Today's post is an encouraging response to Part Four of the Simple Life Series from guest speaker and author, Elise Griffin. Ms. Griffin explains how de cluttering her family home has been beneficial in many ways. The pictures would not transport, and I have to leave the format as it is because my program did not 'like' the copy and paste version of this post.
Confessions from a Family of Pack Rats
Twelve years ago, when we were moving into our current home, the moving truck weighed in at four tons; roughly a ton per person in our family. This was a reduced version of “stuff” after donating a pick-up truckload to charity and delivering another pick-up truckload to the dump. Since that time, we accumulated more “stuff”. It’s very easy to do when you’ve got growing kids under your roof. More important, I’m a serious bargain shopper. I’ve never met an extra discount off of clearance coupon I could pass up. Being bombarded with advertising everywhere doesn’t help.
One fun-loving woman I know put it best when she said, “At least I don’t have to live like I’m poor.”
Clutter happens because we acquire far more “stuff” than we actually need. Slowly, steadily, our homes become stuffed with “stuff”. Have you ever been packing away Christmas, wondering where you’ll put all of the gifts? It’s an annual event in our household. The home office became our indoor storage unit… to the point where it was hard to walk through the room. We all avoided it, other than to add more to the boxes and piles.
De-cluttering is a family project. It’s no longer just up to Mom to create and maintain an efficient, organized, peaceful home. Children as young as six or seven can be involved in sorting their unused or unwanted belongings to donate to charity. Broken or battered items can be tossed in the trash can or recycle bin.
If our home office was ever to get cleaned out, it was going to take more than just me to accomplish the task. All of the boxes and piles were moved into the hallway, and my sons were given two big garbage bags and a box; one bag for trash, another bag for donations, and the box for items they weren’t sure about. As they sorted, I emptied bookshelves, filling a few boxes with donations for the library, dusted and vacuumed… washed windows. In one day, the room was cleaned and organized! It motivated everyone to continue de-cluttering. Each son followed suit in their bedrooms. I tackled the kitchen and living rooms. My husband worked on our bedroom.
After pictures of the office are below… I didn’t take before pictures, because I was afraid someone would submit my name to the producers of the “Hoarders” show!
You literally could NOT see the top of the desk before.
This corner was stacked at least 3 ft. high & wide with boxes.
The bookshelves had been buried behind boxes.
Adopting New Habits and a New Mindset
Here are a few suggestions for your family, based on our recent lessons:
1. Pray for strength and diligence to accomplish your goals. I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer. Energy and motivation often elude me. Health issues kick in, too, as well as just plain stubbornness. And then, it’s not always easy to get the rest of my family on board with my ideas.
2. Whether on paper or on the computer, for one month keep track of all non-grocery purchases you all make, particularly for items beyond school supplies, cleaning supplies and so on. You might be (as I was) surprised by how many non-essentials are walking through your front door. My list included a few DVDs, household extras like a table runner on sale, 3 t-shirts that’d been on clearance with extra percent off, some deeply discounted gifts for Christmas, etc.
3. Next, make a list of current needs and needs for the not-too-distant future. With growing children, for example, you might be looking at the next size of clothing or shoes. Having this list helps put your actual “needs” into the forefront, so you’re not as easily tempted to buy what you don’t.
4. Create the habit of equal amounts going “out” to what’s coming “in” your household. When you buy those new shoes for your son or daughter, the pairs that are too small can go “out”. If you snagged a great deal on a DVD, gadget, gizmo, article of clothing, book, etc… find something else that can head “out”.
5. Project a little into the future with all of your purchases. Anyone who knows me understands that I love jewelry and accessories. When I see a great sale on a brand I like now, I’ve started asking myself if it’s something I’ll be wearing or using 20 years from now. With technological gadgets and gizmos, ask yourself if it’s going to be obsolete in a few years, and if so, is it a good investment now? Ditto home décor… will you love it 5 years from now? If you move, would you want to have to pack it up to take with you?
A cluttered house is stressful and was affecting us all; after dinner, we’d all go off to our own, quiet little spaces for the evening. We stopped inviting anyone over. Accumulation of more “stuff” wasn’t making us feel richer… it was bogging us down. Have you ever felt that way? What are your thoughts and suggestions about creating a more manageable household as a family?