Early one morning, several months ago, I was sitting up in my bed getting ready to take my warm toes out from under the covers and start the day. There were my two children snuggled up on the floor amid the unfolded piles of clean laundry. They had spent the night there as they had many times before as they liked the coziness of our room. A rocking chair in front of them crowded out the space. A dresser nearly filled the walking space at the foot of the bed and a footstool we hadn’t used in years was shoved into the corner. Rugs, that I had since before we married, covered our already carpeted floor. Books the kids and I read at night and random toys they left there as they sometimes play in our room during the day overtook my nightstand.
It wasn’t just my room either, but the whole house was being affected by this infection of clutter.
Then I looked at the space that changed it all – my husband’s nightstand. That was my Ah-ha! moment. In stark contrast to my own nightstand, it exuded efficiency and the clutter-free simplicity I craved deep inside. I started to see all these things that we filled our home with as hindrances to the peaceful, joyful life I kept striving for and wondering why I could never attain it. For in the time that my children and I spent cleaning up all of these things, we could have been talking and laughing together, playing with friends, going to the library, or in devotion to God.
How did our home become this exploding mountain of chaos? And how did I become so apathetic towards it, letting it grow to the point of being a barrier to the same happiness we were trying to achieve? It crept in one item at a time until it slowly engulfed our simple way of life. It began choking out and robbing our free time. Time we used to spend in activities and adventures was now spent cleaning up and tending to the things we had accumulated.
My husband and I talked about it and we both agreed we needed to do something about it. We started in our room where we had first become aware of the severity of the situation. We removed the rocking chair, footstool, rugs, dresser, extra clothes in the closet, and anything else that didn’t serve the purpose of simplicity. Everything that wasn’t used on a regular basis was removed, down to the items that we saved for that never-realized craft project. As soon as we finished, we both looked at each other and a refreshing peace consumed us both. We smiled at what we had accomplished and at the new-found space we that had been covered up for too long.
Over the next two months, we spread the minimalism virus to the other rooms in the house, divesting the bedrooms, office, kitchen, living room, dining room, bathrooms, and *gasp* even the homeschool room of all unnecessaries.
Tackling the homeschool room was not as tough as I thought. There was a time when my children were small and homeschooling was a brand-new adventure to me. I did not know what I was doing or what was required of me and so I spent my time reading up on curriculum, philosophies, and what my child needs to know by what grade. I was scared I would mess up the kids or forget to teach that one idea. In my apprehension I bought and accumulated so much that I filled that room with a half-dozen different types of math manipulatives, fraction circles and fraction cubes, flip books and charts, science tools, a plethora of art supplies, educational games, construction paper, foam stickers, stamps, puzzles, light table, kits, and tools.
I was stocked and ready to go at this homeschool thing with paper and paint brushes blazing!
The years went by and the slow accumulation continued. The house became replete with tidy chaos. The fun projects that we did years ago started to diminish as it would turn to anarchy if not contained quickly. The free time that we once enjoyed was starting to be replaced by the cleaning all of the stuff we’d accumulated.
That’s when it happened.
The epiphany of my husband’s night stand. The simplicity and efficiency of that nightstand just glared at me.
In the two months that followed, I have removed about 75% of all the excess. We now rely on the library, a few manipulatives, games, and curriculum for the rest.
My husband is happier, I am happier, and my kids are noticeably happier (probably because they don’t have to spend all that time cleaning anymore!).
It took me a few years to learn that they don’t need stuff in order to learn or to be happy. My kids are happier running around outside, playing and digging in the dirt, throwing rocks and sticks in the lake and using their imaginations. They love the time they spend with friends playing hide-and-seek at the park and making crafts together. We spend every day engrossed in a story from the Bible, their hearts filled with questions and wisdom. They have the time now for activities, science experiments, and building contraptions on their own making.
Minimalism is freedom!
Embrace minimalism in your homeschool! You might be surprised with what happens.
*After Note: While I’m downstairs writing this, my kids are up in their room and I’m listening on the baby monitor. I overhear my eldest say to my youngest, “Can we sell your bed too?” At least he has the spirit of minimalism! 🙂