I am sure some people see this minimalism thing as a fad and refuse to consider it for that reason. I am sure other people are actually partaking in this minimalism thing because it is a fad to them.
But I see many millennials are favoring minimalism because of what we experienced in our lifetime. Many of us were born during a time of surplus and excess. However, when the housing market collapsed and our families had to downsize, live under constant stress, or lose retirement pensions – we kept those experiences with us. We internalized them.
I was born in the late 80’s and people were living with a lot. Into the 90’s and early 2000’s I actually remember my bedroom and all the STUFF I had. It was too much for a kid to care for and to be honest, I lived in a big pile of stuff. I think my mom showered us with stuff because we asked for it… And as a single mother when she was able to give us stuff, she was happy she could. My siblings and I never went without a single thing, and looking back I love my mom for doing what she could do. She did what we said would make us happy.
We weren’t wealthy by a long shot, and I knew what my mom did for us came from a place of sacrifice. I felt guilty if I didn’t love something or turned out I didn’t need it, I knew what it took for her to get it, so I hoarded my belongings. I kept all she gave me.
Looking back I see how we were targeted as children by advertising. I see how my mom did her best to give us things, which we said would make us happy, but to be honest, we were pretty selfish and ungrateful – always wanting more.
As an adult I’ve gone through cycles of letting go, and accumulating. Never quite getting to the place where I was as a teen (having too much), but still having more than I need. Then I ended up being a single mother like my mother – and I felt that same feeling of pride of being able to do for my kids. It felt good to be able to gift them with things, and I loved that as a person without much, I still was able to provide things.
I am not sure when I started rejecting consumerism for myself, but I would say it was in my early 20’s. I stopped shopping for things as often. Clothes and style mattered, but I didn’t want to go out shopping all the time. I didn’t care for name brand things. I saw advertising for what it was – a way to sell me things I didn’t need (Perhaps working in retail and retail management I realized how frivolous the industry was).
Fast forward to where we are as a family now:
We don’t have cable, anymore. We use Netflix, and with children it is glorious! They aren’t inundated with commercials designed to target them. They don’t ask for every thing they see on the television because there is nothing to see. However, I’m always surprised when we go to a house with cable, my children run up to us to share about this unbelievable toy they now need. Normally, my children ask for very little, I think they could live with just a tablet and a couple toys… It is so much simpler than what we make it for ourselves as parents. The problem is with children, we can’t force our minimalism on them – if they say they love something, who am I to take it?
My husband is naturally someone who can live with very little, before I moved in with my children there was little to his home. It was clean, uncluttered, and room to spare…
With more people comes more mess, and we are currently in the middle of discussing our downsizing of “things” from within our home. Letting go of things has been a process for the both of us.
For him, some of his things carry a memory or sentimentality. For me, while being a single mother I lost about everything, so I hold onto things for fear of my need of them – “in case something happens”. I guess I fear being without again, and especially my children being without (even though I sacrificed so they could have things).
I suppose this is where we see how the emotional entanglement with things has a lot to do with our own baggage. I see where it is totally irrational as well. Today our whole home can go up in flames, and as long as my family makes it out intact, there is no real loss. All the stuff can be replaced in time.
I think we all need to reevaluate why we decide to take the path we choose from time to time.
Here are 11 reasons why I chose this lifestyle and why will continue to go down this path:
- I want less time cleaning, organizing, and finding things.
- I want more freedom to do activities outside our home.
- Not being consumer driven does save us a lot of money.
- I think we can still do better and create more time/money to travel.
- When we move I don’t want to be overwhelmed.
- We don’t need 5 spatulas.
- I want our children to value people more than things.
- I want my children to see more than our home, I want to take them places.
- If ever we had the opportunity to travel for a living, I would do it! I can’t bring all this with us.
- Life is too short to accumulate a bunch of crap my kids would have to deal with and sell/throw out when I die.
- I don’t want to take out a loan to buy a home so I can hopefully, one day, maybe own it for real.
So… in a future post I will share photos, ideas, and an overhaul of a room in our home.
In the meantime, I would like to hear your tips, experiences, and ideas about minimalism.
How does it work for you? If you have a family, do your kids embrace the minimalist lifestyle or participate begrudgingly?