Back in 2012, I had three babies under age three. I lived in a great house married to a good man. I was living a dream, and I was so happy to have all I had… but I felt like I was carrying around this dark secret. I woke up every morning already too exhausted to take on a day that hadn’t even started yet. I felt completely depleted, depressed, miserable. And for that, I felt so guilty.
When I thought about my days and how I spent my time, all I saw was piles of dishes, an endless mountain of laundry, picking up toys and books and markers and jackets and shoes and empty water bottles and paper artwork.
I thought motherhood was going to mean I’d get to enjoy my kids.
I carried this secret around for so long, pretending to be okay at Mommy meet-ups at the park, with friends who seemed to be doing great, at church, everywhere I went I was holding up a mask. Maybe it was normal? Maybe everyone is pretending? Maybe there’s an answer I’m not aware of to make everything better?
I mentioned my overwhelm and unhappiness to several women I looked up to, who were way ahead of me in the journey of motherhood. Their responses were all the same, phrased differently person-to-person, of course. And the hopelessness I felt hearing it was deafening.
“Yup, that’s motherhood! It’s crazy. And just wait til they get older! It gets even harder in different ways! But don’t worry, you’ll get through it.”
This is it? This is the way it’s supposed to be?
And it gets... worse? I felt so heavy. I thought about a Scripture I had always clung to since my childhood growing up in the church…
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10
Abundant Life. If God is good, and God desires for us to experience a life of abundance, of goodness and enjoyment, was this version of life, of motherhood, it? Not a chance. There’s just no way. And maybe this was why it wasn’t sitting right with me.
One day, in the midst of processing all of this, the kids and I had a terrible day. There was whining and diaper blow-outs and temper tantrums and messes and cleaning up only for there to be even more messes.
I quickly turned on the TV for the kids, got the baby in his bouncer and ran up the stairs to be alone. I was already sobbing when I slammed the door to my bathroom and slid down the wall, falling into a heap on the floor in tears and absolute hopelessness.
“GOD! WHERE ARE YOU? WHAT DO I DO HERE?? I WANT OUT! I DON’T WANT TO BE A MOM ANYMORE. Not this way. Help me. Please wake up and help me.”
I kind of hate saying that I had an epiphany, because I feel like everyone says that. It was like I came out of my body and could see myself, my life, my kids, how I was spending my days… all from an aerial perspective. And it was heartbreaking.
In that experience, a thought popped into my head like it wasn’t mine. What exactly are you spending all your time doing?
“Picking up. Maintaining my life. Maintaining… stuff. Stuff we don’t even need.” BOOM. There was so. much. stuff. everywhere.
And so I did. I purged my house of all excess clutter, then I did the same with my schedule and to do list, then this spilled into my health and wellness, and then into my boundaries with others… I simplified EVERYTHING.
And you know what happened? I had space for what actually matters.
I stopped being the mom who snapped at her toddlers constantly and became the mom who played with them outside.
I stopped being the wife who nagged about how hard my day was and “I have to do everything around here” and became a strong woman who asks for help, owns her day, and has time to watch The Office with her husband when he gets home from work.
I stopped being a victim reacting to my life and became a woman of intent, living on purpose, proactively solving problems, seeing the good, and living well.
I discovered that I’m a PERSON, not a mom. My motherhood is not my identity. I don’t have to try so hard, I don’t have to run around like crazy maintaining the mundane while missing out on the point of it all.
I started blogging, I found my passion and purpose, I found myself, I found out that life is so beautiful and we’re the ones who over-complicate and make it so hard.
Today, my blog has turned into a viral empire where I get to guide other women out of the muck and into the light. I get to work against typical Hot Mess Mom culture and call women into actually enjoying their lives and themselves!
So why did decluttering give me so much freedom? How does losing my stuff have anything to do with my depression and general lack of joy in my motherhood?
Studies show a direct link between the amount of physical possessions in a house and the stress level of the female homeowner.
One study done at UCLA found that the more stuff was in a woman’s house, the higher her level of stress hormones.
This same study also found that women subconsciously relate how happy they are with their home life and family to how they feel about their homes. So the more clutter and chaos in the home, the less happy the woman is with her family and her life.
That’s what was going on with me, and I believe it’s the cause of today’s epidemic in mothers. Barely getting by, living in survival mode, feeling like their kids’ childhoods are passing them by even when they’re right there living it with them. Our stuff is literally stealing away our joy and our lives. It’s stealing the most precious thing in the world - motherhood.
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of what we most value, and the removal of anything that distracts from it.”
- Joshua Becker
I believe mothers need minimalism more than anyone else.
Minimalism is less cleaning, it’s the joy of always being ready for company to drop by without stressing out, it’s more free time to focus on your priorities, it’s enjoying your home rather than being owned by it, it’s being able to be a mom who plays rather than a mom who’s always cleaning up, it’s being a happier person.