The way I see it, there are two sides to me when it comes to life at home: the minimalist, and the homemaker. And sometimes these two sides conflict. Let me give an example.
A few weeks ago, I went shopping at Goodwill for the first time, because I needed some new sweaters. I was inspired by some of the minimalists I follow on YouTube (Abundantly Minimal; Ashlynne Eaton) to find something “pre-loved”. Shopping at thrift stores fits well with the minimalist goal of living a more intentional life, specifically by increasing the life span of products to reduce waste, keep things out of the landfill and help the environment. Sounds good, right?
But as a homemaking shopper, being at a thrift store can really tempt you to buy more things (even things you don’t need) because everything is SO cheap compared to what you might otherwise be spending on new items. When you think solely of the money you are saving, it seems worth it to pick up a couple more sweaters, or buy that charming kitchen décor, because it is just so affordable! According to Jennifer L. Scott (The Daily Connoisseur), frugality is the number one obligation of the homemaker; the homemaker in me loves the frugality of thrift store shopping, but the minimalist has to remind myself that I don’t need more just because it costs less.
Speaking of kitchen décor, one aspect of homemaking has to do with maintaining a beautiful and comfortable home, and this is often associated with décor. Decorating can of course be very minimalist, but my homemaker side tends toward wanting to display that extra fluffy pillow or cute basket for storing soft blankets, even when they are definitely not a necessity in any way.
However, isn’t minimalism about keeping things that “spark joy,” or add value to your life? And isn’t a comfortable and beautiful home—if that happens, for you, to mean having some “extra” things in it—valuable in its own right? Also, a well-decorated home is not just for you, the minimalist; it is for the benefit of your (potentially) non-minimalist family as well. Many people are comforted when they are surrounded with an array of plush, cozy items. Some people absolutely love having a set of holiday dishes that come out only for that special occasion, or other seasonal décor.
The minimalists I have encountered online often advocate for the allowance of special collections—say, books or records—when they add a great deal of value to someone’s life. If the cozy atmosphere of a slightly fuller home appeals to me as a homemaker, is that not the same thing?
I want to point out here that, despite not having particularly sparse possessions, I have a lot less than I did before/ would have had had I never decluttered. Probably a lot less than the average person. BUT, my final, most important point: minimalism is not just about having few possessions!
Minimalism is a mindset, and a way of life. It is what makes me stop and think twice before loading up my cart at the thrift store. It is what makes me put the extra money into buying quality items that will last a long time. It is what makes me consider how I can spend my time better, and get more out of life.
I believe that homemaking and minimalism CAN coexist. It’s all about what feels right for you, and your family. So feather your nest, but don’t forget to make intentional decisions. If you want to be a homemaker AND a minimalist, be thoughtful about both the things you add to your life, and the way you live in general.