So, if it’s decluttering time AND moving time, what is a Fire Wife to do?! We are transitioning into an incredibly chaotic time in our lives right now. Not that there is ever a time that is not really chaotic in our lives. But right now, we are a very busy family of five, with pets and livestock, homeschooling supplies, homesteading tools, and kids’ activity items crammed into a ½ acre neighborhood lot and a 2-story house with a rather small footprint and no place for a kitchen table. (Who builds a house with no room to eat?!)
Since I’ve always been more Laura Ingalls Wilder than Mary Tyler Moore, we are transitioning from our neighborhood life in town to our cabin in the woods.
My family and I are so insanely excited! We can’t wait to be able to stay there full-time and not have to drive back to neighborhood life. We relish the peace and quiet and independence of our homesteading life in the woods. But, with more freedom comes more responsibility. And with more responsibility comes my desire to downsize a lot of our stuff and eliminate the clutter of “things” in our lives.
I can get so focused when I work towards decluttering and downsizing that I border on becoming minimalist. This label is just fine with me, but it seems the rest of my family likes their things a bit more than I do, so I’ve had to compromise and find a happy medium that we all can live with. As we declutter for this move, I’m looking forward to the fact that we all have a shared reason to downsize this time. All five of my family members have agreed, “This is our family’s final move and we don’t want our cabin in the woods to be overwhelmed with STUFF!”
After the last three moves, there have been boxes we’ve never touched, even just to see what’s inside, since the previous move. So, why keep these boxes at all? My answer this last time was, “Don’t!” The stuff in those boxes haunted me. Those useless items actually held a power over me that I was unable to shake. I would walk past the room that held the unopened boxes and I’d think, “Ugh…I still need to get to those, but when? The house is full of usable items already and I don’t have any time.”
So I took a hard-nosed approach one day and decided to fight my demons! My plan was to tackle one box at a time, with the intention of looking inside and asking myself two questions:
1) Have you used this stuff in the past year?
2) Is it a family keepsake that you want to keep for sentimental reasons or to pass on to your children?
If the answer was, “No,” to both questions, then I either donated or tossed the contents of the box. In our current society where so much emphasis is placed on possessions and appearances, I found this approach very difficult to get used to, even though I desperately wanted to be released from my guilt about too much stuff. Once I began the process though, the whole thing kind of snowballed. I went through one box and donated all of the contents. I found another that had some older toys of the kids.
If you have things to donate, check out the FirefighterWife.com February #servefirst post, we’re asking everyone to declutter and donate to a local shelter of choice.
I tossed the broken ones, took a couple special ones out (but I traded them out for some current toys that were rarely played with,) and donated the rest. With each box I tackled, I felt instantly buoyed up. The sinking feeling I had every time I walked past our box room disappeared bit by bit. Within a couple weeks, I was able to get to the windows of the room and open them to let some sunlight and fresh air in. I washed linens, hung some pretty curtains and made up our guest bed. It was a bright and cheerful room for once and an amazing addition to our home and our spirits. I had to admit, I had been bitten by the simplicity bug and there was no going back.
Unfortunately, since we homeschool our three daughters, school supplies have slowly crept into every corner of our house and taken over our lives. TONS of school supplies: textbooks, papers, notebooks, rulers, erasers, reading books, math DVDs, teacher’s guides, computer programs, school records, science experiments, arts and crafts supplies…everything! And it is everywhere! This coming move is going to be my chance to grab the reins on school stuff and say, “Enough is enough!” It’s time once again to ask myself what is used regularly and what will be indispensable in their future education even if it’s not being used now; then get rid of the rest.
My other big obstacle to my closet-minimalist heart is my beloved firefighter. Yep, I’m sure it’s hard for some of you ladies to believe, but my guy has tons of…stuff! There’s currently a stack of 5 former fire helmets catching dust in the corner of our bedroom.
He has fire decorations and no room dedicated to a fire theme. He has tools scattered any and every direction on our half acre property and more than one hobby where his stuff has taken over an entire room. I have to admit though, in the fifteen years we’ve been married, he has made leaps and bounds on cutting back on stuff and now he holds a strong desire to have much, much less of it. I can’t count him amongst the minimalist crowd, but he definitely doesn’t want stuff ruling our lives. His mind, heart, and mouth say he only wants what is usable and he wants to keep it organized. Sadly, this thought hasn’t been fully translated to his hands, as noted when he sets something down exactly where he used it rather than putting it away, but he is working on it.
His biggest problem is figuring out what to get rid of. He takes one look at all his mountains of STUFF and gets overwhelmed, vapor locks, and shuts down for the day. This is where I’ve had to swallow the pill and realize it will be my job to downsize. If I sort through things and simply donate or toss them, he will never miss them. If I sort through stuff and ask him, “Hey, did you want to give this back to your brother?” or “Can I donate this?” he starts second-guessing everything and I will accomplish nothing. So, we have come to an agreement that I can sort through his stuff, as long as he’s on shift and as long as I get it tossed or donated before he returns home. Thank goodness for 48-hour shifts!
With that said, he just left for shift two hours ago and the kids are sleeping late since it’s a weekend. I have some decluttering to do!