*Photographic proof that children will turn anything into a toy given the chance to be creative.*
Human beings are built with a biological craving to consume. Without delving too far into the science of it all, realize that our brains have evolved over thousands of years but we are still hard wired to feast when given the opportunity. This is why it can be hard to stop eating something delicious even when we are full. This is also why many people spend money faster than they can make it.
Factor in advertising, social media, and the rampant desire to keep up with “The Joneses” (whoever they may be) and you have an incredibly potent combination propelling you in the direction of consumption. Advertising and social media are profoundly effective ways to feed that addiction. And the addiction is only growing.
The average home is bigger today than it was 50 years ago. Many families with only two drivers own three cars. With Amazon, Target, Walmart and other big box stores, we are able to buy more at a much lower cost. And so we do. Repeatedly.
Five years ago our family moved from an 857 square foot condo to a 2,100 square foot townhouse. Two adults, one 7 month old child, a dog, and our stuff. The irony of the situation was that while my husband and I agreed we needed (wanted) more space, during the move we realized just how much stuff we owned and started questioning why. Did we need that? Could we toss that? I swear we took more things to Goodwill that year than in any year prior.
Four years ago I came across The Minimalists. At the time, we had jettisoned some of our things but we still could not fit my car in the garage. Our townhouse has a one car garage but for that first year, we used it only as a storage unit. We had bikes and boxes and who knows what else strewn around. This is a very normal practice and we fell right into that normalcy. But after reading a blog post by The Minimalists, I knew I wanted to change. My starting point: the garage. I took a big trip to Goodwill, a sale or two online, and some bike hooks for the wall, but eventually my car fit and we’ve never looked back.
To be clear, we are just an average family living in Northern Virginia. I am just an average mom. But we have what seems to be a less and less average view of stuff. Not quite minimalists – the term in and of itself is defined by being extreme and we are not extreme – and yet, I’m not quite a normal consumer either.
The past couple of years have involved a very intentional journey. It has also been a journey that I believe many other moms may be interested in taking but aren’t sure where to start. You may be like me – with no intention of living in a tiny home, but pulled by a strong desire to own less. There are so many measurable steps you can take right where you are today to stop the compulsive consumption, to cut out the visual clutter in your home, and to release yourself from the treadmill created by owning and maintaining so much stuff.
So my dear, start with where you are and with what you have. Don’t organize, just gather what is no longer serving you and work to toss it or donate it. The process of reducing isn’t always easy, but it can be very rewarding. Just start.