Real Life Minimalists: Vivi

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.

Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Vivi from Indonesia. A stay-at-home mom to two young children, she tells us the steps she’s taking towards living a more minimalist, intentional life. Read more of her thoughts on her blog.

Vivi writes:



First, let me wish everyone A Happy New Year… And a good luck for everyone this year.

During December till today (3 Jan 2017), I have done some decluttering, including 1 of my 4 shoes. My final goal is to be more intentional in life ahead. Decluttering, streamlining & minimalist lifestyle are in the same thread, and I think they’re one of the greatest, cheapest, and easiest way to achieve an intentional life.

The road to minimalism started when I moved to a new company in June 1998, right after a political succession & shift in my country. The new company I worked for was handling IKEA’s suppliers. I just knew there had been a global homeliving company like IKEA (yes, I know so little about the world…) who designed, outsourced, controlled the quality, and then distributed them around its store around the world, but not in Indonesia at that time. (Even now, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit IKEA in our capital city yet. But I always arrange my home IKEA like with local things around me hehe… ). There was one IKEA catalog in the company that I fell in love immediately, I checked it after lunch at lunch breaks.

Then I picked my sister college book about various history & the influence of philosophy & culture that manifested into architectural trend, “Citra Wastu” by Y. B. Mangunwijaya. The unit telling about true utility & plain functional architecture trend of German philosophy really caught me. I could relate this philosophy to IKEA style. From that moment I stopped collecting ethnic unique knick knacks. I gave most of them to my nieces & friends. I shifted my ideal style of ethnic tropical home to a simple tropical home with very minimum delicate details.

Then when the Internet was accessible, unintentionally I found blogs about minimalism. I then learn & follow a couple of minimalist bloggers & guru such as Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, Francine Jay’s Miss Minimalist, then Rachel Jones of Nourishing Minimalism, and mother of four Allie Casazza. I think they’re all incredible source in their own standpoint & capacity on teaching minimalism, simplicity & intentional life, even though until at the moment I haven’t joined any of their paid course/bought their books yet.

But the real turning point was when our first baby was born 11 years after our marriage. I had become a stay at home mom at the time. Speaking of time, physical & mental energy, I was always almost exhausted & overwhelmed in a daily basis at the end of the days, even though I had a domestic helper every other day. My husband worked long hours, often traveled out of town for days, and arriving home already tired. Then the next 21 months the second baby came. Up to now, I could not imagine what and how I can do with the kids if I had not been into minimalism.

Now the kids this year will be 5 and 7, and I’m in my early forty. As a stay at home mom, I have more time & energy to do my things again these recent years. However, I don’t do any businesses from home. I just take an English course and try to regularly write my blog in my spare time. With the higher demand from today’s school toward younger kids, and as any other moms in every corner of the world, I have to put a balanced effort in everything for the wellbeing of all family members. By the way, I may not be a very business-like person nor a Type-A person and more looks like an agricultural one maybe. I still need to learn a lot about managing time, physical & mental energy as well as be a healthier person, and what I would like to reach in the future years. And my home is still far from a real minimalist home, though. I can’t do a Konmari approach with 2 young kids around and all the activities. But I’m very positive to be a more minimalist & intentional in life this year. If you would like to share any suggestions to me, I am very pleased & thankful.

Finally, I decluttered approximately 140 things in 2016, not an impressive number…mostly just-in-case things, some knick knacks, broken toys/things (actually can be repaired still, but I choose to give them up). And this early January, I have decluttered 30 things, mostly our overgrown kids’ clothings & my not-so-favourite-anymore from my wardrobe.

Cheers to all of you. Have a nice day…

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or joining my email list.}

10 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Vivi

  • It sounds like you are doing a great job. Everything is a step in the right direction, even something as simple as changing the way you think. I am an admin for a homeschool minimalist group and I have learnt so much about how minimalism means different things to different people especially when they have children. There is no right or wrong way, you have to find the way that suits your life.

  • I really enjoyed your story, thank you for sharing! You’ve done so much!

    Your comment about broken toys and things really struck a chord with me – I tend to hold onto things that I intend to repair. Then I realize two or three years later, when I re-discover the broken item in my home, that I am not actually interested in repairing it. So I donate it, or throw it away.

    The only tip I really have is, stay with it. One day at a time. Sometimes you will clear a bunch of things out of your home, and sometimes it’s an empty wrapper you didn’t realize was sitting on the table.

  • Karen T.

    Thank you for sharing, Vivi. My children are grown and living on their own now, and it’s easier for my husband and I to live in a simple, minimalist way without children. When they were little I could keep some control over clutter and how much was coming into our home just for the kids, but once they were teenagers they had their own ideas, and those weren’t very minimalist!

    As you say, it is easy when you’re tired and overwhelmed to let clutter creep up, and (for me at least) more clutter creates more of a sense of tiredness and overwhelm, so it’s a vicious circle. It sounds as if you’re on the right path, and every small step in the direction you want to go is worthwhile! Good luck to you and your family in this new year!

  • Kathie

    Letting go of “just in case” items is very difficult, so congratulations to you, Vivi! 170 items is a good number. Keep up the good work!

  • I am enjoying reading some stories In my opinion, decluttering 140 things in your life is an impressive number. Not many people can do that. People often see stuff as their security blanket. What you did was amazing.

  • Tina

    I filled 3 big bags for Goodwill and then heard about a craft item swap at a local library. I filled 2 bags for that. Then I took 2 bags of paperback romances that my mom had to the library. I like to have just enough. Not stocking up.

  • Heidi

    I am 39 with four and six year old kids, so we are at a similar stage in life and I really connected to what you said about exhaustion and managing physical and mental energy. I really got into minimalism just before my second child was born and I think it was an instinctual way of trying to manage energy output. My husband works long hours too and I try to manage the family’s schedule well to prevent overwhelm. Children do not need to be over-stimulated with hobbies, sports and activities, and the parents don’t need this stress either. In my experience this journey takes time……and you have to allow yourself to let physical clutter go in your own time. You are doing a great job!

  • Katy

    Thank you for your thoughts! I can most relate to the overwhelm of motherhood. I too, used to be overwhelmed with everyday tasks and caring for young children. I am so much calmer now that I’ve decluttered. I don’t procrastinate like I used to and accomplish tasks more easily. Overall, I enjoy life more with simple, orderly surroundings. It’s very freeing!

  • My kids are grown. When they were young, we borrowed toys and games from the public library. We also made many large structures out of cardboard. We keep going to homes that are encrusted with objects. No rest for the eye anywhere.

  • Tina

    We had very few big toys when my kids were young. The youngest did puzzles and wrote stories and drew pictures. My daughter had very small dolls that she kept in egg cartons and a few Barbies with clothes. My older son had all the Star Wars action figures and one or two vehicles. The men were in a case. Kids now seem to have a lot more toys.

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