Tag Archives: declutter

Take Time To Smell the Coffee

I love coffee. I blame my parents….I’ve been drinking it since I was a kid. Terrible, I know, but I LOVE coffee. Partly because of the memories. I had my own special cup and got to sit with the big people. Coffee made me feel special. I LOVE the aroma. When I smell coffee, I feel my body relax. I am a chronic migraine sufferer. I also struggle with chronic fatigue. There have been many days when coffee has been my lifeline… more literally than I care to admit. I remember days when I would make coffee and one of the boys would ask, “Mama, your head hurt?” Such sweet concern. Days when I would be cranky and one of them would say, “Mama, do you need coffee?” I guess I passed the love to the boys. Most kids play with pretend food, my boys had a toy cash register and would play “Making coffee”. You can say I have prepared them for teenage employment.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of my college friends and share a cup of coffee. I haven’t had the opportunity to do this for FAR too long. I realized something that day. How many times have I not invited someone over because I’ve been embarrassed about the condition of my house? A LOT. My friend’s kitchen wasn’t clean and I didn’t care. I understood. In reality, we all do. As we talked, her two year old overturned all of the toys in the other room… ALL of them. Insert smile. I remember those days. She knew I understood and we enjoyed our morning.

How many of us can relate? ALL of us! But we still allow these things to keep ourselves separated from others. We don’t connect. How many times have we talked about the crazy loneliness of young motherhood? Yet, we usually do this to ourselves. If you’re one of those people who somehow always has a miraculously clean kitchen, awesome! Don’t judge the rest of us. We judge ourselves enough and we let that fear of judgement keep us from the simple joys of a cup of coffee with a friend, an understanding ear and a few minutes of normal adult conversation. If you are like me (I am just beginning to realize that many more people are than I thought) realize that your friend’s kitchen probably looks just like yours and she doesn’t care. Somewhere along the line authenticity got lost and we feel the need to pretend life is perfect. In case this comes as a shock to anyone, life isn’t perfect. It’s just the opposite and it’s usually messy.

If I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that we can’t let stupid things like a messy kitchen stop us from spending time with people. Because the chance may not come again. I don’t want to look back and realize I missed the opportunity for friendship because I was preoccupied with a messy house. We all need to do each other a favor, stop pretending and enjoy the coffee.

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What Are We Teaching Our Children?

You are your child’s first teacher. Whether or not we homeschool, we do teach our children. Everyday. Our children watch everything we do and, even though it sounds cliche, actions speak louder than words. What do we silently teach our children through our actions? 

How many times have you been cleaning the house, only to have your children ask “who’s coming over?”

Or is that just me?

Are we teaching our children that we only need to clean when someone will see our homes? Are we teaching them that our clutter is okay for those we love most, but it’s not good enough for others? That we shouldn’t take pride in our own homes? 

Let’s take it a step further. Are we teaching our children that the judgement from others is something they should expect? That we should fear and cater to this judgement? My children are judged constantly. Let’s face it, we are all judged on a daily basis. Sadly, it’s part of life. But I don’t want my children to accept this judgement as an acceptable norm and change because of the it. Sometimes making a changes IS a good thing, as in the case with a messy house. However, I want my children to decide to make a change because they recognize that the change will benefit them, not as a reaction to the judgement of others.

What are you teaching your children? I’m pretty sure none of my questions made it into the weekly lesson plans, but many of us teach exactly this. Are the lessons we are teaching them the ones we want them to learn? How can we change our actions to teach lessons that will equip them with the tools to create a brighter future?

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Reclaiming My Home

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.

  1. I am a collector.
  2. 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.

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