SO much stuff.
When did this happen? When did we start drowning in things? Surely we can’t be the only household that feels overwhelmed by stuff.
I should start by saying I love organization. I love everything having it’s place. I enjoy a streamlined looking house and environment in general. So how did it get like this then? Life I suppose. In conjunction with all of the ads telling us to buy more. Showing us the amazing lives we could lead if only we bought this one thing. I see these and think to myself, how much more efficient or happy or perfect could my life become if I purchased this one more thing. Those people in the commercial or ads look like they’re leading such perfect lives. Then throw in kids. Gifts for every holiday, trips to Target (the cause of almost everyone’s ‘too much stuff’ problem I’m sure), Disney Jr toy commercials, friends that have the coolest new toys. Even if they are educational, it all becomes clutter. Am I an awful mom though if all of my sons friends have these cool new things and he doesn’t? No. No I’m not. That’s not what the commercials and ads tell us though. We feel we ‘should’ have or buy certain things. The programming runs so deep we don’t even realize it. How many things have you bought just because it’s a good deal, and not because you actually need or really want it? Combine all of the above with my love of shopping and you can start to understand how my house got to the point of cluttered with everyone’s stuff.
I decided to start reading a book by Ruth Soukup called ‘Living Well Spending Less’. (She also has a great blog and envious website. Check it out for free materials and insight. It’s livingwellspendingless.com ) I’m so glad I picked up this book. It drives home all of the things I already knew, but really put it into perspective for me. It’s from the point of view of someone I can actually relate to (That isn’t my husband). I feel less crazy after reading this book and more inspired than ever to clear the excess in our home and try a slightly more minimalistic approach to our lives. Plus there are lots of money saving tips! A total win win. Happy me, happy hubby. I printed up the free workbook and have started implementing some of her ideas. This past week became the beginning of decluttering and minimizing our stuff. I started small. Under the kitchen sink (SO many cleaners I don’t use), the pantry, the refrigerator, and our overflowing magazine pile. This was a great start. It was progress I could see daily. I then moved on to what we see and deal with the most daily, the kids stuff. I decided to clear out the younger toddler’s stuff on my own. For the first time in about 4 years, there were no toys in the living room. NONE. I’m surprised my husband didn’t do a happy dance. The toy room would hold all of our toys now. I told myself if it starts spilling over again, it’s time to clear out more stuff. Now for my older son’s stuff. I decided to make this a lesson for him. In what we really need/want and taught him about the beauty of donations and sharing. There were books more appropriate for his brother and things we could share with his cousin Zac. We went through his friends (stuffed animals), books, and toys together. I let him decide whether the items in question would go in the donation or share pile. I was so proud of him. At first he was worried we were surely going to give away ALL of his stuff. When he realized he had the power to help decide he was on board. We streamlined his books and toys. You would think that the boys would be sad to see stuff go. Quite the opposite happened. They started playing with the toys they had left. Actually playing. They loved it. I find it’s way less overwhelming for them to choose something to play with now. Instead of dumping out everything they own, they choose a toy grouping and have fun focusing on that one thing. I organized their toys into sections around the perimeter of the toy room (What should be a formal dining room) so they could easily see what they had. Yesterday evening we played with their cars for hours. Clean up is easier too. The last area I was able to get to last week were their rooms. I organized their closets and went through their clothes. I can breathe a bit easier as stuff leaves the house and I feel this will provide a great lesson to all of us.
Will I resist every temptation in Target on my next trip? No. Will the house begin to get a cluttered feel again? Most likely, although I really hope not. However I’m going to give this new lifestyle time to become habit. Instead of looking at all we don’t have or want, I want us to be able to look around and truly be grateful for all that we do have. I want us to treasure how incredibly blessed we are. This will be a learning experience for the kids too. Especially as they get older. It will be a learning experience for family too as I don’t want the boys to have stuff just to have it. This will make Christmas tricky. It’s all a part of this learning process though. That’s when we can reevaluate what we have again and donate more stuff. I don’t want us to feel that possessions are what make us worthy or better people. I want my boys to be secure in who they are minus what they have. In today’s world this will be a challenge, but what mom isn’t up for a challenge?
So as our weeks start I hope somewhere in your life you decide to take action. Pick anywhere in your life and start small. Reading the book you’ve been meaning to. Call a friend you’ve been out of touch with. Or like me, decluttering and cleaning out some chaos. Start small. It gets the ball going. I still have lots more on my to do list in this effort to declutter and minimize our stuff. I’m celebrating that I started at all and accomplished so much with the boys ‘helping’. Be kind to yourself, remember what a rockstar you are, and that everyday is a new day to begin again. We are all works in progress. Thanks for checking in on my journey.