Cleaning your house with kids in it is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.
Sigh. Ever feel like you spend most of your waking hours just picking up stuff? Yeah, me too! I have such a love/hate relationship with the stuff we own.
I LOVE having a plethora of attire options for my little fashionistas.
I HATE spending hours on all the laundry created by 16.2 outfits per day.
I LOVE the ease with which I can create an assortment of various random culinary treats.
I HATE cleaning, stacking, and storing my kitchen gadget assortment.
I LOVE having just about every book we ever wanted at my fingertips at any given moment.
I HA….well ok, actually organizing our awesome book collection is kinda fun for me. But you get the picture.
We moved into our home from an itty bitty little apartment. Our squished spaces were pretty full, but the lack of space prevented us from acquiring too much clutter. There really was nowhere to store non-essentials. So when we moved into our new home, it felt so spacious! Our few possessions did not begin to fill our spaces. And It. Felt. Good.
I vowed to keep it that way.
However it didn’t take a year before we were starting to feel the burden of too much stuff. And then another year goes by. Maintaining our beloved treasures was really starting to eat up massive chunks of my time. It was at this point that I realized, my time is too precious to waste. I can spend my hours organizing, cleaning, storing, maintaining stuff. Or I could live my life. I could date my man. I could play with my kids. I could read books. I could blog.
I don’t want to live with any regrets. Moments missed snuggling my sweet baby. Building tents with my toddler. Playing board games and baking with the big girls. Cuddling my man. Wouldn’t trade these moments for any possession in the world!
So purge, I must! I really hope you will join me on this journey because it is so FREEING to let go of stuff. I still have a long way to go, but the progress made has already taken a weight off my shoulders and given me back time.
So if you are on the fence about decreasing your possessions, I have a few thoughts to consider. And if you are ready to simplify your life, decrease stress, and regain some time, I also have some great thoughts for you! Either way, read on and we will get to it!
5 Great Reasons to Let Go
1. Stuff takes your time.
All those fun little extras have to be cleaned, sorted, and stored. When you have more things than homes for things it requires time to figure out where to put them. When there is not a place to properly store something, it lands on a floor or a flat surface. Think dressers and counter tops. Then it becomes clutter. Soon you are spending extra time looking for that bill you forgot to pay. You can’t find keys. You have nothing to wear. With too much stuff, it doesn’t take long for your home to become chaos.
2. Stuff takes your mental energy.
I love garage sales. I find the coolest kitchen gadgets and educational toys. I have been known to bring home extras by the trunk load! What can I say, I love the thrill of the hunt and the fun of a great deal. However, I now have to find a place to keep my new treasures. Which closet will this game fit into? How much rearranging will I need to do to squeeze 3 more books on that shelf? Where can I put this knick knack (Does anyone but my mom use that term???) that it won’t get broken? The list goes on.
3. Stuff causes stress.
When I don’t have time to figure it all out, my stuff starts piling up randomly around the house. Soon those piles end up scattered around our home. Just the sheer amount of time and work ahead of me is stress enough.
4. Stuff is a cheap substitute.
Sometimes my anti-drug is shopping. Unknowingly, I look for joy in the things I buy. I get stressed. I buy. I feel restless. I buy. I need something more in my life. I buy. As I obtain more goods, it becomes painfully obvious that my toys aren’t filling the hole in my soul. They are a poor substitute for a greater need.
5. Stuff keeps you from living the life you really want.
Clear your physical world, so your mind can be cleared for bigger and better things!
De-cluttering years of stuff seems a bit intimidating. But once you get started, you will see that it is really not so hard. I created a 30 Day Cut the Clutter Challenge to get you off to a good start. Check out these helpful hints and then join the challenge and get your copy of the checklist!
Tips for Actually Getting Rid of Stuff
1. Ask 2 questions.
I tend to want to hold on to EVERYTHING! I may one day need those dress pants I wore to a job interview 13 years ago. I can’t possibly part with the outfit my baby wore that day we went to the park and she went down the slide for the first time. *Sigh* Seems ridiculous when I say it out loud.
When is the last time I used this?
If you haven’t used it in the last year, do you think you will use it in the next one? There may be a few exceptions to this. Perhaps that little black dress. But as a rule, if you have gone through all four seasons and haven’t needed it or wanted it, you probably will never use it.
Why would I keep this?
If you answer is based on fear, guilt, or emotional attachment, you may need to do some thinking and praying. These emotions can keep us in a mental prison. We are not slaves to the things we possess.
Fear – I may one day need this. What if I lose my job and can no longer afford to buy extras. I remind myself that the creator of the universe has pretty much everything at His disposal. And that same creator loves me with an unfathomable love. He is my provider. I need not fear. I will be wise with what I have. I will NOT be a slave to it.
Guilt – Well…grandma Eunice gave us that clock for our third wedding anniversary. Has the clock been shoved in a box since your third wedding anniversary? Keeping the gift is not the same as loving the giver. If it will not be used, pass it on.
Emotional attachment to things – This one is my big struggle. In my attempt to reduce clutter, I decided I needed to clear out clothes that were too small for my youngest baby, who is now 14 months. Clearing out the baby clothes is just admitting that we no longer have babies. That makes a little piece of my heart ache. Somehow in my mind, my love for my children is tied to the garments they wore when they first entered this world. In a strange way, I felt like getting rid of those baby clothes was like getting rid of a piece of them. Twisted, I know! Sometimes our hearts and minds do strange things. But let me tell you what really helped me! First, I told myself the truth…I would still have and love my children when we passed the clothes on. Second, I found someone who really needed them. A new friend runs a brand new pregnancy resource center just up the street. These are mama’s who couldn’t keep their baby except for the generosity of others. I smile and tear up a bit as I think about our tiny clothes keeping a baby warm and safe in her own mothers arms.
2. Make 3 piles.
As you go through each room and each area of the room, make three different piles.
Keep – The clothes that you LOVE. Let’s face it. The “you only like it” outfits will just get squished in the back of the closet. The kitchen storage bowls you actually use. The makeup colors that suit your skin tone. These belong in the keep pile.
Trash – The well-loved and well-worn shoes. The puzzle that is missing half the pieces. The book with ripped pages. Do goodwill a favor and trash the junk yourself.
Donate – These are the items that are still in good condition, but no longer in use. Let someone else enjoy what you at one time enjoyed. Is there a local charity you can donate your extras to? Maybe a your church or school knows of a family in need?
3. Make a plan for your keep piles.
Our homes and storage are just as unique as our personalities. I’ll cover specifics of organizing in a later post. For now, just focus on clearing out what you don’t need. Keep only what you have space for. Every item you keep should have a home. Keep only the clothes you can comfortably store in your closet or dresser. Each book should fit on a shelf. If you must store your books in a box in the attic, will they ever be read? Toys should fit on a toy shelf or in the toy-box. If everything has a home, your children will be better able to clean up and you will use zero mental energy trying to figure out where to stash things.
4. Set a timer.
If your clutter is anything like mine was, it’s easy to get lost in the piles and lose all concept of time. Or maybe you are dreading this projects and need to know there is an end in sight. Set your timer for 20 minutes. Turn off your phone and turn up the music. Get rid of all distractions so you can focus and clear as much clutter as possible in your 20 minutes. If you have more time to devote to this project, by all means git’er done! And if 20 minutes a day is all you have, do it! Little by little and day by day, you will make progress.
If you are following my 30 Day Cut the Clutter Challenge, you may need to adjust the amount of time to complete each room. A year of clutter will not require as much time to sort as 10. If you need more than 20 minutes to de-clutter an area, take the time you need. If you can only squeeze in 20 minutes and that is not enough time to finish the day’s assignment, feel free to take an extra day. The point is not to get it done in 30 days. It’s to get it done. 🙂
5. Make it a lifestyle.
It is so much easier to make de-cluttering a regular part of daily life. Sort and toss the mail daily. Keep an eye out for clothes that are to small. Remove toys that never get used. If you make this a habit, you will never again be burdened with too much stuff.