Too Much Stuff!!!

I had kind of a "DUH!" moment last weekend, as I was cleaning and unpacking from our trip to the beach.  As I unpacked six, yes SIX pairs of flip-flops (3 were mine; 3 were C’s) and 4 suitcases full of clothes, it occurred to me that if we didn’t have so much crap stuff, it wouldn’t be so hard to keep up with everything around here.

I like to consider myself somewhat of a minimalist.  Yeah, yeah.  Kindly contain your smirks and your guffaws.  Really.  I don’t like clutter.  I don’t have a lot of knick-knacks sitting around.  I get rid of clothes and toys and baby gear as soon as I’m done using it.  I like my home to be neat and tidy, although that’s an uphill battle that I rarely win.

But as I was putting the house back together after being gone for a few days, I got to thinking about how we set ourselves up for this rat race.  As I vacuumed my house, I thought, you know, it would be less work to clean this house if it were smaller.  My house is not huge by today’s standards, but it could be configured differently to conserve space.  I mean, who uses formal living and dining rooms anymore?

As I was unpacking clothes from our trip, I thought, you know, I wouldn’t have so much laundry to do if we didn’t have so many clothes.  Again, I’m not one of those who has closets and drawers overflowing with clothes, believe it or not.  I like to shop, but I’m quite organized.  If we haven’t worn something in a year, it’s promptly given away.  If it’s too small or out of season, it’s packed up or given away.  We wear everything in our closets.  And still, I feel inundated with laundry.  In simpler times and places, people just don’t have so many clothes.

And the shoes.  Am I ever done picking up the shoes!?

And as I was picking up what seems to be an endless array of toys strewn from one end of the house to the other, I thought, you know, I wouldn’t have so much to pick up if we didn’t have so many toys.  Once again, we do not have one of those homes that looks like Toys-R-Us puked in here.  I daresay we do not have even half the toys that most people with three children have.  But still.  We have too much.  My kids don’t even appreciate what they have because they have so much.  Who am I kidding, I don’t even appreciate what we have half the time.

I don’t know what the answer is.  I’m not contemplating some drastic lifestyle change, although perhaps I should.  It was just one of those "DUH!" moments when I realized that part of the reason I feel overwhelmed by housekeeping and why our culture feels so overwhelmed by keeping up with our busy lives is that we just have too much stuff! 

Perhaps I can remember this the next time I’m at the mall and see that cute top that I just have to have.  Or when I am tempted to buy one more toy for a pleading child.  You’re not holding your breath, are you?  Well, I don’t suppose I am either.  But still, it’s something to contemplate.

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16 Responses

  1. Oh, that gives me HIVES. I’d love to come help you clear it all out. Try it, it’s FUN!!! You need to set yourself FREE from anything you haven’t worn in the last year. Do it! Trust me. 🙂

    (I should make a home-based business helping people get rid of the junk in their closets.)

  2. I know what you mean. I think of these great things I should do, then never do them! But I think when you have a moment here and a moment there, it can lead to a one big change over time. That counts, right?

  3. Susan, that’s the square footage of my house. It is nice for a family of 5, but as I said, I think I could redesign it and use less square footage and actually get more usable living space. We’d love to design our own home someday. I’ll check into that book. It sounds interesting.

  4. Oh, it is SO easy to covet. And I don’t think we pass it onto our kids. They seem to do it just fine on their own. There are verses throughout the Bible that warn us not to look to the right or to the left. And I often think of that in relation to coveting the things.

    Sometimes when I start to obsess about stuff I want, I visualize looking straight ahead and neither to the right or left, ignoring all the images of things I’d like to have, and focusing on all the good things that I have.

    It’s a daily struggle, isn’t it?

  5. I need you to come up here and clean out MY closet! I have all sizes, some fit some don’t, some things I haven’t had on for 37 years at least. I think I will tackle that, well…..tomorrow!

  6. I am with you!! As we have been getting our house ready to sell I have realized this even more. However, I have the same problem when I see a top or shoes and am also a sucker with the kids. Good luck to you!

  7. Amen! If you figure it out, let me know! Actually, I would love to make a major lifestyle change, but that affects everyone – and it takes time to clean all that stuff out!

  8. Oh, you are just like me. I hate having too much STUFF. I throw things out that most people keep for a lifetime. And I’m happy doing it!

  9. I’m not much of a saver either, but am still fighting a clutter battle. We are working on changes and simplification as we prepare for baby #5. I’ll share any great insights I may have (ha!).

  10. We have a 2500 sq. foot house for a family of three. Our friends (with maybe 4 kids) seem to keep moving up to bigger more monstrous size houses. I consider our house too big and my fantasy is to sell this house and use our equity to almost pay cash for a small fixe-upper (easy to do here in Texas). I’m a huge fan of the book “The Not So Big House” in which the author makes note that todays houses are just not designed well for how people actually live.

    Anyway, enough of my rambling. Just wanted to say you are not alone. I have taken complete advantage of my DD and DH being gone this week to THROW CRAP OUT !

  11. It’s funny – we’re supposed to find happiness with all that stuff, but it can still be a chain around our necks, or our homes.

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m so tempted to covet–it’s just plain ol’ coveting–about the latest this or that. I don’t want to pass it on to my daughter, but it’s so easy to do.

  12. Stopping over from Midlife Mom… I haven’t been back here in awhile, and I’m not sure why because you have such a fun blog! What a beautiful family, too…I loved the parade photos in the previous post.
    I can completely relate to the toys issue…that is one of the things that has gotten out of hand, and I plan to tackle the issue next week, by doing some sorting for Goodwill or possible yard sale. We’re not rich by any means, but we’re currently overrun by toys! 😉
    Anyway, stop by anytime…blessings!

  13. Girl, I completely agree with you. Unfortunately, I am unlike you, in that I am somewhat of a packrat. I have the hardest time getting rid of the girls’ clothes; they might need it sometime! Gah!

    My major goal this summer is to pare down and organize, pare down and organize, pare down and organize!

    One thing we are good about, though, is that we almost never buys toys unless it’s a birthday or Christmas. We do get hand-me-down toys, though, from well-meaning friends. Some of those never see the light of day; just straight to Goodwill!

  14. I know just what you mean. We’re gearing up for a move in 43 days (yeah, I’m in countdown mode) and I was just frustrated with all the toys strewn across my girls’ rooms that I had to think about packing. So I went up there with two garbage bags and told them they were helping me sort. We sorted stuff they play with, stuff they don’t and stuff that is garbage. SIX bags later(!) the room is somewhat less messy. I don’t even think we scatched the surface so whenever we get an hour or two we’ll head back up and do it again! I think it will make them more appreciative of what they have and HAPPY cause it won’t be so hard to clean their room!

    As for laundry, with 6 people up in here it gets piled up! I hated doing laundry everyday so I just stopped. Since we had enough clothes to last us each at least a week or so, I only do laundry on Mondays. It helps because I don’t see it as a never ending cycle! It’s just my Monday chore.

  15. I feel the same way. I actually feel kinda stuck in this lifestyle of stuff, actually.

    I am the opposite of a packrat. I put everything I can think of in my grandma’s yearly yard sales, and for el cheapo prices…take the leftovers to good will.

    But I get a lot of flack for putting things in yard sales.

    It is ALWAYS the same. My parents and in laws and well everyone, always call to ask what they can get my kids for gifts (bday, xmas, etc) I tell them, give them money, we will put it in their savings. Or buy them clothes. So that is what SOME of them do. Others (my mom is the worst) buy them TONS of junk. And then she gets mad at me when 20 of their 25 tshirts or pants that she got them for xmas is in the yard sale along with most of what everyone else gets them too!

    I just cannot stand it. The laundry alone is killer. We do not buy our kids stuff at all. We have people giving them so much that we’d be NUTS to add to it.

    We did try to minimalize. We took all the toys out of the kids’ rooms and put them in a play room, so that the only thing in their rooms are the clothes and shoes and blankets from their beds. And guess what? Their rooms are still always a disaster. Because they each have about 50 pairs of shoes at any given time.

    It is a nonstop cycle, this getting hand me downs from well-meaning people and also this gift giving from wel meaning people.

    But I sware it is enough to make me want to live in a hut with nothing but food and the clothes on my back!

    And now I will stop. SORRY!

  16. We have developed a rule around here – I bought the boys each a toy the other day but said “Ok, if I buy these for you, nothing for the rest of the month!” and they both said ok.

    Now if they ask for anything (and believe me, they’re normal kids, they already have) I just say “It’s still July!” and they say ok, and that’s it. No fights about it at all, which is shocking.

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