This is Day 200 of the Green in 365 series! Woo-hoo!
Less Stuff! Better Life! That is the mantra of the simple living and minimalist community that seems to be growing in popularity around the web and blogosphere.
And our family believes it, we just don’t live it very well.
My husband and I have been lamenting lately about how much stuff we have accumulated over the past 4 years of living in this house. We got rid of around half of our stuff when moving out of our old house and into this one, and we are continually getting rid of stuff through garage sales, selling on Craigstlist and Facebook, and donating to thrift stores and charities. We’ve had a garage sale every summer since we moved here, and taking everything that didn’t sell straight to the thrift store, and we are always amazed that we continue to find more and more things that we would sell or donate.
Somehow we continue to just accumulate stuff. And the weight of it all is bearing down on us and becoming overwhelming lately, to the point that it’s definitely having a negative impact on our lives.
So, I’ve been reading a few ebooks, and browsing several minimalist blogs and catching the fever to purge our house and our lives of all this STUFF!
Here’s the Top 10 Reasons Why Our Family Wants to Live with Less Stuff:
1. Messy House
This is one of the most obvious outward effects of having too much stuff. Our house just gets messy and overwhelming so, so easily. The laundry hampers are overflowing, there are toys always scattered all over the floor, the kitchen counters in our already small kitchen are cluttered, and our dining room table is almost always covered with stuff.
You may not notice too much if you’re just standing inside our front door, but it’s hiding in the back rooms and closets, the upstairs room and basement. It’s frustrating, overwhelming and embarrassing.
2. Lost Stuff
When you have a lot of stuff, it’s hard to keep track of it all. If you’re going to have a lot of stuff, you’ll have to be one of those super organized people who can manage it all and put it all away in it’s proper place all. the. time.
My family is NOT made up of super organized people. And so, we lose our stuff. We lose important papers, keys, sunglasses, shoes, our phones, and plenty of other things that it really shouldn’t be that difficult to find and keep track of.
3. Waste of Time
I was thinking the other day about how much time I waste on our family’s stuff. It really is maddening. I mean, I’m already a busy lady – I have three small kids and work from home. I don’t have a lot of time to be wasted, especially on stupid stuff.
Obviously you waste time when you’ve lost something that you need and you have to take the time to look for it, but I also waste my time on stuff in ways like:
- moving something that I don’t know where to put it from one place to another – like from the dining table to the bookshelf – and then back again.
- moving stuff just so I can clean – I can’t vaccuum, dust, mop, clean the kitchen, etc. when the surfaces are covered with stuff.
- spending more time than is truly necessary on a chore, like laundry, or washing dishes, or cleaning the kitchen, simply because there’s too much stuff.
- cleaning up a pile of stuff that has fallen over – only to put all the stuff back into the toppling pile, because I don’t know where else to put it.
- moving stuff around so I can have a place to prepare meals, cook, eat dinner, fold laundry, etc.
It’s so aggravating to me, because every time our stuff keeps me from doing what I really should be doing, or want to be doing, it wastes my time.
When I look around my house, I don’t see a peaceful place for our family to have fun and connect with each other. I see STUFF. I see stuff that needs to be picked up. I see stuff that’s in my way so I can’t do something I want to do. I see stuff that I just don’t know what to do with. I see stuff that needs to be moved so I can actually clean. I see stuff that we just don’t need but for some reason haven’t gotten rid of. And all of this stuff is completely overwhelming to me, and that is at least part of the reason I haven’t done anything about it until now.
5. Bad Example
Full honest disclosure here: I feel like such a hypocrite and terrible mom when I tell my kids to clean up their toys, their room, their clothes and then yell at them when they whine or complain or don’t do what I asked. My kid’s stuff is totally overwhelming and frustrating to me too.
But really, how can I expect them to take care of their stuff when I’m not setting a good example of taking care of my stuff? This is not the way that I want them to grow up, and not the example I want to teach them!
6. Waste of Money
I cannot begin to count all of the ways that having too much stuff wastes money. Buying things we don’t really need or use wastes money. Buying things we already have, but can’t find, wastes our money. Paying late fees because we lost a bill is a waste of money. And even that our kitchen counters are covered with stuff so I don’t feel like cooking and we eat out too often, wastes our money. We’re so tired of wasting money on stuff when we know it’s not necessary and we’re already living on a tight budget.
All of this: messy house, wasted money, lost stuff, and wasted time is just stressful. Plain and simple.
8. It’s Embarrassing.
It’s hard to have people over to your house when it’s so cluttered and messy with stuff. If you do, you clean the main areas of the house and pray they don’t look into your bedroom, or hall closet, or open the door to the upstairs. And if someone does happen to just stop by, well, then it’s uncomfortably embarrassing. You feel like you should apologize, but any excuse you can think of is completely inadequate. You can’t just blow it off as a “busy weekend”. This stuff’s been around for much longer than a weekend!
9. Steals Joy
Being stressed out and overwhelmed, without feeling like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, or not knowing how we can dig ourselves out from under this stuff, takes away some of the joy of living. Our culture feeds us a terrible lie that more stuff will bring us more happiness, more joy. But it’s not true! Too much stuff steals our joy.
10. Less Margin
When stuff steals our joy, and wastes our time, it takes away the margin in our lives for doing things we really want to do. Stuff takes away the space for life-giving activities and relationships.
Instead of spending time reading, a long-time love of mine, I have to spend my “free” time cleaning, picking up and organizing our stuff. Instead of investing my time and energy into a hobby or building relationships with friends and family, I’m spending my time with my stuff, which is a fateful companion.
This is just me, and our family, and how we’ve been feeling in regards to our stuff. To some people, we may not have so much stuff; we live in a small house, with a small yard, and our three kids share a room – how much stuff can we even have? But for us, the amount of stuff has gotten out of hand to the point where we can’t sit by and not do something about it. And so the journey to less stuff and more life begins! Will you join with us?
How do you feel about the amount of stuff your family has? Is your stuff adding to your life, or taking away from it? Which reason to get rid of stuff do you connect with the most? Or do you have another reason to get rid of stuff that’s a big motivator for you?
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