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.
I was obsessed with little house on the prairie growing up. So many books reports. I couldn’t imagine 7 kids. kudos to you. I just started a blog about my first baby and learning to be a mom . It’s http://www.themoderatemommy.com if you wanna check it out.
Jennifer tipton says
I love your blog. I am a new mom, in the military and married to a military member and stationed overseas. You help me in ways you wouldn’t believe. You are so honest and real and say fuck a lot. I love it. Thank you for encouraging me daily to strive to be a better me
Great post! I recently read the ‘Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ and discovered a clearer home definiteky helped lead to a clearer mind.
Your post linking to Fly Lady has totally changed my life. It’s her website that gave me the tools to de-clutter my life but it is your blog that put me in the mindset to make the change. Coming home from work is less stressful when I’m not confronted with 10 chores I’ve been putting off and a pile of crap that’s been on the table for weeks. Time on the weekends is so much more enjoyable when only an hour is spent cleaning instead of 7 or 8 or more.
I have no kids, so I cannot imagine life with seven, but I still LOVE your blog. You’re hilarious, real and honest, and I enjoy what you publish so much. 🙂
I was just having this conversation with my husband. There are so many options and choices, that I get stuck on which the best option is and then don’t take action. It’s true for finances, nutrition, exercise, cleaning my house and just getting stuff done. I recently read that President Obama only wears blue or grey suits because he has other, more important choices he needs to think about. I need to simplify and reduce the analysis paralysis that comes with too much stuff and too many options.
By the way, I LOVE Mr. Money Mustache!
Ihave been experiencing a similar simplifying obsession lately. Had a yard sale a few weeks ago and it felt great to get rid of that clutter. We just canceled our cable, and it is refreshing! But, the most surprisingly liberating thing, by far, has been starting a “capsule wardrobe.” Google it–you’ll see!
Kerry Hanley says
I have been trying to simplify and declutter my life, my house, and my brain for years now! It’s a slow process, but very worthwhile. We have four kids, and one thing I find that helps with the amount of kid “junk” is everyone has one pair of sneakers and one pair of crocs. That’s it. They all have one favorite hoodie that they wear on cold days. If they lose it or leave it at school, too bad! My son lost his sneakers for three days and had to wear an old pair of his brother’s. He keeps better track of them now! Seriously, why do kids need more than one pair of shoes or one sweatshirt/coat?
Kerry Hanley says
Also, just started reading this book, but really like it so far. Check out Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Talks about only including those things in your life that are ESSENTIAL!
Sue Duval says
Awesome post! Less is definitely more! I highly recommend the book “Clutterfree with Kids” by Joshua Becker. In it he writes, “Life would be better lived if there was less stuff to manage and organize and clean. Not only were my possessions not bringing me joy. They were actually distracting me from the very things that did. And a minimalist was born.” Really great insights on owning less and living more simply.