As a follow-up to last week’s Lighten Up post about decluttering, I want to report that I’ve already had some major successes. First of all, thank you all for your comments. Many of us are on the same path, which is nice.
I’m in the middle of two awesome books about this that have really got me thinking. One, Clutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home by Joshua Becker is full of helpful suggestions and resources. The other, Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest, is about simplifying other areas of our life in addition to our possessions – also a huge help.
Both of these books ask us to change our way of thinking. By identifying our main values, we can prioritize those and let the rest (possessions we do not need, activities we don’t like, paperwork that isn’t relevant) fall away. Look at your living room bookshelves. Would someone be able to identify your main values if they came in and browsed around? Or is it a little bit of everything? By eliminating most of the “other,” you leave visible only what’s most important to you. You “spotlight” your treasures and values. This idea has hugely impacted how I see our space. What we lay eyes on every day should be our most important things. I will be bringing things of significant sentimental value out of their closets and into the forefront so we can truly appreciate them.
Also, I love the idea that POSSESSIONS = TIME SPENT. The more stuff you own, the more time you spend putting those things away, cleaning them, organizing them, etc. For sure this goes for toys, but that’s not where I started. I got rid of a lot of objects that we simply don’t need or particularly even like. Candlesticks, picture frames, tablecloths, random coffee table books collecting dust.
I took Becker’s advice and plucked through my closet, donating a lot of clothes I haven’t worn in a few years. That means I finally tried on all those work suits and gave most of them away. No real use for them and pretty sure I will not be fitting back into that size this decade. I still had a full closet, so I went through it again. I asked myself, “If I were in a store right now, would I buy this?” Now there is space.
Things sitting around really bother me, and since I’m the one in the family who is home most of the time, I decided to give myself the gift of freedom from this. We instituted a nightly “clean sweep” before my daughter’s bedtime, where each object not in its place is returned to where it belongs. Dishes in the sink, toys on the shelves, clothes in the hamper, etc. I can’t tell you how lovely it is to walk around the house and not be visually bogged down with these things.
Another great idea: own ONE of something. Why do we have 4 sheet sets for our bed when I usually wash and put back on the same one every time (mainly because I am terrible at folding fitted sheets)? Some things we may need more than one of, but I love the idea of just one that we take really good care of. This concept gives me loads to do going forward.
Becker says more is not necessarily better, even though most of us live in a culture that encourages consumerism and comparing UP. He says, “Don’t just declutter; de-own.”
“The simple act of organizing our things into boxes, plastic bins, or extra closets does not turn back our desire to purchase more things… On the other hand, intentionally removing possessions from our home forces questions of passion, values, and what’s most important to us.”
Living this way values relationships, experiences, and intentionality. It slows down life and asks us to consider what is most important to us and what values we want to teach our children.
“Love, friendship, hope, integrity, trust, compassion. These are the things that bring substance, fulfillment, and lasting joy to our lives. And these are the attributes that bring lasting security to our children’s lives.”
I like to tackle it all at once, but another book I came across says it’s a process and it takes time. The book is How to Declutter Your Home for Simple Living – Decluttering Tips and Closet Organization Ideas for Creating Your Own Personal Oasis by Judith Turnbridge. ($.99 on Kindle or Free on Kindle Unlimited)
“Many experts liken the decluttering process to going on a diet. The logic being that the home will be losing its clutter as opposed to weight, but the important thing to recognize is that the process will take time and cannot be sorted out overnight. Like dieting, the decluttering process involves making a plan and identifying and resolving bad habits, but also acknowledges that a little bit of clutter can be accepted.”
Even if you were to magically lose your excess weight overnight, this analogy points out that it’s an ongoing process of managing what you allow in and what stays out for good.
Becker again… “The true value of boundaries reaches far beyond our closets. It begins to spill into how we decorate our homes, the toys we buy for our children, the amount of clutter in our kitchens, and how we choose to spend our time, money, and energy.”
I want to spend time playing games together, volunteering in our community, seeing friends, doing artwork, reading books, talking with my daughter and husband, enjoying meals and other experiences together…not on straightening up toys and household clutter. Not running around doing errands. Not going from ballet to gymnastics to swimming.
“Living clutterfree is not just the removal of unnecessary physical possessions. It is also the intentional promotion of the things we value most. It is about deciding what is most important in your life and removing the things that distract you from it.”
I already feel much more content, and I’ve only just begun. I don’t feel the need to compare our home to other people’s. I feel grateful for what we have and more generous toward those who aren’t blessed with as much. I am protective of my new-found breathing room and cautious about what I allow into this space. I know this appreciation will carry over to my daughter and influence her values too. She has already seen that the time usually spent cleaning up can be spent in better ways.
How about you? Does your environment reflect YOUR most important values?