Can minimalism and motherhood really go hand in hand…
Many people, myself included (until a few years ago), thought no, they definitely could not. Children just come with so much stuff right? From the rocking chair to sooth baby to sleep, to indoor and outdoor play toys, to insure that they don’t get bored. And lets face it - we’ve all been that mother who believes she need a suitcase full of stuff, just to get a newborn out the door. There is so much to buy, that you will spend your days struggling to fit it all in.
But do children really need all of the things that we think they do? More toys, more gadgets, more clothes, more, more, more. All the while having to buy better storage and bigger houses to store all of the things that we’ve bought, things that they probably didn’t need in the first place.
As soon as I became a mother, my shopping took on a whole new level. The days that I managed to get up and out of the house due to feeling well enough, were spent in shopping centres, buying all the stuff that a printed checklist told me to buy. The truth was, that my baby would need me more than any of the things on this list but I’d waited so long to become a mother that this crumpled up list, ripped carefully out of a pregnancy magazine, was held close to me at all times. It felt like my first test as a mother and I had to get it right. And so off I went, into this new realm of shopping, where there would be more choice and more eager sales people, willing me to buy everything that my list told me I needed.
Deliveries of a moses basket, crib and a cot took up the length of the wall in our new family home and although I was anxious for motherhood, at least I had the sleep situation under control. Only when it came to it months later, neither myself or my baby could bare to be parted and so we slept, greedily inter-twined whilst the moses basket, crib and the cot went untouched.
There were more outfits belonging to our baby, than myself and my husband’s wardrobe put together and that was saying something. Everywhere you looked there were babygrows, cardigans and an array of hats and socks, which I justified as spares for the inevitable spills. In reality there was just more to wash and before long I was drowning in laundry. Despite this, I still did exactly the same for my second born, buying more and more stuff just so I could tick them off of my ever-growing list.
Looking back, I felt that everything was out of my control during my pregnancies and I guess shopping gave me something to take charge of.. If only I’d known, that these purchases would end up controlling so much of my time later down the line. I never put any of this together though - more stuff equalling less time but it was all part of the motherhood puzzle that I was playing. And although I wasn’t aware of it, I was definitely picking up the pieces often enough.
Unfortunately it didn’t stop there. Toy stores became the weekend hang out of choice and our house became stretched to capacity, with all of the things that we thought our children would need. They wouldn’t want for anything I told myself, determined to give them the world. Yet if I really stopped and thought about it, I knew that all that they actually needed was me.
Instead, because we had brought into consumerism and I was on borrowed time. If I wasn’t hugging and feeing my babies I was tidying/cleaning/washing and organising the large collections of belongings, which seemed to multiply every time I looked at it. There was literally no time left in my day for me. I remember being so overwhelmed, especially when I had two children under two because there was always something to do.
Washing needed to be folded and toys had to be tidied away numerous times a day. If I had known about minimalism then, my past years of motherhood could have been so very different. I was worn out and worn down but I didn’t know another way. I was knee deep in stuff and to do lists but apparently this was motherhood and I had better get use to dividing my time.
As the years passed, my checklist kept getting longer and I couldn’t keep up. What once fit on an A4 piece of paper, folded neatly in my pocket became an never-ending list of doom. There was always something for the children to covert and something was always being sold to me promising me an easier life, but it never worked, whatever it was just took up more of my time.
I was the mother that bought it all. I bought my feelings and theirs but it was never enough. How could it be when essentially, at the crux of it all, stuff doesn’t make you happy - not in the long run anyways. I was always scrambling around for funds due to circumstances but I had also wasted so much money on stuff for the children. Looking back, that money could have gone a long way to helping us out in other ways and it’s certainly a wake up call, when you are throwing out all of the stuff, stuff that you had once convinced yourself was essential.
So yes, I really, truly do believe that minimalism was meant for mothers. That simplifying and paring back to what you really need will make life so much easier and will bring more joy than material goods ever could.
That by owning fewer things, we gain the gift of time and isn’t that something that every mother wants and needs? I wanted my children to look back on their childhood and remember me vividly in the picture. And they could - I had the time, I just didn’t know that our things was taking up the majority of it.
There’s a beautiful quote by Annie Dillard that I always keep in my thoughts, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” These are such powerful words and I often have to remind myself of them, when I wander in a different direction to the path that I want to stay on.
I want to spend my days of motherhood really living it. Playing together, reading together and making memories that will last.
I don’t want to spend my days of motherhood just existing, being there but not really there, stood on the sidelines washing up.
How about you? What do you want from these years with your children that go by so fast. I wanted more space in my days and more time in my life, I wanted to be in the thick of my children’s lives, my husbands and of my own. I wanted to strip away the excess and focus on what remained. Minimalism and simplified living has given my motherhood and my life a new meaning, I feel like for the first time in a long time, I am spending my days with intention and purpose and that is all thanks, to the gift of less.