You don’t have to do everything; in fact, it is impossible to do everything. You have to decide what you are going to make time for. This is something I had to teach myself.
Are you ready to hear my whole life story? Great, buckle up.
*Disclaimer* I am not complaining about my childhood, the way I was raised, or my college experience. I just want to share something that I had to learn in hopes that maybe someone else might find this bit of information useful.
Growing up, I felt like my parents really did it all. They worked, ran a farm, volunteered, and went to church. In addition to that, they each played in a bowling league on different nights of the week, they played softball on the weekends, they coached, and dragged my sisters and I around to all of our various events and activities.
How they did all of that, I have no idea. I am over here struggling because I signed my kid up for t-ball and after the first season, I am wondering if it’s too late to tell my kids they aren’t allowed to play.
Because of my parents’ overactivity (no offense parents) I thought that was just what you were supposed to do. I thought I was supposed to cram as much stuff in as possible.
When I reached high school, after getting my s**t together, I was involved in numerous clubs, I played sports, and I managed to maintain decent grades. By the time I reached my senior year, I was so overbooked, I could literally see myself coming and going. It wasn’t all bad though. All of that over activity really helped this not so great test taker get scholarships in college. I also don’t feel like I missed out on anything in high school, which I appreciate.
On my own.
Then I entered college. I may have gotten a good amount of scholarships; however, I did not get a full ride. Part of my college experience was me paying for my college education; so, I worked my way through college.
I got a part time job at Andy’s Frozen Custard. It was a great job and it worked really well with my schedule. During the summers I would take online classes and I would work two jobs. I managed to graduated in 4 years with 2 bachelors degrees and an associates degree.
I did not participate in any on campus activities. However, I did play recreational softball and volleyball. On top of that and all of my homework, I also somehow made time for regular ladies’ nights and time with family and friends. I still don’t know how I managed all of that. I swear I only slept like 4 hours a night.
Queue: Real Life Adulthood.
Did I mention that I am a CPA? No? Well I am. I studied for and passed my examinations with only one minor mental breakdown.
My first real job was at a public accounting firm doing bookkeeping and taxes. I know I’m about to sound super nerdy but I loved the work that I did. I still regularly tell my husband that I love bookkeeping and taxes, I just don’t love tax season.
I worked for that company for over 5 years and even during tax season I still somehow managed to play sports, go on date nights, and travel some.
I should also mention that from the time that I left my parents’ house I have been responsible for most of the cooking and cleaning in all of my living situations. Once my then boyfriend, now husband, and I moved into our first house, I also helped with the yard and garden.
Our house was always clean, our food was usually delicious, our garden produced, and our yard was fun. We hosted yard parties and gatherings most weekends. We went kayaking regularly. We spent time doing the things that we loved while keeping up with the things that we had to do.
When things starting the change.
Next on the list, marriage and kids. We got married in 2018 and had our first kid in 2019. I still managed to stay on top of all of it.
We had our second kid in the middle of 2020. It was such a weird time; but none the less, we still had plenty of time to keep up with everything.
The only thing that I every really struggled with was the laundry. Really just putting it away. One could come over on any given Sunday and find a coffee table that was piled high with all of our clean clothes from the prior…. week? Two weeks?
I had a closets PACKED full of clothes. I had a dressers PACKED full of clothes. I had dreams and aspirations of a closet like the one in 13 Going On 30.
I used to LOVE fashion. I loved clothes and shoes and jewelry. I loved makeup and doing my hair. I used love most typical girl things.
Random Fact: I did not love shaving my legs. Still don’t.
I had TONS of books. Most of those books had been read. I love reading.
I had bookshelves of books and boxes of books; I had more books than I knew what to do with. I had a vision that one day I would have the coolest study with a giant library.
The giant closet and the book filled library is no longer a vision of mine but let’s keep going.
Where it all started to fall apart.
In late 2019, while pregnant with our second child, we decided to move back to my hometown. We didn’t actually get moved in until the week before Christmas 2020.
I was smart and did a pretty heavy declutter on our kitchen before we moved but that was because I thought we would be moving into a home with a smaller kitchen. Instead of decluttering all of our other stuff before we moved, I packed all of it into boxes, and brought it along. That was the first mistake.
So, there we were. A brand new house full of boxes, two children under the age of two, and tax season was just a week away. Oh, on top of that, I now had over an hour commute to my job.
Once tax season started, we weren’t thriving, we were just kind of surviving. I would work and work and work to get stuff put away and I never felt like I made any progress.
Finding the answer.
I was new to the YouTube world and I had just started watching Clutterbug with Cass Aarssen. In one of the episodes that she posted, shortly after I started watching, she was doing an interview with Dawn from The Minimal Mom. That is when everything changed for me.
At first I was resistant. “Pssshh… Minimalists, those people are ridiculous. ” Of course I had also recently watched a ted talk about minimalism and the guy had like one chair and one shirt and one sock or something. That isn’t what minimalism is.
Minimalism isn’t having less of the sake of having less. It is having less for the sake of having more. It is having less of what isn’t important or necessary. Minimalism is having more space and time for what is important or necessary. What is important and necessary is up to you.
You can do anything but you cannot do everything.
After about a year of consuming minimalism content in various forms, I decided that is what I was going to be. That was the goal. I want to be a minimalist. Am I a true minimalist? Probably not. Am I done working towards that goal? Far from it.
There is probably someone out there that will tell me that I can’t be a minimalist because I have homesteading goals and because I have a deep freezer full of food. Someone might tell me that I can’t be a minimalist and have more than one job. However, I beg to differ.
I do not have enough time in my day to do it all. I cannot be the best dressed, have the best makeup, have the best hair, the best nails, have shaved legs, make the healthiest food, be a good mom, work my full time job (or a few), be a homesteader, make time for my friends and family, volunteer, get enough sleep, and take care of myself. I can’t even do all of that, let alone have hobbies.
The solution to my problems.
I was tired of struggling. I decided to free myself from managing my stuff. I had to pick what was and wasn’t important to me.
What wasn’t important.
- Having shaved legs. I know, surprising.
- Wearing makeup.
- Having the best hair.
- Having manicured/pedicured nails.
- Being the best dressed.
- Physical books.
- Having Pinterest/Instagram worthy anything.
What was important.
- Eating better quality food.
- Being a good mom.
- Self sufficiency.
- Friends and Family.
- Taking care of myself, including getting enough sleep.
What is neutral.
My job is just a job. I don’t hate it but I don’t love it. If I could not do it , that’d be super cool. However, I can’t just quit my job. We’d have to sell our property and move to a smaller house with fewer acres and that isn’t conducive to our long term goals. So, until till we have other means of making money ( YouTube, this blog, our other various self employment ventures) I will keep my day job.
Making a plan.
Removing what wasn’t important.
When I was younger, and I didn’t have adult responsibilities, I loved primping. I would do my hair and a full face of make up every day. For a short period of time, I thought it was necessary to shave my legs every day. I used to keep my nails painted and dress cute.
5 years ago I had far too many clothes, a makeup caddy full of fun and colorful makeup, various colors of nail polish, numerous hair products and accessories. I had piles of books and I was obsessed with home décor that might make my house look Pinterest worthy.
Hair, Nails, & Makeup.
I haven’t painted my nails a color since I had children. I do keep Pink Armor Nail Gel handy incase I get the urge to make my nails look decent. I also keep Kiss press-on nails for weddings and other occasions where one might not want to have less obvious gardener’s hands.
I now have one make up pouch with one pallet that holds all of my eyeshadows and blushes. I now keep two lipsticks and two mascaras (waterproof and non-waterproof). On any given weekday, it is unlikely that you will find me with any kind of makeup on. I just don’t want to spend the time doing it.
I keep one dry shampoo and one hairspray in my cabinet. I have found my favorite coil hair ties and I buy them in a four pack once I get down to my last one. I have four heat tools down from the ten that I had before. I also no longer waste my time washing my hair. It takes less time to do it if it isn’t wet, my color lasts longer if I don’t wash it, and I feel like my hair has gotten healthier by doing so.
I have drastically simplified my clothing. I used to have clothing for the following categories: work, going out, casual, chore, workout, and fancy.
I bought 5 pairs of the same work pants. They fit me and they are long enough, which is important to me. I buy Amazon Essential women’s t-shirts and that is basically all that I wear for work and casual. Most of them are black but they fit me and I don’t feel bad in them.
I no longer keep clothing just for going out. I do participate in the occasional “moms’ night out” where I play dress up and go run around with my girlfriends. I can usually pull something together out of my work/casual wardrobe that is acceptable.
I do keep chore clothes because I don’t want to ruin my work/casual clothing while doing farm work. I keep this paired down though. I also make sure that my chore clothes also double as workout wear as well.
I no longer keep fancy clothing on hand. If I need something for a specific event, I’ll just go buy it when I need it. I no longer keep stuff for “just in case”.
Books and Décor.
Last year, I decided that unless a book was a reference book (a cookbook, a gardening book, a health book, etc.) or Harry Potter I was not going to keep physical adult books. I did keep my husband’s books, while he doesn’t read a ton but he really does prefer physical books. I now simply use my kindle and audio books as a means to consume books.
I now don’t want any home décor unless it’s functional. I do have a few pieces that are sentimental but other than that, I am ready to throw it all away. I even recently got rid of a whole couch because I was tired of cleaning it and I wanted to have a better view out our living room windows.
Since simplifying these areas of my life I don’t have to spend time thinking about what I am going to wear, doing my hair or make up. Those are all things that I used to do every day. This alone saves me somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour every day. Even on the low side, that’s an hour and a half each work week. That could literally be the difference between have a tidy house and a not so tidy house.
I have NEVER been one to get my nails done. I’m not judging you if that is a thing that you do but scheduling in the time to get your nails done professionally takes away from time (and money) that could be spent doing other things.
If you didn’t catch it when I mentioned it above, I’ve never really been one to shave my legs consistently. I just really can’t find the value in it. I’m sure it wouldn’t take long for me to shave like once a week but I just don’t care.
Since I no longer keep physical adult books, I no longer have to worry about having shelf space for them. If I want to take a book with me somewhere, I just need my phone or kindle. It’s less stuff to keep track of and it’s less space that I have to make.
I don’t have to spend time making sure little trinkets look nice on the shelf. I no longer care about the perfectly fluffed throw pillows. I actually got rid of all of my throw pillows. There is no need to dust décor or pick it up to clean surfaces.
Here is your permission.
Now, it is obvious that I’m talking about getting rid of things. However, by getting rid of things I’ve have gotten rid of the need to manage those things. I have given myself the permission and the freedom to focus on the things that are important to me.
Because I no longer have to manage these things, I can maintain a semi-tidy home while playing with my kids and working in my garden. I can spend time preparing food that is nutritious rather than feeding my family processed food that isn’t because I don’t have the time to cook.
If you are looking for permission, here it is. You can do anything you want. If you don’t want to participate in social norms and pursue things that matter to you… DO IT!! If you’re into fashion and hair and nails… That is great! If you’re into interior design… fantastic. If you like traveling… Amazing! You like sewing or cooking or growing things?
You need to figure out what is and isn’t important so you can prioritize what is and remove the rest because you cannot do everything. Minimalism is about less for the sake of more and I want more for you.