Challenge Day Two: Decluttering Round One

Yes, this is the “after” picture. I cleared out two bags’ worth of trash from these shelves. Still way too much stuff, but almost none of it is mine. At least now we can find all of it.

Two kids + two adults = lots of stuff.  Lots and lots and lots of stuff.  Because I tend to dislike rampant consumerism, I have strong minimalist impulses (living in another country for three years helps you realize just how little “stuff” you actually need).  I don’t buy many material things for myself, but in practice, I’m not a great minimalist. I own a lot of clothing and shoes, even as I’ve culled the collection for only pieces I love and wear regularly. I like and accumulate books (though I use the library more these days). I have a hard time getting rid of things that I already have–whether gifted or purchased (What if I need _______ someday?).  Combine my own inconsistent commitment to minimizing clutter with two young children and a husband who struggles even more than I do with the desire to hoard things “just in case” (he actually won’t let me take bags to Goodwill without checking through them and “rescuing” an average of three items that then sit unused in our house for another six months until I try again) and there we are: clutter disaster!

I do recognize that our stuff–even as messy and chaotic and excessive as it seems–does also serve a purpose. Another deep value held by our family is that children should be offered a variety of creative, stimulating activities to spark their interests.  The books on this shelf are regularly read and re-read by our kids.  The cans on top of the shelves have art supplies (markers, paints, pencils, scissors, tape, glue, etc.) that become all sorts of unique creations. The bucket in front has a collection of musical instruments (including the bucket itself that becomes a drum) my husband is teaching my children to play. One of the reasons I have a hard time purging is that when I go to do so, I realize that most of the “stuff” is actually regularly in use.

This conflict of values (minimalism vs. creative stimulation) drives me insane (especially when company is coming over), but since much of the stuff belongs to my children and husband and (this is important) they are the people who are in the house most of the time, I cannot just get rid of what I deem to be excessive. This makes me feel overwhelmed, so I tend to just avoid dealing with the stuff–even though taking responsibility for my part of it would help reduce the clutter by a lot.  I’m working on this.  We do a “10 minute clean up” most days, where we set the timer and all pitch in for 10 minutes.  It never gets super clean that way, but it keeps much of the mess in check.  Lately, my husband has been more committed to reducing things we don’t need, too.  It’s all moving in the right direction.

The mantra: I am responsible for me.  My household is my responsibility.

This 21 Day Challenge is the perfect time for me to do the more complex work of organizing, cleaning shelves, repairing, and reducing as needed.  I know my children will be even more likely to use and respect the things we keep well-maintained.  Today I’ve decluttered the entire main floor (except the kitchen)–living room, dining room, play room (pictured), the master bathroom, and the bookshelves and surfaces in the master bedroom.  I feel good about the progress I’ve made and will continue my decluttering project throughout this challenge.

Other activities today:

  1. Gym class (BANG Powerdance–love it!)
  2. Laundry
  3. Mom took me out to dinner (Serenity Tea Room–AMAZING + live music)
  4. Reading great books
  5. Keeping up with food journal and no caffeine after 3

Plan for Day 3: Read a whole book in one day–start to finish

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