On Mother’s Day I declared that I was going to start getting rid of shit.
Because we just have too much stuff.
That’s when I was introduced to the Fly Lady.
She sends an assload of emails. But she has really helped me to change the way I look at getting stuff done around the house, and why, at times, things in my home are out of control and unmanageable.
A couple months before that, I declared I was going to pare down our finances as much as I could.
That was when I discovered Mr. Money Mustache, and started to really investigate areas of my life where I was spending money that didn’t need to be spent.
So over the past few months I have been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting.
And I’ve realized that what I really want is to simplify my life.
With seven children, that will always present challenges.
But I think that’s also the reason why I am craving simplicity.
There’s just too much.
There are shoes, lots and lots and lots of shoes, and clothes and lunchboxes and jackets and beads and cards and DVDs and TVs and stuffed animals, a shitload of stuffed animals, and Barbies and papers and papers and papers and papers and phones and iPads and Kindles and iPods and laptops and chargers and a lot of fucking cords.
It’s too much.
I think that’s why I’ve become semi-obsessed with Little House on the Prairie.
I also think it’s interesting that the kids are obsessed with it.
I don’t think they can verbalize it, but I think having so much stuff to keep track of stresses them out.
And compared to many kids, they don’t have that much.
But it’s still too much.
And those simpler times on Little House on the Prairie are appealing.
If we had less stuff in this house, we’d have less stuff to clean or pick up or put away.
Which would give us more time.
More time to do stuff we enjoy.
More time to be a family.
A couple weeks ago I made the commitment to start waking up earlier.
Getting up well before the kids has given me time to clear some space in my brain to think about this.
Ironically, while I was decluttering an area assigned by the Fly Lady last week, I found a book.
It’s entitled Living the Simple Life, by Elaine St. James.
And when I found this book, I decided I was going to take 10 minutes each morning before I did anything to read it.
Before kids, I used to read a lot. But now when 9 or 10 o’clock rolls around, I’m so tired, I don’t get very far before I can’t keep my eyes open.
Shifting some reading time to the morning has made a big difference.
Getting up early has already helped me to simplify my life.
Anyway, last week while I was reading my new found book, this line really stuck out:
Simplifying is any one or a combination of steps we can take to get back in control of our lives.
I feel out of control.
My finances, my kitchen sink, my laundry, my kids...
There is always something that is out of control. Usually multiple things.
And I thought, what mom doesn’t feel like things are out of control?
We all do, don’t we?
And then I started thinking about all the things we buy and accumulate that are supposed to make our lives more convenient.
I guess we’d assume that these conveniences would make our life more simple.
But in reality, I think it’s just the opposite.
They make our lives way more complicated.
Take, for instance, the television.
There used to be a big box with antennas on it and like three channels to choose from.
If you wanted to change the channel, you had to actually get up and walk over to the tv and turn a dial.
TV was relatively simple back then.
Until cable. And satellite. And remotes.
Along with multiple cable/satellite companies came the dvr/cable box.
Along with the dvr cable box came the remote.
Along with the remote came the batteries.
Along with the remote and the batteries came the searching for the lost remote and arguing over who got to have possession of it once it was finally located.
Along with the remote and the cable and the DVR and the 5000 channels to watch came the stress over which shows to record and which ones to monitor so your kids aren’t watching stuff that’s going to scar them for life or turn them into violent sociopaths.
Oh yeah, and you have to pay ridiculous amounts of money for all this shit!
What the hell?
There is nothing simple about that at all!
That’s a lot of extra stuff to pile on your plate.
That’s a lot of extra stuff to pay someone to pile on your plate.
And it doesn’t get me closer to what I truly want out of life.
So many of these “conveniences” really make our life, ultimately, inconvenient.
They take up our time and our money but they don’t get us any closer to our deepest desires and goals.
I’m realizing more and more how much more complicated television made my life.
I realized this once we got rid of cable.
We did that for financial reasons, initially.
But once we were without cable for a while, and trust me, I never thought I would ever be able to say this, I didn’t miss it at all.
I used to say I needed that two or three hours of television each night to clear my head.
But the reality is that it really crowded my head.
Getting rid of cable has enabled me to have a little more space to think.
Simplifying, has cleared my brain.
And it’s allowed me to start thinking about more ways I can simplify my life.
It’s helping me to find other areas where I can get rid of things that aren’t getting me closer to my goals.
Closer to a better relationship with my husband. More freedom. More time with my kids. More laughter. More connections with people.
Those are the things I want. Not a bazillion channels to choose from on my TV.
There are many more things that I’ve placed in my life getting in my way.
I want to figure out what they are and remove them.
I’ve already taken care of some of them.
Others still have not made themselves known to me yet.
But as I unclutter my life, my brain will also become less full, and I’ll be able to see them.
And get rid of them.
Maybe if you are feeling like your life is out of control, you can find one thing cluttering up your bedside table or your routine or your brain, and get rid of it.
See what happens.
You might be surprised.