You know how it can feel scary to take the filter off and write whatever is on your heart? That was how I felt last week, and I was floored by your enthusiastic response. Thanks for letting me take a few days to collect my thoughts here again.
Now we have our rally cry: “We don’t want to be consumed by our stuff!” We’re motivated to reduce and purge and toss. Yes, a good makeover is what we need! …but then reality starts to settle in.
1. Maybe there is no time for a proper clean-out. Getting rid of things surely takes time.
2. Or maybe you’ve been cleaning out stuff for ages, but there is still much more work to be done.
3. Perhaps there is no chance that your family will get on board with the idea.
If you’ve come upon a brick wall in your efforts to reduce and simplify, take heart.
I’m afraid we have the idea that if we can declutter enough, if we can reduce our possessions, if we can stop being concerned about having things, then our lives will become simple, and it simply isn’t true.
Owning fewer things definitely helps, but it doesn’t solve everything. The process of reducing doesn’t even end because there are always more papers or something to go through later.
But we do have a few other tricks up our sleeves. Let’s discuss home habits and what else we can do to simplify and make things easier.
1. At our house each family member gets one cup in the morning and uses it all day. (“You want a drink, child? Where is your cup?”) At the end of the day there are four cups to wash, not sixteen.
2. There is no possible way, no chance, that I could keep my family’s stuff picked up all by myself. Even though I have seriously decluttered, there is still too much mess for one person. Keeping it all picked up is something our family does together, five minutes at a time with a song playing, and we all help to pick up each other’s things, not just our own. For more ideas on picking up, read the almost one hundred comments for undoing the mess.
3. Organize your stuff, but know when to stop. Organizing your stuff should save you time, not consume it.
4. Put hooks on the wall in the entry way so you have a place to hang coats and bags and keys. When your family comes home tired, it needs to be as easy as possible to put things where they should go.
5. Fake it. Move all the papers on your messy desk into a tote bag, or simply close the door to a disorderly closet. One day you’ll have to deal with them, but you don’t need to have everything simplified right this minute.
6. Don’t let the dishes pile up. I know all too well the feeling of “I can’t do the dishes because the sink is too full of dirty dishes.” It’s a downward spiral.
7. Keep your bag ready in the car so you have the essentials you need, without having to remember them every time you walk out the door. (Here are ideas for what to keep in your car.)
8. Box up half of your child’s toys and rotate them every once in a while. You don’t need to get rid of them, but they don’t all need to be on display or on the floor. Better yet, let your child decide which toys he is done playing with for a while. Do the same with children’s books.
9. Declare toy-free areas. My kids can play with their toys in their bedroom and the living room, but my bedroom and the kitchen get to stay toy-free.
10. Give up. I have a quilt that goes on the couch, and I used to keep it nicely folded. I was folding this quilt four times a day because I was the only one who cared. Why?! Now I just throw it on the couch and it looks fine.
Really, I’m not a minimalist, and you don’t have to be one either.