I am Jon Snow, I know nothing. No amount of books, anecdotes, podcasts, or documentaries prepared me for childbirth or motherhood. I had the birth I had, not the one I wanted. Thats a story for another day though.
I am constantly in awe of the gifts that motherhood has given to me, and the things it has taken away too. I thought i’d share some of the lessons I have learned over the past two years.
Community is so important because caregiving can be isolating. Reach out.
Being a steward of the earth is important. Maybe you don’t give a heckin heck about animals, or have no interest in growing plants or going vegan. But you can recycle, and buy ethically raised and organically grown foods and meat if your life allows you to. You can teach your kids where their food comes from and how to be ethical consumers because you owe it to them to teach them how to survive on this planet and not trash it.
I have to be gentle and kind to myself.
My body is magnificent. Even though sometimes I am dehydrated and sleep deprived, it continues to show up for me and my grabby toddler each day with minimal complaints.
I owe it to myself and my kid to follow my own dreams.
Constantly access what is in front of me and be creative.
They are watching you (your kids, that is…not ‘the man’ lol).
You will probably lose friends. Certain friendships are seasonal, and when you enter a new season in your life its ok if they don’t want to join you. Even if it sucks.
Your kid is a product of their environment. They will learn how to cope, manage their emotions, and express themselves from how you do the same.
Your kid will probably lose it in the grocery store.
If someone is acting like they have their shit together, they are lying.
Fourscore and about three years ago, I got tired and overwhelmed by all the stuff in my life and began my journey into minimalism. Here is what I have learned so far:
It’s work – Once you get past all the decluttering, and figure out how you want whatever you minimized to look, you have to do regular maintenance to keep it that way. Things pile up, and if you don’t take stock regularly then you can slip back in to old habits. This was true for me with our home renovation. My home was a mess, everything was boxed up and stacked away and so I would find myself buying doubles of things, and making purchases I didn’t truly need or even like. The Target runs to escape the noise of the renovation waylaid all the work I did to disconnect myself from using retail therapy as a way to feel good. Luckily, I was able to check myself constantly because I know my goals and what I needed in my life because of minimalism.
Its good for me and the planet – “Do you really need this?” Is a question I never used to ask myself. If I liked it, and I had the means, I got it. That ended up in piles of unused or discarded items. Now, I take into account the story of how the object that I am bringing into my life came to be. This makes for a lot less impulse choices, which is good for everyone.
Its easier – When you have less stuff, its easier to clean, to be honest, to be still, to take stock.
I am not a one handbag kinda gal – I like cute things, but with minimalism, I’ve learned to look at something and imagine how it would work for me through all seasons of my life. If I can’t see it withstanding some wear/tear then I don’t need it, but I am not stopping myself from owning/enjoying beautiful things. Some minimalists have one utilitarian bag that they use for everything. I have a few vintage, adorable, and gifted bags that I enjoy wearing and switching out often. Not very minimal, but they bring me joy.
Everyone will look different – Living with less looks different for everyone. That’s it. No need/room for judgement.
I make room for beauty more – In a way that I never did before minimalism. Sure I had beautiful stuff before, but it got lost in the noise of clutter. Now I can look at the art on my wall and really see it. It has been great for my creativity too.
You see everything – Clutter does a good job of hiding dirt. When walls and floors are bare of clutter, you see all the dirt and grime. When you have two scraggly dogs, a messy toddler, and a mechanic for a husband, the floors and walls hide nothing. But that’s just life. If you come over, I am probably sweeping up dog fur, scrubbing at a grease stain or wiping blueberries from EVERYTHING. Or I am saying this let’s go outside and look at my garden and ignore my filthy house.
It makes me a better person – Clutter makes me anxious. Anxiety makes me controlling, angry, distracted, and unmotivated. That is not fun for me or anyone around me. So, bye bye clutter.
You don’t have to follow the norm – Your life and your space should suit YOUR life, your functional and emotional needs. Play with it and figure out what works for you.
You question everything – I am not quite sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, because it elicits a couple eye rolls from people around me every once in a while. It looks like me cuddling an item and thinking about whether or not it will serve me or bring me joy in the thrift store, or journaling to understand my thoughts and feelings about life’s many questions. Tedious? Maybe. Worth it? Yes.
As a type A Capricorn, labels, lists and general definitions of things warm the cockles of my heart. Defining my style was fundamental in allowing me to figure out exactly what I was looking for when I began furnishing the house and adding to my closet.
I have a whole post about what how I discovered my style preferences and the little dilemma that led to my discovery in the works. In the mean time, this podcast I did with Roe of Brownkids and this quiz by Dacy of Mindful Closet were super helpful.
I used to destest thrift shopping. I felt like it was a messy, stinky, pile of garbage that I had to sift through to find something cool. Having a clear idea of what I was looking for changed the game for me. Instead of being pointless, it became a treasure hunt, where I got to find and welcome items into my home and give them a second chance at life where they could serve my family and I, or bring me joy.
I began imagining what I wanted for the different spaces in my house. For the wall space above my breakfast nook, I wanted art made by my friends, things that reminded me of my family, and lots of embroidered and wicker things. I should pause and say that I define my style as ’70s-boho-earthy-dirty hippie’. I like lots of earth tone colors and fabrics. So that is what I look for. Thankfully Anthony loves my style and is cool with it, I like to include him in the choices I make when decorating the house because I want him to enjoy the space too. I try to include art that he likes as well.
So, how did I find all the things I wanted this summer?
Make a list. I wanted mugs with mushrooms on them, I found two for under a buck. I wanted a wicker hutch, got it. A peacock chair, I got it the next day I posted on my facebook feed. Put out what you are looking for and more than likely you will find it. Maybe not instantly, but it will come to you.
Going to art walks to find art from local artists.
Thrift stores sell the best frames hands down. If you have a piece of art you need a frame for, go there first.
My artsy friends and I bartered my skills for their art.
I posted pictures of items I was looking for online. Sometimes friends, and people local to you may have what you are looking for. This is how I got my peacock chair and wool rug.
If you know someone who loves thrifting and garage sales (shoutout to my Godparents), ask them to keep an eye out for you. This is how I got rugs, and my hutch.
I have said this already, but have a clear idea/list of what you are looking for. I wanted a denim skirt all summer. I finally found one at goodwill that I know I will wear for years! Having a list stops you from buying crap you don’t need or spending money on a fast fashion item that won’t hold up as long.
Kitchen items like scales, ladles, bowls, cups, even good quality stainless steel and ceramic cookware can be found while thrifting too. A lot of kitchen stuff got broken in the renovation and I had to replace some things.
Go to garage sales and estate sales. Doing it as a family is fun surprisingly enough.
Shop vintage shops/thrift shops on etsy and ebay.
Don’t be afraid of a little work, sometimes something needs to be cleaned, washed or given a little repair. You will appreciate it more for taking the time to work with it.
I truly love the idea of finding something that I am looking for second hand and giving it a new home. I hope some of you can find joy in that too.