I was listening to a podcast about minimalism. I am a loose minimalist at heart and something about organizing and purging and living on only what is immediately used and needed makes me all giddy inside. Frequently going through drawers, bins, and baskets and getting rid of unwanted or unnecessary items in my house is both necessary in a home with so many people (for order's sake) but also brings me joy. I like being able to look my home and know the exact articles contained in that area. Maybe it's me. I can be a bit weird in this way. It's my toxic trait, ha!
Back to the podcast. I'm listening and nodding my head in agreement and giving all the "amen's" when it hit me. I love the IDEA of minimalism, but practically, in my own home, it doesn't quite look the same as the newest minimalist documentary on Netflix. It's more of a foundation where I build off of as I layer on our family purpose and lifestyle.
I live in a house with six other people. Each with their own opinion and perspective on what is unwanted or unnecessary. Some tend to be more sentimental than others and some could care less about the "heart" behind an object. And since this house is not entirely mine I have to balance my desire to keep our belongings to a minimum. I have to respect the rest of the people who live with me, while still trying to teach our kids the art of releasing "things" that no longer serve a purpose in this home. This alone could be a whole other blog post! But today I wanted to touch on another area that makes living minimally a little bit tricky.
We have an open door policy at our home. Our revolving door brings in friends, family, and kids of all ages. I never know how many people I will be feeding at dinner or who will be spending the night. Not only that, but we bring in kids from all walks of life through fostering (as infrequent as it may be). I hate hanging onto articles of clothing or random items just because "I might need it one day", but if you hang onto it because there might be a child that enters your home needing that jacket or pair of rain boots, or when that gathering of 30 extra people from the worship and tech team come for dinner and you need extra seating or cookware it changes things.
So I have a few things I try to keep in mind as I walk around my home for the 8th time in the month seeing if there is anything that needs to be re-homed.
1 - SPACE: I would like to have the rule of one jacket and one bag hanging on the hooks for each kid in our mudroom, but sometimes I allow an extra jacket (or four) to hang around because not only do my own kids tend to lose things, but we may have a visitor who comes to play (or live) who doesn't have one and if my kid only has one, then I am stuck secretly hoping it makes its way back to us or I'll have to go out and buy a new one. And ain't nobody got the resources to keep doing that.
In fact, an extra pair of too small rain boots is located in our shed with the rest of our rain boots that actually fit us. They will stay there until I no longer feel the need to hang onto them.
If the item is out of the way, fits into the flow of the rest of the house and doesn't add to a sense of clutter, it stays.
2 - PRIORITY: I keep plastic utensils (mostly because my kids have accidentally thrown almost all of our real ones away over the years. We have about 5 forks left, ya'll. Three real plates and million knieves...) and paper plates and even plastic cups on hand when the masses arrive, like 20 teenagers for a Friendsgiving or Super Bowl Party or 30+ adults for a worship team gathering. But when we just have a friend or three over for a few hours or sleepover I hate creating that waste so we tend to need cups. LOTS of cups. I can't tell you how nice it would be if I could open the cabinet in the kitchen and see seven cups. Just seven cups in the cabinet?! The space. The freedom. I can take a nice deep breathe just thinking about it! But that just isn't going to work with what we have created our home to be. So extra cups we have.
Towels (and pillows, blankets, toothbrushes...) are another thing. Keeping up with just seven towels would be so much easier that having to find space for, lets say, 10-15. But people need showers you know?! And so that is something I will rearrange my closets and make space for in order for it to work for people to come visit or live with us.
If I find myself needing something over and over again when people are here, it stays.
3 - ZONES: As my kids have gotten older I'm not gonna lie, I have enjoyed clearing our home of all the previous stages of life to make room for the current ones. We cannot simultaneously have space in the girls room for Polly Pockets AND Hoola Hoops and various other circus apparatuses. Or Superhero costumes AND street hockey gear with a side of filming equipment. Our home has had to transition with the seasons. That being said, we still frequent littles and need to have things for them on hand. So up in the attic I have a pack-n-play, a highchair that attaches to a kitchen chair and a johnny-jump-up. Small, compatible items that give us a big bang for our buck. I also have a little bin that we use as a coffee table in our spare bedroom that houses sippy cups, baby blankets, a few pull-ups, toddler utensils and board books. Then under our stairs, in an area we call the "secret hideout", is our "playroom" with some drawers full of superhero figures and houses, nerf guns, cars, trains, tracks and magnet tiles.
If these things can stay out of the way and I don't have to keep moving them around to do life with our growing teenagers, but they are easily accessible and ready for sticky little hands to enjoy if the need arises, it stays.
These are the three things I try to weigh my purging urges through. If I lived in a home all by myself I would own one towel, a single set of dishes and utensils, and not much else. But I don't live by myself and I am so grateful for the atmosphere God has created in our home to be a safe place for so many. So I'm gonna keep hanging on to some extra just so you know there is a place for you here. You were thought of before you even arrived.