Minimalism: 5 Best Tips I’ve Learned

By: Beth Gillem
| September 28, 2020 |

When I first got married and we settled into our house I had a lot of things to find a home for. Some of them I loved dearly, some of them were very useful, but a lot of them were just that, things. Once we had our first child, I quickly got overwhelmed. There was a new documentary out about minimalism and one day during nap time I watched it. I was intrigued. 

Clarify Your Vision

Watching that documentary helped me clarify a few things in regard to how I wanted my home to be as a married woman and mother. I wanted it to feel open and relaxing to my family and guests but above all else I wanted peace to be felt there. It did not have to be perfect but peaceful. Minimalism in its truest form felt cold and uninviting to me. I wanted something in the middle. I joined Facebook groups, watched documentaries, and read books. Then I slowly began to declutter and minimize. 

Minimalism at its core is the removal of all but essentials needed for daily life. What those essentials are is up to you. This will determine how extreme you will go with the decluttering process. Before you begin, spend a little time thinking about what you want your home to look and feel like. Writing down your thoughts and goals will help you think more concretely. Then make a plan for getting started. Below are a few of the most helpful things I learned in my studies. 

My 5 Greatest Tips

Handling Creative Things

I am creative. I like to make things. I realized though that when I purchased that  {insert the thing/things you bought} for this cool project with full intention to do it…but time and life interfered and it never got done – I felt bad. I felt obligated and guilty every time I saw it. I felt disappointed that life has not allowed me to complete it. SO I gave myself a deadline to do it (within a week or a month) and if I didn’t do it, I just let it go. With it gone, I no longer see my wasted money on the shelf and my brain is no longer beating myself up. The same applies to books I never read or read but probably would never read again. I passed it on. The peace of mind began to flow in….slowly. It also made me very intentional about what I brought INTO my house. 

The Rule of Convenience

Somewhere in all of the posts and comments in Facebook groups, someone shared the statement “If you can replace it in 20 minutes for under 20 dollars and you don’t use it often or absolutely love it, let it go.”  At the time I had two small children so I adjusted this statement a little bit to fit that time of life (it was not easy to run to Wal-Mart with two small kids to replace something) but now that my kids are older I can apply it. This is a rule that helps me a lot. I don’t need 6 bottles of glue (I might if I had 6 kids!) or 4 boxes of matches (maybe you do!) I have what I need and it has a home. 

Sentimental Gifts

Sentimental gifts and passed-on pieces are tricky. Sometimes a gift that has been in your family for years needs to stay just for posterity but sometimes it doesn’t. Our family lost 4 grandparents from both sides in the course of a year. The gifts from them immediately took on more meaning since they were no longer with us. Not that I did not cherish them when they were given but you understand. I was still faced with the dilemma of what to do with SO MANY THINGS. This is where I found a tip from Marie Kondo that helped – I tweaked it to work for me. That blanket that Nana gave me – I love it but we don’t use it and it is not my style. Instead of holding on to it simply because she gave it to me. I thought about Nana, felt grateful for the gift she gave me with love but realized that she would rather me have peace of mind and space now than to hold onto a blanket. So I let it go. I let go of a lot of things like this and found that after I gave proper reflection to the person and the item, I did not regret letting it go. It often went to another home where it was cherished. Be careful with this but know that it will help you a lot. 

Kids Crafts and Items

Things my kids created, wore, or made at school were a guilt trip – This kind of falls into the sentimental things but I had to apply a little different thinking to it. Sure after the birth of my first child, I kept a lot of things because I knew I wanted another child. After my second child (and when I found out she was a girl and I had boy stuff) I began letting some of it go. Sure I kept the outfit he came home in, a few of my favorite pieces that had his name on it, and a few pieces that I thought my possible future grandchild might wear but I passed the rest on. The same applies now that my kids are older. If it is something they made that I absolutely love and will want to be reminded of the special time/place/event that they made it, I will keep it. Otherwise (and usually after displaying it for a while) I will think “Would I care about this as an adult if my mom kept it for me?” Usually, the answer is no and I let it go. The peace of mind and space that it brings makes me a happier wife and mom. My family will appreciate that more than any piece of art or other creation. 

People to Follow

Finally, there are two people I follow on social media, read their books, listen to their podcasts, and glean all kinds of wisdom from and I highly recommend them. First is MyQuillyn Smith author of “The Cozy Minimalist.” I have all three of her books and love them all. Known as “Nester,” she teaches us how to have “the right amount of style with the least amount of stuff.” Your home does not have to be stark and blank to be a minimalist but can be cozy, warm, and inviting. Her focus on hospitality is one of the things I love most about her. The second is Kendra Adachi aka “The Lazy Genius” Her newest book arrived at my house this week and I am already feeling better by implanting her advice. Her main goal is “to be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t.” Another big bonus for me is that both of these ladies love Jesus and implement that into their writing and message. 

Don’t Give Up

The decluttering, minimizing, and cozying up of my home is a constant mindset and job. Don’t expect the change to happen overnight. I moved 4 months ago to a new house and I feel like I am almost starting over trying to find homes for things. I am slowly but surely applying the rules I learned and always learning more. My favorite thing and telltale signs that I am heading in the right direction? When family and friends visit and I can tell they are relaxed, enjoying my home and….so am I!

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