Last time I wrote, I mentioned the three areas I planned to focus on this year. I didn’t give specific goals because I feel that any progress is better than where I began. I want to focus on progress, not just an end result. Focusing on the goal, or end result, leaves me feeling defeated when I fall short of that goal. All progress is worth celebrating and I didn’t want to undermine the progress I am able to make. In this post I want to focus on one of these three goals. Decluttering with purpose.
This is the area where I have seen the most progress over the past six weeks, which is very exciting. We’ve been working on decluttering our home for awhile now. When I say awhile, I mean like a couple of years. Ugh! It never ends! But I can finally say that it does gain momentum and there is a tipping point where you can feel the hope.
I am almost…gasp…40 years old and I just recently realized two things about myself.
- I am a collector.
- I am a minimalist at heart.
Wait….what?! Yep, that’s me…and no, it doesn’t work. But then I always say we don’t do “normal” or easy. Let me go back and explain. As a child, when I got one of something, I had to get the whole set. To be honest, I still struggle with this but am making progress. Even in the video games we play as a family, I find I prefer games where I have to collect items. One the other side of my personality, I have always enjoyed minimalistic surroundings. I just never understood what that meant. I love hotel rooms with their sparseness. I like tiny houses. Not because they are small, but because they force you to have very little. I remember once staying in a friend’s guest room while my parents were out of town. The room had a bed, nightstand and lamp. That was it. I remember how calm and peaceful the room felt. I never really understood until recently. I do better in environments with less STUFF.
So, I have been working hard to reclaim our home, my sanity and a sense of peace. It hasn’t been easy. I probably kept around 90% of my childhood things. Yep, it was that bad! But I am making progress. Step by step. One habit at a time. My local Buy Nothing Project group has been my best friend this month. Today, I gifted the last of the boys baby clothes. The last of the favorites kept “just in case”. I also gifted a ton of craft supplies. I don’t have the time or room to work on any of my million projects, I am spread in far too many directions. By deciding which hobby was most important, I am able to free up time and space to actually enjoy that hobby. I realized that I had to narrow my focus or accomplish nothing.
Our house is old. It has issues that need attention. This year we finally got to painting the exterior, we replaced the AC unit and had to dig through 2 feet of concrete to replace a broken sewer line. Besides realizing that I just wasn’t able to maintain our house with the amount of things in it. It also came to realization that it is very hard to accomplish any of the smaller fix-it projects when your house is cluttered. It takes too much effort to physically get to the project. We have one room of our house that still has painters tape and painting that remains unfinished because I was told, at 8 months pregnant, to get off the ladder and not paint. So there it sits, unfinished… 8 years later!
I was one of those people who didn’t want anyone over because it meant cleaning up, or clutter shuffling, and that was too overwhelming. My husband is a board gamer. He likes to have people over for game nights. In order for us to do this without overwhelming stress, I have to deal with the excess and get to a point where I can focus on maintenance. I enjoy hosting. I want our home to be the house where the boys want to hang out with their friends. Where my friends drop in for coffee. I don’t want the stress and panic of Oh, no! Someone’s coming over!
It has been six weeks since I have become intentional about decluttering and reclaiming my home. One habit I have gained… Do the dishes, every night. I know this sounds obvious… but I HATE dishes. Like, I would avoid them until I had no other choices. Partly because it took attention away from kids who either started fighting or destroying other areas of the house. However, once I decluttered down to 1 days worth of dishes, I HAVE to do them more often. Doing them daily means they don’t take as long AND they are easier because dried food is way harder to clean. Wow! I am a slow learner.
I can’t believe I am even sharing this before picture…. I am SO embarrassed!
It was THAT bad!
When I purge, I find I am not as overwhelmed or stressed. I can clean like a normal person and not feel like I have to move things and organize first. The more I minimize, the more I can breathe. I don’t feel as tense. I see progress and I see hope.
What has helped me get to this point? Believe me there is still much further to go, but I have gotten to a point of hope.
- During the past year, I have found The Minimal Mom on Youtube and came to the realization that I am a minimalist at heart and don’t need to collect stuff. In fact, I am happier with less.
- I have found A Slob Comes Clean podcast and listen to Dana when I clean and while I am out for my walks. Very motivating!
- I am creating new habits, little by little. I do my dishes- every.day!
Maybe for the rest of the world this seems obvious. I often wonder why it has taken so long to start figuring this out. I don’t know, but I am grateful I am, because I am finally beginning to feel at home in my home.