Can less ever truly be more?
We hear the expression ‘less is more’, but we don’t really see it in action. Think about it, how many ads, shows, magazines, even friends, are telling us that more is better? You NEED to have the newest ‘fill in the blank here’. From beauty, to clothes, to household items, to supplements, to kids toys, we are told we need the newest and latest. We need the BEST of the best. Since things are continuously being improved, upgraded, and redesigned that means this quest is never ending. So how do we jump off of this merry go round? How do we end the endless cycle of more is more, and instead embrace that less really is more.
I’ve been slowly coming to the realization that less is more over the past year. I even previously wrote a blog on this same topic where I had tried to start tackling this with the best of intentions. With myself always on a quest to try to find the best for myself, husband, and two kids, I found myself on this merry go round. Things were still everywhere. I was still frustrated with nothing to wear (in a closet full of clothes), picking up endless amounts of toys that my boys seemed to dump out just to make me insane, and arguing with my husband over yet another box or thing showing up in the house. How was I suppose to pass up another great sale? How was I to not provide my boys with another fun toy? Wasn’t it my job to make sure we all had the best life possible? As a wife and mother I often feel that the family’s happiness is up to me. It’s my job to take care of them and provide a beautiful, well functioning home. So how do I do that without more things??
Think back to your happiest memories as a family. I bet when you think about it you are thinking of spending time together. You are all doing something you love. Playing in the backyard, watching movies snuggled on the couch, possibly using your imaginations to play, or exploring somewhere new. When I did this myself ‘new things’ didn’t make the list. It was just us as family spending time together that made me happiest. So this was to now become my focus. To create an environment to make this happen in. Now how to stop spending or getting caught up in the more is more, or better, mentality?
In my middle school and high school days I didn’t always have the best of the best. I had what I needed, and a loving family, but still felt like I was missing out in some way. Fast forward to making my own money. One of my very first paychecks I spent on a Dooney and Bourke ‘It” purse. My entire paycheck went to buying this small, monogrammed purse. I was so proud. It was my crowning jewel and I was in love. (To this day I still haven’t parted with this purse) When I was first married to my now husband we had everything hand me down and mismatched. Plates, towels, bed linens, furniture. You name it and not oner thing matched or came in a set. I was excited to marry the man of my dreams, blah, blah, blah, but for God’s sake I was ecstatic to get MATCHING dishes! Matching glasses, towels, sheets, bathroom set, and even proper wine glasses that my much classier (in my head anyways) friends had. It was wonderful. Within 3 months of getting married we packed the townhouse we were living in in Florida to move to an apartment in Alabama. We were starting a new chapter. Before we could move our stuff up I had to choose only items that would fit in my Nissan Rouge along with myself, two cats, and husbands childhood friend who helped drive me up to make the move. We had a little over two weeks of just that stuff, a mattress on the floor, and a hightop dining set he had gotten before I got there. It really wasn’t bad. Then all of our belongings got there. It was crammed into our apartment. I couldn’t bare to let any of it go. We had our first son in that apartment and eventually found our dream home. Mine for sure anyway. I realized I didn’t want my brand new house filled with things I didn’t love. (I’d like to tell you that this is when I realized this endless cycle I was in, but it was not) Eventually the house was being filled with stuff. There were toys everywhere. I had a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear. Boxes were never ending as they showed up at our door. Trips to Target showed me that we didn’t have everything that could make our lives just a touch better. The problem was that none of these things actually made us genuinely happier. Most definitely not my husband, this much I can tell you for sure. When its comes down to it I really don’t feel the need to compete with people either. As in who has more, or the best. I’m actually a person filled with gratitude and enough self esteem to not worry about that stuff. What I was competing with was what I thought should make us live happier, better lives.
Enter in a book I highly recommend that resonated deeply with me. ‘Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul’ by Ruth Soukup. It clicked. She went through the same struggles that I’d related to in her first book, and this one was a no nonsense next step into a less cluttered life. It was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one who was stuck on this merry go round. The endless cycle could indeed be ended. First though I’d have to let go of many of these things that I was still holding on to. I began her book that correlated with this one, ‘31 Days to a Clutter Free Life: One Month to Clear Your Home, Mind, and Schedule’. Even through my previous attempts to clear out the excess, this helped me get real about parting with things that no longer served a purpose. Finally we were really purging the excess.
I’m not telling you I don’t buy things anymore. That would be a lie. However now I don’t buy ALL the things. I don’t buy things I don’t love, or that we truly don’t need. I don’t fall into the feeling that I NEED things I see. If it doesn’t serve a purpose we don’t need it. I’m not perfect. It’s something I work at each day. Asking myself before I buy anything if it’s really worth even bringing into my clutter free home? Am I willing to let go of something else to bring this new item in? I had picked up ’31 Days to a Clutter Free Life: One Month to Clear Your Home, Mind, and Schedule’ and began the second part of this process. Before beginning my clutter free month I sat down with my husband and I discussed the book with him and that I was ready to make a change. He even got on board and helped me in clearing out the excess. Together we made a monthly budget that I was free to use on myself, the house, and the boys. So if a box showed up, there wouldn’t be an argument or snide remark. We were both happier. He knew I was being intentional with money I spent, and I was still free to treat us to fun things we love (such as the Lush Fun bars my boys absolutely love during bath time). Clearing out things I didn’t love also allowed me to truly realize what I do love. Especially style wise. I used my January budget to spruce up the house decor and create an easy, clean, warm space that I truly loved. The boys seem to like it as well. Oh, and those matching dishes and cups? I purchased some mismatched glasses at Home Goods that I adore. As my dishes inevitably have begun to break, I’m replacing them within a blue and white color themed with mismatched dishes that I just happen to love. When I was able to buy our first actual bedroom furniture last year (We’d still been using the wonderful hand me down stuff we had), I chose coordinating, but mismatched pieces. I’d now rather have pieces that make me smile and express something. rather than have a cookie cutter set of anything. I think a s family we are all a bit happier. So it seems after all that embracing the less is more mentality, I accomplished what I’d set out to long ago. Creating a happy home for myself and those I love.
If any of what I’d shared sounds familiar, I urge you to get the books that helped me so much. I’ve added the links to all 3 books within this blog post below. (I’ve joined Amazon’s affiliate program and by purchasing through the links provided I may make a small profit. I’m in no way endorsed by Amazon.) I hope you too can create the happy home you’re most likely striving for as well. If you do read the books, or have any input I’d love to hear it! We are all in this together after all.
For Ruth Soukups ‘Living Well Spending Less’:
For Ruth’s book ‘Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul’: (The audiobook was my preferred method with this one. I listened to this while doing my 31 Days to Clutter Free book)
For Ruth’s book ‘Decluttered: Clutter Free in 31 Days’: (I recommend the paperback for this one)
To purchase the bundle of 3 is just over $30. Best money I’ve spent!