How I became a minimalist.

by Olia

For many years minimalism was just a fashion trend or style to me. I associated it more with my favorite luxury brands than with philosophy or lifestyle. You will find a lot of articles, opinions, and definitions of minimalism, but for me, it is a mindset. A choice to build the life of your dream based on your values and ability to remove the distractions and all unnecessary that stay between you and a happy, meaningful life.

Seeking simplicity in beauty and chaos of motherhood

I think it all started when I became a mother, with the arrival of twins. My elder daughter was 21 months old, so it was pretty much like having triplets. Life changed dramatically and required so many adjustments to be made that I was ready to collapse. That feeling that everything is out of control… And I was asking myself: “How it is possible, that I was able to manage offices and departments, organize and coordinate the work of many people, but I am so helpless with “home management” and with three newborns?!” You will not believe it, but I had to take a time management course to survive. Yes, a time management course for creatives to manage juggling three newborns and two part-time jobs.

My first steps to a simple lifestyle

Sunday is my ironing day, and I loved it for just one reason – while doing it I could watch my favorite TV show: Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines. The show is not available in Italy anymore, but my habit of ironing on Sundays remains. I loved the simple but warm, cozy, and functional decoration style of Joanna. My home was looking more like “the before” of the houses they were “fixing,” and this show made me think about how I can improve our small flat and make it a home I always wanted to live in. I started to follow Joanna on social media and started to read her blog. And the real change in my life and mindset happened after I read her “Spring Cleaning” blog article describing the benefits of getting rid of not necessary things instead of finding a new way to organize them better. After reading this blog post, I grabbed a big black rubbish bag and started to put there all broken toys, shoes, and clothes nobody used for months or years. I did not know then that it was my first step to become a minimalist. And the beginning of a significant transformation of myself, my life, and my home.

So what is it, minimalism? And what it is not.

Let’s start with what it is not. It is not living without comfort and things. It is not a religion, philosophy, set amount of rules. It is not being frugal, not residing in all-white, empty, and cold spaces. It is not a magic solution that solves all life problems. And not a set of standards meeting which you can call yourself a minimalist. Each of us sees simple living in our way, and for each of us, the meaning of a simple life and concept of minimalism will be different.

” Minimalism is intentionally living with only the things I really need—those items that support my purpose. I am removing the distraction of excess possessions so I can focus more on those things that matter most. ”

Joshua Becker , Becoming Minimalist blog

I agree with these words. In Becoming Minimalist blog and books of Joshua Becker, you will find a lot of useful information and advice on simple living and minimal lifestyle.

Minimalism to me is not about living having less, but making more space for what matters most. And I am not speaking only about things – it applies to everything in life. To me, it is a process of getting clarity – what are the most important values, what are the priorities, what is happiness for YOU. It is more intentional spending of your time, energy, and money so you can have more fun, more moments to remember with joy, and you can give more to your family and community.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Or in one week, or one month. It is constant “work in progress” that you can do your way to enjoy the process. I started simplifying my life by removing broken toys and old clothes, and then I kept on making other steps—one at a time when I was ready for the next one. And I can say that I am still on my way to where I want my life to be. And it’s ok. Good things take time.

It starts with this: declutter

When I was taking a time management course, I had to do an exercise – track on what tasks I spend my time. Looking at one-week records, I was terrified: 70% of my time was spent on cleaning and organizing. That was my “a-ha” moment. I could not believe that I pass most of my life cleaning. I did not want my life to be just this, and I was ready to do what was required to change it. Pinterest was a great help to find many fantastic blogs and resources. I placed my favorite ones in one board, “Simple living,” where I am sure you will be able to find something helpful for you too. So, I started to declutter:

  • my workspace
  • mine and kids wardrobe
  • my finances and spending habits
  • the entire home got a makeover
  • my relations
  • my habits – getting rid of bad ones and making new good ones
  • my mindset

Removing all the clutter from my desk and drawers helped to spend less time cleaning and easily find what I need and use often. Open your wardrobe, which has no even one cm empty, but when you need to go out for any occasion, you feel like you have nothing to wear? I’ve been there! Thanks to my best friend, who used to work in fashion design, I created a capsule wardrobe for kids and me. I stopped buying cheap things. I prefer to have five shoes that cost a lot, have a timeless look, and elevate anything I pair them with than 35 pairs of the ones that cost less and will worn out after one season. The same goes for bags and clothes. For kids, it’s a bit different – as they grow so fast! But making capsule wardrobe for them made it easy to find, buy, and combine my kids’ outfits for each season.

Without spending big bucks, I made “fixer-upper” for our home. We are still working on finishing it up, but the changes made already helped our family of 5 to get cozy in 90 m flat, and each of us now has personal space. No more toys on the floor or the days you can’t cross the living room without stepping on a lego. It also got me four extra hours a week. The time I am spending with my kids or doing what makes me happy instead of cleaning the mess and removing toys around the house.

The hardest part to change was the mindset. My habits, and the way of thinking, making things. The hardest to work on improving were these. Getting back to reading and yoga practice helped me a lot to find the way to myself. To slow down and permit myself to dream, to want, to believe in me, and to heal. That person I was before becoming a mom of 3 was still there, with her dreams and hopes, and this person did matter. I learned that finding time for me and taking care of me is not being selfish. It is becoming a happy mom – the ones your kids need most. And daily work on changing my habits, improving and simplifying, helped me to have time and resources to do so.

I told you what minimal living is for me and how it helped me to live better. Though simple life is different for each of us, it can give to anyone what our soul craves for – cozy home, possibility to spend time with loved ones, travel, accomplish more and live better every day.

I would love to know how YOU see it! What is a simple life means to you? What helped you most to simplify and find more time and space for what you love? Share in the comments below – your thoughts and personal insight might be something that someone must read or hear today!

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