in the process of raising children be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled, will disappear all too soon, and that you will, to your surprise, miss them profoundly.” I know I will be in this position someday, so I should just learn to enjoy the messes...right? 

Maybe not. Lately I've been on a blog-reading, podcast-listening spree. I'm not sure what brought me to it, but I began feeling a strong urge to read every blog post on minimalism and simplicity I clap eyes on. The more I read, the more it ruminates in my brain, and the more I feel the need to purge and simplify. I don't think I could ever live as spartan a life as some minimalists do (I love the decorations on my walls and I don't think I will ever be able to give up our perfect book collection), but I have found courage and determination to really evaluate the place that each item in my home has in my life: it is supporting my goals and dreams for myself and my family? is it useful or beautiful? is it adding value to my life? I feel I can honestly say that most of our possessions fall on the "yes" side, but I was surprised at how much I could still edit out: I threw away a ton of medications, supplements, and beauty products in our bathroom, cleared out my closet again (I'm thinking there's still more to do there, however!), pared down my kids' clothing and toy rotations yet again (I've gotten a few complaints from Noah and Bethany, but they soon forget), and got rid of a bunch of kitchen items that haven't been touched since we moved in. I also reorganized my usual routine to put my personal development time and my time with kids first and my housekeeping second. I'm still working on making this a habit, but so far I've loved how much better I feel and how my house cleaner my house is!

I keep thinking about accruing experiences instead of stuff. One of my favorite joys in this world is enjoying a new experience or watching my children enjoy a new experience, and the less money and time I spend buying more stuff and having to care for it, the more time and money I'll have to give our family these new experiences. 

I think I've gotten most of my writing bug out for now. There are still a few unfinished thoughts in my brain on this topic, so I'm sure I'll revisit this soon. 

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