As we talked about in the introductory post in this series, the first thing I recommend when looking for ways to add more peace and functionality to your large family home is a paradigm shift. Shift your thinking away from managing people and towards managing your environment. Next, when looking at specific practices we use with our household logistic hacks, or “how we do it,” we have a “hack” that really threads through pretty much every other hack our family uses.
That is minimalism.
I hesitate to call our family minimalists, because, truthfully, we still have a lot of stuff, but I do lean towards minimalism.
From a practical standpoint, having less stuff means less work organizing and maintaining that stuff. A lot of the stress of life comes from feeling behind in maintaining and organizing all of the stuff in our lives. So, less stuff helps to cut down on the feeling of chaos and guilt. Less stuff is also easier on our children, because often when kids get that glazed over look about a mess it means there is too much stuff to begin with and they’re overwhelmed.
I try regularly cull and purge the amount of items in our home to only what is I believe is essential and “sparks joy.” That will look different for different people and different families. However, in any family it’s very important to consider the repercussions of purging other people’s stuff. I know it’s tempting to start out by getting rid of all the toys or all of your spouse’s stuff. However, when starting out it’s best to lead by example by purging your own stuff first. Then if you want to help others in your family adjust to a more minimalist lifestyle, start by just packing away stuff out of sight and easy use. Then experiment with how well everyone can live without it. If people are wanting a specific item from what has been packed away, then it most likely deserves a place in your home.
I’m personally not a fan of putting a set number on the amount of items you own, but rather I like to approach minimalism from the standpoint of being mindful of what owning this item means for you and your family.
How is this item adding to our life?
How is owning this item taking away from our life?
Some things may be nice, but are really more trouble than they are worth. Other things may absolutely be worth the trouble of owning them. Also, some things may be worth owning one of, but not three of the item. Or maybe it’s worth owning 5, but not 10. Every time you add an item to your life, you add some amount of work to your life.
I am a fan of having a home for everything. I always find that when I have a preponderance of things existing outside their home that I get most cranky about my living space. Oftentimes small changes, such as having a designated place to drop new mail, or a place that’s not on a piece of furniture to pile clean laundry can make a huge difference to the overall atmosphere of your home. It’s also important to consider the placement of the item home. You want a placement that is intuitive, easy to use, and functions well. If you have a specific home for an item, but it is just slightly inconvenient enough to where the item often doesn’t get put back, then the home is in the wrong place, because it doesn’t functionally solve the problem.
So, just considering the amount of items and the placement of items in your home can end up making a big difference overtime in how peaceful and not-chaotic your home seems to you.