However, just because I started to realize we had too much stuff doesn't mean I actually DID anything about it. In fact, we added another person - and another person's STUFF - to the mix. And then we moved to Hawaii. Moving into a house that was many hundreds of square feet smaller than what we had been living in on the mainland once again showed me we had too much stuff. Rather than start to pare down, I looked for ways to 'creatively store' our excess. I searched for storage benches and boxes and bins - anything to hide our stuff.
And all this talk of 'stuff' reminds me of the George Carlin skit...
The turning point came three years ago when our lives were turned upside down. Our 'stuff' that had just been a minor source of raised eyebrows and the occasional attempt at 'decluttering' began to feel like an albatross around my neck. With all of the uncertainty surrounding us, where was I supposed to PUT all of this stuff if I needed to uproot our family quickly? How would I pack it? Store it? Ship it? It simply added to my already-panicked state of mind. Thus, the push toward a more minimalist lifestyle began in earnest. Hence 'minimal(ish)™'.
And the '(ish)' comes in because I am only 1/4 of our household. I can have some effect on the amount of stuff my children possess but I have very little control over the amount of stuff MacGyver possesses. And oftentimes I find myself trying to compensate for all of his stuff by getting rid of even more of MY stuff. That can lead to resentment so I fight very hard to avoid going down that path. I'm a practical person by nature so I do my best to take a rational look at our belongings. How many sets of sheets does a family of 4 really need? Do we need 5 sets of placemats? What clothes do we wear REGULARLY? Can we get rid of item B and make item A do double duty in its absence?
I frequent a variety of decluttering/minimalist blogs and Facebook pages, not as a way to motivate myself or compare myself to others (comparing myself to others simply takes the joy out of my life and that's not my goal). I do so in order to help myself critically assess our belongings. How many sets of sheets DOES a family of 4 really need? Oftentimes, reading someone else's thoughts helps me clarify my own. I also like to challenge myself in areas like this so I'm always curious to read about tactics others have used to help pare down their belongings. Can I really go an entire year without buying new clothes for myself (aside from undergarments and special event clothing, if necessary)? Can I find a way to make item A do double duty and take the place of item B? Can I set a budget for things like homeschool curricula (a budget that, in the beginning of our homeschooling adventure, I would have thought to be ridiculously meager) and then stay below it? On any given day, can I find 10 items in my house that are either broken or missing parts/pieces and recycle or throw them away? Can I find 10 items in my house that we no longer use that I can either give to others or donate to a thrift store? If I buy something new and bring it into the house, can I find something else to take OUT?
Yes. Yes, I can.
So I'm trying. I'm trying to cut back on the things we have and don't need or use. Really, each of our beds only needs 2 sets of sheets - one that is on it and one that is clean. Add in an extra set for the guest bed and that's really all we need. Two sets of placemats works for us - one to use and one being washed. So far this year, I've only bought 2 pair of capris and a tank top for myself and have managed to already cull 2 giant trash bags' worth of clothes I do not wear. I also went through and turned everything that is hanging around so that the hanger faces 'backward' on the rod. If an item of clothing is worn, after it's washed I put it back on the rod with the hanger facing the right way. At the end of the year, anything that is facing 'backward' goes (unless it's a special occasion item or something sentimental like the silk robe I wore on my wedding night). Same goes for shorts, pants, skirts, jammies, shoes, etc. I expect to unload at least 50% of the clothing I had when we left Hawaii by the time I am done. And I'm doing the same for the kids' clothes as well. I'd rather they have a small selection of clothes they LOVE as opposed to a large selection of clothes that just sit in their closets, taking up space.
It's a process. And there are areas I've not yet tackled (Christmas decorations, anyone?). But I'm getting there. Slowly. It's going to be one heckuva yard sale in the fall!