I don’t pretend to be something that I’m not. And, if you’re like me, you are stressed, tired, and overwhelmed – finding it a challenge to maintain the simple lifestyle you crave each time your world begins spiraling back into its usual chaos. So many books, blogs, vlogs and “systems” lead us to believe that becoming organized, downsizing or leading a simpler lifestyle is a once-and-done effort. But I find that, for me, it is an ongoing, long term process of actions and distractions. Much like the determination put into a successful marriage or the effort to sustain a close friendship. Each of us may embrace simplicity in our own distinct way,
but one crucial element that remains is in the fine art of balance. If you are in a season of life that seems to have more of a hold on you than you do on it, managing a lifestyle of simplicity can become quite a challenge.
Establishing and maintaining margin in your days sometimes seems impossible. Times can become so hectic with a busy work schedule, personal and volunteer obligations, kids at home, or a teenager who is very involved with activities several nights a week. Every once in a while I find that I have to schedule a day off, or long weekend, to catch up on things. Today I am cleaning and decluttering our kitchen. Am I overwhelmed? You bet. But the goal is to get to a point where I will no longer feel that overwhelm, and where my family will feel relaxed and organized when they come home or enter our tiny kitchen. So today, all of the expired snacks, extra cooking utensils, stained, frayed, or excess kitchen towels, stray cups and plastic containers are going. Bon Voyage. Ciao. Arrivederci. See ya – I’m kicking you to the curb! When I am through the counters will be wiped down and clean, the floor will no longer have sticky spots or rolling tumbleweeds of doggy hair. There will be less choices to search through when looking for items we need, and snacks will be organized and visible… no longer hiding in a mess of opened bags at the back corner of the counter going stale.
One thing this process of sorting is reinforcing to me, is that it’s crucial to repeatedly clear out the storage we have in our compact home in order to put away the things that we need, and use, often. Neglecting to do this on a regular basis (and I am beginning to understand that I need to be relentless in this) is what gets me into trouble every time. We have become so accustomed to having things that we don’t use stored away on shelves, in drawers or containers, that we wind up with the things we do use not having a place of their own and sitting around waiting for the next time someone needs them. So, I am doing my best to start decluttering 15 minutes a day, every day. Getting rid of empty boxes and recyclables, going through a drawer, closet, or corner in the basement, sorting through a container of items, papers, or keepsakes that got tucked away the last time I decluttered because I just didn’t know what to do with them at the time or had become overwhelmed.
So, I can appreciate that this is easier said than done. Admittedly, I work a full day, arrive home and hurry to make dinner, run errands, and get our daughter to and from her own activities. Like seeing the kitchen for the first time when I walk back in the door from the craziness, the thought of scrubbing a sink full of dishes (we have no dishwasher in our tiny kitchen) blindsides me. I grudgingly do them, and when that is done, I really do not feel like cleaning, decluttering, doing laundry, or
picking up after myself and family. I know there are those of you nodding your head right now while reading this. We’re not lazy. We’re overwhelmed.
So, what can we do to get it all under control and enter into a home of comfort and peace instead of one more source of stress in our lives? We have to be the answer. We must do two simple things. (Note, I said simple, not easy). 1.) Begin throwing out and going through items for 15 minutes a day, every day. 2.) Put items away when you are done with them. Just those two things. I have confidence that we can do this. Our homes will not be spotless quickly. No. This is an ongoing labor of love for our families, and ourselves, to establish the simplicity and peace we crave.
I started this post at the beginning of this month, and before that had not written for four more. I know, I have been too-long absent from this blog. My plan was to start a list – every day – of the things I decluttered in 15 minutes a day. It was the beginning of the holiday season, and the hubs is working on the house again (we are currently living with 3 living room walls) and I became highly overwhelmed. So, now, I can’t think of a better time to begin this endeavor.
So, I am starting my list tomorrow, Jan 1, and for the next 31 days, I will post what I got rid of, put away, deep cleaned, or whatever other strides I took toward my goal. I know this is going to be a bit of a challenge for me. But I am more than ready. Please join me in my personal challenge by commenting below. (If you are still following. I am so sorry to have let you down).
Now, let’s get started…!
Addendum… I was looking for some photos to add to this since I have not been doing much photography either (do you really want to see my chaos?:) And remembered my lovely new inspirational planner that I am looking forward to using. Designed by another blogger, whom I find to be amazing, Darlene Schacht of Time-Warp Wife Ministries. I took a couple of quick snaps of it lying next to me on the bed, flipped the pages, and it fell open to a section in the back that I did not know was even there. I am even more excited now to start both my lovely new planner, and my New Year challenge!
So, I promised I would update what I have been doing. There is much to be done and some days I have more time than others, but I am feeling confident that I am making a dent in it all and that is what keeps the momentum going!
- Jan 1 – Three small bags out of the bedroom closet, top drawer of dresser gone through and organized.
- Jan 2 – Time in kitchen spent washing, drying and putting away dishes, removing boxes and recyclables, cleaning kitchen floor and around doggy dishes.
- Jan 3 – Grocery shopping and planning ahead.
- Jan 4 – Deeper clean of bedroom closet (some organizing items I had purchased online have arrived). Started putting them together and am looking forward to the organizing process tomorrow.
- Jan 5 – Rose early to do a rebound workout (mini trampoline). Will check back with the day’s accomplishments. – Hello again! I cleaned out my nightstand tonight. That may sound like an easy one to you, but mine has three deep drawers packed to the gills. I feel lighter having emptied it out.
- Jan 6 – Made a donation drop, sold some books at Half Price Books, exchanged leggings for correct size, did a load of laundry, went through jewelry and set aside some pieces to sell online and others to donate.
- Jan 7 – Rebound workout, decluttering kitchen counter and table.
- Jan 8 – Went through 2 dresser drawers, cleared tops of hubs dresser & nightstand.
- Jan 9 – Rebound workout, decluttered one drawer and files at my office, deleted all unnecessary emails from my phone.
- Jan 10 – Honestly, was exhausted and took a nap tonight. But not until all of the dishes from dinner were washed.
- Jan 11 – Built the small organizer shelf and containers for the closet. Yep. Just getting around to that!
- Jan 12 – Started moving my winter sweaters down to the shelf where I can reach them much more easily and situated my soap making items, candles and other ingredients for making natural essential oil products into a new, attractive container. Cleaned the bathroom.
- Jan 13 – Meal planning, grocery shopping and making meals from mostly what we already have in the pantry, fridge and freezer.
- Jan 14 – Unsubscribed to several e-mails and gifted some gently used items to a few appreciative friends.
- Jan 15 – Pampered myself with a glass of wine, a cozy blanket and a good book. I had a very dear friend at work that left our office today to move onto other opportunities closer to home and I allowed myself the evening “off.”
- Jan 16 – Went through junk mail and tossed it, along with some ads and our local town paper. Cleaned out fridge and Trash went out for the morning.
- Jan 17 – O
- Jan 18 – Went through files at work. Tossed junk mail, washed dishes.