Simplifying is not So Simple

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I have been doing what I thought was a good job of cleaning out my house.  I’ve taken multiple car loads of stuff to Goodwill and the Cancer Thrift Store.  I’ve thrown things away that I’ve had for years.  I felt like I was doing a lot.  And yet, my house is still full of…stuff.  As I look around my house, I see a pile of laundry that is clean, but way too high.  I see a bag full of things that were brought in from the car yesterday that needs to be figured out.  I see a pile of books and notebooks and such on our bookshelf.  I see jars that my DD painted and once held smaller toys, but are now empty, which makes me wonder where the smaller toys are now located.  I see shoes half way under the couch and newspapers taking up space on the couch.  Where did all this stuff come from?  Where should it all go?  How much more can I possibly get rid of and when will it feel like enough?

I have a deep desire for simplicity.  I love clean surfaces.  I crave an absence of chaos.  But, I also have a weakness for piling things.  I have so many books, yet I still buy more (it is a problem for me).  My DD also has so many books, but we still buy more (again, a problem for me).  Instead of one in, two out.  I think we have more of a two or three in and one out.  Simplifying is not so simple.  It is hard.  It is even harder to maintain it.

But, I think I’ve figured out, harder than maintaining simplicity is maintaining the piles and chaos and books.  So, I’ve committed to cleaning out, clearing up and doing the hard things.  I signed up for the Rock Yo Mom program offered by Allie Casazza (who lives in a trailer with four kids and a husband, so she definitely has to maintain some minimalism) and Kendra Hennessy and I’m committed to giving it a serious go.  I have been following Allie for a while and I really like her style of writing and her realism about things.  She doesn’t candy coat it, but she make it feel possible if you really want it.  I am not as familiar with Kendra, but her ad on her website spoke to me pretty clearly:  “Got a case of reluctant homemaker-itis?”  Why, yes, I do!

So, what IS my problem?  Well, I think there are a few problems.

First, I live in a house where having nice things is next to impossible.

I have two dogs that are relatively destructive and an 8-year-old who likes to do a lot of things with a lot of things and isn’t necessarily concerned with it being cleaned up afterwards.  I must admit that I contributed to this because I was not consistent about making her pick things up before getting something else out (I still am not very good about this).  So, we have kind of second-hand, ugly, and in some cases, damaged furniture and rugs and such.  Because of that, I think none of us feels any real commitment to keeping things “nice”.  After all, they aren’t really all that “nice” to begin with.  The problem with this is that I think we’ve become used to not treating things with care and now it is really hard to change to care more for our things.  So, for example, I found a really nice coffee table with no marks or anything on Craig’s List last year.  It was exactly what I’d been looking for and I was excited to have it.  I thought it made the living room look more grown up.  It now has paint on it from my DD, chew marks on the bottom from our bulldog puppy and is constantly serving as a dumping ground for a bunch of stuff that doesn’t belong on it.  That, in a nut shell, is my life with furniture and such.

Second, we have way. too. much. stuff.

But, I can’t figure out how to get rid of stuff and keep it out.  I take bags and boxes to the thrift store week after week and still, we have piles and shelves full of stuff.  It is exhausting.  And I know I contribute to it with my trips to the dollar store and thrift store and getting things off of Freecycle and Craig’s List.  I have been doing a lot less of that (especially for summer – this is usually my weak time since I’m not working).  I have ideas about what exactly I want or need and I’ve been much more strict about picking up anything else.  But, having an 8-year-old DD who gets bags of stuff from grandparents and friends and birthday parties and such.   Right now, I’m looking at two pillows on the ground because they won’t stay on our couches between the 8-year-old and the dogs.  I keep putting them back up there, but they are back on the floor within hours.  So, why don’t I just get rid of

Finally, I am holding on to what I WANT rather than what actually WORKS.  

Right now, I’m looking at two pillows on the ground because they won’t stay on our couches between the 8-year-old and the dogs.  I keep putting them back up there, but they are back on the floor within hours.  So, why don’t I just get rid of them?  Because I love all the photos online with the cute pillows on the couches.  But, it obviously doesn’t work for us.  I just don’t want to let go of the dream of being that family who has cute pillows that stay on their couch.  I realize that I can only do what works for our family, but I can’t help holding on to things that won’t work.  It is a hard thing to give up on your dream.  But, in order to live in a chaos-free house, I am afraid I’m going to have to do just that.

So, that’s where I’m at right now.  I’m going camping for five days starting tomorrow.  I’m hoping that the simplicity of camping will lend itself to making me more able to simplify when I get home.  We will see if that is the case.