Tag Archives: Minimalist Homemaking

Our Minimalist Toddler Closet

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We are prime candidates for a minimalist toddler closet!

Soon we will have 4 children in a 10X10 room!

(I’m so excited, and so are they! They love the idea of the baby sleeping in their room with them!)

In preparation, I made some major changes into their closet.

Our old closet was really cute but impractical and definitely NOT a minimalist toddler closet.

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The new closet has 9 identical baskets.

- Each Child Has Their Own Toy Basket

- Each Child Has Their Own Clothes Basket

- A Joint Shoe Basket

(The 3 Drawer Dresser has a diaper/cream drawer, joint sock drawer, and joint pajama drawer. Sunday clothes are hung on the child-sized fuzzy hangers, each child has a hook on the left to hang 2 hoodies)

I’ve become very obsessed with hyacinth baskets. Their metal frames are durable, but the hyacinth weave is light-weight enough for the kids to lift easily. (Even though the five-year-old’s toy basket is kept above his head, he can lift it down multiple times a day.)

The kids helped put up the shelving, and they enjoyed filling up their new baskets.

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Each child has about 5 play outfits so there was plenty of space.

When we fold clothes I can bring them out to the living room where we are folding together, and the kids can help put their clothes into the baskets.

photo 5So that is our new system. It’s not really the classic system you see, but it is working perfectly for us, and I would say that it is minimalist! Toddler closets are a fun project too, and it was fun to have the kids help! :-)

-Verity

 

make a small room feel big

10 Ways to Make a Small Room Feel Big

We have 6 people living in our 900 square foot single story home. *

Our Living Room is essentially a hallway.

And 3 of our family member excel at making messes.

However, when people walk into our living room, their usual response is one of surprise and usually the comment. “Oh, you have a nice house.”

I attribute this in part to my long-running efforts (helped by my mom and mother-in-law and innumerable blogs) to make our living room feel roomy and spacious.

Here’s what I’ve used and a couple things I hope to use someday:

make a small room feel big

1. Hang Curtains High

Hanging long light-colored or sheer curtains will make the ceiling feel taller then it really is.

2. Dark Floors Drop Away

We have a white ceiling, neutral walls, and dark mahogany floors. The result is a feeling of openness. (Though if you have kids, I can’t say that dark floors are easy to upkeep…at all). They show every scratch and speck.

3. Solid Colored Matching Furniture

Patterned or furniture in a variety of colors is harder on the eyes. Multiple pieces in the same color have a calming affect. (Especially if it is a neutral color that blends with the walls.)

4. White or Light Walls

When we first moved in, we had the brilliant idea to paint our living room DARK forest green. While it was very striking, it felt VERY tiny! When it was repainted 3 years later, it felt like it doubled in size!

5. Mirrors Double Feeling of Space

I situated 2 large mirrors across from our single window to double the light.

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6. Get Rid of Clutter

Other then pictures on the walls, I’ve gotten rid of all decor and I’ve tried to store as many utilitarian items in nearby drawers.

7. Light Colored Curtains and Furniture

Light colored pieces will blend in with walls.

8. See-Through Furniture

My only piece that kind of does this is the high chair since its legs are so skinny.

9. Light

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We installed another light in the center of the room. Before that they just used lamps that gave off dim attempts at brightening the space. (ugh.) We also have bright sunlight-type of lights above the dining room table.

10. Quick Clean up System!

By the jumper you’ll notice a basket, that’s where I throw any toys that the kids leave in the living room. ThenI just pick up the basket and carry it into their room. Voila! Clean living room! :-)

I am by no means saying that my house is Better Homes and Gardens worthy. (What person with 4 children under 5 could attain that??), but by using these tricks, I am saying that our living room, the main room we eat, play, cuddle, tickle, do preschool, fold clothes, relax, do computer work, talk on the phone in, organize, feed baby, and umpteen other things in, usually feels clean and calming – even with 6 people!

-Verity

Evaluating Minimalism when You Have Kids

photo 1People say that having kids breeds clutter.

People say kids make it difficult to embrace minimalism and simplicity.

I’ve also noticed that the majority of minimalists on the web are single – with no kids.

Why is that?

It is true that with kids comes stuff, but I think that there is also more opportunity to reevaluate values, and I believe that when you better know your values, you have more motivation for simplicity then you’d have without kids.

Is it HARDER to be a minimalist with kids? Yes! (What on earth is EASIER with kids?)

BUT it is also much more rewarding to be a minimalist with kids. You learn to cut away, cut away, cut away until you have only the valuable to pass on – only your faith, only your dreams and not all the excess that you wasted years pursuing.

And you hope they won’t lose the same time and energy on the trivial. You hope they will be happier, more content, more focused, and more mature as they learn what is necessary – and what is simply not.

This week I’ve been learning again what it is important – and what is not.

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3 years ago my son was given a set of 24 mega blocks, but with 3 kids sharing the set, the pieces were fought over so much that I was ready to toss the whole set!

But my mom came across a couple affordable matching sets at Goodwill, and I gratefully accepted them.

However, as I evaluated where on earth to stash the now overflowing tote of mega blocks in our 10X10 guest room/playroom, I wondered what I’d been thinking

After mentioning the dilemma to my husband, he asked why the answer to the kids’  fighting problem was to get more toys rather then deal with their bad attitudes.

And sure enough – after 20 minutes of elation they were fighting over the mega blocks again. (Both girls wanted all the pink, and the boy wanted to keep the little mega block man to himself – if you were wondering about the nitty gritty details.)

It caused me to step back and evaluate – again.

Did I want kids to build mega block towers or kids who were willing to share and wait their turn?

Did I want the convenience of 20 minutes to make supper in peace or kids who were content to make something out of our 24 former pieces?

I realized that too often my answer to character problems had been to purchase items to make the problem ‘go away’ rather then deal with the heart of the issue.

- A child who kept stealing her brother’s harmonica was ‘rewarded’ the following  holiday with a harmonica of her own because I was tired of having to punish her and deal with his frustration.

-A child who wouldn’t share the train set cars was ‘rewarded’ when I just picked up a couple more train set cars because I was tired of the shrieks and tears every time they played trains.

Like any parent, I love my kids, but it takes a tough love to stop what you’re doing, and help them to be content (37+ times a day).

For now, we’re keeping the big box in the play room, but I’m slowly learning my lesson. True love for my children does not come in the form of a new toy or set, and helping them enter life as content, joyful adults will be far better then me getting a little more done around the house during the few minutes I’ve bought for myself while they play with a new set or game.

-Verity

Kids’ Clothing Storage Part 1: Counting the Cost

Counting the Cost:

Cost of Kids' Clothing Storage Picture 2

Kids’ Clothing Storage SAVES money, but it also COSTS money.

Like anything else, you need to determine:

Savings vs Cost

I added up that each of my clothing totes saves me $100 of clothing that I would otherwise replace sale clothes or at Goodwill clothes.

Also, I have to store each of those clothing totes an average of 3 years. So on average each tote saves me $33 a year.

(Most people will have to store their clothes longer since most don’t have a new baby every 17 months.)

However, it also costs me storage space, sanity, and stress. 

I didn’t put a dollar figure on how much storage costsme, but I gave myself a maximum storage tote number to stay at.

Here’s how I decided HOW MUCH to Keep:

I decided that I only have a place for 26 plastic totes in my basement.

(Photos, Tableware/Kitchen, 4 Christmas, Linen Closet Overflow, 2 Books, Special Toys kids will grow into in next couple years, Craft/Sewing Box, 4 totes for my husband’s teaching business, Formalwear, Kids’ Shoes, Maternity clothes, 2 Nostalgia, and only SIX storage boxes for the kids’ clothing).

From looking at this list, I’m thinking I should pare down some more on the other stuff too…

Beyond that, I start running out of room in the basement.

That tells me that -

-I don’t have space for keeping much extra AT ALL

-I need to fit multiple sizes in one box

-Items that won’t be used for longer periods SAVE ME LESS (My son just outgrew 4t pants, but it will be 5 years before another boy [if I got pregnant now with a boy - something which my girl-friendly family genetics make less then likely] would wear them so it will only save me AT MOST $20 a year to save his 4t clothing. However, my daughter just outgrew her 3t clothing, and my next daughter will wear it next year. It will SAVE me $100 to store a box of those clothes.)

Cost of Kids' Clothing Storage Picture 1

 

I hate sorting and figuring out clothes, and my husband has repeatedly offered for me to just buy new for the kids each year, but from this chart, I can see that the saving a percentage is still worth it to me.

In the end, I came up with some methods that saved us the most with a lessoned burden of kids’  clothing storage. Check out my next post on the logistics of kids clothing storage.


-Verity

 

Minimalist Preschool Boy Wardrobe

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It is fun to get lots of clothes with the first child however, once you start having multiples, you start to get sick of so many pieces to sort and wash!


With my kids playclothes, I dress them in mostly jeans. Then it is very easy to match shirts. The goal is to be able to change your child in the dark and have it match – because everything is mix and match. (Though there are a few exceptions with my daughters who like play dresses.)

My son’s core wardrobe colors are blue, red, dark green and black with a little brown.


5 play shirts (Long sleeved T-shirts in Winter; short sleeved in summer)

4 pair play pants (3 jeans & one other color that matches all his shirts) (In summer there are 3 pairs of shorts and 1 or 2 pair of pants)
Picture1 pair dress pants (2 would be better – a khaki and black)

4 dress shirts

3 play hoodies (Our house is cold)

2 nice sweaters

Play shoes

Boots

Slippers

Dress Shoes
12 pair Socks

7 underwear

4 pair pajamas (he only needs 2 but the summer pajamas stayed upstairs with the winter pajamas per his request.)

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A coat for the season

In the picture, not all his clothes were in the drawer. He has 2 more shirts and 3 more pairs of jeans then pictured.

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That’s it. Most of his clothes are kept in a three drawer dresser. (There is way more space in there than he needs.) The top drawer holds his socks and underwear as well as diaper and changing supplies ( for the 18 month old and 2 month old).

The middle drawer holds his 5 play shirts, one polo, and all his pants.

The bottom drawer holds his sweaters and pajamas. He puts his own pajamas away, and I have not made him fold them so for transparency sake, the drawer looks like this.


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His shoes and slippers are on a low shelf system in his room, and his boots are by the back door in the kitchen. His hoodies hang on a hook with his sisters’ hoodies on the right side of their closet. I probably need to come up with another place for them since 8 hoodies on one hook is a little impractical.

The closet holds the 18 month old’s entire wardrobe, all 3 of the kids’ shoes, all of their dress clothes, extra blankets and sheets, and the preschool boy’s special toys (in hutch).

I also hang some upcoming outfits (gifts usually from relatives on the far right because if I don’t, I tend to forget about them!

The closet has been easy to maintain because the little ones can’t reach their clothes and the preschooler is fairly particular about his things going back on the hutch. (Mostly because it’s the one spot the girls aren’t allowed so it ensures his toys’ safety.)

That’s it. We do tend to wash clothes every day or every other day which may be a dealbreaker for another family, but a minimal wardrobe works very well for us.

-Verity

Minimalism: What it is and What it is not

Drowning in all my stuff, I scoured the internet a few years back for decluttering tips.

That is where I learned of this neat concept going on called Minimalism.

Although I’ve in no way converted my lifestyle to reflect the extreme versions of this movement, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having my previously high view of possessions challenged by some of the interesting blogs and books out there today.

Here is an overview of my conclusions on minimalism.

Minimalism Definition: A lifestyle in which you minimize all the extras so that you are down to only the essentials.

Minimalism Purpose: Eliminate all extra weight and free yourself so you can achieve your personal goals and dreams.

Minimalism looks different for different people.

A homeowner cannot minimize down as far as a renter. The renter can call the landlord if the drain backs up, but a homeowner has to either buy an auger or spend $200 on a plumber.

The fact is Minimalism is not cut and dry. You can’t find a ‘list of essentials’ that will work for everyone (though I did look) because everyone has different goals and dreams.

One family has a dishwasher; they have eight sippy cups for their two toddlers because after every meal, they stick the cups in the dishwasher which is run during the night. Another family has only two sippy cups for their two toddlers. They hand wash, dry, and put away the cops after every meal.

A family with a washing machine can have less clothes then one that is only able to get to the laundry matt once a week.

Different lifestyles require different levels of minimalism in different areas.

Minimalism MEANS different things to different people.

We eliminate OUR personal nonessentials. For me, I’ve realized that the reason I was purge my nonessentials is specifically to spend more time with my children, be a better mom, and become organized enough to have a large, happy family. Things that I had to minimize where all the things that hindered my being a better wife and mom. That iss my dream and goal. I always wanted a lot of kids, and I was finding that all my clutter was making it hard to have 1 kids let alone a lot!

It was okay for others  to have different goals because Minimalism is not necessarily a moral choice

I say that carefully – because everything we do springs out of our moral center, beliefs, and convictions. However, someone is not less of a person if they are have a huge attic of storage. Some people can organize, care for, and keep track of a huge amount of stuff while others cannot. Having less stuff does not make you more mature or spiritual. It simply means that you have realized that life is easier and happier for you with less stuff.

Also, minimalism is not opposite of materialism.

When you make the choice to pair down your items to the most valuable, the absolutely most sentimental and most useful, you pass each item through a stringent filter.

Only the best survive.

When one of those items is ruined in the typical sway of daily life, you find yourself more disappointed then you otherwise would have been. You know exactly how important that item is. Your toddler figured out how to get the safety handle off, broke into the linen closet, and ruined her second best pants pair with a bottle of nail polish. You know that that ruined pair of pants was especially important because it was nice enough for company and durable enough for play and matched 5 out of her 6 shirts. You’ve given that pair of pants more thought then you every would have before you started a minimalistic approach to life. In order to respond rightly to that situation, you need to realize one important thing.

Arm in arm with minimalism must come a realization that stuff is not important as people.

This is NOT the moment to freak out because her carefully minimized wardrobe is now not perfect.

This is the moment to thank the Lord that she did not get into the cleaning chemicals on the next shelf and talk to her about not breaking into the linen closet again.

Remember, Minimalism is a MEANS to an end. It is NOT and end in itself.

- Verity

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Minimalism: Things I Don’t Minimize

Everyone – even the most well-known minimalists often have areas they do not pinch on. Francine Jay, who write MissMinimalist.com and is one of the most well-known minimalists on the web, once wrote that she enjoys have a collection of jewelry from the many countries she and her husband have traveled. Since she wears a mostly black wardrobe and since jewelry is small, it is an area she can have a little more then the minimal amount.

The idea of minimalism is to clear out the extras to help you focus on the important.

However, hand in hand with that goal comes some items that should be plentiful – either for their utilitarian purpose or for the pure enjoyment they bring.

Here is a list of things that I choose to keep more then the minimal amount of.

Waste Baskets (The large, kitchen-sized ones)

I have one in every room. In fact. I have a small, long, hallway-like kitchen, and I have two in there – one on each end.

And yes. They are usually almost all full by the end of the week. Between diapers, broken things that kids get a hold of and everything else, we fill them up.

Disposable Wipe Containers

I have one in the car, one in my purse, one in the diaper bag, one in the kid’s room, and one in the spare room in case someone is up, and I don’t want to wake the other two kids. I love disposable wipes!!

Paper Towels

I’m pregnant. We have a 7 month old puppy and a potty trainer. Paper towels are God’s gift to help me survive. Enough said.

Toddler and Preschooler Shoes

Every kid needs at least 2 pair of shoes in our house to keep Mama’s sanity. This way if the 3 year old leaves his shoes at the 4th of July picnic…somewhere, the 1 year old kicks off her shoe in Menards, or the 2 year old puts a shoe to bed with her dolls in the play room and it’s not found for 2 weeks, we are not in a crisis. (Until one of them finds a creative way to dispose of their OTHER pair.)

(To be completely transparent, I have a little obsession with my girls’ cute baby shoes and have been known to have as many as 7 pair at once. Some were gifts. Even aspiring minimalists have their weaknesses.)

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Christmas Decorations

We have FOUR totes in the basement. Plus a large wooden stable about the size of a tote. I know many people downsize more, but this is an area that I have chosen to not downsize further. I create a magical mood around the house at Christmas with all my Christmas clutter. I’m fine with that. I’ve made space for that by getting rid of other stuff. :-)

Make-up

I have two sets of make-up. One in the house and one in the car (because more often then not – that is the only place I remember/have the kids strapped down to do it.)

Bacon

My husband cannot start his day without at least 4 slices of bacon. It works out to about a pound and a half a week. (Don’t judge) After too-many emergency trips to the store because I was running out, I got smart and keep at least a few weeks supply.  Since I’ve bought up to 6 months supply when I find a deal, I have to keep the freezer fairly clear of other things, but it works for me. Minimalists clear out their lesser possessions to make room for what matters to them. This is important for helping him start his day, and so we prioritize it.

Some areas of our lives need to be trimmed down to the bones and others create more serenity and joy by not minimizing them.

What items do you stock up on or allow more of simply for the enjoyment of it?

- Verity

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Materialism Vs Mom: Part 2

Happy Black Friday!! The most crazy, consumer driven day of the year!

In the wake of an advertising crazed Christmas season, how can we as parents help our kids view stuff in the right perspective?

Despite our intention as parents to teach our children that spiritual and mental things are more important then the many cool toys, clothes, and possessions around us, we live in a society that depends on consumerism. How can we help help our children to now be taken in by materialism?

In the last article, we talked about Step 1: To Limit.

This article deals with Step 2: To Help them deal with the materialist temptations that are sure to come.

1. Help them learn to think about things in a certain way

-Help them view what they have as A LOT

-Talk about how much they have in a positive way

“Wow, we have a whole BOX of toys! We are so blessed!”

“You have TWO dolls! How special to have so much!”

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     -Help them know the value of a dollarEven though my kids are 1, 2, and 3, we have an allowance system for the two older ones.-Help them view things correctly in the store

When they ask for the toy at the store, help them to realize that:

1. They don’t need it 

2. If they get it, they will not be able to use what they already have.

Things that work great to say to my kids:

“If you get this, we need to get rid of some toys at home. Do you want to get rid of some of your toys?”

“If you get this, you won’t be able to play with the toys you have. That would be sad!”

“It would not be responsible to get this toy when we have so much at home!”

“You already have 3 cars & you only have 2 hands! How would you carry this?”

The war continues, but I can honestly say that I think my kids are getting a better grasp of reality of need and want then I did.

Of course I do just say “no,” to some things like any parent and other times I allow them to purchase the item with their own chore money.

However, my bigger goal (like any parent) is help them get a bigger view of ‘stuff.’ In the end, I want them to realize that ‘stuff’ does not make them happy, and that they can find contentment in the many blessings (spiritual and physical) that God has already given them.

In the coming month, we’ll be focusing more on a meaningful Christmas season that helps our children focus on Christ, family, and giving.

What things work to help your kids battle materialism and gain a bigger perspective on ‘stuff?’

- Verity

Materialism Vs Mom: Part 1

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Black Friday is 4 days away so tis the season for STUFF, STUFF, STUFF!
 
It’s a great time to post a 2 part series on materialism to help get our heads together as we go into holidays. :-)
In the upcoming month, we’ll be posting on a simple, Christ-focused, giving-focused Christmas season.
But first, let’s talk about what we do NOT want to focus on and what we want to HELP our kids NOT focus on – a MATERIALISTIC consumer-driven Christmas!
 
 

Materialism: The Dictionary had two great definitions:

  1. A doctrine that the only or the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress
  2. A preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things


 
How can we bear arms against it? My conclusion so far: Limit & HelpIn this first article of my 2 part series, we’ll talk about Limit.1. Limit the temptation (especially when they are young like my kids and it’s hard to talk through things with them)

- Limit Exposure to Advertising

-Commercials

I still remember watching the 1980s commercial that portrayed two stylish girls playing excitedly with a doll whose hair color changed with a ‘magic’ wand (stick that was wet on the end). Commercials suck you in and make you feel a way about something before you even know it. Children are no match for people who have marketing degrees and years of experience in advertising strategies.

I’ve been glad that since we have Netflix and don’t need TV, commercials have not been as much of an issue for us.

   - Magazines

Magazines can help children to choose between things, but again, items are set up in a way to look nicer and more meaningful then they are. Little hearts are influenced more quickly then we sometimes think.

-Limit Gifts (If possible)

-From Relatives and Friends

This is obviously hard. It’s not worth ruining relationships over, but here are a couple tried and true methods.

- Ask relatives to get items that are in a certain genre. My aunts have helped me attain wooden learning toys that were out of my budget and have loved doing it. They’ve also supplied my girls with all their dresses the last couple years. (Again something that gets pricey, but aunts enjoy buying!)

- When gifts are in excess, even children can perceive the chaos. Later, after the situation is over. Point out the chaos. “Did you notice that we opened so many gifts, we didn’t even get to talk?” or “Did you notice how stressful getting the car packed was? Now we have to get rid of other nice things because we got so much!”

- Ask relatives to give toward one large gift. Lydia and her husband bought their 2 year old a special $70 learning item for his last birthday. They sent pictures to all the relatives via email and an explanation of why they thought the gift was idea for where he was at developmentally. They then asked that gifts for that birthday be monetary to contribute to the unusually high cost of his gift.

 - From YOURSELF

We are our own worst enemies. No one loves our kids more then we do, and we want them to have the________. Stop yourself from grabbing something here and there. Instead do research, plan ahead, and limit your shopping to a small number of good quality gifts.

Our kids get ONE or TWO gifts from us for their birthday and for Christmas. (It usually is a fun gift and a practical gift or just a fun gift.) They also get a present for Easter because Easter is an important holiday to me as a Christian.

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My kids happy with this limited number of gifts. They don’t know any different. Two families at church don’t get their kids Christmas gifts or birthday gifts.Their kids don’t know any different and still love Christmas and birthdays.However, if your kids are used to an influx of gifts from you on special occasions, there is hope. Simply let your children know that this time, they will get one special gift from you instead of lots of gifts. Maybe even let them pick one thing out for $___.

-If they are little, limit excess toys in the first place! 

(if they are 2 and under) GET RID OF A LOT! Before they notice things are missing, get their toys down to as little as possible.  I did it. It helped a lot! My son did notice that the toys had gone from 2 big boxes down to 3/4s of one, but he could not think what was missing so after a couple minutes of fussing, he got over it.

-If they are older help them develop habits to pick the best and get rid of clutter. (Maybe help them to get their toys down to a number that will fit in one box, or shelf unit.)

What are systems or methods that have helped you limit materialistic mindsets or excess possessions in our home?

- Verity

The Many Ways to Declutter

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Some of us our born ‘tossers’ and some of us are not. My son takes after me – whether it’s apples, toys, books, sticks, or kleenexes – more is more to him! I see him either marrying an incredibly organized woman someday or being on a hoarders show.

He’s like this though because he sees so much potential in EVERYTHING. He’s optimistic, imaginative and eager to make the most out of life – with anything and EVERYTHING he can find.

Why get 2 apples when you can get a bucket?

Why take two toys to bed when you can fill your bed to the point of not being able to lay down any more?

I have learned to love this about him. However, I don’t want him to end up struggling through clutter someday so he’s learning decluttering methods (about at the same speed as me sometimes), but I am an enthusiastic teacher!

Decluttering 101 


1. Just Toss
The fact is, this is the easiest. I know it’s not always the best for the environment, but sanity is sanity. If you have space in the garbage can this week, but will have a Goodwill box sitting by your door for a month before you get to the thrift store to donate – just bite your lip and do it!

I used to hate throwing anything away that could be reused, but when it came down to my family’s well being or my donating it rather then tossing it, I began to change my perspective. It’s not right for me to make them walk around my thrift store donations until I can get over there.

Also, if something was a gift, the giver is much less likely to see the item in the garbage can then given away.

Someday, I’ll have everything under control enough that I don’t need to toss as much, but for large purges, just do it. It is also harder to dig something out of the trash then to pull it out of the donation box!

2. Donation

  1. Thrift Stores
  2. Sentimental Items can be given to family members.
  3. Church. My husband brought a lot of his theology, counseling and commentary books to church for our church family to pick through after he finished seminary. Most members had vastly smaller libraries then we did so it was a blessing to them. He also brought his old sound system set that was better then the church system.
  4. Consignment Stores and Websites give you store credit for donated items.

3. Sell
Pick an amount that any item is worth selling for. (My amount is $10.) If it’s not worth $10 on eBay, Amazon Market, or Craigslist, it is not worth posting it, dealing with prospective buyer correspondence, packing it up, sending it, and dealing with seller feedback.

4. Use Up or Give to the Kids to Use Up!
I used to save EVERYTHING that had any sentimental strings at all. I’d save food items until they went bad, body washes until they smelled funny, and stationary products until the kids pulled them out and destroyed them.

I have now realized the joy in just using things up! Not only to I get to use them — but then they are gone to make room for other wonderful things.

-I just used up the beautiful gift store tablet I was rewarded last year for team leading at my husband’s seminary.

-I just threw away the blue koala that I had as a baby because the kids yanked the nose off and lost it…somewhere, but I did have the joy of watching them play with it for 6 months prior.

-Soon I’ll throw away the stuffed duck my mom brought me when I was on bedrest in the hospital that I dressed in my little preemie boys’ onesie and set on my nightstand to remind me of the little baby I hoped would soon wear that onesie. For now though, the kids are playing with it every day.

-I let the 2 year old and 3 year old play with old jewelry for several months and finally just threw it away. Yes. A lot of it was sentimental. The Easter necklace I received at 13 – my first ‘grown-up’ necklace that was now missing multiple pearls, the giraffe shaped earrings that I loved at 12 but would never wear as an adult, the Africa-shaped necklace from a friend, a few other hand-made pieces by friends that never matched my style but were too ‘special’ to toss all brought my children HOURS of enjoyment before finally being pitched as they were broken (in ways that only toddlers seem to be able to come up with).

I recognize that ‘getting rid of stuff’ is kind of basic, but the heart behind letting go of stuff is something I’ve been learning in the last few years. It’s not a natural thing for me to hand over a 29 year old blue koala to my little kids, but I’m realizing that the importance of ‘letting go’ of things is bigger then ‘stuff.’

Decluttering has been a spiritual journey for me. Letting go is part of moving forward. It’s an appreciation for the past blessings without being tightfisted over them- so I can open my hands to reach for what God has next.

-Verity