Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Taking back SIMPLICITY.

As a mom of four children, two of them with life-altering medical problems, to say my days are busy would be an understatement. I am up typically until two or three in the morning doing the things that simply don't get done during the day. And then dragging myself from my bed at 7 to start the day. Lately I have been getting agitated, thinking about all the large families just a few decades ago, when it was uncommon to have less than 4 children. 

They didn't have the convenience we had of large-capacity washer and dryers, fast food, microwaves, and computers to look everything up in an instant. Everything I do in a day is faster and more efficient than it was for my grandmother. And yet, I can never reach the end of my to-do list.

What am I doing wrong?

For a few nights now, I have been laying in bed at night trying to figure it out.

I am literally never sitting down from the minute my day starts until I collapse on the couch in an exhausted heap 5 seconds after closing the kids bedroom doors. So why is there always so darn much to do? Turns out the answer was right under my nose.

I have a problem. Our generation has a serious problem. Every room in my house is like a cluttered shrine to our life. If we all died, I think you could write a thousand page memoir on us by looking through our crap left behind. Looking around the room that I am now, if I am painfully honest with myself... if the house burned down, there would be about 2 things in it I would be upset over losing. From my closets, to my counters, to my cabinets, and my desk. My life is being over-run by stuff. And now, from the point of view of someone who has been acutely reminded of how precious life, and therefore our time together, can be - I know where my time is going. I know why I am unhappy and stressed out all the time.

Why does this happen? Well, I have a theory. When our grandparents were raising their kids, they didn't keep every last picture they drew, every scribble, every favorite Christmas dress. They didn't take 700 pictures a day of their children. They were confident that their children were going to grow up to be wonderful well-adjusted adults and would have no need for a second grade drawing of a chicken for them to know they were loved and that someone was proud of them.

I threw away one of Brooklyn's pictures once. She sobbed, "Mommy, how will anyone know what a great artist I am? YOU CANNOT THROW AWAY MY PICTURES!!!!!!" What? Don't get me wrong, I am not some mean parent who trashes the drawing right in front of the kid. They all get hung with love and ooh'd and aah'd over... and then when all the Scooby Doo pictures start to look like an FBI case file room- I sneak some off to the recycle bin. Why does my daughter think her 'stuff' is the only way to prove her worth? Uh oh. That is the world we live in. Your worth is gauged by the price of your car, the size of your house, the degrees on your wall. And the sheer talent found in your 5 year olds Scooby Doo pictures.

I have to change this before its too late, before I raise a family of children who go into their own lives catastrophically keeping EVERYTHING that has ever meant anything to them in some desperate need to show how much they've earned and acquired. Back to my original thought on where all my time was going... well it starts to occur to me that when you have too much stuff,  you have to look for things, move things, store things, take things out of storage. And it eats up money - because you need bigger everything. More space, more storage, more organizational tools. It occurred to me that your garage is a pretty good reflection of what your home life is like. Yikes. Our garage is a mix between an episodes of Hoarders and the world's biggest flea market. I am embarrassed to say we can't even get a car in it.

I am not naturally a person who enjoys living amongst chaos. But to be fair to myself, our life is a big string of emergencies one after another. So while my intentions were to clean the garage and declutter the house and deal with the disturbing amount of paperwork on my desk - there have simply been too many critical things dragging me away. Which brings me to my next point.... I need simplicity. I need a system for controlling the massive amount of paperwork, bills, and etc. that comes with having sick kids. I need a better way to handle the tangled cords and medical supplies that seem to repopulate the house while I am asleep.

We are going to be moving soon, and I have vowed not to take our clutter with us. Only the essentials are going, everything else will be sold, donated, or tossed in the garbage where it probably belonged in the first place. Wish me luck - its been 26 (almost 27, next week!) years believing that throwing something that might potentially be useful once in the next 5 years is a sin. Time for a change.

So, in 2013, I challenge you to TAKE BACK YOUR FREE TIME with me. Look around you, and seriously take a long hard look at what is in the room with your right now. If you feel like everything all day is overwhelming or stressful - maybe it's time to simplify. Life is unbearably short to let your stuff take over your life. I don't want to spend this year trying to find time to live, to laugh, to play!

 “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
 William Morris


  1. You are such a good writer....I started simplifing my life a few years ago....and am still trying to 2 sons are in 11th and 12th grade...I thought I'd have more time for me when they got hasn't happened.....though I do stop and smell the roses from time to time....My mother and grandmother didn't really have the chance to stop often wonder many of the vintage and antique photos show so many people Not smiling...

  2. I hate the amount of paper that comes home from school. So wasteful. Especially the pictures with feathers or sprinkles. So years ago i got four plain white poster boards. Stapled them up like a briefcase and the kids decorated their portfolio. Everything goes in it. Then mid summer before school we go thru it and weed out 90% of it.
    Another thing i do is the school pictures. I have one big frame per kid and this includes those sports shots also.each year i put the current picture up front. This has made a hugh savings of clutter in our home.

  3. I love reading all of your posts on Facebook as well as on here. You are an amazing writer and at times I feel as if I am reading out of a book. I keep wanting to read more. After reading this, made me realize that your point is so so true. Time to de-clutter my room and simplify !
    I don't know you, but I am always thinking about you and your family ever since i started following you on Facebook... hoping things get better. You sure are a strong women and mother. My thoughts are with you and your family <3

  4. I get a large pizza box for every school year, I keep what will fit in the box, when the box starts to get full we weed out the papers that are not that special.( like a spelling test or math paper) after cleaning out the box sometime we can combine 2 years for storage! they store nicely on a shelf in the basement, then when it comes to graduation I should have all those special art works and report cards all in one spot!! I also add their school picture for that year!

  5. Less IS more. It is so cleansing to get rid of stuff.

    Praying for your family. You are so strong.

  6. I love reading your blog, and while I don't have children with medical needs, your posts always hit home to me. Your life is REAL and I can relate to so much of it. This is definately one I can relate to and will have many thoughts about this. Less IS more as someone mentioned above I just need to get that through my thick skull. Sooner rather than later, as my children (ages 2 and 8) are growing fast.

  7. I really enjoy reading your blog!! I just wanted to share with you that God used your words in my heart and life as a Mother and wife -
    I pray tonight for your family and your day ahead!

  8. Just found your blog this morning...what a refreshing read! I think most of us feel the same way: too much stuff...too many useless items. Way too much time wasted on frivolous activities :)

    I agree with the challenge...time to purge the clutter away!
    Rachael D