Minimalism for normal people.
It may sound harsh to die-hard minimalists. You are thinking, this woman is saying I’m not normal! Who does she think she is?!
Chances are, if you are a die-hard minimalist, you know you aren’t normal. You stopped being a victim to consumerism, your home is almost always clean, and you know how to savor the experiences in life over stuff.
I applaud you. I am trying really hard to be you.
So, please, don’t take offense by me helping all the “normal people” out there.
Now, you normal people.
Yes, you mama with the messy kids and the one who likes to shop. I’m talking to you. 😊 You can be a minimalist. Wait, what did I just say? Yep, you can be a minimalist.
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Minimalism doesn’t have to have rules
I am a firm believer that minimalism does not have rules.
Minimalism doesn’t have to mean white walls, just ten toys for your kids, and only one set of sheets.
You can have material things, and you can be a minimalist. Heck, you can even like to shop as a minimalist! (However, how you shop may change once you make this lifestyle switch! You might even want to try a no shopping challenge.)
If you walked into my home, and you are a die-hard minimalist, you will probably think I’m crazy to even stake a claim in minimalism.
My walls are mustard yellow, not white (hideous, mustard yellow, but they will be a lighter color once we finish painting). I have comfortable, antique furniture, and my kids have a room full of creative, timeless toys.
I still call myself a minimalist.
Related Post: The Benefits of Being a Minimalist Family
What is a minimalist anyway?
There are so many different types of minimalists out there. The reasons for minimalism vary, and the outcomes people are searching vary. There is no right way to be a minimalist.
Let me say it again, there is no right way to be a minimalist!
For me, minimalism means simplicity. It means placing less value in material things and placing more value on the things that matter to me.
Values will differ from person to person. However, minimalism allows you the opportunity to put more time, money and effort into those values.
Minimalism also means giving myself more time to do the things I love and spend more time with the people I love. It means saying no to activities and obligations that add no value, spending more time at home with my family, and spending more of my money on experiences over things.
For me, minimalism means saying “no” to the things in life that don’t bring me joy.
Related post: The benefits of minimalism for moms
The different types of minimalists
People are minimalists for a host of reasons.
After adopting a minimalist lifestyle for a few years, reading everything I could get my hands on, and talking to people about minimalism, I’ve found there are generally seven types of minimalists.
- Frugal minimalists. Minimalists who don’t spend money, for whatever reason.
- Aesthetic minimalists. Minimalists who like an aesthetically pleasing home with very few items on display.
- Mindful minimalists. Minimalists who practice intention or essentialism in all aspects of their lives.
- Save the earth minimalists. Minimalists who practice zero waste or other sustainable practices.
- Traveling or experimental minimalists. Minimalists who live out of backpacks or value experiences over a more permanent home.
- Counting minimalists. The minimalists who count how many items they own and refuse to go over said number, either for their entire home or for a specific category.
- Normal minimalists. I put a lot of moms in this category. Moms who are fed up with cleaning and the stress of being stretched too thin! Getting rid of stuff and life clutter helps these minimalists feel lighter, but they are OK still having a “lived in” but clean home.
I made that last category up. Ha!
I put myself in the “minimalism for normal people” category. I’m no hoarder, even in my previous minimalist life.
I jokingly call my husband a hoarder, but honestly, he’s not. He’s just sentimental.
“Minimalism for normal people” means you will walk into my house, and even if it is a “mess” by my own terms, you may think it looks clean. It may need a good pick-up, and the floors may need mopping, but ultimately, there isn’t a whole lot of clutter going on.
Normal minimalism means my house does look lived in. I have kids. They make big, big, big messes, every single day. They make me crazy with their messes, like the obstacle course of toys they set up in the hallway.
I keep some items on the kitchen counter, but I’m selective about what earns its place there. The clutter I keep out is functional and gets used daily.
My house does not look sterile. We have no white walls.
I have pictures of my family hanging up, and I love a good gallery wall! When we went to sell our last house, I was sad at the completely 100% empty counters. I hated the generic photos on the wall. I hated kids’ rooms looked like no kids actually lived there. It made me sad. My house looked sad.
From that experience of selling my home, I learned that level of minimalism was not something I was seeking. It was a great lesson and wake-up call!
Minimalism for normal people… and their kids
My normal minimalistic kids have toys. They don’t have a toy store in their rooms, but they do have toys. Their rooms don’t look like this:
I wish on some days they could make their rooms look like the picture above. I wish I had mad decorating skills like this. However, this is not the kind of room that represents my family, and that’s ok!
I am picky as to what kinds of toys my kids get to enjoy. For example, I don’t like electronic toys that do the playing for my kids. I also don’t like many character-specific toys.
My preference are toys that spark imagination and creativity. I also prefer my kids play with toys that will be timeless and last more than just a year or two.
I control the chaos in my kids’ rooms by giving everything a place. The toy clutter is contained, which makes clean up so much more manageable.
For example, all the Barbies go in one basket. (Yep, my kids have Barbies. I know, so not minimalistic!) Hot wheels, they get another basket, etc. My favorite way to organize kids’ toys is with a cubby shelf, so each toy category has a designated spot.
When the cubbies are full, something has to go before something else enters the room! That’s how we keep it all under control. Don’t let the bins overflow, and the floors will stay clean (at least between play sessions).
This is a picture of my youngest child’s room. It more meets the definition of “minimalism for normal people”.
Related post: 12 Brilliant Tips on How To Keep a Clutter Free Home (Even With Kids!)
What changes when you embrace minimalism?
Although I claim the category “minimalism for normal people”, a lot changed in our lives once we embraced minimalism as a family. It has been one of the most fulfilling journeys I have ever been on!
You see, when we embraced minimalism, we started to learn the joys of a simpler life. No longer did consumerism, keeping up with the Joneses, or financial debt loom over us.
I was even able to quit my job and stay home with my kids! You can quit your job too, mama!
We had money saved, as we were no longer spending it, we were enjoying experiences more often as a family, and my kids learned early that life isn’t just about the amount of stuff we can cram into our homes.
I no longer shop just for the fun of it. When we go shopping, we go to buy things we need. If its something we want, we research it and buy quality items.
We don’t buy things just because they are on sale, on a whim or because we think it would look good in our home. Every purchase we make now is intentional. That thought process can save you a lot of money!
Related post: Free activities to do instead of shopping
Your home will look better with minimalism
We used to think we lived in a home that was too small, always a mess, and I was convinced I had zero decorating skills. Minimalism changed all that!
We decluttered our homes when we embraced a simpler life. I took away six van loads of “stuff” to the local Goodwill in the first three months of decluttering my home. That’s a lot of unnecessary stuff!
We thought we needed a bigger home, and we were working our butts off for one! Turns out, we needed less stuff.
We were storing stuff we didn’t even know we owned. We certainly weren’t using it.
I reclaimed the space of an entire basement after we decluttered our home!
Decluttering got us a guest room, playroom space, and office space. It was amazing, and the start of a life-changing movement.
Related Post: Things I No Longer Buy Since Becoming a Minimalist
Do I have to give away everything I own to be a minimalist?
Nope! You can keep your stuff and be a minimalist.
Thing is though, once you learn to live with less stuff, you won’t want as much. You stop craving new and better things when you stop buying new things and stop stuffing your home.
You should keep the things that matter to you. My motto is if it made me happy and got used on a regular basis, it made the cut.
That means I have more than 30 pieces of clothing in my capsule wardrobe. It also means I still kept 13 pairs of shoes after I decluttered my closet!
You don’t have to live on bare bones to be a minimalist. In fact, I don’t recommend it if you have kids.
My kids have capsule wardrobes too, but they still have more than seven outfits. They have a couple church outfits, enough play clothes to last almost two weeks, and two pairs of shoes. (OK, I’m bare bones on kids shoes, but their feet grow so fast, and I’m cheap!)
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If you need an extra boost to get started with decluttering, please join our FREE 5-Day Declutter My Home Challenge to get small, actionable steps that get you well on your way to a more clutter-free home!
Do my walls have to be white to be a minimalist?
Nope! You don’t have to have white walls to be a minimalist. Sure, white walls look clean and crisp, but if that’s not you, that’s ok!
I love colors in my home, and I embrace it. I also love antiques, which doesn’t go with the normal modern look of minimalism.
If having color on the walls make you happy, go for it! You can still call yourself a minimalist. If you like having a picture gallery, go for that too! Minimalism is about keeping only the items that bring you joy, so if you love it, keep it and use it.
Related post: How to Create a Minimalist Bedroom (That’s Not Boring!)
Minimalism for normal people…and for this mama.
This mama prefers minimalism in my own way, with no rules. I like to practice intention with my space and with my time. I no longer waste my dollars on stuff for my home, and I no longer waste hours doing activities that don’t bring myself or my family joy.
We try to do everything with intention. We try to keep our home simple. However, sometimes, we make messes, and sometimes, we buy our kids toys.
We certainly don’t paint our walls white, and I have a wardrobe of clothes I absolutely adore and wear regularly. My kitchen counters have things on them, but they still look clean and ready for a meal to be made!
Related post: How to clear clutter from your kitchen counters
You can be a minimalist mama, even with a family. You can have messes, just make it a whole lot easier on yourself to clean them up! There are benefits to be a minimalist family, and embracing a simpler way of living can change you.
Go ahead and teach your kids about minimalism. It’s not as scary as it sounds. They don’t have to be afraid you are going to strip their rooms of everything they own. You don’t have to be afraid to declutter your bedroom and stop shopping senselessly!
Less truly is more. Minimalism for normal people is totally possible!
Thanks for sharing! I love that you say the walls don’t have to be white! It is funny how a certain image comes along with the minimalist idea.
Yes! I hate white walls. Well, I like them, but I like color too!
This article speaks to me so much! I love the “normal minimalist” category! That’s definitely where I’m striving to be, but as a wife, mom of 4, and dog mom if 3, true minimalism just isn’t realistic. We are taking a huge step this summer—selling our 4000 sq ft home and down sizing to 2400 sq ft. Not truly “minimalist” but realistic for us and I can’t wait!! I’ll definitely be visiting your blog more as I downsize our belongings more to fit in our new space.
Kara, thank you so much for your kind words! I hear ya. Kids totally change the dynamic. That’s a big change you are undertaking, but you may notice cleaning goes sooooo much faster! Best wishes and let me know how it goes or if I can be of any more help!
Thank you for your reply! I always feel like I’ve met a celebrity when bloggers actually respond to my posts! Today is the day we mostly move. It’s exciting, scary, stressful—so many things. I’ve gotten rid of soooo much, but feel like I still need to cut stuff down by 1/2 again. A big challenge will be going from a huge walk-in pantry, to a smaller-than-a-normal door sized pantry. And where to put the 150+ years of family pictures, mementos, keepsakes that I’ve been blessed with storing—lol. Any ideas on those problem areas would be more than welcome!
Good luck, Kara! How did it go with downsizing the pantry? I guess the more space one has the more we tend to fill it. It’s hard for me to remember how I managed before the walk-in pantry as we added two more kids, and we store cooking equipment in there (like blender, food processor, juicer, air fryer, instapot, griddle, wok, slow cooker, etc!) That would be hard! Sheesh my gadgets are a lot! I rarely use the juicer but we got it free. I use everything else in that list at least weekly except the slow cooker (1-2 times a week in winter), and electric wok very rarely, and the food processor seldom too (mostly for carrot cake a few times a year). But only had a couple of those items pre walk-in pantry. So I would have to do something with all of that if I didn’t have the pantry (i.e. declutter/ give away the food processor, wok and juicer). So did you have to give up stuff like that?
And all the photos choosing which to keep and if you take photos of it and store digitally?
Monique E Hemme
Thank you so much for writing this. I have been wanting to embrace minimalism, but always get overwhelmed by the idea of all the hard core, die hard minimalists. I want my kids to have toys and I want my house to be lived in and spark joy! This will definitely help our family get started! I am looking forward to your 5 day and 52 week challenges!! Thank you again!!
Monique, I’m so happy you found value in my Minimalism for Normal people post. I too struggled with the die hard concepts. I like a “lives in but clean” home. Kids are messy! Best wishes with the challenge. Join our Facebook group too. The support is wonderful!
I love this so much! I’ve heard so many moms say “I could never be a minimalist” but they’re missing the whole idea of grace, flexibility, and purpose that comes with “normal minimalism” <— I love that =) It really can be as simple as "do we really need this", and with that, a lot of the overwhelm can be cleared out. Great post!
I see your point but minimalism, even that not for normal people does not mean white walls and seven outfits in a closet. It is minimalism created in social media. The truly real minimalism is different for all the people. For instance I am „counting minimalist” and yet I have colourful home (green orange and pink walls) and I have 9 pairs of shoes, 5 suits, 13 dresses and 15 elegant shirts and more (4 bikinis for example since I love bikinis). You can have 20 pairs of shoes and still be even „counting minimalist” since minimalism is not the same for everyone. So do not stress that you do not have tody white house, because I can assure you that a few minimalists have
Ads thank you so much for your input! I totally agree, we all have our own version for minimalism. Also, I LOVE that you have colorful walls. 🙂
Love this so much! I’ve been trying to declutter and looking to the internet for guidance and inspiration and often get frustrated at what I find. I hate plain white walls and houses that look unlived in. I also love gallery walls and antiques lol. Thank you for this article!