Before we packed for our move, I knew we were going to be staying with my parents for a while. My mindset for what we brought while us was: pack only the essentials, less is less.
Less to clean, less to manage, and less to maintain.
I was already reading these two books: The Money Saving Mom’s Budget and Organized Simplicity. They both agree that a life of peace and purpose is a life that has removed the clutter and tamed the stuff.
While boxing up our whole home last year, we got rid of a lot of extra stuff. And then we lived without 80% of what we kept for an entire year.
Some of it we missed and looked forward to using again someday, but a lot of it was forgotten and no longer needed.
I learned a lot more about simplifying while away from all the stuff we had boxed up. As we unpack, I am finding it very easy to remove, reorganize, and remember that we truly need less than all we have.
This day #Back2School in #31Days has taken me more than just 1 day, but I’m sure it could have been done faster – I’m just a very slow processor.
Here’s my plan:
Go through everything I’m “saving for later” – furniture (desks, felt board, baskets), resources (books, curricula, etc.), toys and separate into 3 categories:
- Will use for younger children later (store)
- Useful but not for us (sell or donate)
- No longer useful (trash)
I have to be very strict on myself when deciding what get’s labeled “will use for younger children later.”
Remember my mental issue with the water bottle for my daughter? Right. I tend to equate love with buying all-the-things. I feel through gifts, stuff, and treasures. (I’m actually a lot like my trinket loving girl.)
I have been doing a lot of positive self-talk to help myself get over some of the seriously ridiculous connections with stuff that I’ve had. And it’s been so much better.
To be stored are:
- Only great, twaddle-free books (it seems wrong to get rid of books, but oh so freeing too!)
- Instructor’s Guides from Sonlight to go through for activity ideas
- My Father’s World Kindergarten materials
Useful but not for us (sell or donate):
- Play Dough set – I almost kept this, but I had to face it – play dough drives me crazy. It had to go.
- All extra puzzles
- Books that are good but not favorites (50+ of these!)
- Games that were played with less than 5 times
No longer useful:
- Anything broken – there’s an exception for this one: if you know someone who would really enjoy it and they would be able to fix it, then by all means, give it away instead of trashing it.
- Toys, puzzles, games, etc with missing pieces
- Notebooks full of doodles – My rule for keeping memories is one notebook per stage. I have one kid who will fill a notebook per week, and I make it a point to save these treasures for later – but I simply can’t store them all.
A great friend of mine taught me something simple in nature but life changing in application in the cleaning product aisle of Meijer one day.
She said something like:
Only keep the stuff that gives you an immediate desire to use it. When you lose interest in it, get rid of it. Chances are, if it is a household item, book, game, item of clothing, etc – it’s replaceable. Don’t store something with only “good intentions” attached to it like – I’ll get around to learning to knit someday, I’ll use that vegetable steamer someday (where did the instruction booklet go?), or I’ll keep this dress just in case I’m ever invited to a retro-prom-dress themed party. The moment you have the desire to use something or learn something new – that’s the moment to give the item a home and use it. Once it’s lost your attention, it’s lost the reason you had for having it. It’s time to get rid of it.
So here’s my secret to this day that has allowed me to heal from past hoarding issues and take major steps forward and feel good about it: making this list. Either before the process of decluttering or while taking a break from it – make a list of what is allowed to be stored. Thinking this through while not looking at the hidden treasure in box #103 gives me a clear mind and allows for an unbiased decision.
And when I stumble upon something sentimental that I truly don’t want or need, but comes tied in memory strings – I take a picture of it and say goodbye, and thank God for the good gifts that He has given in remembering.
Keep only the great stuff. If you need help deciding what the great stuff is, ask someone you trust to help you. I read books, listened to podcasts, and watched TED talks which all helped me get into a new mentality – essentially, my thinking has changed.
Thinking leads to acting which leads to feeling. This is the right progression. When I put my feelings first, I usually make bad decisions.
One last point on stuff, especially kids’ stuff: become an expert at spotting interest. Whatever keeps one of my child’s interest for more than 10 minutes is good, if it keeps their interest for an hour that’s better, and if it keeps their interest and they go back to it for days that’s the best.
The items aren’t always the toys, games, and books that I love or want them to be interested in which is why I have to put my feelings last.
I hope this day has helped you and encouraged you to go through that old stuff and make room for interest! I know it has helped me to write about it – it meant I had to do it!
- The chapter in this book about stuff is great – Jen Hatmaker gave away 7 things per day for a whole month. 7: an experimental mutiny against excess
- Twaddle-free books for young children :: This helped me in eliminating the “extra books”
- On nurturing my kids’ talent and encouraging interests :: Anne of the Modern Mrs. Darcy has a way with explaining how she does life with her kids. This will encourage setting up a rich environment – and what that looks like.
This is Day 7 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.
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