Salute to Simple

by Kim on January 10, 2013

Of all the things that have scared me about having kids (no freedom! zero alone time! marital stress!), one of the most anxiety-inducing things, for me, is kid clutter.

Brent and I are both kind of neat freaks, so when we sense the “stuff levels” around the house starting to spiral out of control, we have little subconscious reactions that build up and slowly eat away at our sanity. We each have our extra-sensitive areas: he can’t handle clutter piling up in the garage, and I have to have the kitchen counter and table cleared (mail is my nemesis).

When you have a baby, of course, the amount of new stuff you accumulate starts to multiply, exponentially, in the most horrifying way. Factor in 18+ years and a few more kids…and my hands are literally shaking.

IMG_2462 But I neeeeeeed all this stuff!

The reality of all this really hit me a few weeks ago, when we got home from our holiday traveling. After we unpacked the car, I looked down at all the stuff stacked in the entryway and felt the anxiety creep in.

Is this seriously how it’s going to be? Every year for who-knows-how-many years??

So, while everyone else is talking about new resolutions to work out more, clean up their diets, spend more quality time with their kids, etc, I’m focused on one primary goal: simplification. For the sake of my sanity, it has to be done. And I realize it’s not something I can just do once and be done with it-it’s a lifelong mindset. (Really, what isn’t, right?)

The plan: I’m starting a little 5-week challenge over here.

I’m calling it:


If you’ve read The Happiness Project (and if you haven’t, you SHOULD!), you’ll recognize some of these ideas from chapter one-the “boost energy” chapter (which, conveniently, also happened in January). Interesting that some of the first things Gretchen Rubin tackled in her attempt to boost her happiness were to clean and organize her house. “Household disorder,” she says, “was a constant drain on my energy.” Increased order = increased energy = increased happiness.

So! Here’s the plan:

STS Challenge

You are 100% welcome and encouraged to join me!

Although I should tell you: I kind of cheated…I’ve already started the first one. I knew I was going to make a big Goodwill run, and I wanted to do it before the end of the year so I could include it in our 2012 tax return, so I put together 3 garbage bags full a few weeks ago and scrambled to the dropoff on December 31 (in the afternoon, even…we were really down to the WIRE).

Also, in the last week, I’ve sold a set of shelves (Craigslist) and some bakeware (eBay). Next on the list: some maternity shirts, a sweater from The Limited I’ve never worn (it fits weird in the shoulders…), a nice baby sleeper that still has the tags on it, and our old coffee table (I’ve been keeping it around “just in case,” because I still really love it, but I finally realized I couldn’t think of a single realistic “case”).

Once you get going (and especially, after you get comfortable with the online sales processes), it’s so crazy fun and rewarding to see things leave the house. I will literally go prowling around just looking for things to put up for sale.

One thing I’ve learned about getting rid of clutter is how to ask myself the right questions. I used to always ask, “Do I still like this?” Now, I’ve learned that the only question that matters is, “Do I still use this?” (Of course, this doesn’t really apply to sentimental stuff…but there has to be a line somewhere for that, too!)

Why a 5 week challenge? Well…because I had 5 things I wanted to do.

But ALSO, if we start today, 5 weeks puts the finish line squarely on Valentine’s Day! So maybe we can reward ourselves with a heart-shaped box of chocolates or something. (Or maybe we should start tomorrow and reward ourselves with a 50% OFF day-after-V-day box of chocolates???)

I know, I know…food as a reward = bad. But maybe just this once.

Who’s with me?

If you decide to do some of this stuff with me, please let me know how it goes! If you’re the tweeting sort, use the hashtag #salutetosimple.

Have you ever done a simplification “challenge” before?


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