When I first started my journey to living minimal and simplified, Brian was not on board. It took him a few years to really get it and join me in it. But not everyone in life will understand or support the decision our family made to live minimalistically. When it comes to getting your unwilling family on board with minimalism, the bottom line is that you cannot control other people. This is your life, your kids, and your home. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty. Don’t hold onto things out of obligation. Just do what you feel like you need to do to live a purposeful, intentional life focused on what matters!
In This Episode Allie Discusses:
How you can still live a minimal life without the support of those around you.
The power of boundaries.
Ways to navigate your kids giving you pushback.
The best way to respond to those who don’t understand or support your decision.
Mentioned in this Episode:
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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
From the dawn of time, mothers have warred through unmatched trials, the pain of child bearing, seemingly insurmountable piles of laundry, PMS. The time has come. Mothers all over the world will gather, trash bags in hand, war paint on their faces, an unstoppable force against the clutter that fights to steal their time.
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Hello, beautiful friends! I'm so glad you're here! I really am!
I've been thinking about you guys a lot lately. I’m super grateful for you…all your listening, sharing with your friends and leaving reviews. The podcast is thriving and I'm so, so thankful. If you haven't left a review yet and you listen to the show and you enjoy it, would you please leave a review on itunes? It's super easy to do. Just look up The Purpose Show on itunes and you can click right there to leave a review. It really helps me out. It really grows the platform and enables me to get awesome guests for you guys. Reviews and downloads are everything. I really appreciate all of you guys who have helped with this so far and I'm really glad you're here.
I'm also really excited because we're talking about minimalism today and I love talking about that, of course.
We are doing Declutter Like A Mother right now, so I'm in the zone and I'm ready to dive in and talk about some of the problems that come with this lifestyle change and the behind-the-scenes relational stuff that comes with it. Because you think, “I just want to get rid of my clutter and live a more intentional life,” but you don't really realize until you're in it that that comes with a lot of pushback sometimes and it can be really hard. So, we're going to talk about some of that today.
Getting your unwilling family onboard with minimalism. We're going to talk first about the husband. I don't mean this to be super specified – “men don't understand’ - I am just saying husbands, because usually that's what it is. I get messages every single day - emails, comments - every single day about my husband doesn't get it. He's not into this minimalism thing. He's not on board. I really want to start, but I just can't because he's not on board. That is probably the number one most common complaint or question that I get in what I do. So, we're gonna talk about that a little bit today.
I actually have several resources for this if you want to know more. There’s actually a video training that I put out a little while back, I think it was like a month or two ago, that is basically just a video of me addressing the four biggest excuses for minimalism not working for you or putting it off when you really want to do it, but you're putting it off because there's a problem. The ‘husband not onboard’ thing is top of the list. That's on there and I go really deep in depth to that, so if you want that I will link to that video in the shownotes. That goes into a lot of other things too, like ‘not having time’ and ‘it's too hard when you have little kids in the house’ and all that stuff.
If your husband doesn't get it, if he's not into the simplifying minimalist thing, here's the thing - you don't need him to be. I know that's shocking, but you don't. You do not need your husband to be onboard to simplify your home. You can become super minimal without him being onboard. I've said this a million times, so for a lot of you it'll probably be repetitive, but for those of you who haven't heard me say it, Brian, my husband was not on board with this, at all, for a couple of years. We've been living the minimalist lifestyle really hardcore for over six years now. We’re going on seven years. But for the first two or so, he just had a really hard time with it. He was super against it. I can't believe it took him so long to come around. He's just a little stubborn and I love him for it, but he had a really hard time because he comes from a background and a childhood that basically led him straight into being a legit hoarder and that was really hard for me.
He would keep little odds and ends in bits and pieces of things ‘just in case’ and he was just kind of a mess. He had a lot of stuff. We all had a lot of stuff. But when I changed and had that realization that started my story and gave me my motherhood back, it didn't automatically mean that he was onboard too. He was happy for me that I was finding a way to live a lighter lifestyle. But I honestly think he thought that it was in my head, a lot of it, and that, yeah, the house was getting simplified and things felt a little lighter, but it was stuff that I didn't need and that his stuff was different. That he didn't need to do that, because he didn't really want to admit that he did.
We went on like that and it started to put a wall between us for sure. I had to reach a point where I was like, “I don't want our marriage to suffer because you're not onboard with what I'm doing. I'm going all in here and I'm really figuring out that this is working for me. Creating a space of less and opening myself up to more white space in our physical home is changing my life and I'm cleaning so much less. I'm barely having to maintain our house anymore. I can get my stuff done and then just be with the kids and do what I need to do. I'm blogging and I'm happy. It feels like you don't care about me because you're pushing back and I don't understand why you're pushing back on my joy like that.”
We had to have that difficult conversation and we ended up compromising. I could see that he wasn't going to sway and he could see that this was changing my life and he didn't want me to be unhappy. So, we had to compromise. And what our compromise ended up being was he could do whatever he wanted with the master bedroom closet, which was very large at the time, and the garage. And I would never, ever get rid of something that was his when I was decluttering. If I found something that was his, I would put it in either the bedroom closet or the garage and leave it alone. I did that and we lived on that way for a couple of years and it worked for us.
I'm here to tell you that I could have gone on my whole life like that with those two areas of the house being kind of cluttered, but the rest of the house - the parts of the house that deeply affected my day, my life, and my time - I could have gone on like that forever and had joy, been happy and been feeling the same way that I feel now.
But that just wasn't our story. Eventually we had to move and we ended up having to pay a lot of money to rent a larger moving truck and stay in our house longer than we were supposed to because Brian couldn't get his areas packed up. I had gotten the entire house packed in one or two days, eight months pregnant. So that was his wake-up call. Like, “Okay, this is affecting our family. Now I see how much lighter your stuff is and how much mine is not. I'm on board. How can I do this?” And he's been onboard ever since.
I just want you to know that you do not need your husband onboard. I don't care if he's being super crazy about it and super controlling. You don't need him to be on board to simplify your own space. Okay?
Also, you cannot control him, so just don't try. Also, I think the biggest part of this is that you have to understand that it is really, really, highly unlikely that you're married to somebody who is super against ever simplifying and making your lives easier. It's probably not that. It's probably just the fact that he doesn't fully understand the heart behind your desire to let things go and he's having a hard time with it. So talk to him and give him more time. He might just need more time to process.
Don't expect your husband to jump onboard with everything that you feel gung ho about because that's just not realistic and you're going to cause a wall to go between you two and it's just not worth it.
So, go slow. Focus on a different area if you need to. Have an open conversation with him about it. Help him get educated about the ‘why’ behind all this and compromise. Don't get rid of everything just because you think it doesn't matter and he does. Maybe you're going to have a few more things than I do because your husband is not onboard with it right now or he's just not ready to let go of certain things. That's okay.
I just think we need to let go of this idea that everybody has got to be totally on board and helping and gung ho. Otherwise it's just not gonna work.
I think actually I can honestly say I see a lot of time women using that – the fact that their husbands aren't really into this whole minimalist thing. They think it's a fad and they're super annoyed about it - I see them using that as an excuse to procrastinate and not really dive in and do this for themselves. It's almost like they want their husbands to not be on board because it's a reason to wait and not do it. Because it is hard and you have to deal with your crap. You have to let things go. Do a hard thing.
It is hard. Get real with yourself. He doesn't need to be on board and you can't control him. Maybe he just needs more time. Maybe he just needs to understand the process more.
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The next area under this topic is your kids. Maybe your kids are complaining about the process of simplifying or they're giving push back, according to their age depending on how old they are. The first thing to remember here is that you're the parent and it's your house. So be the parent. I think it's about finding a balance between, “Hey, I'm the parent. This is my house and we're not going to live in a mess. We're going to simplify and we're going to have more time for what matters,” and also realizing that your kids don't need to be forced to get rid of everything, but if they're old enough to give that much pushback, they are sure as heck way old enough to be in charge of keeping their space clean and organized themselves.
So if you're cleaning their room for them, they've got clutter and you’re mad about it and they're pushing back on that, stop cleaning their room. Who cares if they have clutter if they're in charge of maintaining it? Let them learn the hard way what clutter costs and then lead by example in the rest of the house. Why is it affecting you? That's the craziest thing to me that I see all the time is that these women who have older kids who are giving serious pushback about letting go of stuff, they're hoarding stuff and they're like, you know, 6, 7 & up. It's affecting the mom because she's picking up the stuff and maintaining it. Why are you maintaining it? Let them do it. They should be in charge of that. It should have zero effect on you.
Also, something to know about kids having a hard time with minimalism. Around the age of 4 or 5, it's a natural stage in child development for kids to get really clingy. Bella did this especially. All my kids did this around that age. Emmett’s doing it now because he's 4. But Bella especially, she got really clingy. She had a birthday and got some stuffed animals from some relatives. Instead of her usual “I don’t really play with this. Mom, I think we can just give it to another little girl who doesn't have any money,” (you know, the whole donation process) she got real clingy.
She named everything, and it was her baby. It was like a living being and she would sob any time we even talked about getting rid of something, and it just wasn't happening for a year or two. And that's okay. I researched it and found out this a normal stage in child development. So just be aware that that's there. If you have a kid that age and is really having a hard time, it's okay.
I know this isn't a super clear cut answer and that’s what everyone always wants, but I think it's just about balancing between the fact that you're the parent. It's your house. You’re parenting these kids. You're raising them. That's your responsibility how you do it and that this stuff matters. It's not about having a clean house. It's not about having a perfect existence.
It's about living your life and spending your time focused on what really matters. Teaching your kids what is good and that this lifestyle is good. It's about balancing that with, “you can do what you want with your space, but that's your space and you're responsible for cleaning it up, but here are my expectations for how clean your room should be and if you want to maintain all that stuff, have at it. I'm not going to do it.” I hope that makes sense. Kind of finding that balance based on your kids' ages and what your parenting style is.
So, let's talk about the next section of this: relatives and other people that are close to you in your life. What happens when other people just don't get it? They don't support it? They make ridiculous rude comments and they basically go against what you want?
Usually all I get is comments like, “Wow, your house is really clean every time I come over. You guys homeschool and you're here all the time. How is this even happening?” Or, “Wow, that's all your kids’ toys?” And, you know, that's fine. It's just because you're going against the grain with this lifestyle and people are just shocked by that. I don't really know why, but that's usually what we deal with.
But sometimes it goes beyond those comments. I don't know if I've experienced more of this because this is who I am and what I do for a job or what? But sometimes it gets flat out hateful and pretty crazy. So, I'm going to give an example and I'm going to keep it as veiled as possible because I never know who's listening, but it is what it is.
I have a friend who has a relative that I've met multiple times. We've hung out. I'm really good friends with this person and this other woman is in her family. And so, whenever there's a kid's birthday party or a family event or whatever, this other woman that is related to my friend is there and she has made it super clear that she hates what I do.
She thinks it's super pointless. She thinks it's a joke. She thinks I'm misleading everybody. And I mean this woman, she has said so many forceful, hateful things about me and to me about what I do. She just thinks it's the biggest joke. She can't believe that I have a following based on letting go of things in your home, clearing the clutter and having more time to spend with your family.
After getting to know her, hanging out with her and her family and being really good friends with the woman that's in her family that’s my friend (also I went to her house for a baby shower) what I have learned is that she’s older and she comes from a difficult background and she quite literally is a hoarder.
I'm not exaggerating that. It was really a lot. There's random knickknacks piled on shelves and then more piled on that, and dust and stuff everywhere. I've always made it a point to just be super kind to her and just be really patient when she's freaking out and telling me (or other people about me) that what I do doesn't matter and it's ridiculous. Understanding that she's feeling attacked and convicted by what I do, even though I've never said anything like that to her. This is, a lot of time, the heart behind somebody who's disagreeing with what you're doing.
So, if you're listening to this and you’re a minimalist and you're living this way in your life, you're trying to be intentional and you're raising your kids with less toys, really saying ‘no’ to a lot of excess, you’re going against the grain. You're going against the usual. And that convicts people who aren't.
It's not like we're sitting here with our arms crossed like, “What a bunch of idiots. You guys don't even live intentionally.” We're not. At least for me, that's not my heart at all. I'm not thinking about them at all. I'm just trying to do my best because I've got a lot going on and I need to be really intentional with that, so that I can do everything that God's called me to do with my life.
So, think about that example that I gave. She feels really convicted and attacked - even though I've never directly done that - because she's got a heart issue. If you really think about it, even from my own self, anytime that I've reacted to somebody in that way, it's because I have an issue.
So, understand that when somebody is really making ridiculous comments, being super rude, or saying negative things about how you're living in this way, it's because they have a heart issue and it's usually conviction.
Other times it might be because this person, especially if they are relative like one of your parents or your spouse's parents, they might feel like you're robbing them of loving on you and your kids through gifts.
Just remember not to expect other people to be on the same page as you all of the time. Stay Gracious. Stay kind. Compromise. Love them by letting them love on you.
You know, our kids get plenty of gifts. They get gifts at Christmas. They get gifts for their birthdays. We just do our thing and we keep it all balanced with regular seasonal toy purges, decluttering, and just living the way we live.
When somebody gives you or your child a gift, it doesn't come with a secret, unspoken contract that you have to keep it for any certain amount of time. So, when somebody gives a gift and it comes into your home, that's great. Be Gracious. Be kind. Be thankful. And mean it. Then when that toy or that item runs its course and it's time to send it on to the donation center, that's fine. You shouldn't feel guilty about that.
If somebody is trying to make you feel guilty about that – Boundaries. If you have not read the book Boundaries by Drs. Cloud and Townsend, get yourself over to Amazon and order it right now. I will link to it for you in shownotes. It's amazing and you need to read it.
This is kind of like a parting piece. There are some times where somebody is just so rude and forward like, “Well in my day, we had tons of toys and we turned out fine,” or you know, “Wow! I can't believe that you limit things like that,” or just something really rude and forward - my favorite type of response is just to be quiet, let them finish, just kind of smile and let them talk. And when they're done just say a simple fact like, “Wow, you feel really strongly about that.” They'll probably say something like, “Yeah, of course I do! This is ridiculous!” or whatever. Just let them do their thing.
I don't argue. I don't push back. I don't try to make my point unless somebody is really kind to me and saying honestly like, “Wow! How does that work? How do your kids handle that? What do you do when you go to Target and your kids want a toy? What do you do for birthdays?” If they're curious, I'll answer all day long.
But when somebody is attacking me and being really rude because they're coming from a place of conviction, there really is not a lot of wiggle room for convincing them otherwise. I just like to just let them finish, smile and stay really gracious about it as much as I can and just say something like, “Wow! You feel really strongly about that I can tell.” Not in a sarcastic, B-word way, but you're stating a fact that you acknowledge where they're coming from and just let them get it out, because it's really pointless to try to fight it.
The bottom line is this is your life. These are your kids. This is your home. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty. Don't hold onto things out of obligation. It's ridiculous. Do what you feel like you need to do to live a purposeful, intentional life focused on what matters. Don't let anyone get in the way of that.
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Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.
I am always rooting for you, friend!
See ya next time!