The experience of decluttering our homes and removing the excess is often a satisfying act. But many time we focus on decreasing our stuff without considering why we choose to do so. If you’ve read any books recently on decluttering, minimizing, or living simply, perhaps you were guided to only keep items that “spark joy” or that you’ve used in the last 6 months. Perhaps someone told you to get rid of ALL your kids toys or to sell all those big books and get a e-reader instead. Maybe a tiny part of you wondered if this was really the right way to create the home you want. And for some of you, perhaps your home became cluttered again.
It’s not that you aren’t minimalist enough or that you didn’t follow the rules, rather, it’s that those guides typically encourage you to follow someone else’s philosophy rather than your own. And secondly, so many articles and books written on the topic are geared toward singles or couples, but not necessarily families. Sure, a certain toy might spark joy for your daughter, but does its incessant beeping make you crazy? Or maybe you cannot go a day without crafting, but the piles of fabric, papers, and tools makes your partner want to grab the garbage bags. We all respond differently to the different objects within our homes. But that does not mean you and your family cannot co-exist peacefully while respecting each other’s favorite possessions.
Rather than giving you specific rules for managing your stuff, may we suggest you craft your own family philosophy? A family philosophy for simplifying your home should support your family mission statement and reflect your values. It should not be restrictive in its rules, but foster freedom to buy objects that you love and create a happy home without guilt or remorse. We’re not yo-yo dieting here on minimalism, we’re being intentional about our homes and the things we allow in the door. So consider taking some time to reflect and write down your answers to the following questions:
1)What do I love most about my home?
2)How can I adapt my home to better reflect our family values?
3)Are there any areas of the home or possessions that are counter to what we believe as a family?
4) In 6 months, I want my house to be:
Once you’ve taken some time to consider those questions alone and with your family, you’re ready to create your family philosophy for simplifying your home. This should be a 1-2 sentence statement on what you will and will not allow in your home. In general, we want to encourage you to keep this a positive experience that reflects the needs of the whole family. Each family’s statement will be different because the way we manage our homes are as unique as the people who live in them. Allow time to tweak your statement, implement it and evaluate the results, and change it as needed. As your family grows and changes, you might also outgrow your family mission statement and philosophy; that’s perfectly normal. And finally, enjoy the simple beauty of creating your perfect home environment, one that reflects your family’s values and allows you to truly seek what matters.