What Minimalism Looks Like For Our Family

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Minimalism is a parallel topic that is important to us but that hasn’t been addressed directly on Smallish much. My hesitancy to officially claim the term “minimalist” is mostly due to a ridiculous anxiety that we’re not quite minimalists yet. I worry that if the Minimalism Police stepped through our door they’d slap us with a fine for claiming a level of less we have not yet achieved. (I wrote this post for Miss Minimalist in 2013.)

Ridiculous, I realize. I know that minimalism is so much more than mere limitation of physical belongings. I know that minimalism is a journey, an ever-foreground target for which to aim. Yet still I waffle to “own” it. This post aims to address that fear and open up the discussion more on Smallish. Here’s how we “do” minimalism.

Minimalism for our family largely manifests itself in the three focuses of Smallish that splash all over each other and spill into nearly every area of our lives.

Small Space

We are committed to living in relatively little homes because we believe our family thrives in small spaces. So we chose to live in minimal square feet. Our house is 1,000 sq. ft. and it is just right for this season. Also, we appreciate that (bonus!) small spaces naturally limit physical belongings. We feel freer owning less. Fewer items = less mess, which = lower stress. It’s a beautiful cycle.

Fewer items = less mess, which = lower stress. It’s a beautiful cycle.

Small Footprint

Minimalism affects our goal of a “small footprint,” which is our way of saying that we’d like to live with minimal negative impact on the environment. We minimize waste by being mindful of how food and household items are packaged. Further, recycling and composting help to reduce waste coming out of our home. We garden to minimize buying produce. (And just because it’s fun and we like learning new things.) We limit purchases as much as possible. I admit that this is one area we feel we could grow in, but we do our best. Overall minimalism is kind to the environment; we embrace that connection.

Small Budget

We are primarily a one-income family, so we budget carefully to meet our needs. Minimalism positively affects our budget because we reduce mindless spending. If we splurge or go over budget, it’s usually in our gifts or food budget. Minimalism helps the ‘ol wallet because buying less=paying out less money. Simple.

Small Schedule

I wrote about a minimalist schedule here. Our commitment to living slowly and intentionally is evident on our family’s calendar where usually only one extra “event” a day is listed. That “event” might be an outing to a park or having friends over or cooking a meal for neighbors. We keep our calendar fairly open to make time for projects, for cooking at home or simply pushing the kids on the tire swing. A minimalist schedule =less stress and more time to pour into loved ones and savoring life.

 

Girl On Tire Swing

 

Minimalism even enriches our spiritual lives as we follow Jesus’ example of not holding tightly (or at all!) to physical things and focusing on eternal things.

Minimalism to us is limiting possessions, certainly, for we see giant blessing in fewer belongings, but it is so much more. Living intentionally with less is a holistic endeavor.Β It positively affects nearly every area of our lives.

What about you? How does minimalism reach beyond physical belongings in your life? Comment below and share. Let’s celebrate how each of us embracesΒ  minimalism in our own lives!

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23 Comments
  • Brittany Bergman
    October 8, 2015

    I totally know the fear you’re talking about — I’m often afraid to say I’m a minimalist, because I don’t want someone to show up to my house and deems it not minimal enough! But you are so right that minimalism is an ongoing process and is about so much more than just stuff. If the point is to be less stressed, more family-focused, and closer to Jesus, then I think you’re on the right track. πŸ™‚ A while back I decided to start calling myself a cozy minimalist (I got that name from The Nester). My home isn’t totally spartan — it’s warm and welcoming, there’s less stuff than there used to be, and each thing is purposeful. Sometimes that purpose is function and sometimes that purpose is beauty.

    • Evelyn
      October 9, 2015

      I took the Cozy Minimalist course too, so I like to think of our house the same way! πŸ™‚ Thanks for your sweet comment, Brittany.

  • Kariane
    October 8, 2015

    Our minimalism is a lot like yours: a small house with fewer things. A simple schedule with lots of space for openness and breathing and enjoyment and together time. A simple budget without a lot of extravagance, but with enough to cover our needs. And lots and lots of love and happiness.

    • Evelyn
      October 9, 2015

      “and lots and lots of love and happiness” …. πŸ™‚ Yay and yes! Such a sweet perspective, Kariane. Always love your comments!

  • Anna E. Lee - Interior Design
    October 8, 2015

    I can defiantly relate to you in being hesitant in totally claiming the term “minimalist” as I am at the very beginning of my journey in becoming one:

    (http://www.annaeleeinteriordesign.com/-2015-/2015/10/5/becoming-minimalist)

    While it’s been a challenging journey at times, it’s something that I’m enjoying as it’s helping my husband and I gain back control over our finances, time and focus. I love that (like you mentioned) it aligns with my spiritual beliefs as well; as Jesus emphasizes in the Bible how we shouldn’t be so attached to our money and items but rather focus on others and sharing His message.

    I’m new to your blog but am really looking forward to reading more posts like this!

    • Evelyn
      October 12, 2015

      Hi Anna! I somehow missed your comment. Thanks so much for sharing your link– I”m looking forward to reading it now. πŸ™‚ Your site is beautiful. Glad to have you along with us on this journey! And I love what you said, “as Jesus emphasizes in the Bible how we shouldn’t be so attached to our money and items but rather focus on others and sharing His message.”… this is something that means more and more to me as we get into this. I haven’t sorted it out completely, but there is a definite link between Jesus and minimalism. It just feels right! Thanks again for sharing.

  • Angela @ Setting My Intention
    October 8, 2015

    i laughed at your minimalist police comment! I call myself an aspiring minimalist because we are nowhere near minimalist in the number of objects we have in our home. It is a definite process, one that is slowed down significantly with a family and family members who are not fully on board.

    I’m finding minimalism to be a mindset in terms of possessions and schedules.

    • Evelyn
      October 9, 2015

      πŸ™‚ I like “aspiring minimalist” too. Love having you on this journey with us, Angela.

  • Naomi Alexander
    October 9, 2015

    Yes, I totally agree that it can seem a bit fraudulent to claim to be a minimalist when you can ‘see’ lots of possessions rather than clean lines and empty spaces.

    Living in the UK our homes are very small anyway (land here is very expensive and houses are typically terraced and rooms are tiny) – we don’t really know our homes sq ft but I tried to work ours out (after reading lots of American stuff!) and I think it’s just under 700.

    We don’t have any storage (no loft, garage, basement, conservatory) so all possessions are either ‘on display’ or in one of the few cupboards or wardrobes. (We do have two ‘pews’ – wooden benches with backs and lift up seats so you can put stuff inside).

    The point is – if you can’t hide stuff away you are much more aware of what possessions you do have – and that really helps keep life simple, and be less of a consumer.

    • Evelyn
      October 9, 2015

      We lived near Leeds for three years (in lovely Harrogate!). I don’t remember the process of packing to move, but I do remember our surprise as big Americans that there were no closets! We found it so foreign that we had to buy wardrobes. But looking back, I don’t remember accumulating so much stuff that my room felt cluttered. You’re so right–if you have to display everything, it certainly limits what you choose to bring home. I’m even dealing with that right now in our new home. We took all the closet doors off to redo the flooring. 6 months in, the closets still don’t have doors and with the exception of the washer/dryer nook and pantry, I’m not sure I want to put them back on! Having the closets wide open has really helped me stay aware of what I place there. As always, thanks for sharing Naomi!

      • Jen@SavedbytheKale
        November 12, 2016

        I love that idea of not having closet doors! Seeing straight into them would definitely keep me more mindful of what I put in them and how everything looked inside of them!

        • Evelyn
          November 12, 2016

          Hi Jen! Yeah…. I’m kind of really liking it. πŸ˜€

  • Berin Kinsman
    October 9, 2015

    Like you, I qualify as a bad minimalist in the eyes of the Minimalist Police because I just try to keep things down to what’s functional and comfortable. Could I have less stuff in my apartment, less things on my calendar, and so on? Sure. Would it make me happier? No. Things are just right. I look at minimalism as nothing more than the rejection of the notion that more equals better.

    • Evelyn
      October 9, 2015

      Love that perspective, Berin! Thanks for sharing.

  • Mr Simple
    October 11, 2015

    Your message really resonates with me. We’re pushed into lives on hyperdrive and we get so busy that we never have time to consider what is important. Small is beautiful. Particularly the small schedule. I’m all for that!

    Thanks
    Mr Simple

    • Evelyn
      October 16, 2015

      Thanks, Mr. Simple! I appreciate your comment. πŸ™‚

  • Elizabeth
    October 13, 2015

    I love this and I totally agree, “Fewer items = less mess, which = lower stress”!!

    • Evelyn
      October 13, 2015

      πŸ™‚ Thanks for commenting Elizabeth! πŸ™‚

  • SarahW
    October 14, 2015

    I HEAR YOU. This has been my struggle the past few months, getting ready for our boy Micah (yay!) to arrive. Baby showers, receiving hand-me-downs, baby furniture,… And we have intentionally been avoiding toys-because that is one realm I am NOT ready to tackle! Honestly I’ve been avoiding the topic because I don’t even know where to go with it! Thanks for your honest post-minimalism IS a journey, and one I think will be well worth the trip πŸ™‚ Hugs!

    • Evelyn
      October 14, 2015

      I LOVE YOU AND BABY MICAH. AAAAGGGHHHHH!!!! <3 <3 <3

  • Shelley
    October 14, 2015

    What a wonderful post! I found your site today via your Enjoy Life Slowly interview, and I can relate to not feeling like a perfect minimalist. I’m no where near the minimal lifestyle I would like to be, and a few years ago when I felt like I was making progress toward it, we moved and actually doubled our house size. I had dreamed of how easy life would be with plenty of space, but the truth is, it’s so much more to take care of. I know there are many benefits to living minimally, so I try to make the best of where I am in this journey and it’s refreshing to know I’m not alone! Thanks for such an excellent article…I look forward to reading more!

    • Evelyn
      October 15, 2015

      Hi Shelley! Thanks so much for commenting. Your perspective sounds so balanced. Way to take things in stride and do your best to minimize! πŸ™‚ Glad to have you here.

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