Ever think living a more ethical and minimalist life is just too hard? Here’s the second installment of my Modern Parent Interview Series to prove that you can totally do it. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are plenty of other modern moms making small changes and big shifts to bring more balance and conscious consumption to their everyday lives.
In this interview series, I highlight some of these moms and ask them to share their strategies and ideas to help all of us find the intersection between ethical and minimalist values and mainstream family living.
Today, Paige from from Style This Life joins us. A wife, mom to four, and high school math teacher, she pared down her closet and shares her journey toward a more minimalist wardrobe and a simpler life. She’s amassed quite the following of aspiring minimalist moms who love her regular style updates and ideas.
Let’s hear from Paige.
Share with us a bit about what inspired your move toward more intentional living?
My first step into more intentional living was creating a capsule wardrobe when I was pregnant with my fourth child. I was completely overwhelmed and uninspired by my overstuffed closet. Building a maternity wardrobe from scratch seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out a capsule.
Check out Paige’s behind-the-scenes Before and After of her closet as part of her first purge.
After I had my baby, I continued the capsule wardrobe and am still going strong. I fell in love with the simplicity (and neatness) of my closet, so I started applying the idea of ‘less is more’ to other areas of my life.
As I purged items that were unnecessary or that I didn’t truly love I started to be more intentional with my shopping habits, not just for clothes, but for everything. I’m much more mindful of what I’m buying and why and is it really necessary.
What are a few of your most favorite benefits of this lifestyle?
With four kids (ages 8 and under) and a full-time teaching job, life it naturally chaotic and hectic. Living a more intentional, simplified life has helped reduce a lot of the stress and irritation around our house.
There is less clutter, which means less neatening up. There are fewer time commitments outside of the house. Making decisions (like what to wear or what to play with) is easier. All of this has made life feel slower and more enjoyable. We have more time to do the things we want to do.
Tell us about one or two of your biggest challenges (as it relates to ethical and/or minimalist living), and how you have or are working to overcome them?
The biggest challenge for me is fitting more ethical brands into our budget. Buying an ethically made t-shirt or sweater is a bigger investment now than it was when I was scouring clearance racks each weekend.
Paige shares more in this post about her initial hesitations around buying more ethical fashion. I’m sure this will resonate with most of you.
To combat this, I have been doing a lot of secondhand shopping and giving someone’s unwanted items an extended life. Now, when I need something for my wardrobe or the kids need new clothes I always look for secondhand items first.
Another challenge is refraining from buying more than we need. For a long, long time I bought things just because they were cute, without a lot of thought to how versatile they would be or how they fit with other items I already owned. I also didn’t pay much attention to how I truly felt wearing an item. It can be easy to slip back into this habit, which is where the ‘rules’ of the capsule wardrobe and limiting the number of items I kept really helped me stay on track.
Ethical beauty and apparel brands seem to be flourishing, and new ones join the market each day. But finding more ethical options for home decor, everyday supplies, and other non fashion and beauty items seems to be a bit more challenging. Do you have any favorite brands or channels for non-apparel ethical products or services?
I have not explored a lot of non-apparel ethical brands yet, rather I am focusing on using what we already have. Whether it’s finishing off the bottles of cleaning supplies or re-purposing old furniture or giving some home decor a fresh look with a coat of spray paint, I am trying to not purchase new items and cast off the old.
Can you share two or three suggestions you have for moms to start incorporating more intentional living into our everyday lives?
Once I discovered how much I enjoyed a smaller, simplified wardrobe it was easy to apply the idea to other areas. Don’t feel like you need to do all or nothing. Start small by identifying where the clutter in your life is the most stressful and clear that first. If your to-do list is a mile long and never gets done, try cutting a few items that aren’t adding any value to your life (maybe say no to an extra committee or to an outside of work commitment).
Or, is it your closet? Take the time to pull everything out and get rid of any item that you don’t feel fabulous in. Do the overstuffed kitchen cabinets drive you nuts? Get rid of the mismatched Tupperware, bread maker you’ve never used, and 1,000 kids’ cups (and don’t feel guilty about it).
Paige shared on her blog about how she tackled decluttering her home one space at a time.
Finally, think about how you’d ideally like to spend your days and build time into your life for it. Allow yourself to slow down and really enjoy things and be intentional about how you’re living life.
Paige started her journey of simplifying in her closet. But it didn’t take long for her to realize how those principles could effectively transition into so many aspects of her life. Having started a similar adventure a couple of years ago, I couldn’t agree more. Read more about Paige’s thoughts on how small changes have a made a big difference in her family’s life.
Want to see more from Paige?