I always thought I kept a pretty simple home, but every now and again I would look around and wonder, ‘where did I get all this stuff?’ Every time we start getting ready to move – which has been 7 times in the 8 years we have been married, we do a massive purge of our possessions. We donate, throw out or sell things we haven’t used and that don’t make sense for our next home. One particularly large purge followed living in a 1,600 square foot home in Indianapolis when it was just the two of us. We were moving to a 500 square foot apartment in Chicago, so the only thing that came with us was a mattress and necessities. To rid ourselves of 1,600 square feet of stuff we no longer needed/wanted, we had a ‘sell our stuff’ party where friends came over and cleaned us out. People left with furniture, weed-wackers and even the artwork that hung on the walls. I felt some sadness watching my favorite kitchen table being carried out the door and I also recall arguing with Ryan over a painting someone wanted to buy. Today, I have no clue what the painting even looked like. Guess it didn’t mean much to me to begin with.
Were all those things an extension of who I was? Did a kitchen table, a couch, or some artwork define me? Did I see myself in those things? I didn’t think so, since I got rid of them all pretty easily and continued to sleep okay at night. Did I want my value as a human being to be determined by the stuff I owned? Certainly not. Was part of me leaving with the painting that I liked? Definitely not. One of my favorite quotes on this subject is from Dave Ramsey; ‘We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.’
The things I own are not me. Couches are for sitting on, beds are for sleeping in and artwork is for looking at. Do I want these things to look good? Somewhat, I am pretty easy to please. What people place value in is relative. I find value in durable and functional goods that are inexpensive, even better if those goods are recycled or reused. If we have guests, I want to enjoy their company, the ‘stuff’ we sit on is not important, and I hope they feel the same.
The television has found a new home in the basement. I hardly every watched it, but would turn it on for background noise and read a book. In the past few months, I have watched an hour of TV at most. Even better for the kids, Jacob constantly wanted the TV on. Half the time he wouldn’t watch it – he would play with his toys while it was on the background… notice a trend? We canceled cable, put the TV in the basement, and found ourselves reading more books, taking more time to enjoy meals, and dancing in the living room. I highly recommend moving the TV out of the way, or out the door.
I am currently purging stuff acquired since moving into our current place only a year and a half ago –which is 1,700 square feet and proved way too big for us. I am getting rid of things that have been moving with us for years and it feels so satisfying. As soon as the kids outgrow something, it’s out the door – donated, sold, or thrown out. If I find random pieces of games or toys throughout the house, I toss them. Spending hours finding missing puzzle pieces is not the best way to utilize my time. I am not overly concerned with keeping a perfectly tidy home; I have heard people say ‘a messy home is a happy home’. This is so true. I can’t be that happy if I am tidying messes all day. The kids would prefer to have a happy mom over a clean house. I have to remind myself of this from time-to-time when disorganization starts to get to me.
Clutter has a tendency to stress me out. I sometimes have a hard time ignoring clothes on the floor (not mine) and dishes in the sink, but I try not to stress about it. I will tidy up a little at the end of the day when the kids are in bed. This has become easier, since I have been purging, rooms are less cluttered to begin with, so there is less picking-up to do. I even have some empty drawers now! This definitely highlights the point that our current home is too big for us. If we have too much space, we tend to fill it up with more stuff and it’s usually stuff we don’t need. Everything is progress, one room, one drawer, and one closet at a time. The next step is to move into a smaller space.
less space = less stuff = more life