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Living with Less: My Journey to Minimalism

Living With Less (1)

I have always considered myself an organized person. I love lists, plans, and a clean home. Since becoming a mom, I have found that staying true to this has been increasingly difficult each year. Every year it seems like there are more toys, games, papers… just so. much. stuff. In my quest for a more organized life, I took to the holy grail of mom information- Pinterest. There I found countless images of gorgeously assembled shelves, drawers, cubbies, and bins meticulously labeled with the fanciest of label makers. So what did I do? I set out to buy a label maker, bins, and other accessories to organize all of our stuff. This tactic satisfied my need for order for a while, but it wasn’t long until that uneasy feeling returned. I started to really question the amount of stuff that we had, and that we were acquiring at a rate I could not keep up with. Trinkets, papers, and other miscellaneous items trickled in quicker than I could find a Pinterest post about what to do with them. It was then that I had a realization:

I don’t want more bins to organize my stuff… I want less stuff!


I saw this at the store recently. This is the antithesis of my feelings about minimizing.

Upon this realization, I started to research more about minimalist living and found a ton of resources. Minimalism is becoming somewhat of a movement, and I can totally see why. Since adopting a minimalist approach to living I have saved money, time, and stress. I am only in the beginning of this change, so I am excited to learn other ways that I can minimize.

How I Got Started


I read tons of information on blogs I found on Pinterest. Just do a search for minimalism and you will find tons of great information.

I came across the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” It’s about the process of minimizing the clutter in your home thus reducing the amount of time you have to spend on said clutter. The author is somewhat of a guru in her home country of Japan. She imparts her own method in the book which she calls the KonMari method. The basis of her method is to de-clutter by category, not by room and while doing so, to hold each item in question in your hands and ask yourself “does this spark joy?” Overall I found the advice in her book useful but wish she had touched more on homes with children. One small change I am loving is her folding technique. Here is a before and after of a drawer in our home:


If you are interested in reading her book, St. Johns County library patrons can listen to it for free on the website or app “Hoopla”   (this app is awesome, and there are tons of other audio books)

Scrutinize New Purchases

This made the biggest difference for me. I can get rid of stuff all day, but if new things are constantly coming into our home than I am getting nowhere. I began to question every new purchase that I was considering. Now I ask myself: do I really need the item, or just want it? If it’s a want, I will give myself plenty of time to think about it. If it keeps coming up, then it may be something to consider, but I will still give myself a long wait period.

This one is just about addressing the items that we already have in our home. Donating things we don’t use or need, but also things that we have too many of. Like do we really need 5,345 pens?!


Speaking of pens, just because a pen is free doesn’t mean it will add value to your life. It will most likely sit with the other million pens in a junk drawer for years to come. I am much more conscious now before accepting something new into our home, even if it’s free.

Use it up 

I am totally guilty of trying a new lotion or soap and not using it all and then letting it sit in my cabinet forever. Now I am making sure to use up every drop of what I have before purchasing a new one.

I would love to hear if anyone else is on the road to minimalism! What tips and tricks do you have for someone getting started?

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7 Responses to Living with Less: My Journey to Minimalism

  1. Becky
    Becky August 24, 2016 at 7:10 am #

    We just moved and there is no other time when your stuff is in your face more than that. I am so over all of it. I can sort through and throw out kid things all day long, but when it comes to my stuff… Eeek! It’s so hard. But I know I will feel so much better without the weight of stuff dragging me down. I just need to get started. Thanks for sharing! I love that yo can listen to an audio book, I might actually be able to do that!

    • Madison Hartle
      Madison Hartle August 27, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

      Ah, I can imagine moving is a good time to confront the “stuff” head on. Congrats on the new place! We are building a house right now, and I am excited to start a new as well. Definitely check out hoopla!

  2. Alana Hassan August 24, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    Awesome article, Madison!

  3. Carrie Wilson August 24, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

    Great post! I swear this is my everyday battle. Add into the mix having 3 kiddos in school and the massive amount of “stuff” they bring home!

    • Madison Hartle
      Madison Hartle August 27, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

      Thank you! It certainly is a battle! Keep up the good fight 😉

  4. Renee August 27, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

    I actually hired a Konmari consultant to help me start this process… It was challenging, but totally worth it. I realized that there were so many things I was hanging onto for silly reasons. I was especially guilty of hanging onto ‘free’ things too. It’s hard to remain mindful of what I have/want/need, but I feel better when I do.
    Great article!

  5. Kelli August 30, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

    Great article! I actually just finished reading the Tidiness book and am excited (and a little nervous) to start going through some of our stuff. Like you, I wish she had mentioned more about kid stuff. I always go through my daughter’s stuff before her birthday and Christmas. We set aside a pile to share with friends that have younger kids, a pile to donate, and a pile to sell. We’re in the middle of a half house reno. It was crazy to move everything from downstairs to our upstairs. Really made us think about what we were keeping. We actually gave a bunch of stuff we no longer used to a family member with the disclaimer of “when you’re done, feel free to give it away/sell it/throw it, etc.” No need to share the guilt of having to keep something because it was given to you.