slow - simple - soulful - sustainable
Minimalism and motherhood | Beth Henson
Beth Henson is a minimalist, mother, and the creator of Someday Slower, a blog sharing the lessons she and her family have learnt from slowing down, simplifying and living with more intention. She writes beautifully about the challenges and rewards of a simple home and life, and her Instagram is a gorgeous journal of their lives.
We asked her about how and why she began her exploration into minimalism, why she decided to home-school her kids, and how she’s brought them them along on the journey too.
words by Fiona Barrows and Beth Henson / images by Beth Henson
Perhaps we can start with you telling us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Beth, a 30-something minimalist mother or two, living in Dorset in a little townhouse by the sea. I love reading, writing, hiking and watching films that make me sad! I feel everything deeply and what I once saw as my flaw, I now see as my gift. You will always find me either down by the sea, walking in the breeze, or curling up with a warm mug of tea.
What was it that motivated you to simplify your life?
Four years ago I was drowning in stuff, both physically and metaphorically. My marriage was broken, I was plagued by chronic illness, and had fallen into a depression that I couldn’t see a way out of. This wasn’t the life I signed up for and I wanted more for myself and my children. One day I came across a documentary on Netflix by The Minimalists, called Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things, and it completely changed my life. I didn’t know much about minimalism until then, and to be honest I thought it was more about having a stylish home than a way of living. But as these people on the television spoke about living with less, they had a lightness to them that I just couldn’t forget. I wanted that more than anything and so my journey to simplifying began!
Did you start with physical minimalism, and then move on to becoming more intentional about your time etc. or were they intertwined from the start?
In a way some parts of slow living came long before minimalism. My first child is autistic and so because of how hard he found a fast-paced world, we naturally slowed down. But I definitely wasn’t as intentional as I am now. Decluttering the physical made room for the minimalist mindset that there is such a thing as enough. It allowed me to take essentialism to the next level and gave me the courage to really honour how we spent our time. I had been a people-pleaser for most of my life, and learning to say no to certain things allowed me to say yes to what really mattered.
How did your two kids respond to the process?
Slowly! I knew from the start that I wanted minimalism to be a lifestyle, rather than a fad, and so I introduced it to them gradually. I decluttered my clutter with them around, and let them help me. They came with me to donate the things I no longer used and I spoke often of how fortunate we were. Slowly but surely they got involved with decluttering the things they no longer played with, until it just became a way of life.
I think that we are in a good place with minimalism in the season we are in. We certainly embrace less, whilst still appreciating the mess that a family home can create!
You homeschool your kids – how and why did you make that decision? How does that fit in with having a slower, simpler life?
The decision to homeschool was born out of my son not fitting-in with what was expected of him. I didn’t want to try to fit a round peg into a square hole, nor I didn’t want him to lose who he was by conforming to what society expected. For me home educating was the only answer and what a wonderful thing it has been! We could not have anticipated how well it would fit our lives but it has. It has meant that we can gift our children the simple childhood I always wanted for them. We can go slow or pick up the pace, depending on what they need. And what once started out as the great unknown, has shaped our lives into something incredible.
You’ve written recently about the joy of a simpler childhood – what is that you hope your decision to live a simpler, more intentional life will give them?
My biggest intention as a parent is to allow my children to be their authentic selves. I believe that the hours of play, outdoor time, and togetherness will set the foundations for a beautiful childhood and go some way, to keeping mental health struggles at bay as they grow older. Our younger years and the relationships we have, set the tone for how we view ourselves in the world and I want my kids to value themselves and each other, above all else.
I also want to encourage my children’s creative pursuits and let them have the time to be bored. I want them to get muddy knees by climbing trees and find uninterrupted wonder within the world. I want them to be outdoors looking at the sea instead of at screens. I guess at the core of it all, I want them to realise that life isn’t a race, it is something to be treasured and lived.
Why did you start Someday Slower?
I started Someday Slower because I couldn’t not. I had wanted to write for all of my life but never had the confidence to do so, or the passion to write about one particular thing! Someday Slower grew a life of its own when I couldn’t not share what I’d learnt about simplifying and slowing down. I write for the women who are where I once was, I write the things I wish I’d read, and I write because it’s a part of who I am.
What does slow living mean to you?
Slow living means living out my values day after day. It means taking time to notice and appreciate the little things, the every day things, things I may otherwise miss. It means saying no to what I don’t want to do, so that I can say yes to the things I do. It means being content with who and where I am, even on the days I want more. A slow life is walking a lone path, different to almost everyone else’s, but it’s a path I am glad to take. After all, how else would I have the time to stop and smell the roses?!
SLOW FIRE QUESTIONS
Favourite place to read a book: Curled up on the sofa in our simplified lounge, with a cosy blanket and bed socks.
Favourite coffee or tea shop? If we are down that way, The Salt Cellar in Shaftesbury, at the top of Gold Hill, is a must for their food and a nice cup of tea.
Favourite place in nature? The beach and the sea, always.
Favourite independent shop or maker: I love makers and creators and am in awe of those who create. Gemma Koomen is the ultimate artist for me and I love all that she makes.
Favourite slow living ritual: Making sure I do my morning gratitude list, whilst sitting on the back step listening to the birds because it makes me feel alive. And after that setting my intention for the day, as I find a good mindset can change everything.
BETH’S SLOW LIVING TIP
Get outside and explore
‘Get out in nature and explore. It doesn’t matter where, all that matters is that you do. Go out without a plan, take your time and let your children run free. Let them delight in what nature has to offer and give them the space to connect with it, in their own way. Take a picnic and let them explore, look for birds, play in puddles, run down hills and race paper boats on the shore. I promise you will come back changed.’
In Beth’s picnic basket
‘We take a picnic basket full of apricot jam sandwiches with sourdough bread and juicy garden apples, rosy and red. And let’s not forget the freshly baked cookies, we must never forget them!’