GOING SIMPLE :: How did we get into this mess?

Starting Monday I’ll be leading a group of women to life with less.

I. Am. So. Excited.

To join the private Facebook Group + Going Simple Challenge, click here!

But before, or even as we get started, we need to recognize how we got here in the first place. Part of simplifying is recognizing our mistakes so we don’t repeat them, and fill our homes and lives back up with all the STUFF we are trying to get rid of.

Why I Went SIMPLE.

My simplifying started because we were moving out of our first home. A home we lived in for over seven years. You can surprisingly accumulate a lot in seven years. Once we got to our new home, and I had to unpack items the movers wrapped in paper one by one I really reconsidered all the items I was so desperate to hang on to (if you’ve ever moved with a professional packing company, you know what I mean. ALL. THE. PACKING. PAPER.).

Think KonMari method, touching each item you own and giving it purposeful thought to help you reconsider it’s presence in your home.

Needless to say, through that process of packing and unpacking, we ditched (easily) two thirds of our possessions.

TWO. THIRDS.

That’s a lot of stuff to hold on to for no reason.

And in the process of sorting through every item we owned, I realized there were two major contributing factors to my clutter (or hoarding, call it what you want!).

In recognizing the mistakes we had been making in the past, we’ve been able to really take a closer look at the decisions we make, to prevent that clutter from accumulating again. Because even though you wish it isn’t so, it is super easy to fall back into the same patterns that got you here in the first place.

We were so overwhelmed by stuff in our home, that it also affected our parenting. Our kids felt overwhelmed, we were drowning in things.

So, what were my mistakes?

Impulse Sale and Clearance Purchases. The fear of missing out on a deal too good was our number one problem in contributing to clutter. Shopping without a purpose or set list of needs meant if we saw a deal “too good to pass up” and so we didn’t pass up on it. Target Dollar Spot, any clearance section, sale spam emails, you name it. They’re all there to pull us in and take our money. And they do a dang good job of it.

Holding on to ‘What If’ Items. By default I am a person of creative interpretation. I love to take something and reinvent it for new purposes. It’s a fun hobby and falls under the DIY desires of my heart. And there is nothing wrong with that. It actually is a very resourceful and environmentally friendly trait to have. But in terms of the health of my home, it was a negative contributor. I was holding on to ribbons and clippings of fake flowers, every vase or jar I ever owned, all of it. I was holding on to it all in case that ‘one day’ ever came. And that caused for a lot of storage issues, and a lot of clutter.

Emotional Attachments to Gifts. Receiving a gift from someone I love comes with a lot of emotional attachment. But too often the gift itself didn’t serve me. I had a super hard time letting go of gifts. Such a hard time that I actually designated an entire shelving unit in our basement to storing gifts we received, but didn’t want or need.

Through clearing out the excess, we found the items that actually mattered to us. We refined our personal style. And we reclaimed our family life.

But how to rectify these mistakes?

Shop With A Purpose. I now use my Notes app on my phone to keep running lists of “need” items. If my daughter needs a new pair of leggings, or I know I need some new cami’s, my husband needs a new pair of shoes for work, or we need a new frying pan, we put it on our “needs” list. We still window shop, because it’s fun. But while window shopping, it’s more about appreciating the items for how fun or cute they are, but always leaving them at the store. If we feel tempted for say, a new plaid scarf, I’ll check my “needs” list in my phone, and if it isn’t on the list, it isn’t purchased.

That being said, life happens and things like cute coffee mugs exist. And who isn’t a sucker for cute coffee mugs?! In an effort to help with my impulse purchases, my dad shared with me the following rule: if you think you need an item, leave it at the store. If in a few days or a week, you still feel as though you need the item, you can always go back and purchase it. This has saved us from so many impulse buys.

Be Honest With Yourself About the ‘What If’ Stuff. Do I really need 20 cheap milk vases from every flower arrangement I’ve ever received? Probably not. Do I need scraps of fabric from every project I’ve ever created? Also probably not. A lot of sorting through the “what if” items for me was being honest with myself and my future goals. I was never going to be an expert crafter, so hanging on to all these supplies was unrealistic, and just reminded me of my short comings each time I came across them.

Letting go of these some day items (for me a lot of out of trend decor) was a huge part of my decluttering process. I was able to find the style of home decor that I actually loved and our home has never felt more us than it does today. Our style is simple, clean, earthy and bright. And surprisingly enough, it didn’t involve 100 dusty mason jars and half burned tea light votives from our wedding in 2012.

Appreciate the Gift Giver. A gift is defined as “a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.” Willingly, without payment. Payment can mean many things in this instance. The giver shouldn’t expect anything in return. And in my case, that meant the physical space it was taking me to store all these unused gifts. Giving and receiving gifts is fun. So I would never suggest you let that go. But especially with the holidays coming up, it’s so important to be the gatekeeper for your home of all things that do not serve you.

A few things we’ve done to decrease the unwanted gifts:

Share your goals with your loved ones. We simply talked to family about our new journey, our goals as a family, and the gifts that would be appreciated in the future. Most were receptive, most. And a lot of this step is understanding you can never control the gift giver. You can only share your goals, and hope they honor them.

Check out + share this post :: 10 Gifts For The Minimalist, The Person Who Has Everything, or The Person Who Hates Everything.

Understanding the act of the gift giving is the important part. Thank the giver for the item, no matter what. Their expression of love is to be valued. After the gift has been given, it has served it’s purpose (another awesome tip from Marie Kondo, which totally opened my eyes and allowed me to let a lot of items and guilt go)! The item itself is just that, an item! It holds no power over you. So if you can use it, GREAT! But if it cannot serve you in any capacity, pass it on or let it go.


Once all these items were gone, I felt so free of the burden they carried: the projects I never seemed to have time for, the purchases I had made regretfully, the gifts I wish I could get myself to like, but never was able to. A lot of the items I was holding on to held a negative place in my heart, without me even realizing. Letting them go has freed up so much emotional space for me to grow.

And I have to tell you, in the two years I’ve been on this journey, I have yet to regret giving any one item away. And I’m still letting go.

xo

Amy

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