Messy Minimalism

Are messiness and minimalism compatible? In fact, we messy people probably need minimalism the most--because we can't handle having a lot of 'stuff'. My guest today is Rachelle Crawford. Rachelle and I have bonded over our natural tendencies towards messiness. Rachelle is sharing her journey and introducing us to her new book, Messy Minimalism.

Get in touch with Rachelle:

Rachelle Crawford: Some of them just are more naturally messy. Um, no matter how, I mean I could punish my son. I could reward my son and it's just as brain does. I think to put his socks where they go after or take his shoes off where I have my youngest daughter who she's six and she has this small shelf in her bedroom.

Um, and it's kind of like her desk area and she loves arranging everything neatly. There's this empty space. She'll clean it like her though. She has a thousand stuffed animals probably, and she just loves her thing. Tidiness and order just comes naturally to her. Where? To my other two. Definitely.

Definitely. You know, my jeans there.

Denaye Barahona: Hi, this is Denaye. I'm the founder of Simple Families. Simple Families is an online community for parents who are seeking a simpler, more intentional life. In this show, we focus on minimalism with kids, positive parenting, family wellness, and decreasing the mental load. My perspectives are based in my firsthand experience, raising kids, but also rooted in my PhD in child development.

So you're going to hear conversations that are based in research, but more importantly, real. Thanks for joining us. Hi there. That voice you heard in the intro is Rochelle Crawford. She and I are chatting today about her new book, messy minimalism, realistic strategies for the rest of us. Before we get into today's episode, here's a one minute word from our sponsor.

The sponsor for today is Prep dish. I am grateful for prep dish because I know that every Friday they're going to be showing up in my inbox with a meal plan for the. I almost always choose their super fast plan because that's what I have space for in my life right now and the foreseeable future. So I printed out it's three pages.

The first page is the list of ingredients. Also known as my grocery list for the week. The second page is that prep day list, the things I need to do in advance to prep the food for the week. And the third page is the dish day. That's the list of things that I actually have to do to assemble and get the food on the table.

The day of, if you want to give it a try, go to prepdish.com forward slash families, and you'll get two weeks free. That's prepdish.com/families. And you'll get two weeks free by taking care of the meal plans. For me, Prep Dish has truly taken a big piece out of my mental load, and I am grateful for.

Especially during the busiest weeks, like the holidays back to today's episode and my chat with Rochelle, Rochelle and I are friends. You'll hear that in our very casual conversation today. And one thing that we have really bonded over is our natural tendency towards messiness. Many people don't think that messiness and minimalism are compatible, but in fact, we messy.

People probably need minimalism more than most. And even though my family and I are pretty far down our journey to minimalism, we've been at this for many years now. Our house is still often messy, but it's not chaotic. And there's a difference. It used to be chaotic, but now sometimes it gets messy and it's easy to clean.

I think that I feel my most comfortable when there is a little bit of a mess. I know when a new friend invites me over to visit, if their house is perfectly clean and organized, sometimes they find myself comparing myself to them. And sometimes I feel less than even though I know I shouldn't. So if you ever invite me over to your house and it's a little bit.

I understand that I'm absolutely okay with that. Cause mine is too. I hope you enjoy my chat with Rochelle today and definitely check out her new book, messy minimalism, which I had the opportunity to write the forward for without further ado. Here's a. Hi, Michelle, how are you? Good. How are you? I'm good.

I'm so glad to have you here talking about messiness and minimalism and the compatibility of the two. First of all, I mean, you wrote the book messy minimalism, so we know that messiness is in your life story, but can you tell me a little bit about when messiness came into the picture?

Rachelle Crawford: Oh, yes. I've been messy my whole life.

Um, ever since I was a kid, I just kind of kept lots of things and stored them all in my bedroom. Kind of like I would be asked to clean my room, but it would be all, I would have to push it all up against the walls, like keeping it around the perimeter of the room. And if the center of the room was clean, um, that was clean enough.

And my parents just were like, fine, whatever it's at a certain point. Looks good, Rochelle. Um, so yeah, it just continued on from there. I just tend to be. A more messy person leaving like a trail where I go and kind of cabinets open I'm in my kitchen when I cook or in my nursing office, um,

Denaye Barahona: at work so much of that story resonates with me.

I had a small closet in my childhood bedroom and it was literally, if you opened it up, things would fall out on top of you.

Rachelle Crawford: Oh, sorry. I shoved like everything under my bed. Like. It looked good. And I pulled the comforter down to cover the bed skirt. Yep, totally.

Denaye Barahona: Right. And when my mom said, go clean your room, that's what I did.

I just shoved everything into the bed. Right. And I always just felt like my whole life, that, that was just who I was. And it was just kind of like this curse that I had was just, I was just messy. Did you feel like

Rachelle Crawford: that? Oh, yes. I. I just thought it was naturally who I am. I kind of pictured getting married and having kids.

And then I would like kind of naturally just move into my mode where I would be magically tidy and organize all of my kids' stuff. And that did not happen. It was the opposite. Honestly, it just kind of got worse because I had more people to help, um, trying to help, um, manage their stuff. Um, yeah, no, I just kind of chalked it up to I'm a really good mom, but I'm just not a naturally good homemaker.

Just

Denaye Barahona: a messy one. Yep. Right. I remember one of the things that was really hard for me when I was single and living alone or living with a roommate was I would try stuff on because I never knew what I wanted to wear. Cause I had all these clothes to, to choose from because I bought them all on sale.

Didn't really love any of them. I would try them on and then just throw them on the bed or on the. Instead of hanging it back up. Did you do that?

Rachelle Crawford: Yeah. Oh yes. I mean, if I was like really trying, I would at least put it in the closet on the floor, but yeah, I never initially hang things up. It would just accumulate onto the floor for sure.

Denaye Barahona: Right. And I never knew it was cleaning.

Rachelle Crawford: Oh, no. So then when you do laundry, like you just scoop, like you just scoop it all up and wash it all. So everything, whether it was clean or dirty was just getting washed a million times.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah, absolutely. So that was in your childhood. What about when you got married?

How old were you when you got married? I

Rachelle Crawford: was 23, 22 when I got married, um, moved right from college. I had a roommate in college and I think I was a little better at. Like mildly more tidy in college just because she wasn't related to me. And I, you know, didn't. I tried, I tried a little harder, but it was still lots of stuff everywhere.

Instill with the whole along the perimeter, um, mentality for tidiness. But when I got married, my husband is more tidy. He went to a service academy actually. So whether he was always tidy as the child or just kind of a, he developed really good habits in college. Um, I don't know, but he, he is much better at picking up stuff than I am.

And, um, just kind of, he keeps it as like a habit, like all day cleaning as you go, which I was just like, great. I know people do that.

Denaye Barahona: So when you moved in together, was that easy to manage the messiness and the tidiness?

Rachelle Crawford: Yeah, we worked, so we worked opposite shifts. Like I worked the night shift as a nurse at the time and he was, um, home and I don't know, we never, I think he probably just kind of like cleaned up after me in the evening and I didn't pay much attention to it and he's such a good guy, but, um, yeah, it didn't cause a lot of friction, but it was.

We just never had a particularly tidy home and it didn't. I remember like someone came over one afternoon after I had just left in a whirlwind for work. And my husband's like, oh, my word, like, I don't even think he realized how, like we were living. I don't know when someone was like, oh, oh, Okay. Like, I know, pick it up.

We can focus and hunker down and pick it up. And we didn't like always live like a filthy life. Right. But it would just kind of these waves, like waves of mess. And we lived with it and then we pick it up when we need it to, and I'm like, if we hosted people, we would take all of the stuff that was like on the counters or along the walls and just move it into another room.

Like pull all this stuff off the counters in the kitchen and shove it into the laundry room. And like, it would look. Yes. Yes. And then we'll look put together, but then we thought, I think we just kind of thought. That's not how you live your everyday life. You don't live. It clutter-free, you don't live. It always tidy.

And, um,

Denaye Barahona: I totally remember those exact feelings. And actually when my husband and I were engaged, we moved in together. And I remember this day, like one of the very first days I moved into his apartment. And one of the very first days I was eating some like sugar coated, gummies, like sour, gummies, and I was walking around the house, eating them and dropping like little pieces of sugar on the ground.

Like, as you do, when you're eating like a snack like that, he was like, following me around, like with his jaw down, like just kinda like. Do you see that you're like dropping sugar and I'm like, no, I don't see that. I didn't notice that. Um, but again, like, he also has always been super, super patient with me, but I think that I always thought, and it's interesting now, reflecting on that, that idea of like, thinking like normal life, it's just stacks of stuff everywhere because I didn't grow up like that.

My mom and dad were very tidy growing up. When I grew into adulthood, I definitely felt like when I went over to a friend's house and they didn't have piles of stuff that they must be hiding their stuff somewhere. Like, that's definitely what I thought. Is that what you thought too? Like they just moved it into the other room.

Rachelle Crawford: Yeah, I think, I guess as a child, I don't think I really paid much attention to other people's homes or maybe I just made friends with a bunch of messy people. I don't know. But we, my parents, I wouldn't say. Like they would, we could clean up the house, but same thing, all the cabinets were full. All the classes were full.

Um, the basement storage area just packed full. Like you just kind of, I just assumed like you accumulate things and you hold onto them forever. Cause you might need it someday type of situation. Um, and that's, that's just what I thought adults did. And I never in, you know, as a kid, they would tell me, go clean your room, Rochelle, your room's a disaster.

Why can't you keep your room? And it was never like, maybe you are trying to keep more stuff than you're capable of managing that was never a part of the conversation. Maybe

Denaye Barahona: they didn't even realize that. No, I

Rachelle Crawford: don't think they did at all. Like, no, it wasn't. That's just what they were used to and it was fine with them.

And I just realized when I became a mom and once I realized like, oh, you don't have to keep all of this. Like, it was such a shift for me. Um, and it's changed

Denaye Barahona: our entire. Yeah. And I think that the it's, it's just hard to understand as someone for anyone out there listening that feels like they are a messy person.

You feel like this conversation or just the conversation of minimalism in general is not for you. And I, again, like, you know, we've talked about this it's especially for you because people like us cannot handle a lot of stuff. Like, I do think there are people that can handle a lot of stuff. Like my best friend for one.

Um, like I remember like seeing her garage as a grownup and as a grown, like when we were in our thirties, like visiting her house and her garage has like shelves around it with these plastic totes they're perfectly organized. And the totes, the label on the tote actually holds the contents of the tote, which seems so simple.

But like, I am someone who has labeled totes and then put wrong things into the totes that don't match up with the labels. So like systems like that. Like organizational system. They seem like they should work for everyone, but I mean, how did you make lots of attempts to organize and fail on those organizational attempts?

Rachelle Crawford: Oh, absolutely. I mean, like I said, I just like kind of thought I would become an adult and that would come naturally to me. So I would buy the, the totes in the baskets and I would, you know, I thought like more, like I bought one of these Ikea toy bins. It didn't really hold with everything. So then I bought another one and then at another one.

So at a certain point I had three Ikea tokens, like all strategically placed in my home and still the stuff wasn't containable, because it was just, we didn't like we didn't establish boundaries and say, this is enough. It was just like, we just kept accumulating. Um, so I just don't think you can organize an underlying, too much stuff problem.

Or at least I couldn't with the way my brain works.

Denaye Barahona: Right. And I think there's like that tendency, like you said, if you run out of space, you just buy more storage, you know, you buy another toy box and you fill that one up. Then you buy another toy box. The problem is not too much stuff. It's not enough space to store the stuff.

And then you've got so many toy boxes that they don't fit in your house. And then what happens is you need a bigger house, right.

Rachelle Crawford: Moving right before minimalism, we were looking at houses. We didn't really want to be. Um, we talked about even adding like a third car garage stall thing, just to store more stuff in or adding cabinets in our kitchen.

Like, could we find the same cabinets and like move one over and add more? I mean, it just never even dawned on me that it was too much stuff that I was trying to fit into this space. Um, and fortunately we, it was just a few months later that we, I learned about minimalism and realized that I could apply it to my messy life.

Um, yeah. Now, now we fit just fine in here. And I can't say we'll never move, but it certainly won't be to accommodate more stuff.

Denaye Barahona: Okay. So tell us how you found minimalism and what that experience is.

Rachelle Crawford: So I attended a church mom group. We've met a couple times a month and every, um, meeting had a different speaker and a different topic, and it was a ton of fun, but we, this one was on healthy meal planning and this woman came to speak and she was sharing all about healthy meal planning, but she talked for a second about how she had just moved across the county.

And she said the packing wasn't so difficult because we're minimalists and that's in that moment, I was like, oh my, she had five kids and I only had three. And I was like, oh my goodness, you can be a minimalist. Like, it was really just like this one giant aha moment for me. But I think it was because the stage had been set and I had spent that entire year leading up to it just after having my third child just feeling like something is not right in here.

Like this is not working. And I felt like. Ryzen overwhelm and anxiety. Um, and so it's kind of like the stage has been set in that I realized that this was, this was what is wrong that I'm trying. I never wanted to be home in my own house because it felt so cluttered. It felt so suffocating. And I didn't understand that it was the stuff.

And so that was the day I went minimalist.

Denaye Barahona: That was the day. Was there like a day where there was a mass Exodus of.

Rachelle Crawford: Yes. I went home that very day, grabbed my daughter from preschool. So I had two of my kids with me called my husband on the way home. And I was like, oh my word, guess what? We're going minimalist.

And he's like, oh, okay. This is, this is a fun conversation. Goodbye, crazy lady. Yeah. So, but I went home and I just gutted my closet. Um, I just pulled ruthlessly, like anything that I did not love, um, anything that I had never even worn and knew that I wouldn't wear it because I shouldn't have bought it in the first place.

Got in my class at, and there was, um, just, you can even see my bed. It was piled high. I took a picture with like my one-year-old in the middle of the pie. I'll just for like reference, like, look at how much stuff, which is, it was kind of embarrassed thing. Like I had all this stuff when I didn't even, like, if you could see the, before pictures of my closet, always a mess, always a mess.

And I promised you that spray now it's, it's still a little messy. Like I dropped my pajamas on the floor and got dressed. Um, but now everything has a space before it was just kind of always falling off the hanger is falling off of the shelves and now there's like empty space and yeah, so that was the day that I never turned it back after that.

It was like, we just ruthlessly decluttered our home in wave. After wave.

Denaye Barahona: You make an important point that even though you have moved towards minimalism, it's still missing. And it is like

Rachelle Crawford: people are saying, yes,

Denaye Barahona: I post pictures of my drawers and show people what they look like. And they're surprised to see that this stuff is mostly unfolded in the divorce because I rummaged through them.

Like if I put something in there and I need something that's in the back. Push the stuff aside. And then I take something out of the back and I don't know any other way to exist other than rummaging through my drawers. And I haven't stopped that haven't changed that I just have less stuff. So they close easily, easily.

And because if you only have like three pairs of jeans in a drawer, they don't really get wrinkled. Cause they're not cramped,

Rachelle Crawford: right. Piece of cake and putting it away and doing the laundry. Everything becomes a little easier when you just have. A manageable amount of coping items in your closet and you know, dishes in your cabinets.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. I wonder what you think about Marie Kondo's folding strategies.

Rachelle Crawford: Yeah, no, I mean,

Denaye Barahona: my husband loves it. My husband like thinks it's amazing. I, yeah, it just, no, it

Rachelle Crawford: doesn't, it wouldn't work for me. And I'm saying I just don't get how it would work for me because. George aren't full. So they would just fall.

I mean, I'm sure there's a way, and I don't, I, I'm just not interested in doing that. And that's the thing that I love about what I call messy minimalism is it's finding what works for you and leaving what doesn't work for you behind. Like, if that works for you. Awesome. Like, I know, I know people who love it.

Um, it's not for me, but that doesn't mean. You a better minimalist or me a better minimalist or anyone has, I mean, it's just about applying minimalism to fear everyday life so that you can be more present and be more about, be more of who you are. You know, this isn't about like becoming somebody else it's about just like getting rid of the unnecessary and the extra stress so that you can be.

Denaye Barahona: And, and letting go of those expectations, you know, just cause you and I are like, oh no, that folding doesn't work for us doesn't mean that you should stop doing it if it works for you. You know? I mean, my husband, I fold most of the laundry and he re folds the stuff, his clothes after I fold it. And part of me is like, I think I should be embarrassed, but then the other.

No, he could do him. Like, that's totally fine. If he wants to refold that he doesn't like, he doesn't say anything about it. He just refold it so he can look nicer in his drawer and I'm like, that's great. You do that. And I'm okay with it. Right. I don't know. So owning that, right. Like that's what he needs to do for him.

And it doesn't have anything to do with me. It doesn't. Anything about me. I mean, I guess it does kind of speak about my ability to fold laundry, but I'm also okay with not being great at all that stuff too.

Rachelle Crawford: Yeah. It reminds me of our dishwasher. My husband is very particular about how a dishwasher should be loaded and I'm kind of like it's all in there.

It's good enough. And it was for a while, it kind of a point of conflict to some degree, just more passive aggressively, I guess, but it finally came to a point where. Okay. You, you are like one second away from doing all the dishes for the rest of your days on this earth, in this home. So, um, I don't need to learn a lesson.

I do my best to like, you know, do it a little bit the way we kind of compromise. And I, you know, I, I know where he likes the plates to go, but for the rest of it, it's kinda like, okay. And he stopped trying to teach me because. It was a problem and now we just laugh about it. Yeah.

Denaye Barahona: And you found a middle ground, right?

Exactly.

Rachelle Crawford: Exactly.

Denaye Barahona: Give a little lean in a little and yeah, I found the same thing. Like with my husband's chopstick, I'm just not allowed to touch it anymore. And because I never put it back, I never put it back. So I just don't and finally, I don't, cause I lost it so many times. I just like, now I'm just like, okay, like I just am not able, this is more than I can handle.

Right. And at the core of so much of minimalism is don't take on more than you can. Whether it's in your house or with your stuff and with your kids, like, did you give them more than they can.

Rachelle Crawford: You mean more stuff or more

Denaye Barahona: like in general, I guess, do you feel like, oh

Rachelle Crawford: yes. Like I said, growing up, I, um, no one ever told me I had too much stuff and that is a super, that is something I talk about all the time with my kids.

Like, not as a, like, not as a punishment, like go clean your room. I can't clean my room. I don't want to clean it as too hard. Like, well then you have to, you have too much stuff. Like what we can get rid of some of this stuff. So it's easier for you to clean. Or you can clean it and it's not like a, if you don't clean your phone, I'm going to take all this stuff.

It's more of a, just a, I don't know, a principle of minimalism that we only need to keep what we're capable of taking care of. And we can give to somebody else in need the stuff that we don't really need. Um, and sometimes they find things. Sometimes they find things that they can get rid of. Um, and other times they choose to, you know, okay.

No, I don't, there's nothing I want to get rid of. I'll clean it up and be responsible for my stuff. So it's not always like picture perfect like that. And some days it takes them like four hours to clean the room and some days they just do it really quickly. But, um, yeah, when it came to decluttering with kids, I initially, like when I came home that day, I did not want to go to my clothes.

That was not where I intended to go. I ma I intended to go right for the three toy bins I had and just start purging stuff. But I Googled online and, um, came across some advice that suggested otherwise like that. It's really not fair to ask your kids to do this. And I realized like I'm 34 at the time. I was 34 when I went minimalist.

And I was like, that's not really fair of me to ask my kids to do something that, I mean, I just spent 34 years accumulating like a crazy person. And teaching them totally different principles for home management and stuff. Right. That I had to go first and I had to know what it was like to get rid of stuff, um, and model it before I could ask them to do this same.

And so each one of them had a different experience, you know, cause they're all unique in the way they handle their stuff is totally different from each other. Um, as they declutter it's, then you have to take them on their own journey. Some are, you know, one in particular has like a million stuffed animals and they are her actual children.

And I wouldn't ask her to get rid of them. And my oldest is found, um, he's my, he's the messiest of the three kids way, like me just totally leaving, crumbs where he goes. Um, but he's found that he hates cleaning his room and owning less stuff has made him not have to spend so much time cleaning his room.

So he's really embraced more of the minimalist mindset when it comes to. Um, and it's taken time. It's all been a journey.

Denaye Barahona: Let's take a pause quickly. I'm going to take a one minute word from our sponsor. And then I want to ask you a little bit about the process of getting rid of this stuff. I'd like to thank native for their continued support, sponsoring the podcast during the holidays.

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As much as I do go to native deo.com/simple. Or use the promo code simple at checkout to get 20% off your first order. That's native D E o.com/simple. Or use the promo code simple at checkout to get 20% off your first order. Thanks. And back to today's episode. So I think it's interesting that you mentioned that your kids all seem to have a different way of managing stuff.

And I do feel like there are natural tendencies towards messiness and cleanliness. Do you feel that way too? Yeah, I do.

Rachelle Crawford: I've always wondered, like isn't is my natural tendency towards messiness. Was it nature or nurture? Like where did it come from? But when I see my kids, I can't help, but think that's, you know, it's, some of them are.

Are more naturally messy, no matter how, I mean I could punish my son. I could reward my son and it's just as brain does. I think to put his socks where they go after or take his shoes off where I have my youngest daughter who she's six and she has this small shelf in her bedroom. Um, and it's kind of like her desk area and she loves arranging everything neatly.

There's this empty space. She'll clean it like her though. She has a thousand stuffed animals probably, and she just loves her things. Tidiness and order just comes naturally to her, where, to my other two definite. Definitely. Yeah. You know, my jeans,

Denaye Barahona: my son might be one of the tiniest humans that I know, and he just turned eight and it's crazy to watch.

He literally always puts his stuff away. Like he's the kid who always takes his plate to the sink. After he eats, he always puts his clothes in the hamper. He always does these things that he needs to do. And I like want to take credit for all of that. But then I also have to take credit for my other child who walks around the house, peeling an orange, dropping the orange fields as she.

Like, you know, and that's why it's me. It just, it feels like there is something very brain-based about this something very individual that is different from kid to kid and we can't place the same expectations on one versus the. Oh,

Rachelle Crawford: no, I like how you said that, that you have to take credit for both of them.

Right? Because it is easy to be like, oh, the, my youngest, she was minimalist though. The longest, oh yeah, I did this, but that's not the case at all. Like, yeah, I, yeah. I like the way you.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And I think that when it comes to getting rid of stuff, our kids also have a different experience getting rid of the stuff too, you know, like the, how they let go of things.

And so many people are okay. So I think for me, there's two different getting rid of things. There's that initial big purge, like both of us made and like where we really let go of a lot of stuff. And then there's the ongoing maintenance of it. How did you deal with the initial big purge with your kids of their stuff?

The toys.

Rachelle Crawford: Well, I thought that because I had spent a few months, I didn't go for their stuff for a while. And once I did, I thought, well, I led by example, I showed them the benefits. Like this is going to be a piece of cake. I followed all the, I took all the right steps. Right. And that was definitely not the case.

Um, I started with my son. He was seven at the time and I was excited and he was terrified. Like, it was obvious that this is not going well at all. And I tried to, you know, play it like. You know, th you know, just explaining the benefits over and over. I can kind of get long-winded when I talked to him and like, if I just keep talking, he'll get it.

But it just wasn't the case. But halfway through like the, this, um, decluttering, I just stopped for a second and realized, like, I feel like it was just this profound moment of like, this is your fault, Rochelle. Like you did this, you raised him to hold on to everything. You modeled it. You attached memories to possessions in toll, uh, taught him how to do that.

And so I, instead, I just stopped talking and I apologized to him. I said, Jamison, I, I, I am sorry, this is super hard. And it's not fair that you have to do this. And it's my fault. Like I have been doing this wrong. I have been parenting you wrong. And I realized now that. Teaching you wrong and we're going to do something different because I want to spend more time with you.

I want to have a home that we don't have to spend so much time cleaning, and I don't have to ask you to clean all the time and you can go play more and just started listing some of the bed. And I'm sure I kept rambling probably, but he kind of like relaxed a little bit after that, that he realized this wasn't a punishment and it wasn't his fault that this was my fault.

And I took responsibility for this course. I had set aside and just like, explain where we're taking a turn here and we're going to do things differently from that. Yeah. So I think

Denaye Barahona: that's always going to get it though, like, and they're not always going to be on board because they can't really, especially depending on the age of your child, like even in the eight or nine year old, you know, like they're going to have a really hard time having that higher level thinking of.

If I cleaned my room, I'm going to be calmer or I'm actually going to have more places to play. Like, I don't know. It's seeing those benefits, especially if they're long-term benefits. That's not, they're not always going to see that. And I think that's one of the reasons it's hard to get kids in agreement on it,

Rachelle Crawford: I think.

And I think it's a matter of just going slowly with them and knowing like, okay, so their bedrooms might not like, look as minimalist as you would want them to look, but that's not the point of minimalism. It's a slow process. And if you're starting with a seven-year-old. Uh, raising kids. And like, I like to say I'm like, I'm not raising minimalists.

I'm raising kids in a minimalist home. Like, I don't know what they're going to decide to do when they get older, but all I can do is create a home that prioritizes memories and experiences and people and generosity and contentment over always needing to keep up and always having to find a new, a new trend and, um, putting our stuff.

Spending time together and tidying ourselves. So I feel like this is I'm in this for the long game here, and we're looking for like in the future that they grow up and just have a better relationship with stuff than I did when I was 34. Right. So really, I think moving slowly with your kids stuff is, um, is, is so important.

And now that my son is almost 12, he would say he's more minimalist when it comes to this stuff, but at seven, definitely not. Right? Yeah. So it's a process and it really just doesn't matter. How many, I feel like for me, how minimalist my kids look or what they say, but really just, we w we want to create a more peaceful home that we can connect in.

And, um, and I think that's what.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And I just reminding ourselves that we are part of the reason that we got them into this and now we have to get them out of it. And sometimes that does mean making hard decisions on behalf of them. If they can't make those decisions, you know, how do we keep moving forward?

Don't give up. Right? We'll keep moving forward. If you know, this is really. The best thing for your kids and also understanding the different kids can handle different amounts of stuff. Like my daughter has so much more stuff than my son, but she's so much messier. So when we moved into our new house, the two bedrooms for the kids are, they're both small, but hers is exceptionally small.

And I was like, well, maybe I should give her the bigger room because she has more stuff. And then I'm like, well, that just means she's. Like put more stuff in there, it fill it up and cause it's going to get filled, whether it's 10 by 10 or eight by eight, whatever it's going to get filled. And that just gives her more things to manage more than she can handle.

And I just see so much of myself in her and see how she can not handle a lot of stuff or even like a medium amount of stuff. Like she needs very minimal in order to be able to take care of it. And I don't, and it sounds like your son that gives me hope. Like he has come around to actually. Uh, getting on board with that as he's gotten older.

Rachelle Crawford: Yep. I would say even my daughter, she is nine. I would say even she is coming around to really emphasizing her biggest thing is experiences. Like she loves experiences and adventures and just realizing how much more important that is than stuff. Except for craft supplies. We have a craft supplies situation going on in here and, but she's creative.

She's off the screen. She wants to learn to sew, which means I've had to watch the YouTube videos on how to sew. Thread a bobbin anyway, it's a whole, it's a whole thing. Um, but yeah, so we have a lot more craft supplies and it makes more mess. But yeah.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah, we have our dining room table is also our craft table and it is always covered in stuff and it's big.

And I think that's part of the reason, like any big horizontal space becomes kind of a place where the stuff clutters, but I just I've made peace with it. You know, it's never going, I'm never going to have that dining room table that. Like Instagram worthy that has like the perfect center piece and like place settings.

And, you know, it's going to be the place that we are actively living and using the stuff. And there's always going to be stuff on it, right?

Rachelle Crawford: Oh yeah. Absolutely. Our dining room is one of those ones. That's kind of set in a separate room away from the kitchen and living room. So we've kind of made this a designated I'm in here right now and the table is just covered it.

Isn't. Well, it's not, I came in called the dining table anymore. It's got so much glue and paint and tape stuck to it, but that we've just kind of made this into an art space. Um, if we hosted people, we would maybe put a tablecloth over it, but I don't even know if that could save it right now, but we make this kind of like the cluttered area that, that we allow to remain messy.

Um, and certain days we would require that they clean it back up again. Um, but the other area, the living room and the kitchen is a space in our home that we regularly daily tidy and put back kind of like we set it back. Um, just everything's put away everything's tidy and it kind of just makes for a more relaxing family evening type of situation, but oh yeah.

Our dining room is also an art.

Denaye Barahona: Right. And I think so for me, I don't know if you've had this experience, but there are two kinds of messy spaces. There's the messy bedroom where you throw all the overflow stuff you don't want to deal with. And then there's active spaces. Like you've described your dining room, right.

The space you're actively using and just kind of like leaving things out. I don't like crafting things in that sort of space and. That feels okay to me, right? Like this active, messy space versus this messy storage space. Do you have a messy storage space or what is that

Rachelle Crawford: we used to, oh, we definitely, you couldn't even, we have a back storage area in our basement and you couldn't even navigate.

I mean, it was literally like a jungle gym trying to climb through to get to the back of it when, before we went minimalist and then even in our first step. Well, we had a two bedroom apartment and the second bedroom house, all of our wedding gifts and stuff that we registered for that we never needed.

And it just kind of, we just piled all the excess overflow into this room full of stuff. Um, which we're, if you think about it, paying rent for all of this stuff for a couple of years,

Denaye Barahona: right. And I mean, that's the storage industry, right? Is that they survive based on people having too much stuff and. It's not, it's not getting any easier.

I feel like with all the things that so easily accumulate in our lives, the one-click ordering and it's on our doorstep the next day that the act, the accumulation of stuff is much easier. Yeah.

Rachelle Crawford: It's getting easier and easier, um, with every new piece of technology. Absolutely.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. Um, at your partner, has he gotten rid of his stuff or did he just not really have a lot of stuff to get.

He

Rachelle Crawford: had a lot of stuff to get rid of. He had the same amount of clothes. Like, I don't know what the same amount that might not be fair, but he had a lot of, he had a lot of clothes and, um, it still took him like a few weeks to a month to get on board. He just kind of watched me, um, and what I was doing, but he eventually started decluttering and together we went through the rest of our house.

The first place he started with was with his old t-shirts. He had

Denaye Barahona: just about to say, did he have a lot of sentimental?

Rachelle Crawford: T-shirts yeah, he did. I mean, he had polo shirts from high school. Well, they were awful. Anyway, you shouldn't even wear these now.

Denaye Barahona: It's, it's a male thing. I think I don't hear very many.

Maybe women do it too, but I haven't heard of very many women doing it, but like, it's definitely a guy thing, like holding onto a shirts, old shirts.

Rachelle Crawford: Yeah. And he's super frugal. So to him, it's like, I might wear these again and. I think when he watched me declutter, one of the things he came in that same day when he got home that night, I showed him like all my stuff.

And he's like, wait a minute. Like, are you just going to go buy a bunch of new stuff now? Like, which would have totally been what I've done in the past. Um, but he, so I said, no. And I realized like in that moment, like we need to change the way we spend and I need to show him and myself like that I'm capable of this because I was more of the spender.

Um, and he was the frugal person. Meant that I was buying a ton of this stuff and he was holding onto everything which made our home, just this place that just kept growing and growing. Yeah. So once I showed him, it was, uh, we did like a one or two months. Um, it was two months spending freeze. I'm just like, didn't, I don't buy anything that we didn't need, like even groceries, like I meal plans and I made sure to stick with my list and I didn't impulse buy anything that we didn't need just to kind of reset my spending.

And I think that helped him see like, okay, This might be for real, and this is, yeah. And as he saw my class, I get clearer and like, keep it a little tinier. It was inspiring to him

Denaye Barahona: for sure. Oh, I love that. So tell us how this book was born.

Rachelle Crawford: Yeah, so I started my minimalist journey. I decluttered like a V with a vengeance and, um, about three or four months into our journey, I hit a wall.

Like I thought we'd gone through most of the major areas of our home. It took us a full year to do the whole. But we've gone through like the major areas of our home. And I felt like I had like this really great systems and my counters were always clear and I was doing a really great job of keeping this home, put together and looking the part.

And then. Has been leaned against the dishwasher when it wasn't all the way close in snapped, like a really important part in half and it stopped working. And with that, I felt like all of our systems and routines just kind of fell apart. Like I was, I was all being held together by like a thread. And I was trying to maintain this picture, perfect home that looked minimalist and felt minimalist.

And I realized it just kind of all crumbled after that. And I started to second guess whether minimalism was even for us. I almost quit. Like, okay, I, this isn't going to work. If I feel like every time something is tidy, I'm a stressed out person and I'm not doing this. Right. And, and really, we just kind of stopped decluttering at that point and took a good couple months to just really evaluate how we're doing this.

Cause I felt like I was on this mission to create peace and calm in my home through less stuff. And I just kinda swapped my clutter for control and. I realized that was unsustainable. And so what became of that after, um, a couple of months of just pausing and re-evaluating was like, I'm going to need to lower my expectations for myself, for my family, for this season of life we're in, it's just going to be messy and it's not, I mean, on and off.

Right. And so I just created more of a gray spaced approach to minimalism and I called it messy minimalism, which just gave us permission. To embrace the mess, but still declutter at a pace that worked for us and create a home that worked for us, as opposed to trying to mimic like all those picture perfect images you see on Instagram and Pinterest and, um, you know, your capsule wardrobe, doesn't have to look a certain way and you don't have to arrange all of your spices and kitchen supplies into like perfect Mason jars.

And it can, it, it can be unique to you in this. It's here to serve you where I felt. Working really hard to serve this thing called minimalism. So it was just a more realistic approach, um, to, to living with less. I

Denaye Barahona: love that. All right. So tell us where we can find you online.

Rachelle Crawford: So I'm at abundant life with less.com and you can find me on Instagram at abundant life with less.

And if you want to learn more about the book, messy minimalism, you can check out messy minimalism.com and it's available. We're books. That's all.

Denaye Barahona: Thank you so much. And I'm so glad to have you here today. Thank you for having. Thanks so much for tuning in. I'm going to put the links to get in touch with [email protected] forward slash episode 289.

If our conversation resonated with you today, I encourage you to check out her book, messy minimalism as always. Thanks for tuning in and have a good one.

Denaye Barahona

Dr. Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She partners with families to tackle the challenges of raising children. Denaye is a minimalist who claims to be a decluttering expert (don't let her near your closet). She loves to travel, talk health-and-wellness, and give unsolicited advice. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The Minimalists, Motherly, Becoming Minimalist, and numerous other media outlets. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Clinical Social Worker with a specialty in child and family practice.

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