Thursday, January 15

The Clutter Free Experiment

Hi, my name is Lisa, and I have a clutter problem.

There. I said it.

Only, I would like to re-phrase that statement if ever so slightly.

We, as a family, have a clutter problem.

That's right. It's not all my stuff.

I confess, I have a lot of stuff. I keep books I don't need. I have boxes of notebooks in the basement from when I was teaching EIGHT YEARS ago! I buy t-shirts just because they're so stinkin' cheap and who doesn't need another cheap t-shirt?! (Especially when you have a toddler who wipes her breakfast, lunch and dinner on you!)  I hang onto things (like baskets my grandmother hands down to me to get the clutter out of her house, only to add it to mine!) that I should throw out or donate.

But the stuff in this house is not all mine. It's just that as the mom I feel like I'm trying to manage it all; the toys, the craft supplies, the seasonal clothing, the clothing that doesn't fit one child and needs to be passed down. The books, the papers, the craft projects, receipts, mail, DVD's, shoes, outdoor toys, indoor toys, bath toys, puzzles, games, etc.

Quite frankly, a lot of the clutter belongs to my kids and while I think some of that is normal at this stage  I also think I've perpetuated the problem by keeping things I shouldn't, buying things I shouldn't and letting the kids keep and have things they don't really need.

My husband also has his own share of stuff...garage stuff, basement stuff, music stuff, work stuff. Some of it needed and some of it not.

This is not a post to lay blame to whose clutter in the house is causing the biggest problem-- it's to say that as a collective whole our house is feeling cluttered and it's time to do something to bring things back to some semblance of order and peace.

The physical clutter makes my mind feel cluttered. It overwhelms me daily, it distracts me from connecting with the kids. I keeps me from doing other things that are important to me. It's become a lot to manage and it has made me tired.

I've begun to accept it as 'normal' with children, "It's just part of life with kids. Someday I will have time to organize and clean all of this. I've tried and it doesn't seem to matter, so I'm giving up," I say to myself.

And just about the time that I was about to throw in the proverbial towel (if I could even find a clean one under the piles!) on trying to solve the clutter problem  a book came into my life via a Facebook post.

The book, Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space by Kathi Lipp was just released and I somehow caught a post that they were looking for folks to review it.

Cool beans, I thought.

While I have reviewed books on my blog in the past I have not done so in a while simply because life has felt so full, and quite frankly, overwhelming. But when I saw this book I knew I had to read it and I'm so thankful I agreed. I knew it would be a book that might just make life, even if it was just one area (the house), feel a little less overwhelming rather than more.

Over the next couple of weeks I will share some photos (Ack!) of some of our clutter problem areas. I will share a few fantastic quotes from the book and I will, hopefully, be able to share some "after" photos once we get a handle on things.

There are SO many statements, and ideas that I have underlined in this book that I could not possibly share it all with you, so basically you should order a copy of the book for yourself today if any of this resonates with you! It will be the best $10 you've spent this year (:

Truly, so far, this has been one of those books that has changed my thinking. I'd like to say it's life-changing, and I think that it will be, but I am very much still at the beginning of all of this and de-cluttering with children around is a very slow process (much slower that my impatient self would like it to be!) so it's hard to "see" big changes at this point, though I can confidently say that lots of small changes have started to take place.

I'm going to leave you with a short excerpt from Chapter 3 of the book. The Chapter is called "The Spiritual Side of Clutter" and I think it really gets to the heart of the matter in my home, and maybe yours as well.

Tomorrow I will post some photos of our "experiment" under way!

(Excerpted from Clutter Free, by Kathi Lipp)

     I think our spirit and our stuff are linked in a multitude of ways. 

      There are a couple of types of clutter. There's the everyday clutter that comes with living life, raising kids, and getting things done. This clutter usually gets handled every couple of days, and your house gets back to normal. We all have that clutter, and it's just a part of life.
     But for some of us, clutter can go much deeper. It's the piles of bills that aren't dealt with, the stacks of unopened mail, the bags of purchases that need to be returned and won't be. It's the laundry that's ignored and the piled up dishes. It's regularly not being able to find your checkbook or your child's schoolbooks.
      And yes, there is a spiritual side to that.
      Because what I'm describing right there? That's a lack of peace.
      My husband has often said that he wants our house to be clean enough to feel safe but cluttered enough to feel loved. I think the best way to determine the right balance is to figure out when your house becomes a blessing or a burden.
      When My house is so messy and cluttered that I don't want to do the things I believe God has called me to (loving my family, working, preparing meals, spending time with him), then there's a problem. One the other hand, when I'm spending so much of my time making sure my home is perfect that I don't have time for those things God has called me to, that's a problem as well.
       There is a spiritual sweet spot to our stuff. 
       This is not going to look the same for everyone. Each of us has to determined that for herself. But I want you to experience peace.
       I want you to make a meal without feeling like you need to gut the kitchen first.
       I want you to sit down and read your Bible to get spiritually fed without being distracted by all the piles screaming at you for attention the entire time.
       I want you to play a game with your kids without first having to tell them, "We'll do it after I clean the house."
       I want you to be able to focus on what really matters instead of focusing on, well, what doesn't. 
       And I want you to have the peace-- spiritually and emotionally-- to be the person God created you to be."

Here's to being Clutter Free in 2015!

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