Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Casting off the shackles

So we've decided. We're doing it. We've been talking about it for months, years, but haven't been very successful. Now we're inspired. We are going to become minimalist parents. Don't know what the family will think. Don't know what everyone else will think, but we're sick of tripping over, picking up, moving, cleaning.... junk! We're slaves to stuff, servants of clutter, making up for our boredom, uneasiness, emptiness, mortality - put whatever label you want on it, with material crap. No more! Henceforth, we will throw off our shackles, face our daemons head on, and cruise across the living room without stepping on toy cars. We will no longer clean the counters before cleaning the counters. We will deal with our mail and dispose of it upon receipt. We will gleefully slide hangers back and forth in closets. Lately, I've been having a recurring dream that our house burned down with everything in it. I was ecstatic. It's time.

And what has provided us with this new inspiration? It is my pleasure to introduce all aspiring minimalists, closet horders, and weary parents to the Minimalist Mom.

I don't know whether we'll ever go as far as this mother in getting rid of stuff we don't need. But we're going to try.  During parental leave, before we came to France, we had already gotten rid of quite a few things. But not enough. Our immediate logic for cleaning up was quite simple: The less stuff we own, the less we need to clean. With two small children, this is incentive enough to live with less. However, as we've managed to clean a room here and there, we've come to realize something else: The more we remove, the more comfortable a room feels. The more room we have to breath and move and claim the space for ourselves.

 For me, the hardest part will be getting rid of books. As a lover of literature, getting rid of a book is hard. I imagine it's like throwing away a stamp collection (if that's your thing). But even books I don't need. We have a library down the street and bookstores galore to sell me virtually anything I want to read. I'll still have a bookcase, but it will be small and it will contain my most important treasures.

So when we get back, we're going to get started. It won't be easy, and it will take a lot of time and energy. But we're going to purge our house of everything we don't use regularly - hopefully much of it before we start back to work full-time.  Our goal is to gain time, space, comfort and perspectie. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.


  1. How exciting!!! Just last week I was still envisioning myself (and my family) living in a yurt, living off the land and having as little as possible yet living the most. Remember to be at peace with yourself... permanent change takes time. Have you already read John Robbin's The New Good Life?

  2. It's funny that I read this today! I had a similar thought in mind today as I (very sadly) boxed up my books to get rid of. It's funny how sentimental books can be, each one reminds me of what I was doing when I read it ...but you're right, a room is so much lighter without tons of 'stuff.'


  3. I've been following a minimalist blog lately and getting ready to dive into a certain amount of minimalism as well, and it's good to purge, and more important, good to stop buying!!

    But I always think of some wise words my historian friend Jess told me a long time ago anytime I start to get rid of 'junk': in studies of those with senile dementia, Alzheimer's etc, objects from patients' youth and lifetime could bring back distinct and important memories, memories that photos of the same objects could not do. There's something about a physical shape that holds a lot. Of course you can't keep everything, nor should you, but just make sure it's actually junk before you let go, cause you can't get it back afterwards.
    xo colleen

  4. We'll see how it goes... Don't worry Colleen. No matter how much we cut back and purge, there will still be items around to stimulate our atrophying brains in our later years.