The Fallacy of Minimalism

We had just gotten back from vacation and I was already annoyed. Looking at the pile of papers on our kitchen island (which really is one giant catch-all) bickering with my husband because right before vacation I asked if I was going to be the one to have to go through and file, shred or toss through the stack of papers. I was reassured no…but here we are a few weeks later. Guess who does it… sound familiar huh?

minimalism pinterest

I am constantly pinning decluttering and minimalism pieces on Pinterest. Now, I’m realistic. I have a 5-year-old and an 8-month-old puppy who decided to become a shedder. Oh, I have dark faux wood floors, and he has white fur on the complete bottom half of him. See above for reference, and do the math. There is no such thing as a “squeaky clean and absolutely nothing to be done and every room only has four things” kind of house. If that was the case I wouldn’t be writing this post. We have built up this idea that minimalism is having basically an empty home with barely any clothes, no makeup, no toys, no kitchen appliances, no books, no movies, etc, and not having too many “material” possessions. While this is true to an extent, it is different for every family and absolutely NOT what minimalism is about.

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Take makeup. It’s not that you can’t have any. Rather, it leads you to ask yourself things such as can I use only liquid or only powder foundation instead of keeping both? Can I wear the same look every day instead of having a palette of 20 shades that I only really use five of? Do I have to have that backup set of false eyelashes for a night on the town? If you’re a guy you may think, do I need that extra pair of Nikes? Do I need a hat to match every outfit? Do I have to have that video game or can I buy it directly on the console?

Minimalism, simply, is bringing down your clutter to items that are used regularly or downsizing to fewer possessions that is right for you. Just because someone else has only a couple of things, doesn’t mean you should make yourself unhappy trying to get to that level. Take DVDs. You don’t have to get rid of your master collection of hundreds of movies. They may be valuable one day! Maybe downsize to a CD binder (yeah they still make those) and recycle all those bulky cases. This way you only need to store a few binders in an entertainment center drawer instead of having multiple bookshelves or DVD towers that take up extra space. Then you could take it a step further and sell the bookshelves and towers you have for some extra cash!

three green assorted plants in white ceramic pots
Photo by Ylanite Koppens

Minimalism also doesn’t mean cleanliness. It doesn’t mean everything is magically dust free or clean. Just because you have less stuff doesn’t mean your dishes aren’t going to be used for family dinner and that they somehow get washed at the end of the day. However, having fewer items could potentially lead to more time to clean more things or quickly every day. Instead of sorting laundry for hours and taking days upon days to finally complete, by shrinking down your wardrobe to necessities and one or two special occasion pieces, your laundry piles shrink and, therefore, the time spent doing laundry shrinks with it. Not spending that extra time on laundry means you could technically spend that time deep cleaning the tubs….or let’s be real, having that second beer or second bowl of ice cream? (No judging remember…real family here) I would probably spend that time relaxing more.

I find this is a hot topic, not just around families, but almost everyone who has any kind of home. I have a friend who just purchased a condo. I visited her place before a night of Bachata dancing (super fun may I add, google it and try it sometime). Her place was barren and I embarrassingly said: “Oh still moving in, huh?” When she said “No this is everything, but I am going to get maybe some more seating and wall decor” I could have walked out then. We got into a conversation not directly using the word “minimalism”, but the idea behind simpler material living. She hasn’t had a television in 10 years! Instead of watching t.v. she will read, or hang out with friends, go dancing, attend concerts, practice yoga, learn new things. She invests her time into things that will give her more pleasure than simply doing nothing in front of the t.v.

Mind you my friend is 28, no kids, and just out of a serious 5-year relationship. If she wants to go dance on a Friday night, the only thing stopping her is her personal budget. She definitely has time to spare more than some of us. She literally wakes up at 5 AM because she wants to, and has a cup of tea and has “her time”. She then goes to the gym for a quick 30-minute total body workout before going to work. At night, she does whatever she wants. Sickening isn’t it? I’m super jealous.

She literally lives my dream world minus the cat. However, talking to her lead me to think more about my own daily routines. While they are long and hard, going from 6 AM – 8 PM or later taking care of everyone else before staying awake to take care of myself, there are some minor changes I can make to aspire more to that lifestyle. That really begins with what is in my house. The less time I spend sorting, organizing, cleaning, changing, and most importantly, searching for things, the more time I will have for other experiences big and small.

I don’t have any tips or tricks just yet, as this is something that I am still exploring and have just begun. I went through a mini-purge with my husband before he left town. I felt immensely better after that. I found papers from 2016! The one thing I can say is to pick one room for now and throw trash away. If you don’t know if something is trash, it’s probably trash. Go beyond “what’s that on the floor?” Take my bedroom for instance. I have 2 wood end tables with 3 drawers in them. I went through my drawers…which you would be surprised, but we never open. I put things I should start using in them, and threw everything else out. Copious amounts of pens, random spare tissues, empty melatonin bottles. Get all the real trash out!

For those who are just beginning your minimalism journey, what is something you want to get out of it? Is it a cleaner home, better organization, fewer material possessions?

If you are further in your journey, what are some tips or advice that you can give to help the rest of us poor souls?

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2 thoughts on “The Fallacy of Minimalism

  1. I love this real world account of how minimalism looks for you. I can totally relate to having animals and dark hardwood floors…never again! I think the minimalism “ideal” is yet another standard of living we’re all supposed to aspire to. Not sure it’s a realistic endeavor for many.

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