Welcome dear friend! Come up the porch steps of my little log home in the woods, the afternoon is slowly fading, and let's talk family. As a mom of 6 children, I know how frustrating it can be to look at minimalism from a family perspective. I searched hard to find others who had blazed a trail. The culture in many ways has lost it's very soul in de-valuing family and worshiping "stuff." Come away for some simple space to breath deep the smell of thick woods in summer. Come sit on my porch swing and let's chat, because Family Style Minimalism has been a journey for me, challenging and difficult, but so incredibly worth it.
If I could describe for you what I was like just a few short years ago...I was sobbing in my basement surrounded by box after box of "stuff." I was struggling with overwhelm and depression. I felt trapped. My grandparents had passed away and along with grief I received "stuff." If you had been here, you'd have been shocked at my six 18 GALLON tubs of fabric. Random fabric. Seriously. So much stuff. And while I appreciated the generosity of well-meaning and useful hand-me-downs, I could only fit so much in my basement. I ugly-cried and prayed as I sorted, desperate to not leave my children a legacy of chaos.
At the same time, I wrestled with this nagging fear that I couldn't afford to just donate it all. "What if we need that?" "What if I can't afford to replace that later on?" "Shouldn't I sell that when we are just trying to make ends me?" All of these thoughts plagued me. In the end, I had to make the choice to just give it all away. I realized that my beautiful, wonderful grandparents didn't want me to live this way....crying in the basement over their stuff. They wanted me to love my children, to be a patient, kind, strong, and fun-loving mother. I knew that it was time to take a firm look at my home and my life. It was time to get my home, finances and life in order. I had to let go of the past and the shame that I felt for even being in the midst of the mess in the first place. A mix of penance and self-responsibility grew as literally hundreds of boxes and bags went to charity. All useful, good stuff that I simply didn't need.
How does minimalism look now in a big family, you might ask? I decided that if my house was a wreck, I couldn't blame my kids. I knew deep in my soul it was completely my responsibility. I was accountable for running my home. I had to own it. I didn't want my children to be burdened with the bizarre guilt of a messy house when I was the one who allowed the junk in the door. So, I started making room FOR my children. Instead of shaming them into cleaning, I engaged in conversations about the meaning and uses of "stuff." We started sharing as a family items that were still good and useful that we didn't need. Then, the children started to share on their own. As they saw me sort through all of my excess baggage, they started to do the same. I made room for my husband's items (I never touched his realm of stuff) and tried to make it easier for him to find what he needed. I followed the family's pathways in the day to create systems to make each person's life easier. I tried to paint a vision of what our home could be, a fun, peaceful haven where people would love to come and just play all day. The children connected and owned that vision, eventually coming full force to the concept of valuing people more than things.
I had to realize that change started with me. My own soul, my own mindset, and my own actions. I had to change my friendships as I realized that running with shopaholics isn't helpful in getting out of debt. I chose to change my words, eliminating the "what if we need that..." comments in front of the children. Instead, I began speaking truth, "we need to share and be good stewards of what we've been trusted with." Making space for those conversations was key to having the family join in the vision of minimalism. The value and personal responsibility minimalism brought to our family gave us a completely new life. I cannot overstate it. We were able to pay off debt and create a life lived on-purpose instead of just accepting what the culture said about children....words like "messy" "burden" "expensive" should never be used to shame children. I always tell my children, "You have always been a privilege to love." "I always wanted a child just like you." "You are worth more to me than stuff."
As you are on your journey to include those you love in living intentionally, you may find there are challenges. Physical ones in lifting heavy junk and emotionally heavy ones in releasing the shame of the past. Maybe there's self-forgiveness that needs to take place or a whole bunch of forgiveness all around. Hard conversations may need to happen. That's ok. Hit those conversations head-on with love and tenderness and respect.
It is possible, dear friend, to have the peace in your mind and your soul that you so breathlessly need. You ARE the patient person you want to be when the demands and the clutter are lifted from pressing down on you. Your home CAN be a haven instead of a burden. You WILL conquer all that you desire on this journey because you ARE strong enough. You were MADE for great things and overcoming the mountains of clutter or debt or both is going to part of YOUR victory. So maybe you've cried in your basement this week or cried as you opened that stack of bills. Maybe you've seen a vision of where you want to go and it seems so. far. away. I've been there. Hear my voice cheering you on, "Keep going, my sweet friend, you are closer than you think!" The good decisions compound faster and faster. The bills start getting paid off. The shoes get put away more often. You will realize that you are CREATING your best life for you and your beloved family, one choice at a time.
Blessings for your journey