If you live with other people, your new-found minimalist lifestyle to simplify and cut the clutter can prove to be a challenge. Great divides can be made when one pursues a lifestyle, that the other doesn’t support and may not understand.
Becoming more minimalist does not necessarily mean you’re going to sell your home and live in a tent. It is about removing the excess from your life, the clutter, so you can have room to breath, to be, to think, and to pursue the meaningful in your life.
When my husband and I started the journey to own less, it seemed as though we were in-step and on the same page. As the purging started, the disagreements over what to let go of arose. While I wanted remove 60% of our possessions, he was happy with 40%. We know we won’t always agree, and that’s ok. Pursuing a life uncluttered takes balance and a cup full of compromise.
What works best when family starts to look like a roadblock to your newfound freedom of living more by owning less? While we all may take a different approach, most of us do not like to be told how we should live.
How can we purge the clutter and become more minimalist and when our family is not?
1. Remember what is effective
If you want someone you live with to change, it is best to change yourself first. I think it’s safe to say, most of us really don’t like this answer. Somehow it’s easier to tell people what to do than to actually do it yourself. (cough, I know this from experience, cough) People change more with experiences—and your change creates an experience for your family and friends. They see it, they feel it and they live it when they’re with you. So don’t tell them, just do it.
2. Pace yourself
You may be starting with yourself for a week, a month or maybe a year (ok, let’s hope not). One day of decluttering your closet may not be the catalyst for your family to jump on board with your newfound minimalist approach. In fact, they may feel like you’ve gone off the deep end, off your rocker, or just crazy. Don’t give up, just keep swimming.
3. Let time tell–because actions speak louder than words
When you’re making tangible progress with your own stuff, it will show. Let time speak the changes your making. This will be far more convincing than telling them they need to de-own 50% of their stuff. (as I’ve tried that too)
While my husband still stared into his full closet of clothes, but had nothing to wear, I was already dressed and ready to go. While my husband searched for his shoes, under his clothes he didn’t wear, I slipped my on my feet. Through experiences like these, my husband began to see just how much our clutter costs us. He realized how much our excess took away—from the things in our life that hold real value.
4. Show them compromise
Show compromise, especially when they don’t. If they want to keep something, be agreeable. Let them know you’d rather cut the clutter and part with it, but you will honor their request to keep it. Dictating what items they may keep will only bring resentment.
5. Respect their requests
When they want to keep items you don’t, even things you deem trash or junk, be respectful of their feelings. Resist the urge to criticize them for keeping 50 feet of useless telephone cords. The more we criticize, the more steps we take back from the cause we’re working so hard for.
6. Ask to put it away
With their permission, move the inessential items they want to keep to a container, closet, or drawer that is out of the way. While some may feel this is a step back, moving it out of your immediate living space may show them how peaceful an uncluttered house can be.
7. Spend time with them
Clearing your clutter can be very time consuming. For a while, it may feel (and look) like that’s all you do. Continue doing the important things with them—the things you normally would. This will look different for everyone, but it may be keeping the weekly/monthly date night or family movie night. This is especially important if your family hasn’t joined you on the decluttering journey. If you have children, continue cultivating and carving out quality time with them.
At the end of a day always remember, people are more important than possessions, and that includes the way we treat them.