Did you ever wonder how getting rid of excess stuff in your house can help you be less stressed?
Rose Lounsbury presented “Modern Minimalism: When Less is More” at the Batesville Memorial Public Library Feb. 4 and explained how to achieve a clutter-free functional home.
“We all have a stuff story,” revealed Lounsbury. “It doesn’t really matter what age or background you are, we all go through similar emotions when getting rid of our stuff. A 5-year-old going through stuffed animals will go through the same emotions as an 85-year-old going through pictures of their life.”
She said, “About eight years ago, I asked myself the question, ‘Rose, how many towels do you need?’ and that changed my life.”
“I was a middle school English/language arts teacher .... My husband, Josh, and I were finally pregnant – with triplets!
“After a year and a half of being a stay-at-home parent, we decided to hire someone who was very brave to watch the kids while I went back to work .... Since we had no family living near us, we decided to hire a live-in babysitter. However, we didn’t live in a huge house. It was just over 1,500 square feet, and things started feeling really tight.”
“My days were getting up to be at work at 7 a.m. I worked all day at that job and would get home about 4 p.m. Then I felt like I was clocking in at job No. 2 when I would do the mom job. There would be storytime, dinnertime, bathtime and finally bedtime. By the time I got the kids in bed at night, I had maybe one hour to myself before I had to get myself to bed.
“I’m a naturally introverted person, so I need alone time. All I wanted to do was sit down and relax. But I found myself picking up sippy cups, papers .... I felt stress and knew that wasn’t right. I knew my home was supposed to be my haven where I felt the most relaxed. I thought the answer was to buy a bigger house. That’s the same logic we women use when we buy a bigger purse.”
“Then Christmas 2011 came, and we packed up the kids and went to Michigan. Our families don’t see us too often, so they were so excited to see the kids. When you love and miss them, you often express that by giving them so much stuff.
“Our van was filled with stuff. On the way back, I had this slow and frightening realization: We didn’t have room for the things we already owned so I had no idea where to put this new stuff.”
“Luckily for me, I had lunch with a good friend and was telling her my house was too small and I didn’t have room for stuff. I thought I needed a bigger house. My friend looked at me and said, ‘Or you could just become a minimalist.’ I responded, ‘You mean like those monks?’ She said, ‘No, it’s just a philosophy many Americans are adopting.”
Then in January 2012, “I went to put some towels away in my linen closet. I asked myself, ‘How many towels could you afford to buy? How many towels could you fit in the cupboard? How could you better organize these towels?’ That’s all I was doing every night, reorganizing everything. But I wasn’t asking myself the right question, which was how many towels I needed.
“I came up with two per person for the family, but that felt wrong. That wasn’t the number of towels I saw in my friends’ houses or in Better Homes and Gardens. So I did something I rarely do. I entered my husband’s man cave and asked, ‘Honey, is it OK if we just have 10 towels?’ He responded, ‘Yeah, that sounds about right.’
“That settled it. That was eight years ago. Since then, I have not increased the number of towels, and everyone has been dry.”
The Dayton, Ohio, resident discovered, “I can live with a lot less than I think I can. I can definitely live with less than what society says I can.
“For the next eight months, I went around my house and asked, ‘How many boxes of holiday decorations, shoes, coffee cups ... do I need?’ My home transformed and looked very neat and tidy. I felt so much better.
“At the end of my long days when I had that one precious hour of free time, I was on my couch with a book and a mug of tea and I was at peace. That was priceless to me.
“I felt like I had my life back.”