Stuff. It’s the first thing most people think of when they think of simplifying. While that’s not the only thing, I do think it’s a great place to start. It’s hard to have a clear mind and find that sense of rhythm when you’re surrounded by clutter.
In order to find calmness, you need some space to think, some room to breathe…..
I started with clothes, toys and books back in June and to be very honest, I’m still working on them. But I’ve learned quite a few things in the process that I wanted to share:
- Don’t try to do too much at once. Honestly, I thought I would get through all the toys and books in the house, sorted, organized and donated in a week or so. That was in June. I’m still working on it.
- Pick a category and work with it for awhile. Books? Toys? Clothing? Your own knitting/sewing supplies? Maybe you want to start with something big. Maybe you just want to get through a quicker category so you feel like you’ve made some headway. Either way, pick an area and stick to it. Ignore the rest until you’re done.
- Work in stages and don’t just get rid of a ton of stuff right away unless that’s what you really want to do. I have a hard time time giving things away as I get too sentimental. So in my case, I divided things into three categories: definitely get rid of, pack away for now, and keep. This cleared out a lot of the immediate clutter and has given me time to sort through the middle stuff, asking myself more questions to decide what I should keep.
- Choose the high quality stuff. Go for the well written books, the toys that spark imagination and thought. If it does nothing but beep,you might want to say goodbye to it.
- Ask yourself “How and with what do my children play?” “What do we love the most?” Really take the time to consider what you and your children actually use and enjoy. We had a beautiful wooden ball roller that I loved, but the boys only used it as a step ladder and threw the (very hard!) wooden balls around the house. So as much as I loved that toy, I found a mama with a baby just the right age to sit there and play with it rather than use it to possibly break a window.
- Consider how many items in each category you really need. After counting, I realized that Spinner had nearly 30 pairs of shorts that fit him. (I took in way too many hand-me-downs). I decided that ten was plenty and found a new home for the rest. And now I can actually close his dresser drawer.
- Put things into rotation. You’ll see in the pictures that I actually don’t have much out. I’ve gotten rid of about a third of the toys we had, mostly things that were outgrown. Another third are in storage downstairs and the rest around the house. As I get the storage toys better organized, I’ll rotate things in and out. It keeps the clutter down, makes the pick up easier, and it means I can always find something new and interesting for them when I need it.
- If you can make some money, great, but don’t spend all your time trying to sell everything. You can spend a lot of time taking pictures, posting ads and responding to e-mails. It’s great when you can sell some stuff but just donating it is a lot faster.
- Lastly, go easy on yourself. This is not easy to do and I figure it will be a good year until I’m in the place where I want to be. Take your time and try not to stress it. This is supposed to make life easier, not give you a headache.
So where am I at after two months of this?
The living room now sports a simplified bookshelf, with just enough books for browsing but not so many that they just throw them all over the place. More books are in their bedroom, but the majority of them are downstairs. I’m trying to switch them out as soon as I notice they are tiring of these. There is also a special stack for our weekly library trips.
All the excess stuff was cleared out so that the dress-up basket is just for dress-up. No more random dinosaurs or trains hiding in here. Playsilks, armor and capes….this stuff gets used all the time.
In the sunroom we have….
a cart full of building material,
trains and animals,
(these two buckets used to be so overflowing I couldn’t fit them on the shelves)
and fort making supplies. (The cardboard blocks hide behind the chair).
Overall, cleanup is much easier. The kids know aren’t so overwhelmed anymore, and they actually play with their toys rather than just throwing them all around. It feels like a nice playroom now rather than a room full of junk.
Lastly, to be a realist I do need to show the basement closet, which still needs to be dealt with. Here hide the other toys, the toys that were scattered in random pieces all over the house. This is the stuff I need to sort through next, organizing it so it can easily be brought upstairs and used or realizing that it’s just not something the kids play with and finding it a new home.
So yeah, more work to do but I feel as if I’ve finally taken some control back in the house. Now if only I could keep those legos in the boys room from migrating throughout the entire house life would be good!
Next up in my Simple series I’ll share my attempt at simplifying MY own stuff, yarn included!