Friday, August 7, 2015

Tidying Up

For the last long while, I've been working on simplifying/organizing/routinizing to hopefully make things run more smoothly at our house. And one part of that has been to keep extra stuff to a minimum. I've always had a D.I. Box in my closet, collecting no-longer-treasures, and every once in a while before a drop off trip, I'd search the house for anything else I could donate. At the beginning of the summer, I did a more thorough search for items to contribute to a yard sale with my sister, so basically I felt like I'd cleared things out pretty well.

Then I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up last month. While I'm not so sure about the 'life changing part' (and I haven't felt compelled to follow her plan precisely),   I have sure been enjoying tidying up even more.

In the past month, I've donated about 14 garbage bags full, plus thrown away and recycled at least that much.  And it's been a fun summer hobby! (Seriously, I get some kind of a thrill from finding items to donate or discard -- like a backward sort of treasure hunt!)

Here's what I liked most about this book:

* I loved the idea of letting go of no longer loved and used items with a thank you for their service.

It was this idea that helped me say farewell to my beloved blanket (above) that has long been packed in a box deep in our storage room, too shredded and worn to use or repair. Instead of keeping it packaged up there forever, I took a few minutes to remember all the happiness and comfort and sweet feelings I'd had from that blanket. I took a picture so I won't forget,  and off it went.

 I sent off stacks of fabrics, like the pinks, oranges and yellows I'd picked out years ago for a baby blanket that was never made. Pulling these out of their box gave me the chance to remember the excitement I'd had - newly pregnant with one of our little ones, walking the fabric aisles, choosing which colors I loved, planning and preparing and dreaming of a little baby to come. And I'm not sure why I never made that little blanket, but for the last several years, seeing those fabrics only made me feel bad that I hadn't ever gotten around to it, or pressured to add it to my to-do list. So instead I kept the sweet memory and sent the fabrics on.

* I loved the idea of caring better for the things we own.

Years ago, I was looking through a Pottery Barn catalog with Jordan and he was kind of bugged by the beautiful layouts. Not that they were so beautiful, but that they had taken these beautiful (and expensive!) couches and beds and blankets and throws and displayed them kind of haphazardly. Purposely haphazardly obviously, but something about the $200 wool throw just tossed across the half-made bed seemed not quite right to him.

So reading this and thinking about taking care of the stuff in our home, I remembered that and realized that was kind of how we were living. We have so much, and ought to show our gratitude by taking better care of our things. So I'm working on this.  With little things like making our bed in the morning (this has been one of my New Year's Resolutions since we were married I think!) Or setting my shoes neatly in their spot in the closet instead of kicking them off into wherever they may land. I think there is definitely more to this for me so we'll see how it goes.

* I loved the idea of keeping only those things that spark joy.

This is her general guideline for cleaning and clearing out your home - 'does it spark joy'? Thinking about this as I organized gave me permission to get rid of all the in-between sized socks, the kids clothes that I always scoot to the back, bottom spaces of the dresser drawers (just for emergency), the files and files and files of paperwork (nope, I don't need utility statements from 2006), and the broken books or toys that I thought I'd get to repairing someday but I really probably wouldn't.

On the other side though, this idea also encouraged me to get my hot glue gun and actually repair some of those things that really did bring joy to me or the kids. And I felt like I had permission to keep some of the little things I never use but really love - just because they make me happy.

I think this strategy is a little trickier when you have a family - what sparks joy for Landon (everything he's ever owned) doesn't necessarily bring me great happiness, but it's not my place to get rid of.  Also, while extra toothpaste isn't so thrilling or joyful, it does make life easier to not run out and that's worth the effort of having it.

I'm still in the middle of my giant-house-clean-up/clear-out, and I'm still having such fun with it, so we'll see if maybe by the time I'm through if my tidying up will really be life-changing. Or if (more likely) school starts and the seasons change and I decide I'm done with my summer organizing hobby and am ready to just enjoy my slightly less-cluttered home. :)