We are never going to be minimalists.
Minimalism has become a popular ideal lately. And those who call themselves minimalists have a few important things things right. Stuff should not control us… we should be in control of our things. And the things we have should be cared for and orderly. In fact, in the last few weeks I have been listening to some YouTube videos from “Minimalist” families, and it has been helpful in the process of moving away from the excess of stuff.
Here’s the thing though. Our goal in life is not to have houses so tidy it looks like it is a show home currently for sale on the housing market.
We want a home where people feel free to sit on the couch. (Not covered in the plastic it came in). We want a life where people can see there are kids living here. Though not a space overwhelmed by kid clutter… just a welcoming, friendly space. One that is beautiful and functional at the same time.
Aristotle Explains Virtue
Our family is big into a Classical worldview. This is a view which points towards what is good, true, and beautiful. Although the ancients lived before Christ, much of their wisdom pointed towards Him. One such philosopher who had a foundational role in understanding Christian morality is Aristotle. And this is what he says about virtue:
“Virtue is the golden mean between two vices, the one of excess and the other of deficiency” — Aristotle (emphasis added)
What does this mean? Well, for example, pride is a vice. Only thinking of yourself, doing everything focused on you-you-you – we can all agree that is harmful. But let’s look at the flip side. Only thinking about other people, and never looking after your own needs, is also harmful. If people have a medication to give their pets, usually they are really good about consistently giving it. But if they are prescribed something for themselves, these same people will have trouble taking it every day (or even at all). Not looking after our own needs is also an excess – the other extreme end of pride. The virtue lies somewhere in the middle. Caring for the needs of others while also taking care of yourself.
Excess and Deficiency
Courage is the balance between cowardice and recklessness. Healthy eating is the balance between binge eating and being a breatharian. Overspending is bad, but so is being an Ebenezer Scrooge, keeping all the pennies locked up tight. And at one time or another, we have all experienced how oversleeping is just as unhelpful as not getting enough sleep.
How does this relate to minimalism? Hording items is a clear excess, and it is obvious to us that there is something going wrong there. But an empty home does not give glory to God either. We need to find that golden mean, that happy medium, where being in our homes is peaceful and relaxing (from not having too much stuff) but also beautiful and inviting (from having a space where people aren’t afraid to live, and it is okay to pull out the markers and use them).
We have lived in our current space for nine months. It has been so great to live in this home. And in this time, Little Badger has learned to walk! (And Little Fox did toilet training)! Now, these developmental milestones have changed the functional needs of our space a lot. Plus, it is getting into colder weather here, and it is getting to be the time for toques and mitts.
While it is not spring cleaning, it is certainly time for a fall makeover!
So I am going to take you through how our spaces have changed, and some of the things I am doing in each space to make our house toddler-friendly.
First Things: The Bedroom
Little Badger has just moved out of Mama and Tato’s room, to sharing with her big sister. This has gone super well – and actually she has been sleeping better through the night near her sister than she was doing near me. Now I wish we had done this sooner!
But the biggest effect from this is, for the first time in three years, The Badger Dad and I have a bedroom to ourselves. Before we moved to this house, the second bedroom was an office/crafting/closet space, and all four of us were in the same bedroom. (Little Badger in a bassinet, and Little Fox in a playpen/crib). While this was great for us at the time, my husband and I forgot what it was like to have a room to ourselves. And honestly, one of the nicest thing about having the bedroom to ourselves is being able to keep the light on while finding clothes in the morning, and putting my glasses away and sleep mask on at night.
When organizing your home, the best place to start is your own bedroom. This is because it is the first space you see in the morning, and the last space you see at night. So my goal in setting up our bedroom was to make a relaxing space to sleep, pray, and read. We weren’t reading in this space before, since we were sharing it with our kids – so the lights had to be out early. Now I have converted the diaper change table into a mini-library for me, and my husband has a tall thin bookcase on his side of the bed.
Closet Clear Out
The other major work I did in the bedroom was in our small walk in closet. I purged half my clothes – and I don’t even have a lot! The reason I could still clear so much out is that I was wearing the same five tops all the time. And I wear those same shirts all the time because I really like the colours and material. So there was no need to keep any other shirts in the closet. I wasn’t wearing them anyway!
To be fair, I put aside three tops I wasn’t wearing but that are still in great condition, so if I get stains on the tops I have, I can quickly put a new one in rotation. But I also put seven or eight tops to be donated that were hardly worn because I just didn’t feel as comfortable in them, even though they fit and looked fine.
The other side of paring down clothing is it eliminates decision-fatigue. I came up with a simple schedule for clothes that is going to save me time and brain-power every morning. On Monday and Saturday I will wear a blue top, on Tuesday and Thursday I will wear a green top, on Wednesday I will wear purple, and Friday one of my print tops! Sunday is for my dresses, which are still really hard for me to purge. And one other benefit from removing clothes I never wear, is that I now have space to put of some of my decor that I love. A lot of my decor was stored away because there was no space to display it. I am so happy to look in my closet now and appreciate the things we do have.
The next space I worked on was our home office/lounge. This room is technically meant to be a bedroom, but we decided to give the larger open area for the kids to sleep and play in, and the “bedroom” has a small walk in closet that we transformed into a library. It is really great to be able to close the library doors and not have toddlers pulling books off the lower (and ever reaching to higher) shelves all the time.
This was my biggest personal struggle in our last home. Okay I am exaggerating. But only kind of.
In this space I worked on clearing out books we weren’t ever going to use, as well as taking the homeschooling books out. My oldest is three right now, so I can be storing these in a better place. Thankfully, when I pared down our baby clothes, I ended up with extra clear bins. I was able to move the homeschooling books into these bins, separated vaguely by subject area at the moment. Probably I will reset these up later, but since they aren’t super imminent to our life right now, I want to focus on having those things organized “good-enough” so I can move on to more important spaces.
I also worked through our craft and office supplies. We don’t need three rulers, so one of those had to go. (One ruler is also a three whole punch and not as good at being a ruler, which is why we still have two). I put some extra sticky notes I don’t use aside. The girls will play with them this week, and whatever is left after that is going in the recycle. I also put some of our DVDs into some empty CD cases I found, to save space.
The Byzantine Life
Thank you for checking out this week’s article. You might also be interested in our Home Organization Crash Course article. Or another of our articles on organizing. Stay tuned next week for part two!
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