What Does It Mean to Be A Minimalist?

Periodically when I share with people that I have been living with a minimal wardrobe for the last year and that 2 years ago we downsized and sold or gave away 50% of our belongings, I’m asked if I’m a minimalist. The came up recently, and as I looked around our somewhat cluttered house and tried not to trip on the pile of shoes that had somehow, once again, littered the floor by the front door, I considered what I would call myself today.

At this moment, I would call myself:

“An aspiring minimalist who has stopped buying most things I don’t need, and who is attempting to break long-standing hoarder habits by mindfully removing more things I don’t use in my home, while living with 3 other people who have no real interest in living minimally but are willing to support me in what is important to me, some of the time.”


Can you be naturally messy, and still be a minimalist?

Full disclosure: I’m also naturally messy. I have to work really hard at putting things away.  And I’m an organized “piler”. If you don’t know what that is, imagine that you have a bunch of papers. If you tend to organize and put papers away, you might be a “filer”. If you pile things up, but generally know how to find what you need, you could be a “piler” like me. I come by it honestly – turns out my Dad is one too!

The thing is, this wish for a tidy, minimized space (and the clearer head that goes with it) and my naturally messy nature, together with my family’s clutter, sometimes results in me feeling like I have a split personality. I clean out areas of my house (e.g. the bathroom cabinet and drawers) to give myself peace, while I continue to trip over the shoes.


{Related post: Simplify and Figure Out When to Say NO!}


I’m sharing this with you because I’ve recently been reading some new blogs and a new book regarding living with less, and while I always glean something of use, the biggest complaint I have about them all is that they are written by either a single person who lives alone or by a couple (with or without children) who are together on the minimalist path.

This is not me! After our initial move and downsize, I would not say that my husband has any interest in having less stuff, yet is very willing to make faces at me when I suggest he should clean out the office closet!

Upon reflection, I thought I would share with you some of the things that keep me calmer, even as I look around my living room at board games on the coffee table, a basket of clean laundry ready to be folded on a chair, homework pages on the kitchen table and ½ packed lunches on the counter:

1) Life is meant to be lived. That is what my house demonstrates. An active, connected family lives here. We could all be better at putting things away, and I aspire to this, but if I have to choose between putting away the laundry and reading a book with my child, I hope to choose the book more often!

2) One day I’ll wish for this chaos. Maybe I won’t ever be completely neat and tidy, but presumably one day I won’t have my kids living here, leaving things all around the house. This doesn’t mean I need to accept the shoes by the door today, but maybe I can be a bit more forgiving, while still setting clear expectations.

3) I get to choose what I do. I can choose not to shop. I can choose to clean out the bathroom cupboards. I can choose to donate my things that don’t bring me joy anymore. This is the way I can demonstrate a new way for my family as well.

4) I have a space on my side of the bedroom that is tidy and easy to keep clear. In most homes, there is usually somewhere that can be like a mini-sanctuary. Where can you find this in your home?

5) My closet and drawers are minimal and organized. Since I introduced the minimal wardrobe last year, I no longer fight to fit things in my drawers or closet, and it is much easier to decide what I should wear each day!


Some words of wisdom from an aspiring…well, whatever I said I was!

If you too seek simplicity and fewer belongings, try to start with you, all the while encouraging those you live with to put away their laundry and hang up their coats! It will do you all a lot of good! And they will likely enjoy those clean drawers too!

Let me know what your own experience is!

Share in the comments below!





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