How going minimal helped my mental health and made me a better mom

Ok, y'all. This mystery blog post is from my sister-in-law, Erika who is brave and honest in sharing her story.  Her purpose in sharing it is to help any other mamma out there who feels the struggle and if you are a mom living in the US, chances are, you have felt the pull to be "Pinterest Perfect" life.  I know that in my young mom days I tried to make it all be wonderful, amazing and spectacular for everyone, family, friends, my kiddos.  I have lived through the same stresses that Erika talks about and still from time to time.  The house clutter is something we all identify with and it is probably the item I am working the most toward altering in our house.  Kids have stuff.  Husbands have stuff.  Dogs have stuff and I have stuff too.  Both Erika and I have goals to make sure we don't buy into the warped idea that our stuff makes us who we are because that is a lesson none of us want to pass on to our children.  Moving toward (and it is a journey not a destination) minimalism may just teach your kids that they are more important than any stuff and that would make it all worth it for Erika and myself!

Peace, love and roots,

Erin
 

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Our journey to minimalism really started about two months after I gave birth to our second son, Miles.  It should have been one of the happiest most fulfilling times of my life,  but it instead was filled with anxiety, stress, and doubt. I wasn't present.  I was constantly cleaning up a mess my 2-year-old had made, attempting to cook some complicated meal, doing piles of laundry, planning workouts and ways to get back to my pre-baby weight and worrying about how I was going to keep it all together when I went back to work in just four short weeks.  


Our culture today expects women to do life and motherhood "Pinterest" style and I was pin-failing.  Most days I sat around with a baby attached to my boob crying and yelling at my husband and toddler.  I wasn't the best mother that I could be and I finally sought the help that I so desperately needed.  I reached out to my doctor and was diagnosed with postpartum adjustment anxiety disorder.  I attended counseling sessions weekly and learned strategies through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help me decrease my anxious tendencies.  I was also introduced to the idea of minimalism around the same time.  I realized that I was spending so much of my precious time cleaning and organizing items that I did not need.  
I read "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo and watched the documentary Minimalism- and I was hooked.  I couldn't begin cleaning up my life fast enough.
I started in my closet.  I took out every item and only kept the pieces that fit and made me feel good (not an easy task for a postpartum nursing mother, but I did it.)  It felt amazing to see such a beautiful organized and uncluttered closet.  I began using each nap time to pursue a new area of our home.  I tackled the kitchen drawers and cabinets, under bathroom cabinets, children's closets, the laundry room.  I had junk hidden everywhere, and I was addicted to getting rid of it.  I actually got rid of 35 wine glasses..... 35! We don't even have 35 friends.  We also had 26 towels for a family of 4.  Countless trips to the Goodwill were made.  The workers began to recognize our car as we pulled up to unload yet another overstuffed trunk of stuff.  
The area that had the most significant effect on our daily lives was the toy areas in our living room.  

We had noticed that our children played with about 10% of their toys and I was spending a considerable amount of time picking up and organizing 100% of their toys.  So we simply got rid of the toys that were not serving them.  We kept their favorite trucks, blocks, puzzles, books, trains, play kitchen, and puppets, but we got rid of the annoying play remote controls, fake computers, phones and pretty much anything that didn't require them to use their imagination.  I want them to learn how to be creative and how to play.  Now they each have two bins of developmentally appropriate toys in our living room as well as their puzzles, books, and blocks.  Honestly, our kids play better now.  They don't have 97 toys to choose from, and they are perfectly content.  The best part is that everything can be cleaned up and stored neatly at the end of each day in about 5 minutes.  
Adapting minimalism into our lives has given me a sense of peace in our home.  I've noticed that the amount of clutter and lack of organization in my home had a direct impact on my stress level.  


We didn't stop with our home either.  We have adopted the idea of minimalism in other areas of our lives including the way we purchase items, the way we cook and even the way we schedule our lives.  I now know that when I say "yes" to something I am also saying "no" to something else, so I am much more mindful of the way I schedule my life.  
Before buying something new, I think "do I need this? Where will I put this? is this going to add value to my life."  Before clothing shopping for myself or my children I make a Pinterest board see what items I am looking for instead of just loosey-goosey going shopping because I need something new.... what exactly is it that you need?  Minimalism has saved us a lot of money here :)

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I used to stress about cooking nutritious and budget-friendly meals for my family.  Now I have five meals that we eat during the week that are super easy and budget friendly.  It has simplified my life, and we are all healthier and happier because of it.  
Less is more.  It allows you more time and energy focusing on things that you value, such as family, friends, and your health.  Minimalism has made me a better wife and mother. What could you let go of to become a better you?

-Erika