The practice of minimalism goes beyond how to keep a home clean. When you adopt a minimalist mindset, it affects every aspect of your life. This mindset happens when we focus on the things we love and need. It’s about the most important things.
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One question I hear frequently is “How do I homeschool and do all the other things besides homeschooling?” The cleaning, cooking, paying bills. . .you know, life?
I’m in the process of getting rid of all the stuff we’ve accumulated after 15 years of homeschooling and 25 years of marriage. For so long we had an issue with throwing things away. I knew it would be better but the idea was crowded out by thoughts like
- But I might need this!
- Oh, that reminds me of the time we. . .
- Decluttering can wait. We’re too busy right now, so I’ll do it later.
But as I implement more and more of the ideas and strategies of minimalism, I see the difference it makes in our home. Of the peace I feel and my ability to be productive.
I wish I had figured these things out earlier. I wish I had adopted a minimalist mindset, one that extends beyond a plan for keeping my home clean. Because it’s a mindset that helps us to cultivate the calm, deeply connected life we crave.
What does it mean to adopt a minimalist mindset?
Let’s start with what I mean my minimalism. You may be thinking of the person who chooses to live in a HGTV style tiny house or who gets rid of everything they own except 100 items. But for most of us, that isn’t realistic or even something we want to do.
To me minimalism is really about cleaning out the clutter so we can focus on the most important things.
It isn’t about not having any of the things, but having the right things. It’s about getting rid of what weighs us down and replacing it with what has lasting importance.
A phrase from FlyLady, who created a system for keeping our homes clean, has stuck with me for years: “You can’t clean clutter.”
But the phrase goes beyond simply taking care of our homes. As a homeschooling mom, you can’t clean clutter whether it’s in your heart, relationships, or homeschool.
But how can we clean out the clutter?
First we have to embrace the basic principle of minimalism: Live simply and intentionally.
In Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living, Tsh Oxenreider explains it this way,
Simplifying your life is meant to make things better, not worse. It’s about choices — about saying no to the things in your life that aren’t the best so that you are free and available to say yes to those things you truly want.
Isn’t that what we all really desire? To be able to say yes to the best things in life—the things that nourish our hearts, relationships and minds? To live with focus and intentionality?
Adopt a Minimalist Mindset in Your Heart
If minimalism is about focusing on the most important things, then we have to start with our hearts first. What can clutter our hearts?
1. Holding on to hurt.
I know it isn’t easy. Some of you have experienced pain and even abuse. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to forget what happened. And it doesn’t mean you have to trust someone who is untrustworthy. Forgiveness is about giving up your right to “get back” at the person, to take matters into your own hands. It’s about letting go. And it is a process, a choice you may have to make minute by minute, then hour by hour, then day by day.
So extend forgiveness, not only because you recognize your own sinfulness, but also to clear the clutter of hurt from your own heart. To let God replace the hurt with peace.
2. Not accepting God’s grace.
Somtimes we just don’t believe we deserve grace. And the truth is, we don’t. But while we were sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). No, not one of us is without sin. We all miss the mark of his holiness. But God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son (John 3:16). He gave the free gift of grace though the blood of Jesus Christ that we might live in eternal relationships with God.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8–9, ESV
3. Living in a state of discontent.
We clutter our hearts with discontent each time we compare ourselves, our families, our homeschools, and our homes with others. When we focus on what we don’t have or what we think we should have, we miss what is right in front of us. Discontent grows like a bacteria within us affecting every part of our lives. What is the cure? If you really struggle with contentment, I highly recommend Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment by Linda Dillow. But there are two “medications” you can start with today.
- Stop comparing. Your homeschool will never look like someone else’s and it shouldn’t look like anyone else’s! God gave your unique kids to YOU. So put blinders on and run your own homeschooling race.
- Practice gratitude. Saying thanks reminds us of all we have been blessed with.
4. Worrying about all the things.
It’s so easy to worry as a homeschooling mom. All the questions we have: Am I doing enough? Can I do this? But worry never helps.
Jesus asks, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Matthew 6:27, ESV
The answer? None of us. Not an hour, minute, or second. Worrying doesn’t keep bad things from happening in life and it doesn’t change what is already going on.
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. —Corrie Ten Boom
How do we get rid of worry?
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4–7, NASB)
Start by making a list of everything you are worried about. Be honest with yourself and God.
Now pray about whatever it is that you are worried about. Supplication means seeking, asking, entreating. But notice what accompanies it—thanksgiving. Why thanksgiving? I believe it is because when we give thanks, we focus on all that God has given us. It helps us to remember His character. And it reminds us of his goodness and grace.
Resources for Getting Rid of Clutter in Your Heart
Do you want to grow your faith? Growing Faith: Establishing Strong Deep Roots will help you cultivate a deep relationship with God through prayer & Bible study. Create a spiritual growth notebook & journal so you can be consistent in your time with God.
Adopt a Minimalist Mindset in Your Relationships
Negativity, self-centeredness, arrogance, ungraciousness, complaining, gossiping. . .none of these things make us say, “I would love to be around that person more!” These negative traits destroy relationships. But often they begin quite subtly.
Maybe you’ve seen one of these traits in a friend or someone you love. And maybe you’ve noticed one of them in your own life. It can be exhausting. So let’s rid our relationships of those things that get in the way of the connection we desire.
What can you do? Make your real-life relationships a priority.
- Get off the phone and the social media merry-go-round.
- Cultivate a team mentality in your home.
- Make time for family fun
- Nurture community.
Resources for Getting Rid of Clutter in Your Relationships
Adopt a Minimalist Mindset in Your Homeschooling
Our homeschools can quickly become cluttered with activities and classes and all.the.things. When we compare our homeschool to someone else, or try to fit our kids into a philosophy that they were never designed for, we’ve added more than is needed.
How can you get rid of the clutter in your homeschool and focus on what matters most?
- Decide what you believe about education.
- Choose the methods you will use to teach your children.
- Learn to adapt the curriculum you already have.
- Evaluate after each semester.
- Then TRUST. Trust that the God who led you to homeschool will supply all you need to do it.
Adopting a minimalist mindset may take some time.
You can’t adopt a minimalist mindset overnight. It takes time to figure out exactly what minimalism might look like for your family.
But I urge you to consider adopting a minimalist mindset in your homeschool. Choose one area that you will clean out some of the clutter from. You may find as you get one area cleaned up, it inspires you to declutter more.