When Minimalism & Military Lifestyles Merge

Stacks of unopened mail by the door. Broken crayons in the junk drawer (c’mon now, we all have one). Maternity clothes shoved on the top shelf of my closet from my last pregnancy…three years ago? And that box of six inch heels I never got to wear, because well, let’s face it, clubbing days are over – as if they ever even started. Clutter is everywhere, and as time goes by, it feels like it’s beginning to swarm me. It’s closing in on me. Where did it come from? Why am I picking up the same things that could have been thrown out by now?

The first duty station came and went. It’s where our lives began; first house, first baby, and our first living essentials as a young family. Understandable.

Fast-forward, we’re back in the U.S, with a new house, which means it’s time to redecorate, right? Shove those old decorations in a box towards the back of the garage just in case we want them later.


Come the third, fourth, and even fifth duty station, we’ll start asking ourselves questions like: Why can’t we get out of debt? Where did all this useless stuff come from? And why is it taking so long to unpack compared to last time?

Okay, by now I am sure you get the idea. As a military family our lives adjust to being very mobile, and that means trying to bring light to a new house, a new city, and surroundings. It means adjustment, and making a new house a home. Though sometimes we get so caught up in making our new house a home, we often forget about our old attachments that helped make our previous house a home–the stories behind our clutter. We forget that purchased items aren’t the only things that make a place a home, but rather memories shared there.

Big moves usually entail time restraints. From the second we get new orders, the prepping time we thought we had begins creeping away. We didn’t get enough time to rid unwanted, unsorted things we once found value and joy in. Sometimes, we hold onto things we think we’ll need eventually, things we sometimes find comfort in, or those things we think we’ll fix, but instead, we tuck them away, and never see them again…until we come across them looking for something entirely unrelated, or its time to pack up again. How in the world do we change this? The key is to minimalize.

Prior to my knowledge of a minimalist lifestyle, I found more value in the amount of things we had versus precious time those things took away from. Those things wasted money, time, and well, patience and sanity trying to keep the stuff in order. The energy I use just by looking at those things is overwhelming and stressful, when I could be putting positive time and effort into bettering the lives of my family, whether it be financially or through memories.


Here’s what we can ALL do to solve our clutter issue:

Begin by considering the items you have not touched, thought about, or needed in the past six months. Will you absolutely touch, think about, or need in the next six months? If your answer is “no”, then do the following:

  • Sell old, unworn, untouched items (clothes, electronics, toys, etc.)
  • Donate, donate, and donate! There is always someone less fortunate than you.
  • Throw away anything lifeless – anything broke, torn, and overly-worn.

With less clutter laying around, you have more cash to build interest on, or simply more money to pay for that hotel during your next family vacation…you know, when your spouse finally gets to take leave. As military families, we all know the value of precious time when our families are truly whole! Now, forget walking into a room where you don’t have to be reminded of the clutter that swallows you, and instead think about the memories that can now fill the room.

The thoughts that come from a clean, clutter-free home? Well, the possibilities are endless!

What could you do with more space, more time, more money, and less stress?

njohnson-headshotPosted by Nicole Johnson, Marine Corps Spouse & National Military Family Association Volunteer

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  1. 1

    I recently read part of that Magic of Tidying Up book, and that’s kinda sorta what I’m trying to do..how I’m trying to approach our stuff. And I’m pretty sure that’s against the book, haha..to halfway, casually do it.
    I feel like we get rid of SO much every PCS, but it’s still too much. My husband watched a show about minimalism last night, so… we’ll see. The part of that book that really resonated with me so far was.. what kind of life do you want? can you have it with all your stuff? I know I can’t. too much time is spent fixing, cleaning, putting away, etc. There isn’t extra time for me to sew anything or paint anything or refinish furniture. Like, are we just crippling ourselves because of all the stuff we own and the work that comes with its mere existence? I blame my kids, haha.

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