Mar 12, 2019

Minimalism and Tidiness

by Aspen, Herbal Authoress

Hello, Dear Readers!

Last time you will hear from me in a row, with everyone at Expo West and my vacation coming up, scheduling got in the way of variety. Ah, well! 

Today my mind is on the topic of Minimalism and tidiness. It took me a long time to realize that my mother, bless her heart, is a giant airhead. Just as an example of how she floats through life, she has literally hundreds of pairs of reading glasses. If she loses a pair, she just buys another pair. She can't keep track of her phone, and when her office got too cluttered she simply got a new desk and started a new office in another room rather than going back and finishing the multiple projects she had started. Needless to say, her house is a disaster of clutter. It took me a long time to realize that I had picked up a lot of that disorganized penchant for clutter and that it was adding major stress to my life. 

I only really began making major efforts to change my habits when I realized that I was going to be a single mother with a full-time job and a business to run. I realized that my time was finite and that I needed to operate more efficiently if I was going to be able to give my son the quality time he deserved, rather than constantly spend my time trying to manage everything. I began researching minimalism and tricks to keep things tidier. Here is what has made the biggest difference for me:

  • Marie Kondo - y'all know this. Go through your house and if you don't have a use for something or it doesn't bring you joy, get rid of it. I couldn't believe even in my bedroom at my brother's condo that I share with my son, I managed to get rid of about 15 garbage bags worth of stuff that I wasn't using. Now I have more space for the things I do use, and I can have the second tip:
  • Have a designated home for everything: If there is no specific place to put your items, you eat up energy later when you need them again and have to search to find them. This is especially important for me in the morning when I am trying to get all of my food and my son's food, along with all the things we will need for the day (cell phone, headphones, diapers, shoes, etc.) The one that really gets me is lids for food containers. I insist we pair them together as soon as they come out of the dishwasher. It takes up more space in the cupboard, but nothing is more stressful than trying to find a tupperware lid when you are running late! 
  • Follow the 1-touch rule: The 1-touch rule means that when you are done using something, you are only allowed to touch it once to get it back where it belongs. For example, if you come home and take your jacket off, you can either drop it on the couch or a chair, which creates a second chore for you later, or you can put it away immediately, only touching it once, with and not have to think about it again. This was a game changer for me. I started realizing that I would, say, change my clothes and leave them on the floor, creating more work for myself when the laundry hamper was literally five feet further. I felt so stupid realizing my own inefficiency and started wandering the house, muttering "1-touch" like a crazy person.
  • Create routines: The most recent routine I have put in place that I am actually quite enjoying is with the dishes. I cook a ton, and my kitchen is the one place where I truly need a lot of equipment to enjoy what is both my hobby and one of the most important things I can do for my child, which is set an example of a healthy lifestyle and relationship with food. But it does mean a LOT of mess, and I was finding it difficult to keep my toddler out of the dishwasher long enough to load the knives. So the past few weeks as I have cleaned up the kitchen after my flurry of daily morning meal-prep, I have been turning on My Little Pony, giving him a bowl of snacks and some milk, and plopping him down in front of it. This is the only screen time I have ever allowed, and the 20 minutes it takes me to unload and reload the dishwasher is well within the AMA's recommendation for screen time for his age, and it is the only screen time he is allowed. He enjoys it, I enjoy it (is there an adult equivalent of Bronies for females?) and I leave my kitchen clean and reset for when I get home after work, which reduces my stress levels.

And in the end, for me, that is what Minimalism is all about. It reduces my stress and helps me feel more in control of my life. What helps you feel less stressed?