Back in January of 2014 I wrote a post called Kids, Minimalism and Creativity. I was in my second trimester then, and resisting the urge to collect too many baby items. I kept in mind that our home is small, and that having less toys actually supports children in their creativity.
A couple of years later, we’ve done pretty well. By “pretty well” I mean that we have been choosy about our purchases – for the most part. Still, we have accumulated plenty of items to add to our already over-stuffed home.
Sometimes we are able to keep things “tidy” anyway by cramming every crevice full. Sometimes there are piles of stuff everywhere. What it really comes down to it that we have too many things.
I’ve never been one to mind clutter much, and so haven’t done a lot to deal with the situation – until now. Two things are motivating me to make a change.
One, is the sheer amount of time I spend moving items from one place to another. We recently had to move most of our storage out of the garage due to a major plumbing repair. I was astounded by how long it took.
With a toddler to care for at the same time, it was exhausting and frustrating. With help from family we managed to get the project done, but I was left wondering why we’d held onto so many things that we never use or even look at.
Even on a daily basis, there are things to be put away, kept out of reach, taken out, put back, cleaned, etc. As a mom of a toddler I expect some of this. But hey, less items to move, clean, dust, etc. would free up time and energy for more important things!
Speaking of more important things, my second motivator is B. I’ve found that we have noticeably easier days when the house is in order. B plays independently longer and is more focused when less is available and there is ample space to move around.
The more laundry baskets, random junk and piles of toys are strewn about, the less likely he is to be content and busy in his own world. The less he plays independently, the harder it is for me to take care of the laundry baskets, random junk and piles of toys – and so the vicious cycle continues.
It’s definitely time for a change!
An Easy Way to De-clutter
Last week, I was super motivated but didn’t know where to start. Luckily, the idea of 2-in-1-out popped up from somewhere in the depths of my sleep deprived brain. I first saw this idea on the minimalist mom around the time I wrote that first minimalism post. A year and a half later, I’m finally putting the idea to use!
The idea behind the technique is simple: for every item you acquire, two must leave your home.
I started off right away tallying what we acquired on our white board. It was quite revealing to see the numbers add up. I hadn’t thought we were bringing much in – but we were! Eleven items in two days. All small, seemingly trivial purchases but all things that we would need to find a space for in our home.
That meant 22 items out. I set up a few boxes (donate, pass on, e-waste) to sort into as I went. The 22 items were fairly easy to find here and there throughout the day. It didn’t take a lot of time or focus, just noticing what was around and considering quickly whether an item was useful to, or loved by, someone in our family.
It’s surprisingly rewarding to see the progress on the whiteboard. Zeroing out our “item debt” is like winning a game. We were “ahead” until my trip to Target today. Time to get rid of more stuff before the new books my hubby ordered arrive… At least for now, it’s fun and easy – and so revealing about our habits!
Obviously, this isn’t sustainable forever, but I think we probably have enough clutter to carry on with this for a few months. When we feel that we’ve reached a comfortable place, we plan to maintain with a 1-in-1-out rule.
Does your home feel cluttered? Are you tired of schlepping stuff around and dusting things you don’t really care about? Do you wish you had more time and energy? If so, I cordially invite you to join me in the 2-in-1-out game!