Are you noticing minimalism sprouting up all around pop culture? From tiny houses to the Marie Kondo method of tidying up, minimalism is all the rage. It sounds crazy to say, but it makes my heart happy! I consider myself to be a minimalist to an extent because for five years of my life I lived in about five hundred square feet. There wasn’t room for anything but the essentials, and when something didn’t bring me joy, it left. With no space for clothes we didn’t wear, toys that weren’t used, or knickknacks that served no purpose, I had to keep things simple.
What was supposed to be a temporary living situation for just my husband and myself ended up housing our family of four. Now I’m not saying it was awful, it wasn’t at all. Actually, I believe those years crammed on top of each other were some of the best of my life. We learned a lot of tough life lessons during that season of life, and my family is stronger because of it.
One day, I want to share the entire nitty-gritty renovation story. But for now, I am bringing insights I learned through the five years of living in five hundred square feet. Some of these might be no-brainers for you, but maybe one or two will help you declutter your life. Even though we live in six times the space now, I try to maintain these habits and have intentionality in what we bring into our home.
5 Habits to maintain a clutter free living space:
1. Streamline your gear. Okay let’s be real, kids don’t need much to survive despite what society and marketers say. If you read my last post on my newborn essentials, you see that there were very few items that I couldn’t live without. (Read that here) In the beginning, both kids slept in a bassinet beside the bed. Once they got too old (or big) for that, we switched them to a pack-n-play. We also put a compact mamaroo swing in the living room, and when that was outgrown, we brought in an exersaucer. I used a bouncy seat that was easy to carry from room to room, and then a door jumper when they really had a lot of energy to expel. Instead of a bulky high chair, we used a “lobster claw” chair that hooked securely onto our bar. This is the one we loved.
Along with age appropriate toys, those are almost all of the actual equipment pieces either of our children used. We still keep toys and books in wooden bens or canvas baskets. We use a lot of these.
2. Let’s talk storage. A 6 x 6 closet housed both Jason’s and my clothes, shoes, beauty tools and products, and more. To keep our things in order, we added shelving and I used a ton of baskets and bins.
An eight drawer dresser in the bedroom, and a three drawer container in the living room held the entirety of both of the children’s clothes, bibs, burp clothes, and miscellaneous items. Rubbermaid containers under our bed kept all of my extra bags, gift wrapping and craft necessities, and some of Jason’s things. I really should buy stock in Rubbermaid, because I keep them in business!
3. If it’s too small, too big, or not used, LET IT GO. I am, and was, constantly cleaning out my kids’ drawers. At least once a month, I make sure everything in their drawers fit them. This is important. If something is nice enough to resale or save, it goes in one container; if not, it is donated or thrown out. There isn’t much that makes me more aggravated than pulling something out of a drawer that doesn’t fit. I don’t have time to deal with that kind of negativity in my life!
The same goes for my clothes. While I do still keep a few sentimental things, I don’t keep clothes just because. Yes, I will wear one of my mom’s skirts from the 90s or a T-shirt I was given in high school, but those are the exceptions, not the rule. That shirt I spent $35 on last year, which I wore one time and don’t really love, might be hard to part with because of the price (ugh, that’s more than I like to spend); but it has to go!
4. Once a month, clean out the extra stuff. I’m talking spice racks, pantry, makeup, beauty products, and medicines. We had one small, two tiered cabinet for all of our non perishable food items. The monthly clean out made certain it remained organized and up to date. The same went for our medicine cabinet. I combined Advil containers and disposed of expired medications and vitamins. My goal was (and still is) to clean out our fridge once a week, but sometimes that wasn’t feasible, so I settled for twice a month. I love having a clean refrigerator! No one wants an empty Duke’s mayo jar when you’re about to make cole slaw. Also, if you clean it out at least twice a month, you know when you need to buy more.
It’s the same for makeup. Because I’m a sucker for good advertising, I’m always tying new makeup. However, there is no need to keep almost empty makeup or products you haven’t used in months because you miiiiiiiiight use them one day. Girl, throw that mess out. You’re not going to use broken eyeshadow, or the bronzer you bought that’s too orange, or the dried, clumpy mascara that’s full of bacteria. (You’re welcome for that pep talk!)
5. Remember it’s not about the amount of space or stuff you have, but the memories you make it in. No amount of things will fulfill you like the time you spent with ones you love. Yeah, I know it sounds super dooper cliche. I get it. But y’all, if you would have told me I would have a three year old and one year old in 500 square feet, I would have laughed in your face. It’s crazy! And somehow after six months in a much larger living space, I’ve forgotten how we did it.
Embrace the close quarters. Snuggle, cuddle, and spend time with one another. The days fly by, and we don’t realize the moments we’re in now are the ones we’ll look back on (I’m sure I read that on Pinterest).
Oh, and one last thing about living in a tiny space… I do miss the convenience of always being able to hear and see my kids!
Do you have any tips or tricks in maintaining a clutter free home? If so, share them with me!