Is it just me or did everything all of a sudden launch into tidying up? 

Now, I know that I live in a bit of a hobbit hole being a stay at home mom, with no access to a car, and living in the “country”, and I HAVE seen on the Facebook that there is a new Netflix series out about Tidying Up (in fact, I am pretty sure the people of Netflix e-mailed me when it was released because it was something I “might like” – I mean, judge much NETFLIX?! So what if I have a pile out back of the things that need to be DUMPED and that pile seems to be ever expanding … that’s none of your dang business). 

But, for real! 

It seems that no matter where we look people are in the process of tidying up, organizing, minimizing and just getting rid of the things that no longer SERVE them. Things that don’t make them happy, that take up space, both physical and emotional, things that are just that … THINGS. STUFF. To be frank, most of it is CRAP! And it seems that, just now, because we are on the heels of a New Years Resolution spree and with the launch of that new series, everyone and their mother is starting to see how healing and freeing it is to get rid of JUNK! 

*PS, it’s equally as freeing to get rid of some of the junk in the trunk … but we can save that for another day, another discussion – if you will*

I know I’ve mentioned before that we moved into our home August of last year, this is our fourth home in 10 years that we have bought. Every time we move into a new home we have had all the good intentions. 

We think, THIS TIME we will organize all the rooms. THIS TIME we will paint all the walls. THIS TIME we will create a cohesive house that we like coming home to. 

And every time, we have become overwhelmed, never knowing where to start. Starting and never having the gusto to finish. “Finishing” but not truly – like when you finish the purge of books from the 30 or so boxes you’ve moved from house to house and they are STILL sitting in the front hall waiting to be donated (I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t thought about whether or not a could use them in the fireplace … I’m just saying … or, since they are paper after all, if I can just put them at the curb for the recycler to deal with …)

For YEARS, a decade almost, we have been so scared to refuse “free”. To look as though we were ungrateful for what people were offering, that we accepted everything that was given to us. 

Need a couch? Sure … we can find somewhere to put it.

Want a hope chest? Ok … maybe we can squeeze it in the family room.

How about a bedroom set? Um … well we already have all the rooms filled but maybe we could use it as storage somewhere.

Before we knew it we had ROOMS that were closed door policies. Rooms that we STACKED to the brim with all the things we accepted but had no use for or no space for but maybe … maybe someday we WOULD need those items and THEN we would be glad we had accepted them. 

The thing we have found is – that mentality doesn’t SERVE us. It doesn’t help to have everything and then some when you have no room for it, when you are crowded mentally and physically by all the stuff but have no clue where it is, if it works, or if you would even be able to locate it should to actually require it. 

The clutter piles up, the guilt overwhelms, you start battling with the idea that there is some greater reason to HAVING all the things, and all of a sudden you have a bunch of stuff you neither needed nor wanted, stuff that other people didn’t want, and this guilt that you simultaneously need to hold onto this stuff for fear that you might offend someone, while desperately needing to dig your way out of it all to feel FREE. 

As we’ve begun to make this fourth house our home, my husband and I decided it was time to think about what we were holding onto. Our house is old, it is lacking in storage and I am NOT willing to trek down to our stone foundation, cedar tree pillar and post, spider filled basement to sift through stuff unnecessarily held onto. So we have purged, donated, discarded and downsized everything from our library to our wardrobes, our furniture and our appliances. 

It isn’t easy, we understand that we spend “good” money on much of the stuff, that we were given it as a way of helping us through lean times, or it is still “perfectly good”. We’ve struggled with letting go of toys, clothes that are still wearable, and books we once enjoyed. 

The thing is, these items, all the clutter and chaos … it is still useful, and that’s why it deserves a second chance with someone who could benefit from it. 

We donate most of what we downsize, we ask friends and family before giving it to a local non-profit we support, and we do our best to ensure that it stays out of the landfill and that it gets a second chance at serving a family. That mentality has helped in spades, it has also helped us explain this theory to our children as we ask them to reduce their clothing, their excess toys and books. As we release items we pray for the families that might enjoy them, we think about how this might benefit a young couple who is in a similar position to where we were 5 years ago when we could scarcely rub two pennies together without going into debt for one of them. 

Even though, right now, it is trendy and popular to be downsizing, minimizing and organizing all the spaces, all the things, I think the only way to make it stick is to make it part of your family’s regular practice of giving. Of praising God for the abundance that may have wound you up the situation where you desperately need to purge, and of praying over the families that can be helped by your passing on the things you no longer use. 

The other lesson we are learning as we let go of THINGS, is this:

We spend a LOT of money acquiring STUFF. We buy it because we have no idea if we currently have this item or we cannot find it, we buy it because we attempt to keep up with this expectation that our children have x, y, and z’ed toys or “educational” items, and we accumulate because we feel like we need to give our children some of what was lacking in our own youths. 

None of it is wise stewardship of the resources we are given, none of it really serves our children, and none of it matters eternally. 

So, don’t be like us. Don’t go into life with the mindset that we had, holding onto everything because we thought it was ungrateful to decline it, storing and acquiring things that were a “good deal” because maybe somewhere down the line we could use it, and trying to reclaim what we thought we missed out on as children by taking in all the latest and greatest toys. 

Less is more. Less is MORE. 

What are your top decluttering tips or struggles? Let me know and let’s work on refining this part of our journeys. 

 

What if You Don’t Quit

I wanted to take minute this wonderful Saturday, as you wildly prepare for all things Christmas, as you wrap the last dozen or so gifts *or toss them in a bag, there is no judgement here* and ask you a question.  If you would, take a moment to ponder with me over the...

If I Start Today …

Oh man, the number of times during this pregnancy I have thought, on a Monday ... because that's when the thinking happens ... if I start today I can ... I can get through two full rounds of this 8 week program before I am ready to have bonus baby #5. I can get...

Postpartum Pot-Lucks … THIS is what a “new” mom needs

Alright, hear me out here.  First baby comes and everybody and their sister is head over heels, ready to meet the tiny new addition, excited to help you get everything ready, full of promise and anticipation.  Oh man, the tiny baby outfits, all the soothers and...

Bed Sheets – Who Knew

The other day I decided I would self check and post a poll on Facebook all about bed sheets.  I asked a simple question, "How often do you wash your bed sheets?" with two basic answers... (a) all the time (aka weekly) (b) never (aka once a month) Oh my word! Never in...

“Fine, you’re going to school!”

{... written last Friday ...} We are about to start our homeschooling journey. Homeschool-lite I am calling it. I would be lying if I said that I was confident or even really excited about starting. LAST YEAR, I was pumped about getting started soon ... to be able to...