I’m not a minimalist. I tell people “I’m working toward minimalism.” I thought I was doing pretty good at it until the past 2 weeks when everything fell apart…
Flashback: Friday October 6th- I had a dentist appointment in the morning, it was the first one in a long time, so of course it was fantastic! I arrived home around 1pm which was just in time to kiss my husband goodbye and see him off to work (afternoon shift). I considered myself lucky that my 18-month old son, Reece, was napping because that meant I could relax for a few minutes and eat lunch (luxuries!). Unfortunately, when he woke up his cheek was red and warm. “No big deal for a teething baby,” I thought as I pulled him out of the crib and proceeded to change his diaper. Of course he wasn’t having it, so mid change he started to crawl away bare assed (not unusual).
As I wrangled him back in, the neckline of his onesie drooped and part of his back and shoulder were exposed. My motherly eagle eyes immediately zoomed in and noticed a small pin prick looking rash. Upon further examination, I thought, “this looks familiar, almost like when I had strep back in high school… nah, I’m sure I’m overreacting. It’s nothing. Barely noticeable at all, I’ll just keep an eye on it.” I’m not a doctor, and Google said it could be one of five possible childhood rashes. So we finished our mission and went to the kitchen for our afternoon snack. Carrying him to his high chair, his forehead felt warm. I immediately tried to take his temperature, but of course, none of our 4 thermometers were working. Finally, I got an armpit reading of 99.1, which is unusual for my son. I started panicking and called my husband. He said he did not see a rash, but we agreed, rash + fever = bad news. I administered Tylenol and called the doctor and scheduled an appointment for 2 hours later.
By the time we arrived to the appointment, the rash was out of control and his temperature was up to 102. The doctor assumed it was hives, due to an undiscovered allergy. “Nope,” I said, “There is literally nothing new at our house that he has never been exposed to before, no foods, soaps, lotions, anything.” The doctor examined his throat and ears, “It could be strep,” she said. She had the nurse swab him for the rapid strep test, and after we waited, it turned out negative. “To be on the safe side, let’s treat him for strep, because there are a few strains that the test doesn’t cover, and if he’s got it and we don’t treat him, it could lead to heart problems.” No problem, I thought. He could have gotten this from church, from the gym daycare, or from mouthing a shopping cart when I wasn’t looking. Whatever the case, we’ll get through this, until… My husband started to get sick.
Because it was Sunday, he went to quick care. He got a negative rapid strep test also, but got weak meds to treat his assumed case of strep. He followed up with his general practitioner on Monday, and his doctor immediately scheduled him to come in an hour later. He came home, and… Plot Twist… My husband has been diagnosed with hand foot and mouth disease! For those of you who don’t know, it’s rare for an adult to get this because our immune systems are stronger and can usually fight it off… unless you’re my husband (doh!). So he was miserable for 10 days, overlapping my son being miserable for 10 days, but wait, there’s more!
Fast-forward to this week, and I have been scrubbing the whole house and thousands of toys with Lysol for the past two days (I could not find any napalm to clean with). Today I was supposed to have a leisurely day of finishing up loose ends, cleaning, and making sure everything was perfect- before my in laws show up to stay with us for three weeks, starting tomorrow… Nope! Instead of arriving tomorrow, they are arriving today at 3pm, just two days after the plague got done hitting my house. So my low stress day got a kick in the pants, and I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off. “It doesn’t need to be perfect. They understand that everything’s been crazy this past week,” said my husband… yeah. Sure, I thought, as all sense of self-righteousness flew out the window.
There is a popular sentiment, “The first few rounds of minimalism are simply decluttering.” And it’s true. When you first start down the rabbit hole, the goal is to get rid of excess, but the first round or two is obvious excess- duplicates, items that are worn or broken, and things you can easily throw out or donate. When you dig deeper, you begin to evaluate and question the remaining items. “Do I really need this? Do I even like this, or am I holding on to it because of guilt, or some other unknown reason?” True minimalism does not mean white walls and stark, empty space (unless that’s what makes you truly happy). Instead, it means that you are choosing to live simply, and all of the things you surround yourself with are intensely curated. Everything in your space should be useful and / or beautiful.
Back to the 2,000 toys I have been scrubbing… F-this (lol)… I’m ready to throw half away and hide the rest. For as many toys and things that I have gotten rid of over the past 6 months, he still has 1000 things when he only needs 10… I have so much more to go on this minimalist path. “Why bother?” you may ask. There are many benefits to minimalism, but let’s be real: my toddler is exhausting and minimalism helps me conserve energy. There, I said it. My son is at the age where he is into everything and minimalism means there is less for him to get into, less for him to dump all over the floor, and less for me to clean. “But he needs more toys.” False! He is just as happy playing with Tupperware as he is playing with annoying toys that don’t teach him anything except how to push buttons and be obnoxious.
It’s not that I don’t have room in my house for 1,000 toys, but having less makes it easier to pick things up after he’s done with them – it only takes five minutes instead of a half an hour to pick things up, which is nice. Thanks to minimalism, I have less shit stuff to shove. So while I’m still rushing around organizing things, going grocery shopping, taking my son to the doctor, my husband has a doctor’s appointment, and I’m preparing for a MOPs meeting tonight, at least I’m not stressed about cleaning… too much… or as much as I would have been. I could still use a paper bag though.