Ahhh, the joy of a child playing quietly in his room. I pop my head around the door, only to see tufts of white stuffing poking out from under my son’s bed. Hmmm, it turns out that ‘playing quietly’ was actually disembowelling the large, handmade red velvet bear his aunt had given him.
With my less-than-impressed-mum face, I admonished him for 1) using scissors on anything other than paper, 2) not caring for his toys. On the inside, however, I was beaming. The sweet relief of getting rid of an over-sized, slightly creepy toy your child loves, without having to be the bad guy!
The thing in my home I feel the most torn about decluttering is toys. Fewer toys to trip over and tidy, that’d be fantastic. Plus, too many toys isn’t great for kids, I get that. But, the toys aren’t mine, nearly all of them were gifts, and they all seem so beloved.
Mum guilt about too many toys vs mum guilt over taking toys away – wow, which great option should I choose!
Decluttering toys, a great idea, but in practice, just another emotional minefield for the modern parent. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can make a lot of progress on the toy situation quickly and easily, without having to play the bad guy. Here’s how.
There I was, staring at my 2017 in 2017 decluttering chart, pondering how my progress had stagnated. In January, I decluttered 200 items. Six months later, I’ve only managed a further 500ish items. Telling myself, “I must try harder”, I racked my brain for the ultimate idea to inspire me and reignite my motivation.
Then something struck me. Less than two weeks into June, I’d already decluttered as much as in all of May. Without even trying, I’d already solved my own problem! How?
Something is better than nothing
This stealthy surge in momentum coincided with reading Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck[i]. Manson discusses what he calls the “Do Something Principle”. Rather than waiting for the inspiration to do something, just start. The principle is based on the premise that action (doing something, anything) is both the cause of motivation, as well as the effect of motivation.
This resonated with me. Manson gave a name to a principle that I apply in different facets of my life to overcome procrastination. Despite having pretty much zero motivation for decluttering, Manson spurred me to re-engage with some of my tried and true strategies for overcoming inertia. I picked up the pace, got back on track with my goal, and it was painless.
In turn, that inspired me to share my top tips for overcoming your own inertia.
Is there a more satisfactory feeing than having all the laundry done? Cleaned, folded and put away. It lasts all of three seconds, but, wow, it feels good. Unfortunately, laundry is more often associated with frustration and overwhelm.
Before kids, laundry was a weekly chore. In the weekend, I put on a load or two. Done. There was the occasional panic to iron a shirt the morning before a big meeting at work, but generally, laundry didn’t figure too much in the scheme of my life. I never thought that someday I’d find myself writing on the internet about it! Then we welcomed our son into our lives.
I packed my hospital bag with some extra baby clothes – I wasn’t an idiot – but I was a novice and in for a shock! The first night he vomited through several changes of clothes. And then there were my clothes – if I wasn’t being spit up on, I was being peed on, or worse. At early catch-ups with my mothers’ group we lamented our respective mountains of laundry, along with sleep deprivation and sore nipples. Nearly five years later, the conversations have changed, but, laundry is a constant!
While laundry is a bigger part of my life than it was in my child-free days, I’ve developed a simple system in our home that makes laundry a non-event that ticks over in the background. If you are feel like your drowning in a sea of laundry, I offer these tips to help you get on top of things. Continue reading “How to stop drowning in laundry”
Materialism is hurting our health and happiness. Instead of feeling enriched by the things we own, we are stifled by them. Having more stuff is no longer better, it’s worse.
We are in the grip of stuffocation. That’s the conclusion of James Wallman, in his book by the same name. The good news: the age of materialism is on the decline, to be superseded by an exciting new age of experientialism.
Experientialism, as espoused by Wallman, involves finding happiness, living a more meaningful life and expressing status through experiences, rather than material possessions.
Stuffocation provides an entertaining exploration and analysis of research from the fields of anthropology, psychology and economic history on the predicament we are in, how we got here and how a focus on experiences over things can make us happier. But it’s not just all stats and facts, woven throughout the book are the stories of everyday people seeking to live less materialistic ways. Heavy meets light in a charming and convincing way.
Stuffocation is not a how-to book – although it does offer seven habits of a highly effective experientialist and recommends three steps towards implementing experientialism in your own life.
Decluttering is not without its drawbacks. One of those drawbacks is that I’ve become desensitised to the volume of waste my lifestyle creates.
Haste to waste
When I first started decluttering 18 months ago, I agonised over the number of trash bags that I filled. Sadly, now it’s just par for the course. I give things away, donate them and recycle. Trash is my last resort, but there is still a lot of trash.
Concerns over the impact of my decluttering decisions had largely slipped from my mind, until I read The Use It Up Challenge and Our Nothing New Year on Our Next Life. Our Next Life confronts the issue of decluttering and waste from both an environmental and personal finance perspective. They argue that in a haste to declutter (this trendy thing that if you aren’t doing you think you probably should be) we are not considering waste.
I am going to declutter 2017 things from my home in 2017 and here’s how I plan to do it.
My decluttering journey began 18 months ago – a kitchen drawer, then the linen cupboard, before diving into my first go at the Minimalism Game. I’ve gone through my whole house at least once, twice for some areas, but I’m not finished yet. I notice the benefits on a daily basis. My mission this year is to tackle my last sticky trouble spots. I figure I still have at least 2017 excess belongings, there’s only one way to find out …
Do you want to give the Minimalism Game a go, but feel daunted? I made this guide for you. It contains what I wish I knew before I played the Minimalism Game for the first time.
If you’re not familiar with the Minimalism Game, it’s a month-long challenge to get rid of your excess stuff. On day 1, out goes one thing; on day 2, out goes two things and on and on until day 30, when out goes 30 things. That’s around 500 things in total if you keep going for the whole month. You can find out more about the game on The Minimalists website.