This is Day 272 of the Green in 365 series!
By Elizabeth Phillips of runningfamily.net, Contributing Writer
*Emily’s note: I’m thankful that my cousin Elizabeth is joining us as a contributing writer. She and her family have been on a journey toward simplifying and minimizing and getting rid of all the stuff in their home that they didn’t truly need. I know from your comments, both on this post and on Facebook, that many of you are interested in this for your families too, and I hope that as she shares some of her journey that it will be an inspiration to you!
Madness to Manageable: How to have a Better House by Monday
In the last three years, we have been on a journey toward simple living and brining sanity to our life and home. Instead of running away from home, we turned toward it and took a critical eye to what was a real problem: the madness of keeping everything.
As a result, we have donated 180 large garbage bags to local charities and 7 major pieces of furniture which, since we live in a small house, was over half of what we had. It has taken us three years but we have had several “sprints” to help the progress toward a simple life along the way.
Here’s how you too can get started taking back your home from all of your stuff!
• Decide you want a simpler life.
You laugh but it is true that every change requires a decision. And then pray. We all need Divine help with this!
• Gather your troops.
Sell it to your family as a good thing to share with those in need. Persuade them over a couple days that a “big” sprint is coming to help everyone to be happier. Emphasize that stuff does NOT make us happy. Happiness is our choice.
• Set your time.
Send the kids to Grandparents’ home for the weekend or commit a specific bedtime so that you can focus for a couple hours each night.
• Set your area. I recommend entryways, kitchen, and bathroom.
High traffic areas are the highest frustration points for me because everything gets dumped.
Deep breathe here and pray again at your starting point. Realize, as I did, that this process is about forgiveness. We all need forgiven for the mess that we are. Ask God to help you to forgive yourself, your spouse, your children, your parents, whoever has contributed to the chaos around you.
I prefer black garage bags that are heavy duty. Set up one for trash and label it with masking tape and permanent marker. Set up one for donate and label. Next, keep only what SHOULD be in that area. Put the rest in a bag and label it by category. For example, I cleaned out the bathroom and kept only what we use daily. The rest is labeled household: bathroom. Put this “keeping but not here” bag in the basement or the garage until needed. If not used in 6 months, then donate.
We have a few rules for these simple sprints. I do not touch my husband’s items. He takes care of his own hunting/fishing/dog training items. My realm is household and kid junk.
I also have taken a hard stand on children’s items. This is my home. I am answerable to God for how it is run. If I deem an item unsafe or unnecessary, I am accountable for that decision to God and my husband, not my children. I do ask them on certain things, but on most items, I am the authority to decide.
Once I stopped trying to be too “nice” about it, I was free to be loving but firm about my decisions. They understand that they will have that same authority very soon when they are grown and in charge of their own households. For right now, I am in charge.
I am gentle and keep important projects in their memory boxes, notebooks on the library shelf, and important toys in the toy library. Mostly they want to be able to run to music through the living room safely, so they see the importance of having less junk in their way. On a few items, they were upset. I held the line and did not apologize for wanting a safe home for them. The discussion ended well and remained positive.
It is possible to get rid of items without causing a war, by persuasive, yet, firm and kind instructions. Sweetness and love with a firm stance makes the transition much smoother for the whole family to move toward a simpler, happier lifestyle.
Is your family on the journey to live with less stuff? How do you get motivated, and help your family, to get rid of your stuff?
Elizabeth is living her life dream of running, writing, and raising four wild children in a little log home in the woods. She juggles blogging at www.runningfamily.net about healthy living, running, real food, and simple faith-filled living while trying to homeschool and practice Elimination Communication. She fails often at all of this but is trying to learn to live by grace.
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