Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Clutter We Collect

I am constantly amazed at the amount of "stuff" in our house. Each time we add a child, hobby, animal, pet, etc., the "stuff" becomes more. Not that the barn animals come into the house, well okay, maybe the goats have wandered in once or twice when the kids left the door open (and one knows how to open the door) and I've had lambs in the house when we've had a weak lamb and we're doing bottle feeds. Oh and okay okay so I've also had baby chicks and turkeys and maybe a bunny in the house once or twice. But really, that's just everyday life when you live funny farm, errr, hobby farm.

Children and hobbies, it's easy to see how we accumulate stuff. Both require stuff. Although children do not require as much stuff as we think they do. When the baby was born, we received a gift card from Target and I was looking at baby stuff online deciding what to buy and couldn't decide. There are all these fun hoppers and jumpers and toys. And then I realized a couple of things. One is that I could easily find these things at the consignment shop in town for a fraction of the price and the second is that they use them for such a short period of time.

We also live in a small house in today's standards. It's probably around 900 square feet. Most people think we are nuts but we've made it work comfortably. Part of it is controlling your stuff, which we have a hard time doing. Sometimes the amount of stuff overwhelms me and I spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff and trying to control this stuff.

I recently received Organized Simplicity and love the book.

When I order books, I often take several days to read them. I first skim through chapters and read snipets here and there. Then I'll read chapters and finally I'll read the book from front to back. And then reference books get read periodically throughout the year.

What I like most about the book is that it doesn't tell you HOW to organize, HOW to live simply. It talks about finding organization that works for your family and finding your family's definition of simple living.

The other part that really hit home was the discussion on our emotional attachment to "stuff." That is usually the biggest reason we keep things and often we don't have an emotional attachment to the thing, we have an emotional attachment to the memory. That's what I need to remember, it's the memory that is important, not the thing. There are also things that I'm storing that do not hold good memories but I've not been able to get rid of them and I need to evaluate that emotion and by letting go of the item, I can let go of the negativity attached to it. The biggest example is items from my previous marriage. I've stored and moved my wedding dress, pictures, flowers, etc., for 10 years. The marriage was not a happy time and I became myself again after the marriage ended. It's time to let these items go. They aren't memories that I want to revisit or that I would necessarily share with my children.

Reading this book has really given my thought process direction in simplifying our household. I don't mean to take it down to barebones but to really think about what we have and the physical space that it occupies.

The book takes a 10 day route to simplying and organizing the house. For me, that just won't work. Not with a hubby who travels and three little kids in the house.

My first plan of attach is my closet and getting rid of the clothes and junk that we store there. I know there are winter jackets that don't fit, as well as clothing that no longer fits or I just don't wear. It can easily be donated or repurposed (t-shirts for example can be made into pajama pants, shorts, sweats for the kids). We also have a large closet and all extras seem to get stuck in there. Like the sewing machine that broke or furniture that we didn't want in the house but were afraid to get rid of it.

My second room will be the kitchen. I know there are cabinets that I haven't been into in months and appliances we haven't used in years. I've set a timeline of 4 days to do both rooms.

I'm so excited!!