Minimalism The Journey #8
I’m not naturally an organized person. Or even all that clean for that matter. (Although I wouldn’t categorize myself as messy either.) I don’t mind some dishes piled in the sink or a week’s worth of mail strewn across the table.
My clothes generally have been stuffed in a drawer with some vague notion of having been folded. And my car always needs a thorough cleaning if I anticipate having to give someone a ride.
Kids and Clean Aren’t Friends
My lax attitude towards order and cleanliness was only enhanced after having kids. Despite only adding two miniature human beings to the household, the number of dishes seemed to have doubled and the laundry somehow tripled.
Not to mention the clusters of toys that began inhabiting the various corners of the house. For the first couple of years of their lives, we lived in utter chaos. Stepping on or in some way tripping over a rogue toy was a weekly occurrence.
Every mealtime required not only a complete change of clothes but also a thorough hosing down of the kitchen table and floor.
A New Normal
When our youngest hit two or three, life became far more manageable. But the problem is we’d grown accustomed to the chaos. So that chaos continued. The amount of laundry decreased ever so slightly as their fine motor skills improved. The layer of slime that permanently coated our kitchen table gave way to the odd crusty spot here and there.
But the piles of toys throughout the house remained and maybe even got worse as we added new toys with each passing year. The dishes in the sink never seemed to get done until they reached critical mass. And despite the decrease in the amount of laundry being done, we were still circulating 4 or 5 laundry baskets full of clothes in addition to whatever clothes were left over in the drawers.
As I said before, I’m not naturally an organized or even that clean of a person, so it was easy to adapt to this new normal. We usually did one comprehensive cleaning and general pick up about once a week. Sometimes every week and a half depending on how busy our weekend was. This left us feeling relatively on top of things.
However, one of the added perks I’ve noticed since switching into a minimalist mindset is the desire to be more organized. I’ve been overcome with a swell of productivity and my outlet has been keeping things neater and more organized. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like our house has transformed into a palace of cleanliness and order. It hasn’t.
But the dishes no longer pile up. We’re down to two baskets for laundry and it’s getting done with far more efficiency than it ever has before. And most nights the floors are clear of toys, with a few exceptions.
So what role did minimalism play in this turnaround? Well, I think two major changes have taken place. First, the obvious, we have far less stuff. I think before it’d be easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of dishes or laundry that needed to be done. So as long as there was a clean plate to use in the cabinet or some clean clothes in the drawers, why would we attempt to tackle such a massive undertaking?
But now, when there are just enough dishes to fill up the dishwasher, it’s easy to keep on top of it. And when doing one or two loads of laundry is a prerequisite for wearing clean clothes the next week that is more than doable. By simplifying our life, we’ve made our life so much easier and more manageable.
The second major change has been an internal shift in my values. I value cleanliness and order in a way I just didn’t before. I don’t think I’m ever going to be an uber-organized neat freak. But I do appreciate the calm simplicity that comes with a relatively ordered household. And the reality is no matter how hard we worked, we just couldn’t have achieved simplicity or order with the amount of stuff that we had before.
While we still have a long way to go, I wouldn’t trade these new unexpected benefits for any of the stuff we’ve jettisoned from our house. Simple living is far more valuable to me now than a closet full of possessions.