Several months ago, I had a conversation with someone. She asked how my family and I were doing. I said we were busy. so. so. busy. She laughed and said “Aren’t we all?” I remember thinking, but do you really understand how busy I am? How much I have on my plate? How behind I feel?
Then there was another conversation I had. Less of a conversation and more of a vent session. It happened repeatedly. Regularly. I would say how frustrated I felt to work and work and work and still have a million things to do. I would vent about how I cleaned the house all day long. Only to have a house at the end of the day that was still a mess. I would say how much I despised cleaning. How I never felt caught up in any area of my life.
I wasn’t trying to have a perfect house. I was just trying to have a liveable house. I wasn’t trying to do all the things. I was just trying to do the things that needed to be done.
Then one night all my frustration came out on the kids toys. The toy room was a mess of toys dumped and strewn everywhere yet my kids seemed to never play in there. They had toys in their rooms and toys seemed to keep appearing everywhere else throughout the house. I had long assumed that if a toy was in my living room it meant that someone had played with it, but I was starting to suspect that really toys were being carried for five seconds from one room to the next and being left. Just carried, not played with.
I went into the toy room while my children were sleeping, and I put it all in boxes, baskets, buckets, anything I could find to hold the overwhelming amount of toys. I gathered all the toys from the rest of the house, and I shoved everything in the storage room. All that was left was a handful of favorite toys in each child’s bedroom and a beanbag, a kitchen set (minus the food and dishes), and some dressups in the toy room. I wondered what my kids would do when they woke up in the morning to find that our house had been purged of all our toys but a few. I worried about how upset they would be.
They didn’t even notice.
A week went by . . . they still didn’t notice.
Finally, after over a week, I went into the toy room with my kids, and my oldest daughter, “Wow, Mom! It’s looks really nice in here!” Then she and her sister started to play. And that was it.
Meanwhile, over the course of that week, my heart felt lighter. I felt less overwhelmed. I was cleaning less, yet the house was cleaner. I had more time to spend with my kids. I read a book. I felt happier.
Remember, though, that the toys weren’t gone. They were just hidden away. As I was hiding them away, I thought that I would later sort and organize them and form some sort of elaborate rotation system. But then my kids never missed them. After the first week, I started look for solutions online and started reading blogs about getting rid of toys and keeping toys to a minimum.
“Could I really do that?” I thought. “Could I really get rid of all the toys?”
I’m going to be honest. I had heard some of these ideas before and thought they sounded weird, but now they started to feel right. After clicking through some of these minimalist blogs, Facebook handed me exactly what I needed. An ad for Allie Cassazza-a minimalist whose focus was on helping moms and lightening their loads. She taught about having more for the sake of having less.
This was it. This was my answer.
I took that mountain of toys, and I sorted. I kept only the ones I knew my children truly enjoyed, only about 20% of all of our toys. I purged all of the others. I donated as much as I possibly could and threw away anything broken or anything missing important pieces.
It felt so good. It had such a positive and powerful impact on my life and my house, and my kids have never once missed any of those toys that I let go of.
With that experience fresh in my mind, I decluttered my closet, my clothes, my drawers. I decluttered the bathroom. I decluttered the kitchen. I decluttered my office. I decluttered my children’s clothes. I decluttered our books.
I decluttered my whole house. It was a big project and took a couple of months to complete, but through it all I stayed motivated because with each area I decluttered I felt my load lighten. I saw my life change in visible ways. My house was so much easier to clean and take care of. Such a big benefit for me. But more importantly, I was happier. I was less stressed. I was more patient. I enjoyed my children more and spent more time interacting with them. Suddenly, I was able to do all the things I couldn’t before. I felt caught up with life. I wasn’t so busy anymore. I wasn’t overwhelmed. I was able to really enjoy my life again.
And all this because I got rid of unused toys, expired face wash, clothes that were never worn, and that clump of cords that don’t go to anything.