Thursday, April 5, 2012


I don't flip through channels- usually. And I wasn't actually flipping channels, or even trying to watch TV. Honest. Steffen turned the TV on and the channel happened to be on HGTV (one of the few channels other than Fox News that we ever watch.) And guess what was on, a show called Clean Freaks! I don't know whether it's a series or just a one-time thing, but I only watched about 2 minutes and then I just recorded the rest for later.

That two minutes, however, got me thinking. There was this lady who had an ultra-organized (child-free) home. She had some good ideas. (Put rubber bands on the ends of your hangers to keep your silk dresses from sliding off. And, really, who doesn't have just scads of silk dresses littering the floor of their closets?) But her advice wasn't what caught my attention. Instead, I was floored by the amount of STUFF that she had. There were tons of gift bags and ribbon and cards and tags. All beautifully organized and labeled. Her house looked like she had bought out the Container Store.

There was a time when I was all about managing the STUFF. I love bins and labelers. (Yes, I have a labeler.) Now that I have more children and our lives have gotten far more busy, though, I've started to change my thinking. I've started to question the necessity of the STUFF. Stuff means work. It gets taken out and has to be put back. It gets broken and has to be fixed. It gets dusty and lost. Whoever said that your stuff owns you instead of the other way around had it about right.

So I started getting rid of STUFF. And, because I felt guilty about how much STUFF we had to get rid of, we've started to scale back on how much STUFF we get in the first place.

Now, we're far from minimalists. Anyone who has seen the 245,358 Playmobil pieces in our playroom can attest to that. But we are minimizing. It's a process we've been engaged in for over a year, and it's starting to have results. Each time we go through and purge, I'm amazed by how much STUFF we still have, even after all those trips to Goodwill.

Here's our latest haul, and I didn't even go through the whole house this time. You can't really tell from the picture, but those are enormous bins- like 2 feet by 3 1/2 feet. I'm trying to use the "if you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it" rule of thumb. We really can live with so much less than what we have.

The kids, by the way, are on board because they get as tired of keeping up with stuff as I do. In fact, the other day, we got a fancy catalog in the mail with all of these million dollar homes in it. I heard Megan say to Nathan, "Can you imagine how long it would take to clean that thing?"

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