In January I set the intention to commit to three “goals” for my 40th year. They are to:
- Have less screen time and instead read more
- Walk the Talk: edit my lifestyle to reflect my environmental values
- Simplify my life
Since then my second son was born in March and the busy and clutter of a new tiny member of our family has settled in.
After the first few months my partner and I looked around and realized our house was a complete disaster. We could barely walk through our house without tripping.
All houses with new babies are messy (well most). But, when I looked around at the mess something struck me. If we had 75% less stuff we wouldn’t have such a hard time putting it all away! The other thing I realized was that when I am anxious or depressed I shop. With Amazon and Etsy and other online shops this becomes painfully easy. I was shopping so much while I was pregnant that my son was disappointed when we got home and there wasn’t an Amazon box waiting at the door for him to open.
Tired and overwhelmed I returned to my goals set in January and began reading about minimalism again. Inspired by the freedom of fewer things and the alignment of this non materialist lifestyle with my values I decided it was now or never. Before our youngest began to crawl I decided I wanted our house to be clear of all clutter and down to the essentials. My partner was on board because he was completely fed up with the mess and has long advocated for more frugal spending and saving.
In early July we went and stayed in a Air B&B on the island and it was so tidy. It was clean and uncluttered and peaceful. It was the time spent there that made me commit fully and completely to a purge.
When we got back home I began right away. I took photographs of the clutter and mess so I’d always remember how bad it got and never go back. Then I started selling, donating, tossing and cleaning. We are about a month in now and we’ve already donated about two full minivans of stuff, sold a number of trinkets and made $250, and tossed or recycled bags and bags of garbage.
This is what our house looked like before:
Looking around at this mess by partner and I started pointing fingers. We each fingered the other as the hoarder but in the end it was obvious we all had a bit of hoarding in our system.
During this same time it was plastic free July and I showed my son the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. He was horrified and agrees to go plastic free (at least for a while). We shopped for our camping trip and did a nearly plastic free trip minus two small items. After that my son and partner have been champs about keeping it going and although we haven’t been perfect we have pretty much stopped buying single use disposable plastic.
Another thing happened over this time. Being off on medical leave and then mat leave I have gotten to spend a lot of time with my kids. Instead of rushing to pick my son up at 5:30pm and mindlessly going through the motions of dinner and bedtime (all while thinking about one or more work problems) I got to really participate in his life. I was present for school events and field trips, I was present and focused on him after school in the mornings. He had my attention again and I could tell he was so much happier.
After getting half way through Cait Flander’s book “A Year if Less” I decided I wanted to do my own experiment. One year with the following rules with the aim that if even half of these were to stick I might be happier, healthier, and potentially in a place to retire by 50.
Freedom 50 experiment:
- no disposable single use plastics
- no shopping (shopping ban rules to follow in next post)
- no industrial cheap meat and dairy
- no mindless television
- no mindless phone/screen time
- Reduce belongings by 75%
- Increase meditation to 20 mins a day
Details to follow on all these points and I plan to update weekly now to keep myself accountable and track progress. My hope is that our efforts can contribute to the growing movement toward more mindful, compassionate, and simpler living that aligns with what our children and planet desperately need.