Whole Parenting Family

How Living a Minimalistic Life Killed Me

I thought I would love this part of our three month camping at my sister’s beautiful house. I thought that packing 3/4 of our possessions in storage would give me that freedom we all long for. Forced minimalism while we are between houses! I’ll love it! The house will be clean because we have no toys! The shelves will look lovely and bare! I’ll change all my bad house keeping habits because otherwise we will have no clothing to wear as everyone only has so many outfits!

And yet we take ourselves with us, don’t we??

What almost killed me about living with substantially fewer possessions these past few months? I know you’re dying to know. Hardy-har-har.

It wasn’t the volume of our things that made my life chaotic. It’s the number of small children we have.

I thought if I had fewer things, if I had a better system, if I were more disciplined and organized, then I, too, could achieve the minimalist dream.

Guys, even her beautifully remodeled kitchen with white cabinets (my secret dream and not the color in our new house) got so dirty. I mean like what happened here? Who went digging for worms in the garden and then came and opened all the cupboards? Oh, my three year old did. And when six people, one in dipes, mind you, use one bathroom, there is a literal ring of dirt around the inside of the glorious soaking tub.

It’s not me. It’s them. And that is okay.

And the kids had too few toys. Not the loud clangy ones they’ve ignored for years. But the blocks that I forgot a crawling baby would want to gnaw on. The dress up silks my sister dyed for us. That one construction guy hat. I could have been more generous.

And our pots and pans sitch has been a little dire. I thought I would love having to wash the one small pot that makes oatmeal, rice, hot cocoa, and mac & cheese. But instead it means I can’t make two things that need a pot at once. And we all know how much I need my hot cocoa to survive.

This dream of having not too much, having order and cleanliness, being that instagram hashtag, it’s just not for this season of life. And while revering our earthly possessions borders on worship of the material, they aren’t intrinsically bad. It’s actually quite helpful to have enough washcloths when your baby spits, your tot poops, and your 7-going-on-17 needs a bath.

Before you divest yourself of all or most of your possessions (and I’m not saying don’t recycle the one-line-color-this-is-my-art-paper-no-i-wont-add-more-its-finished), think about how does this or that or the other serve my season of life goals?

Instead of the konmari method of whether it sparks joy, ask, do we actually use this?

In a little over a week, most of our projects will be done at the new house and we will wipe it all down, plop our furniture in, unpack the legos (probably the most yearned for toy in storage) and I’ll exhale surrounded by probably too much stuff that’s just enough for us.

I can never really tell my sister enough how much we appreciate her. How her opening her home at this fragile time for us meant our kids didn’t sob every night about their old house. How they loved camping at hers and making it their own (small piles of trash in the yard and coloring on the dressers). How her generous heart never complained a wink at the wet diapers on the hardwood floors and garden plants that wilted from lack of water and attention. She’s a true gem and I can’t wait to clean her beautiful house and restore it to its proper glory under her careful eye!!

Anytime she misses the chaos, she can come across the street and six houses down to get a real deja-vu dose of it. Because I can’t embrace the minimalism I tried out these few months again until another season of life!

I also am sewing like a madwoman because I’m mad, apparently! I have three slots left for my custom size and color linen girl dresses but it closes up on Friday evening. If you’re interested, hop on over to my shop and take a look.



  1. Emily on October 12, 2017 at 7:12 am

    I so love your posts, Nell x

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 20, 2017 at 6:29 pm


  2. Bernadette on October 12, 2017 at 9:45 am

    I was so glad to read this! I feel like everyone is jumping on the KonMarie bandwagon and “embracing minimalism” and it really irritates me, for some reason! I don’t think it is an ideal or a standard that applies to everyone in every situation, and it’s not the cure-all that it is advertised to be. It’s not a virtue in and of itself, though it is being proclaimed as such! I especially had a lot of problems with the KonMari book.

    Good luck as you move into your new home!

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 20, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      Thanks, girl. I felt the SAME way about Kon Mari.

  3. Mara Yager on October 12, 2017 at 9:48 am

    LOVE your posts, and love your FB posts too!! They are SO comforting, I have 3 under 6 years old and it can get the better of me at times. Your posts always comfort me SO much, thanks for being you and thanks for sharing.

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 20, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      oh girl. SO glad you’re here.

  4. Laura @ Life is Beautiful on October 12, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I’m currently reading Sterling Jacquith’s book Not of this World: A Catholic Guide to Minimalism and it’s SOOOO much better than KonMari!!! It’s applicable to wives and moms and large families! I love it and I love the spiritual aspect of it. She mentioned too what you said about something being useful rather than just the KonMari method of ‘sparking joy.’

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 20, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      I love her writing! And Kon Mari was lacking in lots of ways for me–just not realistic for families!

  5. C.C. on October 12, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    I just think this is such a realistic view! Way to go, spot on!

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 20, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      I just had to live it to understand it!

  6. Patty on October 16, 2017 at 9:29 am

    This is so honest Nell….so excited for you and the family to be settled and set-up in your new home! Not everything works for every single family and that’s freakin okay! 🙂
    So glad we all got to visit when everybody was in town 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 20, 2017 at 6:25 pm

      You’re so wise. LOVED seeing you! Miss you!!

  7. Theresa on November 19, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Oh, I needed this so badly. We have 4 daughters 4 and under and it seems our lives are spent mostly cleaning up after them (ask their 10yr old brother)! We had a beautiful family vacation at my husband’s grandfather’s old lake cottage this summer and I had all these minimalist ambitions upon leaving, but then realized that we—and the house—had survived mainly because it was summer, and there was a lake in the backyard, and 85% of the time had been spent outside!!! 😉

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 20, 2017 at 6:30 pm

      HAHA yes, yes

  8. Claire Oman on November 21, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Oh me, Oh my, Nell. I am with you sister!! We’ve recently made an international move (with 2 littles +1 still on the inside) and our boxes are not here yet… 3 months later. I am starting to go crazy from the lack of books and sewing supplies. And thank goodness we had a birthday on the weekend because the kids are completely bored with every single toy we brought. Any prayers you or your readers can spare for the prompt arrival of my stuff will be greatly appreciated! haha!

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 21, 2017 at 6:48 pm

      WE NEED STUFF, K!!!

  9. DFH on November 27, 2017 at 7:03 am

    Happy to have stumbled upon this post. I, too, have these same dreams. We will be moving into a one bedroom condo with our 2 year old twins during a two month home renovation. I’m not going to forget the blocks! Any other ideas welcome. 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 28, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      Lots of toys they can destroy! Good luck on renos! 🙂