I’ve had a few people ask me over the past year exactly how much they need of certain items. These items include things like linens and dishes, books and toys, and other common household things. The answer isn’t really that simple. Truthfully, it all depends on your current season in life and your chosen lifestyle.
While there isn’t any sort of equation for figuring this stuff out, I can tell you how these items are dealt with in my house. It’s important to remember that we are a family of four, and our kids are ages thirteen and eleven. The amount of stuff we own won’t look anything like what a family with toddlers would own.
When I say linens, I am referring to bed sheets and towels.
For each bedroom in our house there is one full set of sheets. That is all we need. We wash them regularly and that wash is done during the day so no one ever worries about being without their sheets. Because my kids are older, I don’t worry about those late night accidents that plagued us during the toddler years. If I did, I might increase the number to two sets of sheets per room.
Each individual person in our house has two bath towels. There are also two washcloths and two hand towels per bathroom. All of these items get washed regularly so no one is ever stuck with dirty towels.
If you are wondering about blankets, all three bedrooms have blankets/comforters – we definitely stay warm.
I covered dishes quite a bit in my kitchen post, but the question always comes up. For our family, we have reduced our dishes to a main set of eight. Eight large plates, eight bowls, and eight small plates. We also reduced the amount of cups we have to what comes out to around two cups a person. And we have let go of the excessive amount of coffee mugs, only keeping those that we use on a regular basis.
I have a set of mixing bowls for cooking that can double as serving bowls if need be.
I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but in reality we don’t need more. Dishes get washed every day in our house, and we don’t host a lot of get togethers. What we have is plenty for the lifestyle we live.
Books and Toys
Because we are homeschoolers, I think our minimalism is something that confuses a lot of people we meet. There is a common misperception that our house would be full of books and educational toys/games. While we do have some, we keep it very much under control.
There is one shelf we use for homeschooling, and one bookshelf for the books we feel are worth keeping in our home. I guess we have adopted the philosophy that just because it is a book, that doesn’t mean we have to keep it. Some people keep every book they ever touch… if that’s you, that is ok. We prefer to read books, determine if they are worth keeping by asking whether we will read it again or use it for reference, and then based on our answer we choose what to do. The majority of our books have been donated to the local library, and we tend to check out a lot of books from the library as well.
So, how much do you need? I guess that depends on how much you will read.
As for toys and games, the discovery in our family has been that less is more. Fewer toys has meant the kids have fewer distractions, less sensory overwhelm, and a more peaceful attitude all around.
The kids are never pressured to get rid of what they love, but I do teach them to ask themselves if what remains in their rooms is actually providing them value. What I’ve witnessed is that in giving the kids that kind of power, they tend to purge their own excess without me needing to make it happen.
Our homes tend to be places where we collect things. Knick-knacks and trinkets can become overwhelming after awhile. Additionally, household supplies can get out of control… I mean seriously, how many rubber bands, paperclips, and batteries do people actually need?
The answer depends on how you live. If you have a lot of battery powered devices, then you need batteries. If you have a lot of paperwork you handle, then you probably need a lot of paperclips.
The answer for how much of a certain item you need can’t be just thrown out there with assurance. It truly depends on what is important to you.
The best advice I can offer for these extra tidbits in life is this:
Ask yourself if you need them.
Ask yourself when the last time was that you used these things.
Ask yourself if there is any actual value in the items taking up your space.
I don’t have a lot of knick-knacks and trinkets in my house. Most of the things I’ve collected over the years have been donated. When I started minimizing, I took a long, hard look at those extras and asked myself those questions. What I discovered was that a lot of the stuff taking up space in my life had no meaning. All it did was serve to annoy me as I had to continually dust it and care for it. The memories of life weren’t attached to those items… they were just things.
I also found that a lot of extras like craft supplies weren’t getting used. I love planners and journals, but I don’t love all the rolls of washi tape and all the stickers and clips constantly in my way. I chose a few items that I actually used, and the rest went away.
In the end, all these extras are just going to depend on what you value. If you have a collection that is meaningful to you, then by all means keep it. But if you aren’t finding value in the items taking up space in your life, consider letting them go.
As you approach a more minimalist lifestyle, I encourage you to really think about your current season in life and how you choose to live. Consider the ages of your children, the job you may have, the amount of time you spend at home, the activities you participate in, the feelings of your family members throughout the process, and what in life actually brings you joy. Think about where you want this lifestyle change to take you. Reflect on what your end goals is. And then work towards it in a way that brings you happiness.
Once you figure out what minimalism means to you, the question of how much you need will have a much clearer answer.