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Weekend Project: Declutter

We have too much stuff.  Does anyone else feel like they spend all their time picking up after all of the humans who live under their roof? I feel this low grade stress all the time that there is so much clutter everywhere. 

Clutter is robbing me of the time I want to be spending doing things of purpose.  I wouldn’t say I am a hoarder, but I definitely like to shop.  I love finding little things, great deals, and collecting some of this and that.  We have papers and toys and shoes and so so many things.

After a morning of trying to get the kids out the door with too many stressful interactions of trying to find the right things and tripping over the legos and digging through clean and some yelling I decided to take inventory of my heart. This was not the mom I wanted to be.

All of the keeping up with the things, putting away, storing, organizing, cleaning, prepping, is making me exhausted. I am striving to keep up and I have it in my mind that if I just drink enough coffee and work faster and harder, I can get it all done.  I am lying to myself and creating an ugly wake for those around me.

Now, the reality is, I can’t give up on the responsibilities. (Man!) BUT, I am beginning to realize that I can transfer my wealth of resources.

You see, I was rich in materials, but poor in time.  If I could find some things to give away or get rid of or stop buying, then I might be richer in time. 

do you own it or does it own you_

I made it my goal to declutter in one weekend.  I am NOT rolling around in extra time, and I am guessing you’re not either, but I do want some restoration of order.  I am not talking any deep cleaning and I still have oh so many things to sort and giveaway.  My goal was to regain some control over my life and get back some of the time I want to spend being purposeful with people, not things.

This can be stretched as long as you’d like it or if you drink enough coffee can be done quicker!  Please take it at your own pace.  Here was what I did.  Obviously tweak it to what works best for you!

Weekend Project_ Declutter

Identify Areas

Pick 3 areas that take most of your resource of time and identify what stresses you out about them. Mine are clutter, clothes and toys.

Gather

I went around to all the surfaces in my main areas and bedrooms and dumped everything into a laundry basket to be sorted later.  Tables, side tables, counters, shelves, coffee tables.  Pay attention especially to bins and if you have extra time, drawers. (drawers to me were another project). Mine ended up being a lot more than 1 laundry basket.

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Clothes: I am infamous for keeping something for too long.  If I hadn’t worn it all season, it’s gone.  I also have way too many gray shirts and jackets.  No one needs all of these shoes.  I once loved them all, but they have served their purpose and I am thankful for what they were.  Now someone else can enjoy them.  My laundry baskets are always way too full and there are never enough hangers, and that tells me I have a problem.  My clothes alone take enough of my time, not to mention adding 4 other humans to the mix.  So, I went through all the closets and tried to pair down to what we actually wear.  (if you haven’t at at least skimmed  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up go get it right now).  Confession: I often keep things of value to sell or take to a consignment shop, but in this case that defeated my purpose so if you’re lucky enough to run into any of my old leather jackets or fun purses at our local thrift store, I hope you enjoy!

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Toys: I looked for pieces that I haven’t seen played with in a while.  I have a lot of mom guilt getting rid of toys and you know as soon as you donate it they will ask for it the next day, even though they haven’t played with that puzzle in a year.  So I tried to filter each items by asking: do they play with it? Does it add value to their lives? Or is it taking away from both of our lives as I ask them to put it away for the 80th time.  I am a big believer in creative play (but that’s another post for another time.). In the end I didn’t feel like I actually got rid of that many toys, but somehow by pulling out all of the broken playdoh sets and small figures and unused costumes and that extra bat cave, I was able to find more than enough room for all of the things to go.

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Sort

I made 3 piles, keep, donate and throw away.  If it didn’t add value to my life at this time (ie takes away from my goal of being purposeful with my time) it is gone.  I know this sounds ruthless.  I am very sentimental but I also love order. I have a box under my bed for the meaningful drawings from my kids and the pictures and cards from friends.  The rest is usually something I can do without. 

Designate

My mom, the queen of organization as I like to say, is always in my head saying “if it doesn’t have a special place, it will end up never being put away.” It has been true for me so far.  If I have a drawer or a basket for it, it is easier to put it away.

We started a new Monday and I can tell you that low grade stress has gone down.  I still have lunches to make and homework papers to keep track of, iPads need to be charged and my laundry is never ending, but their is this unsaid peacefulness to choosing purpose over stuff.  I will always have to keep my clutter in check, but I am thankful for the resources I have gained through a little more time to play outside, to read a book and to just be.

Happy Decluttering!

-Erin

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Maybe The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

This spring started with a whirlwind as my husband (the calm & steady rock of our family) mentioned to me that he was looking at a fixer upper house for us to buy.  WHATTTTT??!! Who was this spontaneous stranger I was talking to???  Amongst the little baby stage we were just submerging from, I honestly had forgotten that fixing up a home together had been a dream of mine for as long as I could remember.

Fast forward to falling in love with two houses on the market, late night debates (we won’t call them fights ;)) one offer–which we quickly retracted and a couple of broken hearts.  Slowly, over the course of realizing what a fixer-upper house would entail for our family and jobs at this time, was NOT the best decision for our family.  Not a “never” but just a “it is wise to not embark on this journey yet” grown up sort of decision for us.  So I put away the Pinterest boards and forced myself to stop checking listings every 2-3 hours and made myself stuff the dreams back into my back pockets for another time in our lives.  This was a hard time for us, for my adventurous spirit. Let’s just say there was a lot of sulking.

And then, as if the stars aligned (or God knew just the whispers I needed to hear) I ran into the book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner. It melted my heart and shook my world in all of the good ways.  I finished the book in 48 hours (which if you know me, this is quite an accomplishment.) I swear that book was just what I needed.  

I came to realize that though it is 100% ok to dream and it is a beautiful thing to want to accomplish them, I also began to discover that in order to dream I had to choose the best dreams for me at this moment.  With the busy of three littles, a growing business and a husband working in a ministry position, we wanted to be able to still give to all of these without losing us.  Without losing what we felt was worth fighting for.  

I came to realize that though it is 100% ok to dream and it a beautiful thing to want to accomplish them, I also began to discover that in order to dream I also had to choose the best dreams for me at this moment.  With the busy of three littles, a growing business and a husband working in a ministry position, we wanted to be able to still give to all of these without losing us.  Without losing what we felt was worth fighting for.

My dear friend mentioned to me that she had started a gratitude journal and after many obvious signs of my need to focus on the good, I went to the store and grabbed a journal out of the dollar bin (ironically it was titled “The Good Life”.) I began to write down the beauty I did have.  I began to WORK on not thinking about the things I deeply wanted but just weren’t in the cards yet. 

Erin Loechner, in her book, said that chasing slow is a chase.  I am slowly learning that there is nothing wrong with fixer-uppers or fighting to follow big dreams.  It just is about focusing on having the right heart.  Choosing to stop and ask, why am I chasing this?  What if what I actually really want is right here all along.  And then the paint brushes and the new light fixtures just enhance the beautiful things I already have. We all have beautiful dreams right in front of us. 

Some of my Beautiful Things:

little hands, screen doors, deep conversations with friends, royals games & good attitudes, hammock snuggles, sidewalk chalk, sunshine, lavender candles, porch lights, morning coffee, loud hip hop songs, great workouts, yummy food, porch time with the hubs & spontaneous puppy adopting. 

Some of my Beautiful Things: little hands, screen doors, deep conversations with friends, royals games & good attitudes, hammock snuggles, sidewalk chalk, sunshine, lavender candles, porch lights, morning coffee, loud hip hop songs, great workouts, yummy food, porch time with the hubs & spontaneous puppy adopting. 

I’ll be honest, I’m not great at it yet, but I have caught myself looking for things to write down and found a new happiness in chasing the small things.

-Erin