How Having Less Gave Us More
It was late morning, my little guy was crying due to yet another upset belly triggered by food sensitivities. I was physically and emotionally exhausted by this point. We were out of clean clothes, so I HAD to get a load of laundry started that day. I left him crying upstairs with his brother and ventured into our basement. I wanted to sit down and cry when I hit the bottom step. There were mounds of clothing, blankets, sheets, and towels all needing to be washed. I was beyond behind. It would take days to dig out of this mess. It was bad, very very bad.
As I sorted clothing and started a load, I realized we didn't need to be living this way.
We had accumulated so much over the years and it was strangling us while we were simply trying to tread water. I realized we really didn't need so much stuff--and by keeping it all I was enabling myself to fall behind and live in a state of constant overwhelm.
It didn't need to be that way.
So I decided I needed to make a change and bring simplicity back into our lives. I needed to drastically downsize our house--and doing that downsized my to-do list in the process.
It's easy to fall into the habit of thinking we need more--it's embarrassing to admit that I first thought I needed more laundry baskets that day--but the truth may be that sometimes we just need less!
I want to share the steps I took in taking back control of my house and sanity with you. For me, it meant weeding through things and downsizing. And in the process, we've found life is so much easier, cleaning takes less time, and we are more content.
But, I also want to be clear that this was NOT an overnight process. It has been a year in the making--and I still have to weed through things on a continual basis to make sure we don't wind up back where we started.
(This post contains affiliate links to things I love and have found helpful during this process. If you click and make a purchase, I'll receive a small commission at no added cost to you! Then I will buy coffee and write more posts ;-) you can read my full disclosure policy here. Thanks for reading!)
If you are drowning in the overwhelm of your home and to-do list dear momma friend, I've found that having less reduced the overwhelm and gave us more enjoyment of life. I accomplished that by downsizing, weeding out, and getting rid of clutter. These are the areas I downsized our lives in:
I realized that day that my children, hubby and I simply do not need that many clothes! There is no reason I need to be able to go 2+ weeks before I have to do a load of laundry--and by having so much, I was only enabling myself to make excuses and fall behind.
So I decided it was time to drastically reduce. I started with the boys' dressers and left them with a week's worth of clothing (give or take a few extras because I am a sucker for cute kid's clothes!). My hubby is a pretty basic guy and didn't require a whole lot of reducing, but my dresser . . . yeah.
We all know the struggle moms, we have maternity clothes, our "bigger" clothes, the clothes we are hoping to fit into again, and everything in between. I realized there were so many pieces I was hanging onto simply because they fit if I needed them, but I didn't even like them! So I weeded out the things I didn't even like, the things that were a year or two past their lifetime (mom problem right there!), and a few extras I just didn't need.
I can't say I've gotten myself down to a basic week's worth of clothing (I'm still a woman who likes lots of options!), but my dresser & closet have breathing room again.
And now, even when I do get behind on laundry I am usually able to catch it up within a few loads during the course of a day.
After weeding through our clothing I realized that our closets were stuffed with so many things we weren't using. As I pulled everything out, I discovered I had several sets of sheets for each bed in the house, and then some! Here again, I had enabled myself to fall behind and we simply didn't need so much.
I pulled everything out and kept around four sheets for the crib since the crib tends to need the most changing and two sets for every other bed in the house. This way, one set can be in use while the other is washing. (Bonus points if you can weed down to just one sheet set like many of our grandmothers had and survived with!)
This gave me space in my formerly stuffed closets to store things that were actually important to us and cut down on my laundry in the process!
How much time do you and I spend picking up toys throughout the day or after bedtime? This was another area it just dawned on me one day that we didn't need to be wasting so much time in. There was no reason we needed to spend 10+ minutes putting away all the toys the boys hadn't really even played with that day.
I sorted through my boys toys and kept things that a) encouraged imaginative play and b) encouraged them to play together. I kept the things I knew were their absolute favorites and kept very few battery-operated toys.
And you know what? They still have an abundance of toys. I could probably downsize much further, but even what we did cut out brought breathing room to our house and our lives.
Plus, the boys play much better now than they did before because they aren't overwhelmed with so many options! They are currently loving their collection of Ertl tractors and attachments. This one is one of their favorites, and did I mention the ones we have were originally my husband's toys? These things hold up like tanks! Christmas gifts anyone?
I keep their toys in baskets and bins like this and this on a bookshelf so that what they have is easily organized & accessible. Downsizing their toys enabled them to play better with the toys they actually like and my house is cleaner for it! (at first I felt guilty about this change, but now it is one of my top recommendations to moms because my kids are far from suffering on less, they are better for it.)
Kitchen & Cleaning
I've also cleaned out our cupboards because they were too "congested". We didn't need numerous sippy cups, tons of kid's silverware, tupperware, coffee mugs, etc.
The boy's now have a metal water bottle from Wegmans and we use this cup for milk because they can't spill it into my couch and it is the easiest sippy cup to clean in my opinion! I kept a few open plastic "big boy" cups, and donated the rest.
Since we are out of the baby stage, I donated our infant spoons and kept the set of toddler silverware my little guy likes. I reduced our tupperware & coffee mug collection. But, I did hang onto my new "I'm having a moment" mug (remember "moments" from Mom's Night Out? ;-) ) I LOVE this mug!
I'm a cosmetic junkie. I enjoy buying and trying new colors and such, but as you can imagine my cabinet fills up quickly. I'm also a makeup hoarder come to find out and I still had some things I'd had since my teens . . . uh, more than a few years ago (gross, yes . . . ). Let's just say it was time to clean out our bathroom closet.
I reduced my makeup collection to things I was currently using and a few extras for special occasions. I sorted through nail polish and kept colors I actually liked and used.
I also had several soaps & lotions that needed tossed since we had transitioned over to natural products from NYR Organic (we love the baby bath & shampoo!). And don't forget the first aid kit and medications while you are cleaning out the bathroom!
A few other categories I've downsized are my jewelry and purses. I love getting a new purse (or diaper bag), I usually get a couple new ones during the course of a year. I like to have options ;-) But, since I've been loving this purse from Kohls lately and it fits the diaper changing station I LOVE from Skip Hop perfectly, I figured I could probably stand to downsize my purse collection.
I also sorted through our DVD collection. I keep series in their cases, but most of the kid's movies I keep in a CD/DVD wallet like this one to conserve space. They don't put the DVD back in the case anyway, so why waste the space on 50 empty cases?
Downsizing in all of these areas really gave me back control of my time and household. It has taken time and effort, but I've found that reducing and living simply gives us so much more time to spend doing the things we actually want to do. It has reduced my stress level and the feeling of constant overwhelm. And when life gets busy and I fall behind, it takes so much less time to get caught up again!
If you are struggling in the overwhelm momma friend, can I encourage you to maybe do something drastic? I've found that oftentimes overwhelm is a sign that I need less. Less on my schedule, less business, less stuff . . . Reducing, downsizing, and de-cluttering can feel drastic, but it soon starts to feel normal.
And once it's done, you find that less means more--more time, money, energy, joy, and laughter. And who doesn't want those things?