HELLO and SEASONS GREETINGS everyone! I know it’s been a while since I’ve shown my face around the blog, and I’ll be honest, I just haven’t felt inspired much to write about #momlife lately. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like there isn’t a boat load of content, but truthfully, I’ve just been focused on being present and living in the moment with my littles. In addition, Ive also been focused on improving my self. Heading back to work after mat leave with B, kind of rocked me to the core. I don’t think I anticipated how much I personally would change, and just how much more I would want to focus on being a better and more intentional Mom.
Fingers crossed that you will see more from me in 2017! This is the PLAN. Perhaps with just a different spin on content. Stay tuned!
Anyways, back to what this post is actually about! DECLUTTERING!!! A few months ago, I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts – The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes, and he had a guest on his show, Joshua Fields Millburn from “The Minimalists”. As a result of listening to this show (click here to listen), I felt absolutely inspired by the Minimalist message. Removing things from our lives that do not bring value or purpose. See, I’ve always had some core beliefs that I don’t need “things” to make me happy, but like most people, I found myself collecting stuff. After you have kids, the amount of crap that accumulates is absolutely insane. It was beginning to evoke this panic like tendency in me, where I was feeling like the stuff was taking over, and I couldn’t get out. I was getting flashbacks to this intense hallucination I had as a child, when we realized I was allergic to Codeine. I was trapped in a room full of yarn, knotted, and surrounding me. The only way out was to untangle the yarn, which was an absolutely impossible feat. Needless to say, it gave me nightmares… and this is what I was beginning to feel with regards to stuff. So I began to discard MANY things from our house. 465 to be precise!
Before you begin to think that I’m some closet hoarder – I swear, I’m not! In fact, I would think most people who know me would say I’m far from that, and I am. I do like an uncluttered home, and have always been conscious of keeping things neat and tidy. The hubs has drilled it into my head that knick-knacks are nothing more than “dust collectors”, so I try to keep this stuff to a minimum. My closets are not bursting at the seems, basement isn’t rammed with boxes upon boxes of meaningless stuff, and I don’t have 20,000 plates in case I have a large gathering one day….
SO WHY DECLUTTER??
I began to think about the things we do have stored away, and had to question – why? Most of us keep things around “just in case”… or because they provide us with some sort of nostalgia. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. However, let’s be honest – do we really need a full bin of 50+ hotel shampoos/soaps? Do we really need those boxes of cds/dvds that we don’t watch or even have a device to play them on? Do we really need a wardrobe full of clothes we may NEVER wear again because the sizes are all off. I get it – ah the memories. The what ifs, and the maybe whens. All very relevant and real considerations. Let’s just think for one minute about the value that each of these items bring to our lives, because it’s in this thinking that I have begun to see why having this useless stuff around my home is completely unnecessary. For me, the goal was not just to discard, but actually to make room for the things that matter!
The Minimalist’s fundamental definition of Minimalism is this:
Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.
This message is so beautiful to me, and it’s helped me to refocus on what matters. We are not the “keep up with the joneses” type, but I’ll be the first to admit, for many years I have absolutely cared about the perception that others have of me. Don’t we all, to some degree? Growing up, we didn’t have much. Didn’t live in big fancy houses, or my parents didn’t drive brand new cars, and while we were very fortunate to have clothes on our backs, and food in our tummies, it wasn’t top of the line stuff. We did grow up in a wonderful City, where many of the people we knew did come from a middle-upper income families. Perhaps it was being surrounded by the idea of having more, that made me want to “grow up” and have all the things that translated to what many consider as “successful”. I looked up to those kids in school who seemed like they had everything they had ever wanted – and quite honestly, I had dreamed that my kids would never have to want for anything. This is essentially the life they have. Does that mean we are a success story? I guess that comes down to what ones definition of success is.
It hasn’t felt like “success”, I can say that much. So here I am, questioning what on earth is important to us – and fundamentally I can say that no material item means more to me than TIME spent with my family. Time is our absolute most valuable resource, and it’s finite.
On November 20 we embarked on the Minimalists 30 Day Challenge. To remove 1 item for every day you are on. Example: Day 1, discard 1 thing, Day 2 – 2 things, Day 30 – 30 things. In total, this amounts to 465 THINGS gone from your house. I felt that the timing was absolutely perfect given that we were approaching Christmas, and I knew that would mean adding MORE items to our house. The first week was an absolute walk in the park.. no problem! However, I started to think about how much stuff I’d have to go through to find 465 things to dispose/donate/sell. I came up with a strategy.
First and foremost, this was a team effort! I had to make sure Hubs was on board, which he totally was! Although, he was a little nervous, I think it became pretty exciting even for him. I remember when we got to Day 15 or so, he said “I don’t think we’ll be able to do this”… I assured him, it was not going to be a problem!
Next thing, while the rules of this game state that you must actually remove these items from your house each day, I knew that this would be very difficult to do, considering we have garbage pickup only once every 2 weeks. I didn’t feel right heading to the local gas station every day to throw away stuff in their bins (probably illegal and very much frowned upon!), and I knew that the neighbours would begin to look at us funny if I had a garbage bin stationed at the end of our driveway waiting for pickup. So I had 2 boxes on the go. One for “to be disposed of” and the other for “garbage – GONE”. I could not under any circumstances pull out stuff from the “garbage” box and change my mind. Once there, no turning back.
In addition, I didn’t want to just remove the exact number for each day. So, I kept a log and documented the items I would throw away each day. Of course many things were coined “misc”, but I kept a running tally. I’d also go through the kids clothes and count the number of items. If I had 15 things for example, I may record that on Day 15 – to make things easier. That would mean on Day 15 I did not have to actually go sifting through my “to be disposed of” box. That day was already considered DONE.
Here’s a screenshot of what my “log” looked like. You will see that in addition to counting the items, I also had a column for the $ I made when I would sell stuff. YES – that is $147 of cold hard cash that I made in just 30 days selling stuff that was literally sitting around my house. BOOYA!
You can also see that many items (Clothes and household goods) were marked for Goodwill. On the very first weekend, we went through our closet and between goodwill and garbage, we had over 90 pieces of clothing to get rid of. I couldn’t believe it. Old t-shirts, socks, clothes that didn’t fit, scarves and belts… it was unreal. Especially because we actually purge stuff about once a year from our closet!
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
I fully anticipate this number will be offset after Christmas, so I will not be stopping at 465 things… I’m going to keep going until Jan 1 (while not exactly the number of items by day). When I feel content that I’ve decluttered every room in my house, I’ll pull the plug for now. Although I’m sure this challenge will commence again some time next year when I decide to purge EVEN MORE. I still have a bin of maternity clothes to get rid of, all the kids baby clothes (0-12 mth stuff) and I haven’t even touched the cd’s/dvd collection. Woot woot! Bring it on!
This challenge has actually been a lot of fun, and very rewarding. The extra cash has certainly helped with Christmas as well. For 2017, I hope to focus more on experiences and less on stuff, so here’s to a year of making memories through travel, and perhaps painting a hockey rink on our basement floor to get B in training camp! 😉