Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Learning to love living with less

Growing up I was a bit of a hoarder.  I wanted to keep everything I ever touched and that's not exaggerating much.  I had clever hiding spots all over my room which worked until we were rearranging bedrooms and my mom found my stash under my bed.  I took too much stuff to my college dorm rooms and am still of bit of an over packer (but really, you can never have too much clean underwear or socks in your bag). 

I have grown out of my hoarding ways but it's been a gradual process.  Even when we moved into our house, where we currently live, I brought many many boxes of childhood, high school, and college treasures.  (I talked about that here.)  It took me 3 years to finally go through every box I had brought from my parents' house.  And that was just the beginning.  The more I kept going through boxes, clearing out spaces, the more I was inspired to keep going.  I think 2011 was my turning point.  I spent many of my Mondays off getting rid of stuff, selling Vera Bradley online, freecycling, dropping of plastic bags to recycle.  All this stuff we had just kept ignoring was finally getting out of the house.  (Read my purge list here.)

After that year I was a little hooked on getting rid of unneeded things.  I started letting go of sentimental things.  The more I did this the easier it became.  Once my dresser drawer was easier to open I didn't want to fill it up again.  Once the basement was organized I didn't want to mess it up.  I've learned I don't need a lot of the stuff I had held onto for so long.  I have my memories and more than enough pictures (33,000+ just digital on my computer, and 22k of those are just 2010-now.  I blame Luke for that). 

Having Luke, and all his gear, come into our house really helped.  I had to clear off a shelf in the kitchen for his bottles.  I made room for sippy cups and kids dishes.  His books and toys all have spots down here.  We cleared out his room (previously housing a futon and bookshelf, both of which are gone).  I am amazed how all his stuff fits and wonder what I filled those spaces with before.  (And the thought of getting that bottle shelf back soon has me really excited.) 

I have a whole list of things that we are not allowed to buy for at least 5 years due to over excess right now:
  • dish towels
  • dish cloths
  • hand towels
  • body towels
  • beach towels
  • wash cloths
  • Luke's wash cloths
  • pens
  • pencils
  • post-its
  • binders
  • folders
  • notebooks
  • pads of paper
  • cough drops 
  • lotion
  • extension cords
  • glass glasses
  • plastic cups
  • spatulas
  • potholders
  • rags
  • lap blankets
  • t-shirts for Matt (he seriously has at least 50 that are suitable for wear outside the house)
  • socks for Matt or myself
  • underwear for either of us (Luke will get new underwear when needed.)
I've been guilty in the past of buying some of the above when we already have too many taking up space.  Look at all that!  Entire sections of Target I can just skip right over, no matter how good the deal is!

I don't mean this post to just be a "look at me, I'm good at getting rid of stuff!".  I hope to inspire you to tackle those areas you'd rather ignore because there really are a lot of benefits to it.
  1. Less to store means less storage needed.
  2. It's easier to open drawers, cabinets, closets, etc. when they aren't packed full (I recently cleaned out my t-shirt drawer and am amazed every night at how easy it is to open.)
  3. You save money from not buying duplicates.
  4. You might be able to make money selling extras (We've done Craigslist for our futon & extra wedding vases, consigned some of Luke's extra clothes, sold DVDs on, sold Vera Bradley on eBay, and sold books to Half Priced Books, in addition to having a garage sale.  All that has netted us a few hundred dollars).
  5. You know better what you like, what you actually use.   
#5 is really something I've just been figuring out in the past few months.  I know what clothes I reach for over and over again and that I don't stray too far from my "uniform".  I know things I shouldn't buy because I'm not going to use them.  I've learned to appreciate certain things instead of having to own them.  I'm determining what my home decor style is, what makes me happy to see every day.  People said that 30s is when you really figure yourself out and I'm finding that to be true.  (When I told Matt this he gave me a look, maybe more of a female thing?)

I'm not an expert or perfect about this.  I've learned I do better cleaning when I have someone else telling me what to do, be that in a book (serious, read Secrets of an Organized Mom) or cleaning out the closet with Matt since he's not nearly as sentimental as me.  So I hope this might help you to discover how freeing it is to get rid of things that are weighing you down.  I didn't realize how true was until I started.  Now I marvel in drawers that open easily, empty spaces in the closet, and an organized "junk" drawer in the kitchen.  It's a good feeling.


Erin Heckber said...

"It's easier to open drawers, cabinets, closets, etc. when they are packed full" I think that you might mean aren't... ;-)

But I totally agree there are some things that I won't let us buy. I have an entire box of notebooks, and I think that we have more then enough towels/washcloths to last us through the next 10 years (We registered for a reasonable amount, I think 4, and I believe we might have gotten over 4 SETS! with no receipt...

diana said...

Hahaha, thanks. =) It's insane the amount of extra stuff we've accumulated, without much effort. But I hate to get rid of it all because I know things will wear out and need replaced at some point!