A while back, my husband, 4.5yr old daughter, and I were living in an 800 sq. ft. two bedroom, one bath apartment. It was doable for us at the time, until my son was born. The apartment wasn’t going to cut it in the long run, but we made it work since our children were young. (I mean, don’t we all?!)
We were younger, full-time working parents (still are) trying to do what everyone else was: trying to get their life together. Whatever that looked like. Life then was like the era of the black plague – only, no plague or death. I felt so miserable from the routine of my responsibilities. Yes, #adulting. I know, I agree, gross to the tenth degree. That era, though, made an immense impact in my life for which I am grateful. (Yes, there is always a blessing in the lesson even when we fail to see it.)
At some point in being in that little apartment, I became a stay at home mom along with the birth of my son. We later came to the issue of childcare if I was to return to work. Part-time, WEEKLY, daycare was going to cost us roughly half of rent and would be a huge chunk of our overall income. What a dilemma! Go to work and pay for two kids for part-time daycare, or stay home and eliminate one income stream? Well, we chose the latter as it was the best for us.
Finding myself since I was 15.5yrs old with no income was extremely humbling. We were fortunate that my husband had a decent job and he was able to cover majority of expenses. We had plenty of challenges throughout and gave our best efforts to manage them without my income. However, all of the challenges made us look at our entire lifestyle a lot closer. We soon realized we had to make even more changes that we were not expecting.
One issue was the “time” I now had for (non-stop) housework and cleaning. Before and after my son’s arrival, we had to make room for him and his abundance of baby things. We shuffled and tussled throughout. It became clear to me that I was not cleaning. I was just moving one thing from one place to another. I did not initially think that I was doing anything wrong until I was fed up with this endless trot of “cleaning.”
“How do 4 people have so much stuff? Just stuuuuuufffff, eeverrrryyyywhere!” And “where did all my money go?!”
At first, I thought we needed a bigger place. But of course, limited funds meant putting that dream on hold. Then, I thought about just “organizing” using what I had. (You know, as much as I LOVE PINTEREST, the access to so many great ideas makes you dream bigger than what you can immediately do. So I pinned a bazillion organizing ideas but acted on none.) I was inspired by cheap DIYs, but those so-called cheap ideas were expensive too. And due to the space being a rental, we couldn’t have permanent items put in. I went through an IMMENSE process to find the best way to make an impact in the small space while doing it on a dime. I lived in my head just tinkering away at these endless yet minute solutions. But the solutions were not so easy to find.
Confession: When I was working before my son arrived, it was easy for me to go ahead and get little, cheap knick-knacks because I thought it was cute and “just had to have it”. Compulsive, I know. Even as my husband would give me that side-eye for buying them, I would justify it with the “don’t-tell-me-how-to-spend-MY-money” attitude. Well, after years of bad habit spending, here I was, regretting those impulse-spending decisions.
It wasn’t until I discovered the Konmari method. If you know, *HIGH-FIVE*. If you don’t, let me start by saying that I have nothing but LOVE for it. The Konmari method was created by Marie Kondo – she is a professional organizer. She invented a brilliant tidying method and concept that has helped thousands of people worldwide. The method is a fully executed event of purging. The concept is that what you keep should bring “JOY” to you whenever you see or touch it. You can find tons of videos about it on YouTube. I recommend this video to start if you are interested.
By investigating into this method, I realized that I just had so much stuff because I hardly EVER got rid of anything. Almost nothing I owned made me happy but was kept anyway out of some misplaced “God-knows-why” reason. For example: I had denim jeans from high school, thinking I could be that mom that wore her jeans from her HS days. Boy, was I WRONG. Things just stockpiled.
I also did not know that the Konmari method would soon lead me to my ultimate beloved lifestyle find, minimalism. I believe these two concepts go hand-in-hand. Minimalism differs from Konmari’s “spark joy” which is only keeping the bare necessities. So you are living with less and logically necessary material goods. For me, I found a happy medium between them.
It has since been a little over 7 years that I started on this path towards minimalism. I have learned many things (which I will definitely share in a separate post.) Minimalism is not a fad movement that will die quickly – I truly believe this will be a new way of life for many. This belief stems from the desire to want more from life that is not tied to material possessions. Please know – this is not an overnight process. It took a lot of time to process this huge lifestyle change.
When it came to finances, I had to take a good look at my spending habits. Minimalism helped me curb compulsive spending as my mindset was no longer about compulsive purchases reasoned by “I just want it.” It evolved to more hyper-analytical questions such as, “Is this multi-purpose, of great value and quality?” Konmari helped with questions such as “If I were to buy this, will I be so satisfied that if the issue of upgrading ever came, I would be able to answer with ‘no’?” I must be able to say ‘yes’ across the board to justify the purchase. (My kids can attest to this! Half the battle in the store is arguing with myself. LOL.) I also became better at managing my debts too since I was creating opportunities of available funds to pay them down.
When it came to “time” – I realized that when I have less stuff to worry about, I could move on to dealing with other things. For example: I use to take 30-45 minutes on my make-up. Now, 10 minutes – moisturizer, foundation, brows, lips, eyes, and sometimes, setting spray. All from minimizing to the essentials (with multi-functions. My skin has also improved due to this.) Most times, I don’t give a hoot about make-up and there goes 10 minutes to 1 for just moisturizer.
When it came to my clothes – I searched even harder for multi-purpose pieces that had to serve at least three purposes. Such as a lightweight knit poncho; I could use it as a shawl, scarf or belted over a basic dress. As you can see, multi-purpose equals less clothes and less thinking about “pairing” outfits. Even accessories are basically down to earrings and my watch.
When it came to mental & spiritual clarity – I noticed I was more relaxed coming home to an environment that did not need hours of tending. And in that, I felt more peace. My inner voice – mostly silenced by lessening housework and the never-ending/wretched ‘to do’ list. I even became kinder to myself in self-talk as I was not so bugged out with stress.
I know we all strive for happiness in our own ways. But I also think that it starts with purging the things/feelings that we know weigh us down in achieving our happiness. The physical has a way of effecting the emotional balance and vice versa. I’m sure when you look around your home and inside yourself, you can see what changes need to be made. Give yourself a chance to act on them and hopefully you discover for yourself the freedom I have been able to find as well.
There are so many changes I have made. I have recreated a “healthier” lifestyle that gives me more “freedom” in all senses of the word. I am positive that one day when I am much older, I will live in a tiny home, happy living minimally for the rest of my life. I hope you too, are able to engage in something meaningful for yourself through minimalism.
It is going to be a new adventure and a new way of everything.
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Disclaimer: This is all from my own experience and not meant as advice. Also, this post is not affiliated with any entities or Marie Kondo (konmari).
📸: Gades Photography