Confession : I am a wannabe minimalist. It has always seemed like a far off dream to wake up and not have to rustle through crumpled, undesired clothes. To no longer spend hours out of my day picking up clutter. To not have to rearrange stuff in the junk drawer just to get it to close (yes we have a drawer devoted to junk). One of the biggest stressors in my life is mess. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to live in a stark, monochromatic house with white walls and white couches, but I do want to surround myself with things that make me happy and purge all the unnecessary things that distract from all the enticing, happy-feeling things. That's the premise of proclaimed minimalist Marie Kondo's methodology; only hold on to things that spark joy, and rid yourself of all things that are not only purposeless but also extinguish joyfulness.
Sounds easy enough right?
This has been on my "to-do-someday-list" for ... well ... forever; but life seems to keep getting busier and busier and I have continued to put it on the back burner. But not anymore! Because the Wee Little Nomads are headed to the Big Apple!
Yep, you read that right - New York City baby! If you have been following our journey you may have noticed that city life is somewhat out of our comfort zone. We prefer wide open spaces, greenery, fresh air, and minimal crowds. We are however, always open to new experiences, so when papa nomad got offered a travel nursing job that we couldn't refuse we said, "heck let's give it a try!". The nomads head off on this new adventure early September and will return in December to finish up the Airstream renovation. We are excited to embrace all that New York has to offer, and get out and about to explore some campgrounds in surrounding areas and states. If you know of any favorites please let us know!
This decision kicked me into gear to finally tackle the knick-knacks and padiwaks that clutter my house and subsequently my brain. As suggested in Kondo's book, "Spark Joy", I worked my way through categories instead of rooms. I can now say I have been down to the deep, dark, depths of every crevice in my house and back again, and I am here to share how I survived the grueling process of ridding my life of "things".
* It is important to note that I am in no way, shape, or form being paid to promote any services, apps, or books mentioned in this post*
Category 1 : Clothes
Did you know that some of the most successful people have (or had) a super simplified wardrobe? Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, President Obama... The list goes on and on. Perhaps they are too busy, you know doing important things, for rummaging around hoards of clothing in order to choose the perfect outfit of the day. Maybe the one thing I'll ever have in common with Einstein is a minimalist approach to clothing... Or maybe just crazy hair days.
The clothing category was WAY more challenging than I had anticipated. I figured it would be fairly simple to rid myself of excess clothes because I barely touch most items in my closet, and in general I feel a certain amount of disgust for my wardrobe. As it turns out, I don't hate my clothes as much as I thought I did and saying my final farewells to the inhabitants of my closet proved to be a challenge. I took it in stages and made three piles.
1) The "good riddance pile" - this was all the attire that I had no reservations saying goodbye to and donating. I chose to donate to Goodwill for the profound reason that there is one located less than a mile from my house. This pile was easy, it was all the faded target shirts, worn down leggings, and unbranded clothing that I was happy to toss to a good cause.
2) "make me some money" pile - I used ThredUp, Poshmark, Tradesy, and local thrift stores for this pile. The Tradesy and Poshmark apps are similar concepts - snap photos of the clothing you want to sell and it creates a personal closet that others can view and shop. Buyers are able to make offers and you can counteroffer or accept. Poshmark does take a sizable portion of the proceeds if your item sells for more than $20 but shipping is free and very simple. I didn't have any luck with Tradesy but sold a few things on Poshmark so I would definitely recommend this app for buying or selling clothing, shoes, accessories, or swimsuits. I think it was harder for me to use these apps because I was trying to sell a lot of clothes - taking pictures and writing captions for each article of clothing was tiresome. I also didn't want the clothes laying around in a pile waiting patiently for a new home, I needed to get stuff out and FAST or else I was tempted to hold on to it. Everything that didn't sell on Poshmark within a 2 week timeframe I stuffed in a ThredUp bag and sent away. ThredUp is AHMAZING - it's a no hassle way to thrift your unwanted clothes. They send you a big plastic bag (about the size of a trash bag), you fill it up, drop it off at post office, and get money in your PayPal after they review your items. The bag ordeal is FREE but if you want the unaccepted clothing back it cost $9.99 for them to ship back to you, or you can choose to have them donate the unwanted stash. I stuffed 5 bags full. It was way easier than taking pictures of every single dress and shoe. These items need to be in great condition and brand name. They don't accept men's clothing so I brought my husband's clothes to the thrift store. ThredUp does accept kids stuff but I used a local thrift store for some of the children's clothing also.
Bottom line - if you are cleaning out your closet and have a bulk- load of clothes, Thredup is the way to go, but if you want to sell a few dresses and a few shoes and have time to patiently wait for a bite then you will get more bang for your buck with Poshmark.
3: "I want to keep it but I don't ever wear it" pile : okay, we all have this pile. It's why we accumulate all this crap-olla in the first place. There is absolutely no reason why I should hold on to this dress but it has sentimental value, or I can picture a hypothetical situation in which I might need this exact dress. This is how I approached this devious pile: I left it sitting on the floor of my room. Every morning I woke up, looked at the pile, and decided if there was anything in it that I wanted to wear. Every day for a week I said "nah, maybe tomorrow". Moral of the story, if you don't love it, it's not worth holding on to. Does it spark joy? No? Then sell it, donate it, trash it, and get something that makes you happy.
4: Absolutely keep pile: No doubt about it, I wear these shorts every day, they are my fave, end of story.
I went through phases of eagerly getting rid of stuff, and tentatively adding to the maybe pile. The most helpful part was telling myself that if I sell that mediocre pile I can invest in some quality clothing that I love. I want to start my wardrobe over, have a clean slate, and only fill it with items that truly spark joy. I'm hoping to shop more consciously, only buying essentials from manufacturers that take into account fair- trade, sustainable materials, and humanitarian rights instead of impulsively buying cheap target clothing.
Category 2: Shoes
I'm not a huge shoe fanatic - with one major exception - boots. I love me some boots. And I had the toughest time deciding which ones to let go of, mainly because they all seemed essential and they all spark joy. I used the same piling process as the clothing and managed to dwindle my collection down a bit. I tried to narrow down my shoe collection to 1 pair of snowy/furry boots, one pair of stylish boots, one pair of hiking boots, one pair of sneakers, one pair of fancy/going out shoes, and one pair of sandals. Most of my shoes were not in good enough condition to sell, but the ones that were I stuffed in the ThredUp bag or uploaded to my Poshmark closet.
This is still a work in progress.
Category 3: Furniture/ Decor / Kitchen
Do you have a side table that just kinda gets in the way? Or an excess of decorative things that clutter the shelves? Try to pin down which items in your living spaces you adore, and which ones just cramp the rooms. I used a multitude of services and apps for this category to see what works best. Good ole sketchy craigslist, local Facebook mom swap pages, OfferUp, LetGo, and Shpock. The success of these sites might be based on your location and what people in your area utilize the most, but I had the most sales on OfferUp. It was so easy to snap a picture, set a price, and correspond with potential buyers. The only negative about this site is that people will try to low ball you, but on the flip side I didn't experience any scammers. The next best sale platform was Facebook swap sites, it can be really annoying and time consuming to coordinate a sale and sometimes the pages are saturated with posts and your item doesn't get any exposure, but the price is firm and there is very low risk of scamming. I had absolutely no luck with Craigslist, LetGo, or Shpock - in fact I only got scammers trying to get me to relay my paypal to them - does anyone fall for that anymore? Goodness, I hope not.
Category 4 : Books and DVDs
I held on to most of the children's books and DVDs because those get plenty of everyday use and will undoubtedly get plenty more with growing babies and toddlers ruling the roost. The adult books and DVDs are another story because A) "ain't nobody got time for that" and B) Netflix and E-readers. Our house had shelves stuffed with dust collecting books. I chose a few classics and favorites to keep and used the app Bookscouter on the others. Bookscouter is pretty darn cool, simply scan the barcode on the book, and the app shows you where you can sell the book and how much they will pay for it. Most of my books were worth zilch so they got tossed in the donate pile, but about 30 of them were worth between 1-5 dollars for a grand total of approximately $50 - I'll take it! It was a lot of work to sort through the sites that would buy back the books, pack them in boxes, print shipping labels, and drop at post office - but I think it was worth the effort. The only downside to this app is that some were priced high on BookMonster buyback but when I went to sell my books to BookMonster the site had a popup that said they weren't accepting those titles at the time. I would suggest avoiding BookMonster and sticking with Powells and Textbook.com (I didn't try any of the others because those stores gave me the most for my books). The books need to be in shiny, mint condition in order to get paid for them. This app is really great for textbooks or summer reading books from school days (that maybe were never touched).
I used the decluttr app for the DVDs and a few TV series we had bought way back when we used to buy DVDS. Very similar to Bookscouter- simply scan the barcode on the back to price the item. They gave me about 50 cents to 5 dollars for a DVD - which racked up to about $17 for the amount I had. Cha-Ching!
Category 5: Toys and Games
The kids stuff was really hard on my soul. Even though I loathe toy clutter and the children don't play with 99.96% of their toys, it was hard for me to get rid of stuff that the baby might potentially play with in the future. I tried to purge all plastic, noisy toys. I got rid of all puzzles and games with missing pieces. I think the most important thing to do with toys is divide them up and store some away while keeping others out for play (rhymey timey) . Rule of thumb - children play with their toys better when there are less of them. This seems counterintuitive but it also makes so much sense when you compare it to say.... Clothes. Once I cleaned out my closet and only had a select amount of clothes, I was less overwhelmed by deciding what to wear and experienced more enjoyment out of getting dressed. Same goes for children and toys/games. Rotate what is out and what is stored. Voila - happy kids and less mess!
Helpful Mental Chants:
"Less is More" - this needs to be repeated over and over. It feels so much better to have a drawer with select clothes that I want to wear instead of a stuffed drawer of clothes that I don't want to wear.
"Simplify for a simple life" - I am already seeing the effects on my cleaning load and I'm totally digging it. Maybe more frequent laundering, but smaller loads and less folding. Cooking is easier when cabinets are sparse and organized. Less clutter = less frustration and more enjoyment out of your belongings.
This proved to be a huge undertaking but one that was extremely rewarding. I honestly felt like I was running a business with all the managing of sales. Our family attempted an actual yard sale one day but it was a total bust - I have a feeling yard sales are going to be obsolete (if they aren't already) with all the online methods of buying and selling. I am not sure I can call myself a minimalist yet, but I feel like I am well on my way. I survived the first step, and so can you. Get started on your path to a more purposeful, happy home - oh and make money along the way!
Wish us luck living the city life and follow us on our adventure @weelittlenomads on instagram!