Tuesday, March 16


I knew a guy a long time ago that had a house and a bus. In the house he had a pan for macaroni and cheese and his clothes. In the bus, he kept the stuff he didn't use and didn't want to get rid of. The things in the bus were silly to me and those around me. Old double-knit suits, bowling shoes and books. He is the first person I heard say, "sentimental slob". Now I take that to mean, *I can't get rid of things.*
I don't care if I ever use the things I have packed away and placed everywhere in my home and storage. I just know that I am NOT getting rid of the STUFF.
How easily we can come to be in bondage to STUFF. If ONE will do it, TEN will not necessarily do it better. Just how many potato mashers do you need? I guess I need three. One old one, one waffle style, and one rounded zig-zag one.
I have heard that people that went through the Great Depression tend to hoard things. Too bad I'm too young to blame my issues on the Depression. Maybe it IS depression. I just don't feel happy unless I have a box of cool-whip bowls close by my side.
How often do you look for something that shouldn't be hard to find, only to say, "HUH, look what I found!" "Didn't even know I had this." How often are our pretty things hidden by things we just will not get rid of? How often do fun toys and games go ignored by our kids because of all the other things in the way?
If you can't enjoy what you truly enjoy because you have so many other things, you probably have a problem. The rule is: if it isn't beautiful and useful, get rid of it. Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Well, it isn't. How crazy is it that EVERYTHING starts to look beautiful when we have a decision to make about keeping or chunking?

books we never read and don't intend to
crazy stretchy fabric we'll never use
cd's and ?? from our first computer in 1993 (Print Shop books)
ugly colored yarn
old thread
patterns that are not yet vintage, but ugly just the same
curtains that don't fit any windows
frames that don't *go* with our home
plastic flowers
jars with no lids
dishes in the back dark cabinets we never use OR see
wot-nots we don't like and don't know where they came from
magazines from the 70's
broken chains
tarnished charms
puzzles nobody likes
games nobody plays
old cleaners, paint and bug spray
kitchen gadgets NOBODY wants

We can all add to the list. I'll stop at the kitchen gadgets.

So how did we get to owning so many things that aren't useful or beautiful?

As a young mom, I took things graciously from others because I didn't have very much....and *any* pan was better than no pan.
I took and kept clothes I didn't like for my kids, ugly furniture and cast-offs. I was happy for it at the time, but I didn't need to KEEP all of it to the point that my home turned into *A Pile*.

Add six kids to this. Beds, games, puzzles, plastic fruit, bags, purses, guns, hats, tops, bottoms, jackets, coats, tights, pajamas, sheets, blankets,potty chairs, bibs and stuffed animals. Does anybody ever win the battle of stuffed animals? If you have, I'd like to shake your hand.

So, then we start home-schooling. I have 2,449 pencils, 7 pencil sharpeners, piles of papers, scissors of every size and color, crayons. Oh boy, did we have crayons. Boxes of them. And cans. Books and books and books. Dover coloring books. Reading books. Books we used, books we didn't use. Desks, zipper bags, stickers and notebooks. times six

I have not mentioned that we live in a HUGE house. We have three huge bedrooms, two nice full size bathrooms, a hallway that we used to show films in and eat popcorn. A doorway large enough for a small table and chair and Mama Bear....and my wire lady.  A good sized front room and dining room.....both large enough for bookshelves, chests with books and toys and tables and a wrap-around couch and piano.  I have a big washroom, a sewing room that is the size of a small bedroom, a room we call the school book room.  We keep our games and puzzles and crafty things in there.  And school books.  We have a little bitty room with my rabbit collection, and it now houses all of my books. 
I have kept a lot of things I used for Sara that I did use for the other kids, so SOME keeping of things is a good idea.  I've had room to keep more things than the average home owner or apartment dweller.  I didn't RE-buy things every time I had a baby.  All I had to do was get out the girl or boy stuff.  That was all well and fine, it was the other things I should have gotten rid of that made the things that were good to keep seem in the way.

So, I went from being born naked to having a 2,000 square foot house filled to the brim.  Pretty much all by myself and at a very good price.  I live in an area with good thrift stores with good prices and that lends itself to buying too many things just because they are priced well.  

I read about many mothers with children being challenged with clutter.  What they need to do it figure out what is clutter, and what is needful.  Sound simple?
It's not.
Because when you start to do so, somebody gives you a bag of jeans that won't fit your boys for another year.  Jeans with neat pockets you wouldn't dream of getting rid of.  So put a tablecloth on the bag and a lamp and put it in the corner of their bedroom?  Next to the box of shoes that don't fit any of your kids, but they're all Stride Rites.  And they WILL fit some day.  So here we go again.  We can't enjoy the bedroom because we have so many things in there that aren't a need.  Or are they? 

Then comes the day that you have no more babies, this time for real.  You can start getting rid of all those baby things.  But you don't.  Either because you didn't have time, or you're in love with all the bibs and can't part with them.
OR, you can't get to the boxes of baby stuff cause of all the boxes of shoes that don't fit yet.  And we wonder why we have bad days?
Forget the decluttering project.  It isn't worth it.
gather gather gather
buy buy buy
collect collect collect
keep keep keep
pile pile pile
store store store
get get get
more more more
keep keep keep

The other extreme isn't good either. You only have ONE diaper pin and you have two babies in diapers.  You don't have a macaroni and cheese pan, or a good cookie sheet, or very many sheets in general.  They take up too much room in the cabinet.  Besides, how many sheets can you have on a bed at one time anyway? All moms know you have to find that happy medium of the amount of sheets because we all know what one stomach virus for two days with 4 kids and a dad will make you wish you would have NEVER gotten rid of any sheets.  Even if they had ducks on them, and you did the baby room in sheep.
Being sparse to a fault isn't pleasant.  If just ONE empty butter dish and lid pushes your house over the edge, it was too close to the edge.  So balance comes in to play, and you'd better be able to balance.  If you don't, you will have boxes of sheets for those unpleasant stomach bugs, but they will be under the lamp and table cloth in the corner, and you won't be able to get to them......but then again, we don't want to sit on the East side of our house with our one dress on with our one spoon in our hand and have nothing to do.

Here's another quote.....one man's trash is another man's treasure.  That is SO the truth, but it is something you need to guard against.  Don't be known for taking anything and everything somebody is getting rid of.  Guilt comes in those bags and boxes of things people give to us.  ***she gave this to me, I feel horrible getting rid of it****  You'll feel more horrible if you don't.  If you don't let it come in, you won't have to move it out.  Be careful how you shop.  Don't buy something just because it's a good price.  If you don't need a ball of kite string (because you don't even live in a state that borders Windy Kansas), then don't buy it.  Even if it is just a DIME.  And surely don't buy the kite.  Say no to more.  Say yes to less.  Learn what crosses the line in your home and stick to it. 

This is not to say you cannot have collections and pretties.  If you think doilies make a house a home, then keep a nice little pile of them.  Don't get snowballed with these things.  Through all of my life, I have always felt better after I cleaned stuff up and got rid of things.  I have never felt better when things were piled up and nothing was tidy.  The more things you have and collect, the more you will find yourself cleaning those things and moving them and rearranging them and fixing them........and gathering more.  I've gotten rid of a truck load of things in the past.  I can only think of a couple of things I should have kept.  I have forgotten the rest of the things. 

Here is a good way to get rid of things you are unsure and uneasy about.  Box or bag the *stuff* up, and put it in the garage.  It will satisfy your desire to not get rid of it....you're just moving it to another location.  I can almost assure you, when you go through the bag in six months, you will NOT want it and getting rid of it will be easier. 

We collect coffee cups.  I have gone through them twice and haven't missed a cup yet.  I collect rabbits.  I have not gone through them because I have a room JUST for the bunnies and they're not in the way.  The coffee cups were.  I collect old pan lids.  I have them in two places.....in a big wash tub and in the yard.  I have lots of fabric, but I have a place for all of it.  I do go through it randomly and get rid of some of it......it frees up space for better nicer material. 

I have made quite a change in our home.  Some might not be able to discern it, but I wasn't really doing it for *those some* people. 

My sister has inspired me to do with less.  Her home is pared down to just what she actually uses, enjoys and needs.  It is refreshing to be in her home.  She does have nice things which helps.....but I've seen plenty of homes full of nice things that were so cluttery it made one stuttery.  

I am on a child rasing board and more than one mother has expressed their inability to keep up with the CLUTTER monsters.  Piles, clutter, junk, STUFF hinders every day living....and home-school efforts.  A mother that is snowed under stuff will struggle with having the energy and making every day good for school.

We also watched a couple episodes of the Messy House shoes on cable TV.  It rattled me and upset me and actually moved me to do something. 

I also started thinking about the fact that one day, my poor kids will have to go through all of my stuff.  I go to estate sales and it is rather a sad thing to see the things people lived their life with.....have price stickers on them.  I know my kids cannot possibly take all of my stuff and divide it 6 different ways......most of it will get sold, but I sure don't need to make it harder on them than I can help. 

So, I made out a plan and actually did it.  It took longer than I thought it would.  So you moms with lots of small kids, just accept the fact that this is not going to be a week long effort.  It could take months.  While you're clearing out and cleaning up, life does not stop.  School goes on.  Kids have stomach bugs.  We go on vacations and the dog throws up.  Going to the beach and getting sand from one end of the house to the other can be a one week set back.  You gotta figure out how to keep going to the beach, AND clean. 

I took each room and thought out each thing that needed to be done. 
Front room:  quilt closet........cd's, dvd's, vhs movies,
                    old pine chest dad made..........old stuff
                    doily cabinet.........doilies and cassette tapes
                     two book shelves.........books  (duh)
                     suitcases..........different ones are full of different things and I went through each
                     old washer........piano music
                     wot-nots/ do-dads/ knick-knacks/ trinkets

I did each room like this, then each day I could do some cleaning, I could go to the list and choose what I wanted to work on.  I didn't have to walk around the house wondering what to do next.
I would mark things off of each list under each room........and then I kept making shorter and shorter lists, until the whole house was done. 
Now, the garage is a total complete mess, but when the weather clears up, I will have a sale. 

You make four piles:   1. giveaway pile
                                     2. throwaway pile
                                       3. donate pile
                                         4. sell pile

(don't be afraid)

If you don't do this, you will find yourself going through piles more than once.  You gotta have a good place to put the things you get rid of, or it will be fruitless to clean and spend all the time sorting.
Don't be emotional.  Remember.........you will forget.  The more you get rid of, the better you will feel, the more you can sell, you can get nicer things........maybe even a laptop.  Just don't go out and buy more of the same kinds of things you just got rid of. 
Make things fit in the size home you have.  Don't even think about all the room Mrs. Mobunny has......she has too much room for her own good.  But you can think of me and empty cabinets.  I actually have empty cabinets. 
I have a schedule on a note-card that I make effort to keep up on weekly. 
Certain days of the week mean certain rooms.  Monday is the school book room.  This means we sweep and dust and tidy up in there.  I don't worry about my bedroom on Monday.  Its day is coming!  I also don't worry about celing fans any more........Each room is assigned a day, and I know I will get to those things now and everything isn't random.  Because if it's random around here, it mainly won't get done.
Work out a plan for yourself.........but first, declutter.

I am not even going to act like my house is almost bare.  That's not the case, but my garage will show just how much I was able to get rid of.  And so far, I don't miss any of it.

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Chas said...

First off... I LOVE the picture. It is BEAUTIFUL!
Secondly, I agree with the mentality of get, buy, save, keep, yadda yadda.
I want to purge, purge, purge. I am hoping to have a yard sale sometime soon with all my purging.
Great post.
Much love to you.

joy said...

Oh my! Story of my life....where to put everything?! I have three kids in one bedroom, and me and my husband's room has all of their dressers and our own stuff! LOL. It has been quite the adventure. Thankfully, I have a very kind mother in law (Mrs. Shorter) who allows me a spot on her third floor storage to keep some of my stuff. I hope the Lord will give me a home soon like yours so that I can tuck sweet little somethings into every nook and cranny. Thanks for the post!

Sheri said...

I just painted in my bedroom, the kitchen and back hallway, and the stairway and upstairs hallway. It was very enlightening to have bare walls and shelves so I could choose all at once what was going to be seen. My children have all commented how peaceful and 'grown up' the kitchen looks; I think the calm sage green paint combined with the less amount of pictures on the walls is good for all of us. I am not one to be too sentimental with 'stuff' but still manage to dejunk my house twice a year and amaze myself with what I can get rid of when I'm ruthless. Good for you, Michele; I'm sure hoping you and your family enjoy a more relaxed life in your big roomy house now that you've done a dejunking session.

Mrs. Mobunny said...

It's always worth taking time to get rid of things that are just in the way. Keep the things you love. *but which is which?*