31 Days of Finding Freedom in Simplicity - Declutter or De-own

You had to know the D word was coming, didn’t you?  Decluttering is something that is a bit of a buzz word these days.  If you just declutter your home, life will become a happy place for you and your family.  Of course that isn’t completely accurate, but decluttering is an important part in the simplicity process.

Now, when we talk about decluttering, we do not mean MINIMALISM – although if minimalism is the direction you and your family want to go, more power to you.  In fact, I will say that I would love to be a minimalist, but my family does not entirely agree with everything I say about minimalism, so we need to compromise.  That is what family is about, right, compromise.  If you are single, this is all about your decisions, but if you have other people in your household, make sure you involve them in this process…otherwise it doesn’t work.

I feel like I have been decluttering for years, and honestly I have.  I could not, for the life of me, figure out why year after year I was still giving away garbage bags full of stuff.  Well, part of that reason is because we have growing children, each year they grow out of clothes and toys, and we are able to move forward, but there is another problem…and I would bet you have this problem too.

I didn’t make this connection until I listened to an episode of the Slow Your Home Podcast a few months ago.  Brooke said she had heard a quote from Joshua Becker and when she said it, it resonated with me completely.

Don’t just declutter, DE-OWN.

This is so incredibly simple yet also a bit of a slap in the face. 

I am really great at going through a room and trashing all the stuff that is no longer working, necessary, fitting, etc.  However, if you then let that same stuff (in newer working order) come back into your home, you have accomplished nothing.

Now, that isn’t always something you can control.  There are birthdays and holidays that often come with more stuff, but there is also the everyday, when you make a *quick* trip to Target to get some more all-purpose spray, but walk out with a new top, three toys for the kids, that thing you thought you might need at some point, and look it is on sale.  $100 later, you have a bunch more stuff that you probably do not need, and yet you now bring it home and try to find a place for it.

If you are spending time organizing constantly, then you are not decluttering.  Instead you are just moving stuff around trying to make it look aesthetically pleasing, but not actually finding that lightness that we talked about yesterday.

Some fun examples for you from my home.

I love books.  I read books all the time.  My kids use a literature based homeschool curriculum.  We have a lot of books.  In fact, I often receive books in the mail from publishers to review.  It is a wonderful thing, free books.  But, you know what, a lot of these books are not books that I love and will read again.  So why am I holding onto them?  Honestly, I have a hard time saying that I won’t need something again (this will bleed into the next example), and books are something that I want to fill my home with.  However, I am usually able to say that I won’t read that book again, and just because my kids might one day also want to read that book is not a reason I should hold onto it.

So I started donating books to the library.  Now I know if I want to read it, all I have to do is stop at the library and check it out – also, funny thing about libraries, they are filled with books.  If I find that I am repeatedly checking out one specific book, I can purchase it and add it to my collection, but it if is a one off, well then it can stay at the library.

The next example is dishes.  We have a lot of dishes.  I *think* that we are going to entertain, so obviously we need all these dishes.  In reality we only use all these dishes a couple times each year, so we store them.  And we don’t even store them well, they are sitting on top of my armoire as we speak – see!

please ignore the tablecloth and headphones...Lucy isn't quite ready to leave these things alone so they go where she cannot reach them!

I think that having extra dishes is fine if I am constantly entertaining, but I’m not.  And more often, if we are entertaining, there are a lot of kids involved and we go the paper plate route – it makes more sense for my family.  Now, you may entertain every week with beautiful tablescapes, and you need those dishes.  I do not.  So this weekend I am going to pack them up and donate them to Goodwill.

You may think that decluttering is almost an every season occurrence, and that can be true when it comes to kids’ clothes and toys.  There are things that can always be weeded out of your home.  But, when you go through your home to declutter, you should look at it as de-owning, not just decluttering.

Tomorrow we are going to talk more about how to actually go through our homes to de-own our stuff.

What is one thing that you have trouble de-owning in your home?

Find the entire 31 Days of Finding Freedom in Simplicity series here.

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