Right now it seems like having less stuff is very in. Being minimalist is trendy…and I am HERE FOR IT!! I love the way so many people are embracing minimalism, because I love how our family has a lot less stuff than we used to.
Here’s how I got interested in the simple living craze, and then I’ll list the books that FORCED me to reevaluate our stuff.
Why I Embraced Minimalism
It all started when we moved into our wonderful, fabulous, beautiful, much-bigger-than-our-apartment house. There was so much space! We had more than one toilet! And a laundry room! It was glorious, and there was so much space, and closets, and empty cupboards just waiting to be filled. Without even thinking about it, that’s exactly what I did – I filled all of the cupboards and closets, and let our stuff accumulate.
There wasn’t a big spending spree that got me to a full house. As we kept getting stuff or being given things I had the space to store it, so I kept it all, and never got rid of anything.
I was overwhelmed by keeping tidy this big house full of stuff. I started reading blogs about house cleaning and cleaning schedules. There was a theme to what I was reading: if your “cleaning” is just moving your belongings around to different points in your home and trying to make them look presentable, you have a junk problem, not a cleaning problem.
About this same time, I was watching a VeggieTales with my son and it talked about how anything that keeps us from being the kid God wants us to be had to go. I thought about my irritability with my kiddo not being able to keep track of his dozens of toys, my spending so much time trying to get everything in its proper place, and my husband coming home to a house disaster zone.
I cannot be the type of wife and mom God wants me to be if I’m consumed by all of this stuff.
It was time for a change. I decided I would get rid of 10 things a week. The number 10 was not magical or anything special – it was how many hash marks I could fit on one line of my planner, so that I could keep track of how many things I got rid of in a week. At first it was really easy and fun, as there was lots of stuff that I had no attachment to, but I had not taken the time to get rid of it. It was the low-hanging fruit – goodbye, broken hairbrush and 9 singleton socks!
At about the 4 month mark I hit a plateau and it became significantly harder. Everything that was obviously not adding anything to our life was gone. Now it was time to dig deep and get rid of stuff that I was not quite sure I wanted to part with. I started having a bad attitude about it, because I felt like no-one else in the house was pulling their weight in the get-rid-of-stuff plan. Then one day I was standing in my closet, ironically enough right after reading an update letter from a ministry in Africa that literally has nothing, and there I was looking at my many sweaters and feeling grumpy that I had to find 3 more things in the house that week to give up when it hit me: I get to keep so much.
Instead of thinking about what you are getting rid of, think of all that you are graciously allowed to keep.
I am not entitled to anything from God. But he has given me so very much. I know for me to not be so attached to the things of this world, and to free up my life for the ministries he has clearly put in front of our family, I could not keep everything. But God is not asking me to give up everything, he’s graciously allowing me to keep more than most of the world has.
So, I changed how I went through my things. Instead of becoming focused on, “I have to get rid of stuff in here!” I went through a drawer of shirts thinking, “What do I want to keep and enjoy?”
The answer was surprisingly, “Not as much as I thought I did.”
And that is how we got here. (Roughly. Believe it or not, this is the short version of the story!) I have been letting things go for the past four years now, and have built up my less-stuff muscles, but it can still be a struggle.
When I was starting out, I needed all the encouragement I could get. Let’s face it, I still need encouragement to keep our life and stuff in order! These books aren’t all exactly about minimalism, but they all have in common that they will encourage you to get your stuff explosion under control.
These are all MUST READS
Author: Ruth Soukup
Details: Zondervan, Apr 5, 2016
Length: 224 pages
Why it should be on your must-read list: I discovered Ruth’s blog, Living Well Spending Less, when I was trying to figure out a good way to keep my home clean. Her house cleaning plan was pretty simple: own less stuff and clean less. It’s brilliant, and so true! Now that I’ve gotten rid of so much stuff, it’s so much easier to keep our home in at least sort of decent shape.
Because I liked Ruth’s blog so much, I picked up this book. Her blog is not at all religious, so I was surprised that in the book she does talk about religious themes quite a bit. She uses the Bible to validate her decision to get rid of stuff. It surprised me because she doesn’t talk about faith at all on her blog, or in other books.
Unstuffed is a no-nonsense look at getting rid of stuff from an author who has had to get rid of a lot of stuff! It’s the book for those who want an actual, broken down plan for decluttering their home in a weekend. Ruth walks you through a step-by-step guide to get rid of stuff from every room of your house!
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
Author: Jen Hatmaker
Details: B & H Publishing Group, 2012
Length: 240 pages
Why it should be on your must-read list: I had no idea what I was in for when I started 7. I’ve gotten a lot from some of Jen’s other books, so I picked this one up. I’m so glad I did! If you’re looking for a drastic shift in how you look at your stuff, this is the book for you!
Let me warn you now: this book pulls no punches! You want to feel bad about the sweat shops that make your tennis shoes? This is the book for you!
I kid, I kid…sort of. The plan in this book of living without stuff is radical! I am not going to go out and get rid of all but 7 pieces of clothing like Jen did. However, it’s beneficial to follow along on Jen’s journey of simplifying her life, and learn from her example.
Clutterfree With Kids
Author: Joshua Becker
Details: Becoming Minimalist, Jan 24, 2014
Length: 197 pages
Why it should be on your must-read list: Kids are great. They have little voices that say sweet little things. They need you to kiss their boo-boos and explain that hiccups aren’t fatal.
They also accumulate A LOT of stuff!
When I started this minimalism journey, I knew I had to cut down on the amount of stuff we ALL had. It can be tough to purge kid stuff, though. It feels like when they are young everything is a NEED, then as they get older it’s tough to keep it all at a reasonable level. This book addresses exactly what the title says: how to be Clutterfree with Kids!
This is a quick, fairly shallow read, but worth at least a skim. Joshua also writes a great minimalism blog called Becoming Minimalist.
Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World
Author: Kristen Welch
Details: NavPress, Jan 26, 2016
Length: 272 pages
Why it should be on your must-read list: This gets to the heart of one of the main reasons I want to have less stuff: I need the kids to know that possessions are not what matters. This book doesn’t necessarily focus on decluttering, but if you take the message to heart you will be motivated to get rid of a lot of stuff!
The thing I liked most about it is that this is not a book about parenting theory. This is a book filled with things you can do with your kids today and everyday. It is practical with a capital P! Obviously, Kristen is here in the thick of parenting with us, and she’s here to help us.
If you think your house needs a good decluttering, or you’ve noticed that your kids might be just a tad spoiled, this is the book for you.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Author: Marie Kondo
Details: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale, Oct 14, 2014
Length: 224 pages
Why it should be on your must-read list: I mean, this was a best seller for a reason. If you’re looking for inspiration to get rid of STUFF, this book will be a kick in the pants
This book will help you figure out what it is that you want from the stuff in your life. It also will help you evaluate what is coming into your home. I found that my minimalism journey took a big leap forward when I stopped bringing new belongings into our home.
It’s maybe a little more touchy-feely than is my preference, but there is great stuff in here for someone ready to take their first steps into minimalism! It’s definitely worth reading if you’re ready to dive into a less-stuff lifestyle.
You Got This, But it Will Take Work
This minimalism journey, there’s no destination I have in mind. I just want to be the wife and mom God wants me to be. I love having less stuff, but it is WORK! With these minimalism books, I know I have the motivation and plans to carry on. Check out these books, and you can do it, too!