Thursday, June 24, 2010

Moving toward Simplicity: Getting Rid of Stuff

My mother and I have a similar mutual problem. It is not what you would expect mother and daughter to have, but we both cannot walk safely through our basements. The truth is out. Neither of us are good at getting rid of "stuff." We have our own variations of the problem, and we both want to live frugally and simply. Then, there is the issue of the basements. So, I have spent the better part of my life since January trying to reduce inventory and finding criteria to accomplish this reduction safely and happily. I even snitched one of her books, with permission of course, called "Simplify your life" by Marcia Ramsland. This book has tons of helpful tools, but no books will actually do the job for me.

In my quest to be able to safely do laundry in my basement, I have simply had to buckle down and get rid of 40 thirty gallon bags...since January. My basement is only a partial basement and my house is around 1200 square feet. I am sad to say that we can still barely walk. Here are some of the vital things I've learned in this long-term project.

Children do NOT need more toys to keep them busy. They need more of me and each other. We believe that more kids and less stuff is better than the opposite. The sibling thing, while it does produce fighting, does encourage creative play with minimal objects.

Children can only wear one pair of clothing at a time, mostly. Unless it is dress-up day. But truly, this was the revelation that freed me to eliminate mountains of un-needed clothing.

I guard my house and tell my friends and family, we are planning on moving so we don't need anything.

I pray about who to give things to.

I don't buy things, even if we truly need it. It takes us forever to decide we do in fact need something - we went six months with only one vehicle because we simply don't want more stuff.

I will not fix things when I have small children. Sad, sad truth. I like to fix things. I want to fix, sew, glue, rebuild, redeem. I won't. (see previous post about meltdowns. It took several hours to just go to the grocery store across town). Small children trump the need be fixing things all the time. If it can be fixed in less than two minutes and I can find the materials quickly - great. Otherwise, some one else can be blessed to fix it.

I let my children choose when they receive a new item what other item they want to share. I have had to let them be free to choose just about anything to share. This is hard. I want to control this "sharing" process but they have truly giving hearts. They want to share thing I do not. I have finally grown up to the place where they can share things I don't want to let go of with voicing any complaint.

And last but not least, my favorite excuse for keeping things, "but so-and-so will be mad at me if I get rid of it." Usually so-and-so is related to me some how but did not want said item and passed it on to me because I'm a softy and sadly accepted it. That is the main reason I have kept tons of stuff. However, I have found that people will not ask me again and if they do, the truth is I couldn't find it anyway. I can mumble a vague answer about not being exactly sure where that item is. That is the truth. I'm really not sure which bag it left in or if it is still hiding back in the corner.

Now, 40 bags later the little ladies at the local charity know me well. I feel so much happier knowing I have blessed other people and I can at least pick my way through the mess. I am labeling tubs, labeling areas in the basement (just in case I die then my poor family has clues to this disaster area), and having a much easier time getting rid of stuff.

So I will continue to work through the endless mountain in the hopes that someday I will find balance. In the mean time, I hope that my quest for simplicity is a positive journey for my children and brings freedom to my overly-burdened soul.

May my children learn to love people more than things...just like Jesus did.

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