I think these words often. We live in an instant society where it’s easy to get discouraged by things that take time. I say I have been a minimalist for two years, which is mostly accurate, except when I trace threads of thought back over more years than that, some even a decade. I have said time and again that being a minimalist is a process. Just because we claim the title doesn’t mean we are finished with the work, or that we have it all perfected. But we have begun, and having begun we should develop an idea where we are headed. What is it that I want out of minimalism? What is my purpose, ultimately, on this journey? Each day work towards it a little bit, as much as you can. Don’t be discouraged that it seems slow progress. It takes time to prioritize a life, or if we are part of a family, a whole group of lives.
This week, I’ll be sharing some of the things I have changed, purged and minimized in my home, going room by room. Because we’re beginning with the end in mind, I’m starting in the bathroom. Also, bathrooms are smaller rooms that actually can be processed in a day if we set our minds to it. They are good places to begin.
*Linens Oh my dear people, I could go on for days about the linens we keep. I realize that there are extenuating circumstances when we have babies and littles who are potty training, but the average American person does not need three sets of sheets per bed in the household. Yet we have them. We have sheets that are twenty years old, and crib sheets, and toddler sheets and grandma’s sheets and guest sheets and flannel sheets…Do you see the madness? And the towels. My lands! We are not a hotel. Most of us do not have regular houses full of guests. Stop. Just stop the madness.
*If it’s threadbare, stained or unraveling, it is trash. No one wants that. Throw it away. Don’t keep it for rags if you have rags already.
*Towels. We have a bath towel per person and about three spares. That way if we suddenly have three people in the tub at once and all our towels fall in with us, we can still get dry. We wash them about twice a week. I’m not even discussing using and washing a towel for your hair and a towel for your body every single day. Linens aren’t your biggest problem if you do this.
*Wash cloths. In the adult bathroom there are four. In the teens bathroom there is a stack of ten for three girls. They get washed about every other day. With five people we generate enough laundry that we’ve never gone searching. Laundry gets cycled beginning to end (most days) so it’s put away before dinner.
*Sheets – we do have regular and flannels per bed. So there is always one set of sheets per person in the closet (we do not currently have a ‘linen closet’ but the linens share an area in a larger closet pictured yesterday). We also have three ‘spare’ sets (twin size). I keep these for camp and guests. There are times when all three are actually in use.
*blankets – these can take up quite a bit of space if you are a blanket loving family, which we are. It’s fall now so our blankets are out on the backs of furniture. They don’t all match but they are all right where we want them. In the summer we put about half of them away, usually in the bedroom closets.
Medicine Chest – this is also a breeding ground for evil. If it’s outdated toss it. If you have fifteen half empty bottles of tylenol, combine or toss. We really only need one type of medicine per ailment (children’s and adult versions if you have littles) Ours currently houses tylenol, cough syrup, one box of sinus meds, naproxen, one tube of neosporin, one box of multi-size bandaids, one ace bandage, saline solution, glasses/ contact lens cases, my current cosmetic needs (all under 6 months old), Hunky’s shaving things. Everything is in date and used at least once a week, most of it daily. Stop shoving things in your medicine chest and thinking they disappear. They don’t.
Cosmetics – I am not a fashionista or a make-up guru, but my friend Cheri has taught me well: find out what looks good on you and stick with it. I keep my make-ups very basic anyway, but this gave me “permission” to wear what I like consistently and not be all over the map experimenting. I don’t keep old stuff. Use it up; move on to the next. All my cosmetics fit into one clutch size bag which they live in in the drawer. I can literally grab and go for travel. Keep it simple.
Under the cabinets – Look, if it’s half full and it’s been under there for more than three months, it’s trash. Please don’t hang onto a half bottle of shampoo and the fourteen scented lotions and shower gels from Bath and Body works you’ve been getting for Christmas for the last five years. Most of us don’t need to keep spares since we’re less than ten minutes from a store. We actually use very little of our under cabinet space. Two cleaners (please don’t keep eight half empties of this either. No one is that dirty.) The toilet brush. It’s pretty uneventful, and very uncluttered.
That’s about it for us, no extra stuff in the bathroom. It isn’t exciting, but it is useful and clean. The hardest thing is often to convince ourselves that we don’t need to keep things for “someday.” If something hasn’t been used in six months, it likely isn’t going to be. Let it go. Unless you are running a dorm or camp, you don’t need linens for twenty. Bathrooms are easy places to start. GO!