Friday, 23 October 2015
One by one
Sometimes it is really hard to start a big project.
It is really hard doing big projects when you have two small children who are close in age. It is even harder when one of those children is actually a baby and you are chronically sleep deprived.
My big project has been decluttering our house, which I started doing in July last year. We live in a small house- an old farmhouse cottage to be precise- although the farm is long gone, swallowed up by suburbia's slumbrous subdivisions. It's 110 square metres, which might seem tiny to some and positively palatial to others, but it has small, odd shaped rooms (part of the 'charm') and a corresponding lack of storage (no built in wardrobes in any of the three bedrooms). Add to that the explosion of stuff that comes along with having babies and we ended up absolutely bursting to the seams with stuff, stuff and more stuff.
We have tried lots of different ways of organising our stuff. I filed my husband's extensive cd collection into file boxes and crammed and wedged it all into a tiny cupboard. I bought vacuum pack bags,rolled up baby clothes tightly and vacuumed all the air out and stacked vacuum packed bags inside a massive plastic crate. We had plastic storage crates under every bed, overstuffed drawers and a wardrobe that was hard to put anything into or take anything out of because of how much stuff was in there. I read articles in home magazines and online about how to organise and followed most of the suggestions but there was still stuff everywhere. Everything I read seemed to point at doing decluttering as a massive project, where you had to pull everything out, sort it, buy things to sort it into and then put it all back neatly. We had been doing this and it just wasn't working and now with two small children, just was not possible for us to manage. But then I read about something called 365 Less Things and realised that this was something that could work for us (you can read about it here). The idea is brilliant in its simplicity, like many brilliant ideas. Every day you remove (sell, throw out, donate, recycle, give) an item away. This was something I could manage with a then 2 year old and 5 month old. Something I could achieve on little sleep. So I started doing this and little by little our house has become tidier, cleaner, a more pleasant place to be in. Uncluttered.
Removing one thing out a day has opened up some surprising insights. Firstly, the volume of things we had, and how long it has taken to get our home into a pleasantly uncluttered state has been a real eye opener. It has made me question- why did we have this for so long when we weren't even using it? It has made me realise how busyness and too much stuff was related- at least it was for us. It made me realise how much we truly have- even though sometimes it doesn't feel like it- we have so much. That has been an incredibly humbling revelation. It has also made me realise how much time our things were sucking out of our days- time that I would much rather being doing spending with the people that I love or doing something for myself. Removing our unnecessary possessions has created physical space in our home and that has created mental space. Instead of being distracted by piles of laundry or toys we can now focus on things that matter to us. I really like Tsh Oxenreider's definition of simple living. There is an excellent blog post here about it if you are interested in reading further. I don't want my life to be limited to how much stuff I can accumulate. But there is some 'stuff' that is still important and meaningful to have, and now, I'm looking for the balance in that. As the bulk of our unnecessary possessions have been removed from the house, I'm not feeling the necessity to keep removing one thing from the house religiously everyday. I don't want to remove something, just for the sake of removing it. I'm going to follow up this blog post with two more related posts, one going more into the detail of the process of decluttering and another about finding that balance- which is an interesting for someone like me with a magpie nature but doesn't want to drown in things.