This post is a continuation of the decluttering post I wrote the other day… or more specifically what I wrote in the comments.
When I was young we really didn’t have much. I had some toys, especially stuffed animals, but we were on the move often and didn’t have much money or space. So what we had needed to take up little of those two things.
Looking back now, as an adult, I am happy about that. It was good; I spent my days outside, I climbed trees, went to the park, rode my bike etc… but looking through my childhood eyes, I remember wanting toys that others had, I remember longing for a dollhouse or the “little people” sets that took up space and cost money.
When we arrived in Montreal when I was nearly ten, I was depressed because I missed my friends and home. I went from a small town that I could basically go everywhere alone to a big city where at first I couldn’t even cross the street. Though I made friends on my street, people were different… family life was different and life in general was just very different. I had trouble at school, acted out and was teased and had very little trust in anyone. Though I had activities and things to do, I stayed in a lot more, especially in my room. My mom started working, so she had a bit more money, we had a permanent place to stay and both my mom and I started accumulating things. My room was a constant mess and though the rest of the house was clean, my mom’s clutter grew behind closed doors. She always had a problem of letting go of certain things (expired food, spices that were older than me, papers and cards etc) and there was always the preoccupation of knowing what something was worth. She always knew a good deal.
I am in no way blaming my mom for any of my problems, but I do believe that I learned certain tendencies from her. I also think that for both of us… not having things, not by choice but by circumstance, meant that we both overcompensated when things changed.
By the time I was in my late teens and moved out with Simon it was a bit scary how much I had already accumulated. Our first apartment was a small 4 1/2 and I honestly don’t think it was that bad. Our computer room was messy and had too much stuff in it but the rest of the house was pretty good. A year later we moved again into a larger 5 1/2 and for the first year or so it was great. Our apartment was warm and cozy and was easy to keep tidy but when I got pregnant with Xavier things started to change. I knew I didn’t want to have many toys and I didn’t want to accumulate a lot of stuff, but there were thrift stores and Garage sales and so many options not far from our apartment that I would pass by nearly everyday and there were tons of clothes and toys that were just too cute or cool and I had trouble passing up on the deal. Our clutter didn’t cost much in our wallet, but it took up so much of our space and sanity.
One of the things that I especially had a weakness for was vintage toys. I started collecting all the toys that I had wanted when I was young. The vintage little people garage and house, barn, house, school, record players, movie views etc. Anything I could get my hand that was not expensive I would buy…
By the time we moved into the house we are living in now, we already had too much. Over the next year or two the problem just grew. Most of the house was pretty presentable, messy but not dirty… but behind closed doors, in closets and in storage spaces the extent of our problem was visible. We had one room that was a guest room at the time that was basically unusable for quite a while. We would get tired of it, clean and get rid of a few things but it was never enough and it most often moving the clutter instead of thinning it. *
Then it happened. I got tired of it. I was pregnant with Khéna and just tired of the mess. I stopped buying so much, stopped going to thrift stores and garage sales and finally started decluttering. When a declutter challenge came up on the MDC forums I jumped at the opportunity and really dove into it. I did so much around that time and it made things in the house easier to deal with. Though I had stopped running after things that we didn’t need, or even really want it took a few more years to actually be able to learn to let go of what we already had… I did it slowly but never completely… and keeping things for the next child didn’t help. But when we decided that Wilhelmina was our last, a shift started to happen.
This is where we are now.
Now, I wouldn’t say that I am completely at ease with letting everything go… there are still some things that I don’t want to let go of, but I am surprising myself.
Each week, things leave the house. Sometimes, it is more than others.
Yesterday 4 big garbage bags of clothes and diaper covers left my house and will never come back.
Today we got all of the baby toys and all of the vintage Fisher-Price out of our shed and out of the nooks and crannies of our home that we had put them in, and we are gathering it all up to finally get it out of the house. I am going to sell what we can and donate the rest.
The next step it to go through the kitchen… my rule will be… If it is broken, it’s gone. If it is expired or we won’t eat it, it’s gone. If we have to many of it, we’ll keep just what we need. If we haven’t touched it in the last year it needs to leave, but If I really want it, it needs to be placed somewhere that I will have easy access to actually use it.
Because the clutter is behind closed doors and in spaces that we don’t use that much (the shed etc) we are not seeing much a difference…. yet… but each time something leaves the house, instead of feeling a tightness and a sense of loss, I feel lighter as if the clutter has been weighing me down for years and I am finally becoming free of it. That feeling not only makes all of the work worth it, but it also pushes me to do more.
* side-note… I see my house as messy and am constantly criticized about it when my mom comes over, but when I just skimmed through a few years of pictures to show a picture of my “messy house” to go along with the post, I couldn’t find one… I know I avoid the trouble spots… but as for the rest of the house, the parts we live in, either I am very good at not capturing mess in my pictures or my perception is actually a bit skewed. I wonder…