It was 3:45am, and I was back in that oh-so-familiar spot, once again. The dark bathroom, illuminated only by the flashlight on my phone and the tiny light on the humidifier (that was actually empty because I forgot to refill it earlier). The water in the shower was running, and the white noise machine was set to extra loud. I had my 3 week old baby girl swaddled tight and tilted juuust right, while I bounced her up and down, up and down on the yoga ball as she cried.
That dang yoga ball…I have nightmares of that yoga ball after being permanently glued to it for months. Colicky baby mama’s – you feel me? I had only slept 15 minutes that night, and longed for just a 2 hour stretch.
I. WAS. EXHAUSTED.
As I scanned the bathroom while I bounced, I felt overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with STUFF.
So many clothes on the floor. A diaper in the corner (was it clean? Was it dirty? It was anyone’s guess at that point). A baby bouncer, toys my 3 year old left in there from when I showered the day before, a sippy cup with old milk that was likely curdled. The counter had makeup, deodorant, old contact cases, a jar of bubbles, cleaning supplies (ha!), an unopened banana I had intended to eat earlier that evening and a leftover Starbucks from my saint of a mother-in-law who made sure I remained caffeinated anytime she came over. And let’s be honest, there was a lot more on that counter because it was packed full, but I couldn’t see past the first layer through my almost unconscious haze.
Something about all of the clutter surrounding me made it feel like it was hard to breathe. Sure, I was a sleep deprived mom – but this was more than that. I felt like I was suffocating, and leaving the bathroom wasn’t going to help. I would just see all of the overwhelm in the rest of the house when I walked out. I would trip over several things on my way back to bed an hour later, and I could barely find a comfortable spot in my bed between all of the “clean” clothes I still needed to fold and put away. I had constant reminders all over my home telling me “you are doing a terrible job. You are failing, and you are a mess.” (Of course, I know that isn’t really what clutter means, but it sure does
feel like it).
I tried to chalk it up to having another new baby in the house, and I gave myself grace – which was SO needed, necessary and deserving. (Disclaimer: If you are reading this as a mama to a newborn, just stop reading and come back to finish it later. You are in a period of survival and baby snuggles, and that is MORE than ok, that is exactly where you should be. I’m so thankful I had friends and family to remind me of that with both of my girls.)
…But now let’s fast forward to a few months later. My littlest one was no longer colicky (THANK YOU JESUS) and was actually a pretty easy-going baby. My 3 year old was starting to adjust better to having a little sister around, and stopped the protests of emptying her bladder anywhere she could think of that was not the toilet. I was getting 4 hour blocks of sleep, sometimes even 7!
So why was my house still so messy and so full of chaos? Why did I still feel so overwhelmed, even on those off-days of having time to actually straighten up the kitchen for 20 minutes or so? WHERE was I going to put ALL OF THE TOYS for TWO kids now?? Why couldn’t I get all of the laundry done…ever? I sat on the couch and nursed my little while my older girl watched yet another episode of Doc McStuffins…and I just cried.
I WAS SO TIRED OF BEING OVERWHELMED, AND I WAS SO TIRED OF FEELING LIKE I NEVER HAD A HANDLE ON ANYTHING IN MY OWN HOME AND MY OWN LIFE. I remembered a friend telling me about some bloggers and authors who introduced her to minimalism, and I thought “what do I have to lose?”
So I started reading. And listening. And watching. Blogs, movies, podcasts, books – I couldn’t get enough. I was realizing that minimalism didn’t necessarily mean an empty white room with maybe one modern looking couch and a single succulent plant – but instead, it could also mean living a life with LESS in order to create MORE margin, MORE joy and MORE peace.
It could mean a house that took a lot less time to pick up and be ready for guests. (Less cleaning? Hallelujah!) It could mean TIME to spend with my kids, instead of constantly cleaning and picking up. It could mean more energy. It could mean less anxiety. It could mean walking into my home and feeling CALM instead of immediately feeling overwhelmed with everything that I needed to still do – (and everything I was doing wrong).
I wanted all of that for me and my family – so I dove in.
I have now spent the last several years decluttering, minimizing, and creating routines and systems to keep my home running smoother. I have spent the time growing and learning as much as I could about this new lifestyle, and applying everything I’ve learned. I have found methods I love – and methods that just didn’t work for me as a busy stay at home mom to two little ones. I am now at a point that I like to call “maintenance mode”, and am reaping the benefits of the hard work of the past 1.5 years.
But most of all, I have less anxiety and more joy in my home. My kids play with more imagination now that they don’t have so many toys cluttering their space and mind, and we have so much more time as a family to just ENJOY each other. If I need something, I know exactly where to find it. I now walk into my home and I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore.
I want all of this for you, too. If you identify with anything I’ve written here – then I hope you will join me on this journey. I can’t wait to share everything I’ve learned with you, encourage you, and guide you – as you, too walk out of the overwhelm and into a lifestyle of less stuff and more joy.
Welcome, mama – there IS light at the end of this tunnel. Now let’s get minimal-ish!
If you would like an action plan to begin decluttering after reading this – here is the link to my free decluttering jump-start guide: https://www.dianarene.com/jumpstart