The best part about the title of this post is that it is true. And I honestly don’t mean to brag. It simply reflects one of the unexpected upsides of becoming a minimalist: I have less stuff to clean; therefore, my house is cleaner.
Now, don’t get the wrong idea. If you stopped by on a Saturday morning, there would likely be toys on the floor and my kids would be up to their elbows in finger paint. My house is still a kid-friendly house, but it also happens to be relatively clean. At least, it is cleaner than it’s ever been.
I didn’t realize this until a few weeks after I started minimizing. I had company coming. Typically, in this situation, I would bust into an anxiety-fueled cleaning frenzy, which involved much nervous surveying of my cluttered house, biting at my fingernails, and intense nagging at my husband. But as I looked around my minimized abode, it slowly dawned on me… I didn’t have to clean… anything. It was weird. In a totally awesome way.
Before embracing minimalism, when I packed my little ‘ol house with about as much crap as I could muster, much of my “cleaning” actually involved transferring piles of stuff from one undesirable location to another. The stack of unopened mail? Hmm… put it on the kitchen counter instead of the coffee table. The kids’ toys? Shove them all in that ottoman instead of the corner. Much better! I thought people whose houses were always clean were freaks of nature… how did they do that exactly? Well, maybe some of them are a bit freakish (Martha Stewart, anyone?), but maybe, just maybe, some of them have less stuff, making their houses less cluttered, making them… cleaner.
Just think about it… how easy is it to vacuum an uncluttered floor or wipe off an empty counter top? Piece of cake! Many of us perceive “cleaning” as difficult because it is actually decluttering followed by cleaning, which is two jobs instead of one. I do my real cleaning (scrubbing floors, sinks, toilets, and the like) in small bits and pieces throughout the week, as necessary. It’s never a big job. It rarely takes more than a few minutes. And the best part is, it’s easy because I don’t have to declutter my space in order to clean it.
If cleanliness isn’t enough of a carrot for you to go minimalist, think of the time you will save. Simply put, your stuff takes up your time. For example, I used to spend at least 10 minutes picking up toys every time I put my kids down for naps or nighttime. This equaled 20 minutes a day, over two hours a week… I don’t even want to extrapolate that to a year! But now, because we own less toys (and because the toys we do own have clearly designated “homes”), my kids are able to put most of their toys away themselves. I may spend a few minutes here and there, tidying up, but it’s nothing compared to what I used to do. Now I simply put those adorable youngsters to bed, shower, and I have my whole evening ahead of me to do things I really care about, like this.
What do you want to do with your time? I’m guessing clean your house is not at the top of your list. At the risk of sounding like a bad motivational speaker: Minimize your stuff to maximize your life. When you stop letting your stuff control your time and energy, you will find that you have energy left to do the things you really want to do, like read a book or call that friend you haven’t spoken with in a few months. And hey, if it really matters to you, you could also be the envy of your playgroup with your clean, spacious, minimized home!