A significant part of making life easier with children is having fewer things—for your children and for yourself. It seems many women have an abundance of handbags—most of which are rarely or never used. It sounds a little extreme I admit, but I’ve thought of limiting my collection to just three: one clutch, one cross-body bag and one tote. Can you imagine??
If we only purchased a new bag every few years, it would be much easier to justify an indulgence. Quality, not quantity! (I actually have seven handbags total … still working on whittling that down.). Here’s one idea for moving in this direction: pick your favorite bag in each category, pack away the rest and see if you miss them in six weeks. If not, I think you know what to do!
Marc by Marc Jacobs
We all know this to be true but so often it is overlooked: Yes, people can become unorganized but usually it is merely a symptom of having too much stuff. If we all only owned one spoon, one pillow and one shirt (my dream!), what would there be to organize? We feel the need to organize because of the chaos that surrounds us. Limit your things and the organization will happen (and remain) much more easily.
Of course this is easier said than done. All kinds of methods are suggested for how to declutter your possessions, but for me, it boils down to one question: Does this bring me joy?
Sure, we can rationalize the joy to be found in any item, but if we work hard at being honest with ourselves, this is a wonderful test for whether something should remain in our lives.
Joy can come in many forms: a sauce pan that helps you cook for your family. A step ladder that helps your reach up high. A blouse because you feel beautiful in it. A hand-me-down sofa because that is where your family gathers to read books or cuddle. We all have to make concessions. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful or bring you joy in your eyes. This is about parting with the many things crowding our days and our minds that we don’t need, and finding a more peaceful, joyful life.
This is Step 3 in my process for whether to add something to our home. Lofty goal, isn’t it? But why not? Why not fill our lives with the most beautiful things we can find. Certainly there are many exceptions, but I say give it your best shot. There are some things in life we have no choice about, but when we can, I say add beauty. It is important to realize we all feel differently about this. What might be very lovely to me could be the opposite of what you find appealing. And isn’t that a wonderful thing? The goal here is to recognize that every time we add something to our lives, it is an opportunity. I like to support the artists, creators, vendors and retailers who are adding to our world in this way.
A keeping-it-real example: We needed a plunger for our house. So after much hunting, I found a white one that sits inside of a white holder. Now it basically disappears and we still have it around for those emergencies that happen from time to time in an old house (and in case you are wondering, it works very well!).
The main idea is to be intentional about what we add to our lives.
Step 1 and Step 2.
This is Step 2 in my process for deciding whether or not something should enter our lives … and for me, it is a really big question. Whether something is toxic depends on how specific and stringent you want to be. People have varying levels of comfort and concern, as well as different areas of focus when it comes to avoiding toxins. There is so much I want to share in this realm, but I will approach it in digestible baby steps over many blog posts. Suffice it to say, wherever you end up on the spectrum of concern regarding toxins, do be aware of every item you bring into your house and whether or not it has toxic consequences. At least then you are making a conscious decision as opposed to exposing your family to something unintentionally. For me, I do quite a bit of research before buying anything (yet another way to stave off impulse buys!). (Step 1 in this process).
This is a tough question, right? Really, we can justify anything if we try hard enough. The key is to get into the habit of really, truly asking ourselves this question. This is my first step in evaluating anything I bring into our lives (free clutter is just as bad as clutter you paid for!).
My mother was an incredible role model for this growing up. She rarely purchased anything, usually explaining it by saying “It is neat/cute/cool, but I don’t need it.” And just like that, she’d walk away from the purchase. I had a very hard time understanding her mindset. My mother would never describe herself as an intentional minimalist … it just came very naturally to her.
I have been very organized since I was a young child, but it wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I made effort to minimize my life. And boy did that change things. More room to breathe, more space to relax, more time (because there is less to clean) and not to mention more money in my pocketbook. And it is contagious. The more I decluttered, the more I wanted to get rid of.
This concept works best when applied to things before they come into your life. Once something is already in your house, it takes a slightly different method of deciding whether or not to keep it. We’ll get to that soon.