100 days of minimalism – redefining my values

I’ve been attempting to live a more minimalist lifestyle for three months now. Jonny is in the kitchen tinkering with his Warhammer collection on our clear counter, our 3-year-old is napping on the sofa and my 12-year-old is with his dad for the weekend, which means that I have some time to myself to reflect on the past quarter.

Since I began to embrace minimalism at the start of the year, a lot has changed in our lives, and it’s all good.
We have made a good start on reducing our belongings:
– Our babywearing gear has been listed on eBay after sitting unused on a shelf for over a year,
– Jonny and I both now own Kindles and have been able to let go of over half of our physical books (some have been sold via MusicMagpie and Ziffit, and the rest have been donated to charity),
– I no longer own any make-up other than nail varnish (although I have enough of that to open a small store) seeing as I never wear it anyway – I prefer to let my inner beauty shine through instead. It’s got nothing to do with me being too damn lazy to faff around putting it on each morning before leaving the house…hell, there are days when I just comb my hair by running my fingers through it before whipping it up in a ponytail rather than going to the bathroom to brush it! No, it’s totally the whole inner beauty thing. *clears throat sheepishly*
– We’ve started tackling the kids’ toys. This is going to be a slow process, but we’ve taken the first tentative steps (and lived to tell the tale).
– We sold a couple of bits of furniture and repurposed one into a proper desk (something I’ve been looking at buying for some time).
As a result of our efforts, our home is starting to feel less cluttered. ¬†There’s still a long way to go until our home looks the way I want it to, but there has definitely been a noticeable improvement.

I’ve become more aware of my impact on the environment:
– Trading aluminium foil for silicon baking sheets.
– Ordering organic, plastic-free veg boxes from the local health-food shop (all grown less than an hour away).
– Switching to locally produced shampoo bars rather than mass-produced plastic bottles.
– Signing up for an account with TerraCycle (recycling more than our kerbside collection and raising money for a local charity to boot).
– Making my own chemical-free cleaning spray which works on pretty much everything, is kid-friendly and smells amazing.
– Purchased washable wipes to use instead of toilet paper/disposable baby wipes.
– Swapping plastic straws for bamboo ones.

I’ve started to understand myself better. One of the first things I do once I jump out of bed in the morning (after I’ve made coffee, obviously) is to write in my journal. To help me with this habit, I picked up a book of daily writing prompts – one for each day of the year – rather than trying to come up with something new before my caffeine levels hit ‘vaguely intelligible’.
I’ve taken a book designed to help writers develop new characters and used it for my own devices (hello, inner narcissist!). Rather than writing from the perspective of another person, I use the prompts to gain a better understanding of myself. While there are several aspects of my personality that I’m happy with, I’ve discovered a number of traits that I really want to work on and improve:
– I’m a total narcissist
– I procrastinate way more often than I should
– I suffer from shiny-object-syndrome
– I spend far too much time staring at a screen
– I can be disturbingly judgemental and bitchy
Don’t worry, I’m not going to address these issues here, as this is supposed to be a much more positive post rather than a self-deprecating rant. However, I’ll add the links to the me-bashing posts as I put them up in case anyone needs a good laugh at my expense at any time.

I went back to read through the reasons I started out on my journey towards minimalism just three months ago (it seems a whole lot longer than that!) to see how I’ve been getting on with them. Turns out I’ve come further than I thought:
– To reduce the excess things in our home – we’ve certainly made some progress. Quite a few things have gone, but we still have a long way to go.
– To reduce the time I spend cleaning and organising – erm…nope!
– To have time to enjoy my hobbies – not really, but I’ve taken on a new job and training course since so that’s to be expected.
– To improve our quality of life – not yet, but it’s still early days.
– To reduce my anxiety and stress – this seems to be linked to the amount of stuff we own; the more that leaves our home, the better I seem to feel. Progress has been made, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
– To be more intentional with the things I buy and do – I’m getting better at this. I find myself saying no to things I previously would have picked up mindlessly.
– To reduce the amount of waste in our home/be more eco-friendly – I’ve made some good progress on this one, and have more ideas to reduce waste further.
– To reduce the feeling of entitlement in myself and the boys – this one is more of a long-term goal, not much to report at this point.
– To teach my children better habits – I need to focus more on my own habits before I can hope to have a positive influence on theirs!
– To reduce our level of consumerism – this one is kicking my ass.
– To live a more fulfilling life – yup! I started working in a local care home in January, and the satisfaction I get knowing that I’m helping people on a daily basis is incredible. I’ve started popping in on my days off to sit and chat with the residents too, which is something I don’t get much time for while I’m working.
– To appreciate the things we have – I think this will come later on once we have reduced the excess to a more comfortable level. It’s hard to appreciate things that are buried under a mountain of crap.

Seeing as I’ve done better than expected (and have come to terms with how much of an asshole I can be on occasion), I’ve decided that now is a good time to up the ante and throw down some new challenges:
– Reduce our consumer debt.
– Give up smoking once I hit my target weight.
– Increase our monthly income.
– Spend more quality time together as a family.
– Start an emergency fund.

Overall, it’s been a good few months. I’ve found myself smiling a lot more, and things generally seem to be looking up for us as a family. Yes, we still have a long way to go on our journey, but we’ve pulled together and made a good start.

Here’s to more progress over the next three months!