I wrote this article a while ago, so keep that in mind when you read so you don’t get confused. My daughter has kids of her own now, but I hope she’s still clearing the clutter!
Today I’m talking about living with less, or for some of you—much less. There are things that we all have stuffed behind closed doors, hidden inside our drawers, laying under our beds, thrown onto our shelves, stacked up in our cupboards, crowding our counters, expiring in our freezers, hiding on top of our fridges, and squeezed into our jam-packed closets. In other words, we have an excess of junk.
Cleaning out my daughter’s room, I was reminded of those times when I’ve seen doctors holding 20 pounds of body fat in their hands while the audience looks on in disgust. This is the equivalent to ugly fat, the only difference being that it’s “lifestyle fat.”
Our society gives so much attention to eating lean and shedding body fat, but little attention is made to living lean and climbing out of the pit of lifestyle obesity.
A few years back I went to Jamaica with my husband. The trip was a life-changing experience. I had never witnessed miles upon miles of poverty stricken homes before, but that week I did. My heart went out to those people when I saw that many were living in shacks no bigger, and less accommodating than my garage.
But during my stay there I witnessed something else. These people were dressed well. I didn’t come across one person whose clothes weren’t clean and well pressed, nor did I witness a beaten down culture. They were happy and content people who took much care with the little they had.
All I could think of on the way home was how much I wanted to purge my junk.
Shortly after that, I was inspired by a book called, “Throw out Fifty Things,” by Gail Blanke. Gail encourages readers to go into every room of their house and get rid of things that have been hanging around for years. It might be an old tooth paste lid or the wrong shade of nail polish; it might be a jacket from 1997 or a pair of shoes from last summer. All of these unnecessary items are cluttering our closets, our drawers, and our life.
So I held an experiment of my own and asked my daughter to toss out 25 things. Within a few minutes my dining room table was full of stuffed animals, old shoes and a few broken toys. Less than fifteen minutes of work, and her bedroom already felt different.
I challenge you to try this today. Start with 25 things. It doesn’t take long to toss out 25 things, but it does make a world of difference. And if you’re anything like me you’ll get back to work tossing out 25 more, again and again.
Here are 4 Guidelines
1. Hold onto things if you must for sentimental reasons, but if you’re not using the item, either throw it away (if it’s garbage) or give it away. A lighter load will bring a sense of peace to your home.
2. Keep things that you find pretty or useful. If it’s not pretty enough to display and it has no use to you, why do you hold on to it?
3. If you have to think about it for a while, you probably don’t need the item.
4. Don’t feel guilty about getting rid of junk. Remember that there are plenty of charity organizations that can resell used items. Think of it as a donation.
Eliminating junk is one lesson I try to teach my children. We can clean the house daily so things appear tidy, but if we keep shoving more junk into our drawers and our closets, there has to come a time when we say “Enough—it’s time to lessen the load!” Or better yet, “Stop buying so much.”
Spend about fifteen minutes going through one room. That’s it—one room/25 things. Now times that by the number of rooms you have and you’ll see just how much of a difference tossing out 25 things can make to one family.
My kids definitely had a lot of garbage the first time we did this, but I noticed that they were more than ready to part with these items. One of our finds were two Build-A-Bears that we brought over to their little cousins, and they love them!
Once the kids started tossing out 25 things it turned into more like 50 for some, which was their choice, not mine. All I asked my family is simply this: “Toss out 25 things.” That’s good enough for now, we’ll tackle the rest later!