One of my life values is to live minimally. This means to not give in to consumerism, not be wasteful and to minimise my carbon footprint. Now before you judge me, I'm not a "hippy" and I am not a "greeny", but I do respect our environment and I do love having a clean, clutter free home. But that's a lot of what minimalism isn't and what being minimalistic isn't. So what exactly IS living a minimalist lifestyle?
It means I buy fresh produce each week, I don’t buy things I don’t need, I walk or ride instead of taking the car and I donate or recycle before throwing out. It is not restrictive, rather it is liberating. Living minimally has many benefits – It makes me think creatively about how I can reuse something, I come home from the shops not feeling guilty for over spending and I don’t have a messy home.
Basically living minimally is a freedom.
Many people told me that I couldn’t have a minimalist lifestyle when I had children. They were wrong.
Here are six ways I have achieved living a minimalistic lifestyle with a baby:
1. I think about the toys I buy (or don’t buy):
Are the toys educational? Do they have multiple purposes? How long until my baby out grows it? Friends and family love to buy toys, so wait until after birthdays or Christmas’ before purchasing a toy for your little one.
2. I think about the clothes I buy (or don’t buy):
Does my baby have enough of one type of clothing. Can I donate or sell clothes he’s outgrown to make room for new clothes. Can I ask someone knit him some clothes instead of paying three times as much in the shops? Who do I know that has a baby younger than mine, do they need some baby clothes?
3. I buy and cook with fresh produce:
We love eating fresh produce, it makes us feel healthy and bright. It also minimises the amount of waste we have. We don’t have piles of packet foods to throw out, instead we put scraps into a compost bucket for the garden. We would prefer to grow our own fruit and vegetables, but living in a small apartment prevents that, plus our attempts at growing our own veggies have meant that the local possums eat dinner from our balcony garden every night!
4. I don’t engage in baby consumerism:
There are so many toys and gadgets for babies. For example, just yesterday I saw a cup ‘especially designed’ for the bath to rinse shampoo off your baby’s head. I’m not sure why anyone would buy this, can’t you just use a normal cup? There are also bins just for nappies (why don’t you put them straight in the bin outside?), there are pillows for pregnant women (why don’t you use spare pillows to build a pillow castle around you when you’re lying in bed), there are pillows for breastfeeding mums (just breastfeed using bedroom pillow) and there are pillows for tummy time (why not use a rolled up towel instead). There are so many minimalistic options, you don’t need to buy every new whiz bang product on the market because the advertisers claim ‘you need it’. No you don’t need it, and if you do, nine times out of ten you have something within your home that will work just as well.
5. We organise.
We live in a small one bedroom apartment. Every few weeks, maybe once a month, I reorganise the house. I de-clutter by donating items I don’t need. I put regularly used items at the front of drawers or cupboards, I stock take my long term items to see how long it has been since I’ve used it. I have recently thrown out psychology texts books from my university days. No point hanging onto these, everything is online!
6. I don’t print unless I need to.
As well as being a mum, I am also a student – completing my honours year. It is my goal to have a paperless degree. This means, I buy electronic versions of my textbooks or borrow hard copies from the library. I don’t print out articles, I read them on the computer. I don’t proof read hard copies, I do this on the computer too. I also don’t print out electronic versions of forms or records for my child. They are electronic for a reason, they are stored on a database and don’t need to be taking up room on my filing cabinet or expander file. All of our bills are paid online and where there is a choice to receive a hard document or an electronic one, we always choose electronic.
If you are thinking of living minimally then I strongly recommend you take the leap.
It does make your life so much easier and if you follow these six easy steps, you will get there in no time!
What have is one thing in your life that you could do minimally? Buying less, donating more, what about buying local produce or growing your own?