Create a better life one step at a time

How I Discovered The Joy Of Minimalism

I became a minimalist through necessity not choice, but once I started de-cluttering I just couldn’t stop! 

In 2017 we moved to our dream location on the north coast of Cornwall.

We were not only moving house but also moving a business and we weren’t sure whether we’d lose some customers along the away. House prices are more expensive in Cornwall and we didn’t want to stretch our budget when our income could be uncertain for a while. 

We sold our large(ish) family home with three bedrooms, loft converstion, garage and large garden and bought a small but cute two bed cottage. What it lacked in size it made up for in location, set in an area of outstanding natural beauty and with walks from the front door.

We questioned everything – did we really need it? Was it useful? Did it benefit our lives in any way? 

We halved our belongings

We’d spent the summer whittling down our belongings, taking car load after car load to charity shops because we knew that there wasn’t a hope everything we owned would fit into the new house.

Some things are easier to get rid of than others, so we started with these. The junk we accumulated over years of family life that we didn’t have any emotional attachment to – spare TV screens, old pc monitors, old furniture that we never liked, excess clothes, crockery, toys that had been outgrown … the list went on and on. 

Once we got started it felt SO GOOD to be getting rid of things that were taking up space and we definitely got the minimalist bug. This made it easier when moving on to more sentimental belongings. 

Books – we had thousands. So we asked simple questions; had we read the book? If not it went because we’d had plenty of time to read it. Had google replaced the need for the book? If yes, it went. Was it book we wanted to reread? If no, it went. 

Once we had the ‘keepers’ pile we went through the process again, this time being more honest about whether we’d actually re-read it! 

We ended up with just two boxes of books to keep. 

Sentimental childhood things – Since Jack was born I had carefully kept every school book, every picture he made, every school report. We had plastic boxes piled floor to ceiling in the loft with these precious memories. 

How often did I look through them? – hmmm pretty much never. 

It was a big job but we spent hours going through cutting out examples of special/ funny work and pictures and sticking them into scrap books. It took full-on weeks but we reduced 12 large plastic storage boxes to just 8 scrap books.

We never looked through the boxes but the scrapbooks are now on our (small) bookcase and get opened regularly. We get much more enjoyment out of these memories now.

Once we’d done the sentimental childhood things everything else seemed really easy. I even took my wedding dress to charity. 

I can honestly say that we’ve haven’t regretted or missed anything.

By the time we moved out we had managed to get everything we owned whittled down so that it fit into a relatively small removal van.

We reckoned that we had given away over three quarters of our belongings before the move and couldn’t imagine that we could make do with any less.

But it was a squash and a squeeze to fit everything into the house.

Unfortunately, apart from a narrow corridor that was left so we could access the kettle and the stairs every inch of space downstairs had boxes piled from floor to ceiling. Upstairs wasn’t much better but at least the beds were in position.

Then we halved them again!

We did the only thing we could in that situation. We went out, locked the door and didn’t return until bedtime when we went straight to bed, ignoring both the box mountains and the blind panic that was setting in.

The next day happened to be the last day of the summer holidays so again we chose to ignore the precarious, towering boxes and headed out for the day.

Not once did anyone utter what we were all thinking ‘what the f*** are are we going to do?’

The next morning, when Jack left for his first day of secondary school, we couldn’t ignore it anymore.

The plan was simple.

Open each box, have a quick look to see if anything inside is essential and if not it went straight to charity. By now, through sheer necessity we had a very clear idea of what essential was. 

We’d already reduced our belongings by at least half by the time we arrived in Cornwall. Within a few days we halved our possessions again.

Nothing has been missed. Not one single item we rid ourselves of has been wished back.

We spend our free time doing fun things, not counting our possessions.

The unexpected benefits of being minimalist

Even though our house is small it seems spacious. I honestly can’t believe we used to have so many possessions. Since removing so many possessions from the house life seems much easier.

Our living room is cosy but uncluttered. It feels more relaxing and calm.

We have one small bookcase, mainly filled with photo albums and scrapbooks. Because these are easy to access we spend time looking through them, reliving the amazing adventures we’ve been on. 

We read books but then take them to charity. I read more books now than when I had floor to ceiling bookcases that were jam-packed.

We each have 1 wardrobe and a small bedside chest of drawers. Although we have less clothes we have clothes we actually like and enjoy wearing. The ironing gets done more regularly rather than building up into a mountain and seeming like a daunting task.  

Cleaning takes no time at all. There’s not as much time or money needed for maintenance. 

We can find things easily.

There is much more time to just relax and have fun. 

Are your possessions stopping you from living the life you want? 

Ask yourself this:

Do your possessions make you happy?
Does having to afford/ look after/ clean/ find space for your possessions cause you stress or take your time away from things you’d rather be doing?

You’ll be amazed at how good it feels once you’ve created more space.

If we’d have insisted on needing a house in Cornwall that was big enough for all of our belongings it would have delayed the move by months or years. It may not have happened at all. 

By being able to get rid of possessions it meant we were able to live the life we really wanted to. 

Top Tip

If you’re nervous about throwing/ giving things away then try boxing up possessions and taping them shut. Label whether the box is full of things to be thrown away or for charity. If you don’t look at them/ need them in a set amount of time (maybe 6 months) then don’t be tempted to open the box and take a peek just take it out of your house to charity or to the bins.

Not everything always goes to plan…. 

On the day we moved house Jack fell off a wall and broke his arm! 

We’d lived within 2 minutes of a hospital since before he was 1 year old and he’d never needed to use it. The day we moved over 300 miles away was the day he needed it. Even more ironic is the fact that our nearest hospital is now an hours drive away and we had to make multiple trips there in the first few weeks! 

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