Welcome to the March edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival – Clearing the Clutter cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month our participants wrote about de-cluttering and cleaning up. Please check out the links to their thoughts at the end of this post.
Among my close friends and family, I’m sometimes lovingly referred to as a decluttering diva. I admit I love to declutter and organize. When you walk into my house, there may be some toys or books out that the kids have been using, but you won’t find knick-knacks or a lot of stuff. Our lifestyle is far from being minimalist, but we do keep it pretty simple and stream-lined. Having everything in its place is thrilling. Getting rid of unwanted or unneeded items is liberating.
It doesn’t take much for me to find a reason to declutter: feeling like we have too much stuff, seasonal changes, upcoming major events, or just feeling stressed. I’ll declutter for any of those reasons and more. In part, I want to embrace the simple lifestyle I enjoy. I want to live mindfully and embrace what is important. A small part of me is still fighting the idea of ever living in clutter again.
My mother once jokingly said to me that as a young child I was obsessively organized and neat. She laughed that she didn’t know what she was going to do with such a child. My parents were born in the ’30s and 40’s (I was the last child born to them later in life) to parents who lived through the Great Depression. There was a mentality prominent in that generation that you should never get rid of anything because you might need it someday. Add to that the fact that my mother worked hard and struggled to make enough money and our farm became a black hole. Once something came in, it never left. My father’s blatant lack of organization permeated the amount of stuff, and I often felt like our home was drowning in tems. It wasn’t as though our home would have been featured on Hoarders, but it often felt like that to me.
My much older siblings found a way around that. They would dump stuff on me as an excuse to get rid of items. It was still in the house but no longer their responsibility. Not being allowed to get rid of it, I turned to boxing up items to store in my section of the closet so that they took up the least amount of space and was out of sight. When they moved out of the house and my mother would ask if they wanted something, they would reply that I might want it. I tried my hardest to find other people who actually needed items and make suggestions that perhaps they could utilize some of the unused items, but I was often met by the suggestion that my children might want the items. One time, in desperation, I tried smuggling items out by hiding them in a bag of trash. I almost made it, but my mother decided to go through my trash. It was not a pleasant situation.
I was surrounded in stuff I didn’t need but usually in need of basic items that went lacking. One would think that becoming an adult, marrying my husband, and having my own home would have left me to shed the clutter and free myself from its grasp, but growing up with clutter has an impact on even someone who hates and is stressed out by clutter.
My mother died when I was 19, shortly before my wedding. There was a large void, and items reminded me of her. Add in some of my mother’s items, weird wedding gifts, and a husband who came with his own baggage, literally and figuratively, from his own parents born in that generation, and we still had too much stuff. It didn’t help that we didn’t have much money in grad school and I was constantly worried that we wouldn’t have enough money for basics like when I was growing up.
Changing was a process that took time. I had to face the reasons that I held onto items – because they had belonged to a deceased love one or fear that I wouldn’t have something I needed. As I worked through my issues, I shared my experiences with my husband and he, too, began working on his issues regarding stuff.
We now live a simple, decluttered lifestyle, free from the stress and pressure of stuff. We are raising our children to consider purchases carefully, buy what they need, and not let stuff rule their lives. Decluttering is a constant process as life happens, and one I can now fully embrace as a healthy way to excise the demads of too many things.
photo credit: Vvillamon via photopin cc
Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating simple living into their lives by clearing out the clutter. We hope you will join us next month, as the Simply Living Blog Carnival focuses on Going Green!
7 Tips for Cutting the Toy Clutter – In a post at Natural Parents Network, Mandy offers easy and child-respectful ideas for downsizing your kids’ growing mountains of toys.
- De-Cluttering and Moving to Minimalism – Laura from Authentic Parenting is actively trying to achieve a more balanced life by giving up the things in order to make room for more enjoyment.
- A Minimalist Clutter Bug – Destany at They Are All of Me writes about the daunting task of clearing away years of clutter brought on by disorganization and a dislike for throwing things away.
- The Pack Rat Stops Here – Mercedes at Project Procrastinot doesn’t want her twins to inherit the pack rat legacy but is uncertain how to lead by example.
- Clutter Minimized – Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how minimizing different aspects of her life and household have changed her life.
- Uncluttering Childhood – Are fewer toys and books harmful for your child? Does simplifying the stuff in your life, merely mean faster clean up? Find out if “less” is truly “more” for parents and kids alike at Heart-Led Parenting.
- Lagom – Sustainablemum shares her family’s search for balance in decluttering their home and their lives.
- Letting Go – Of Things and Thoughts – Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work rejoices in her ability to allow others to teach her to let go – of things and of thoughts.
- From Cluttered to Clutter Free – Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses the changes she went through from growing up in a cluttered household to becoming a decluttering diva.
- Facing the emotional roadblocks of clearing clutter – We all have reasons we hold on tightly to our stuff. Lauren at Hobo Mama offers advice for breaking through those walls.
- Spring Cleaning with Freecycle – Amy at Anktangle shares how her spring cleaning ritual has become much more fun (and productive!) since she’s embraced her local Freecycle community and all it stands for.
That’s a fascinating story. That might explain a lot about my in-laws, who were born in that same time period. I know my mother talks about how thrifty her Depression-era parents were, so I’m sure that was a similar theme for my in-laws and might have led to their inability now to get rid of anything, even trash. They’ll bring us gifts like twist ties and used cake pop sticks, because they just can’t bear anything to go to waste.
I’m with on you wanting to live a decluttered life. Your description sounds so serene.
My in-laws are much the same. My husband and I once tried to go back and clean out his old room at their house – the room with the hundreds of little knick-knacks, various ribbons and trophies, etc. which he collected over his childhood. My mother-in-law had a fit when he tried to throw away empty Nintendo game boxes and then banned him from taking anything out of the room. Their house is clean and neat but filled to the brim with clutter.
Bravo for you for “cleaning up” your past! I think that most of our consumption is fueled by our unconscious and this is also what our culture manipulates to keep us on the consumption track. I appreciate the reminder to check my “reasoning” (logical or otherwise) about getting or keeping things in my life, because, as you noted, simplifying has brought me a great deal of freedom.
I do envy your decluttering abilities. My mother was also a saver and held onto things out of sentiment. I always thought I was supposed to, and would feel badly that I was incapable of attaching to things emotionally. I have never seen my kids artwork as more than paper with paint and glitter smeared on it. And I’m too batty to keep tabs on things like yearbooks or old journals.
So my issues are of laziness and being distracted. One day I must learn to organize and take time to deal with things I don’t want.
The house you grew up in sounds so much like mine, my parents are a similar age. They have recently moved from the house the family grew up in, they had lived there for forty years there was a a lot of stuff to sort! I think my reaction to stuff has been a reaction to that too.
I went through a phase where I kept asking my mom “When you die, can I have that?” She actually did pass away a couple of years ago. There was a large Tupperware measuring bowl… it was in the will – bequeathed to me. It holds sentimental value for the memories I have… my brother and I making pudding, for instance.
Still, today I had to have a paper notarized stating that I had actually received this item. It just seems so nuts. Sometimes I wish I had gotten other things from my mother’s home, but… it is much more about practicality than sentimentality. I use this measuring bowl… for pancakes… often. One of these days I’ll make pudding in it, too, I swear!
Sorry, off on a tangent. That has obviously been on my mind. My mom was a bit of a hoarder, too. She’d offer me all kinds of stuff and I came to understand that she needed to get rid of things, but couldn’t just toss or donate them. She needed to feel they’d be put to good use. I often passed along or donated things that she gave me… or even tossed them. I like to think it eased her mind to just give them to me.
Good for you for changing your environment into something that works for you. My mom is a bit of a pack rat, and I inherited that and it hasn’t really bothered me until I got married and now that we have kids, I really want to set a good example.