The next couple of posts will be on decluttering. There’s a big push on right now for living a more minimalistic, more intentional, less stuff kind of life.
It’s trending. That’s a good thing.
And what the heck does that have to do with self-care? I think that stuff is our First World burden. I think that stuff and our attachment to it is weighing us, collectively, down. I know that developing strategy and routines for dealing with stuff and minimizing it over the years has allowed me the energy and time to do the things I want to do.
I’m not a naturally organized person. I’m not naturally oriented toward routine. I’m scrambly like scrambled eggs, BUT, I have been able to teach myself over the years to develop some organizational skills. It’s not a hobby and it’s not the focus of my life, however, these skills have given me the opportunity to not feel overwhelmed by my life all the time. Just occasionally. And I’m good with that. I don’t mind being overwhelmed occasionally, it’s just not the state I want to run my day-to-day life in.
And for the guidance I received in learning skills of declutter, and developing routine, I am eternally grateful.
STEP ONE – being attracted to less clutter, circa 1991
The year I started homeschooling, I definitely wanted to keep education “clutter free.” It’s not because I didn’t want the “stuff” but simply because I thought that I wanted education to all be meaningful, the less stuff I had, the more learning could happen in its most natural form.
Clarification required here:
books are not stuff.
But I wanted REAL books, beautiful stories. Not workbooks, not programs, not how-to manuals, not boxes of educational materials. I wanted clutter-free education because I could see the value of less being more. And that’s all.
Fast forward three years. I remember a moment after I had my third baby, I had asked someone to come in for a few hours a week for the first couple of weeks to help out with whatever needed to be done. As I sat on the couch nursing my newborn, mostly what she was doing was being bent over picking stuff up off the floor. I realized she looked exactly like me.
Fast-foward about five years. I now have three kids, a beautiful and functional ideology for educating them BUT a household full of clutter. Clothes, plastic containers, toys, fragments of projects, recreational stuff, memorabilia. I felt like I was drowning. Not just with the time it takes to feed, water and nurture the children, but with keeping up with laundry, dishes, housework, PICKING STUFF UP OFF THE FLOOR.
I thought there had to be a solution. I found a few books at the library on how to clean a house, and how to keep a house and not die trying. Like many of us trying to determine how we can fix this problem, these books made great recommendations on how to store stuff effectively. I spent my first few years learning about creative storage solutions.
I had a lightbulb moment. One of the books I was reading was making suggestions for how to store the stuff of children. It said that puzzles could be lettered on the plain side (bunny puzzle all have “B”s put on the back of pieces) so that when you are picking up all the pieces of puzzles, it’s easy to see which ones belong together, regardless of whether they are face up.
That shaved approximately two minutes off of the twenty minutes it took us to pick up puzzle pieces to twelve or fourteen puzzles and put them back in the box.
I could just keep the favourite two or three puzzles. That shaved about eighteen minutes off the puzzle pick up time. I’m all in, and my life is about to swing in an entirely new direction…