Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spring Cleaning {Decluttering @ Home & School}

A few weeks back, I came across Joshua Becker’s "Clutterfree with Kids" eBook on Amazon during some late night surfing – frankly, I think that I must have been delirious at the time, because I purchased it & started reading it that night.

The thing that makes my eBook purchase so strange is the fact that I have serious pack-rat problem! As a child, I was the kid with collections of everything – rocks, baseball cards, drawings, books, Barbies etc. As I grew older, I kept my old collections and moved on to new collections. Now as an adult, I still have some of my childhood collections and I have a bad habit of keeping things that I think I might be able to use in my classroom. So far, watching episodes of “Hoarders” has kept my mess in-check… which leads me to...

I am, and always have been, terrible at cleaning & organizing. And frankly, cleaning & organizing useless crap takes lots of time – time that I don’t have. Between my two teaching jobs, being a mom and a wife… I just don’t have the time for all this stuff in my life!

I’m not going to go into an all out book review, but simply, the book is helpful and full of simple suggestions for de-cluttering different parts of ‘life with kids.’ When I start slowing down or questioning my desire to simplify, I go back and read a few pages to get my head back in the game – good, simple motivation and guidance.

It also happens that my de-cluttering mission coincides with this year’s “40 Bags in 40 Days” event over at White House Black Shutters – a friend of mine told me about this, after I mentioned my recent eBook read…  I’m beginning to think that simplifying & de-cluttering is really meant to be this year!  I’ve been more successful during the last 12 days than I’ve ever been at getting rid of things – I even hesitated to write about my quest because I wasn’t sure that I could maintain my momentum. So far so good… and now the world knows so I can’t quit now! 

So how’s a pack-rat to simplify? Well, it’s complicated… here are just a few things that I’ve tried to keep in mind as I continue on this journey…
1. Go Slowly  - I think that this is the most important part… Don’t do too much all at once! I try to remember that it took me (& my family) years to collect all this junk – it can’t just be cleared out in a weekend…  One box (or bag) at a time!

2. Remember: It’s all just stuff! Surprisingly, letting go of emotional attachments hasn’t been as challenging as I had expected. I did a quick little mental exercise where I thought about the things that I would want to save if there was a fire – a terrible situation that I hope that I never have to face—and I quickly realized that there isn’t much that I actually NEED.

3. Talk about your mission - I think that I got this idea from a workout magazine or something -- basically, telling others should help hold you accountable for working towards your goal. I've told my husband & a few coworkers -- we have regular conversations about what I've purged from my home & classroom and it helps keep me motivated. Others know not to give me things that I don't need and I feel less ungrateful when I turn things down. 



4. Establish new 'house rules.' Since beginning this simplification quest, I've established a 'One for One' rule at our house -- in order to bring a new item into the house, an item of equal size must leave the house. My hope is that this will keep clutter from re-accumulating as I continue to work on reducing the mess. I recently had to explain this concept to my three-year-old and he surprisingly did OK with it, giving me a toy to get rid of for the new car he wanted. While I don't think that he completely understands the idea, he seemed to get the gist for the moment and it's an opportunity to teach him about needs vs. wants and giving to others. 

I hope to write more about how the process evolves as I keep going... check back for more updates in the coming weeks.

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