This is not a how-to list for homemakers, so keep reading.
How much stuff do you have? How much time do you spend taking care of said stuff? Do you have an overwhelming amount of laundry sitting around your house? Does food go bad in your refrigerator? Do you find yourself needing extra storage? Do these questions stress you out?
They stressed me out, up until a handful of years ago when my husband and I decided to have annual purges of what we did not use – clothes, furniture, gadgets, and so on. This annual purge has seeped into our everyday as we continually find ways to make our home life more simple.
When we first began to cut back, I was amazed at how free I felt. It was as though some of my anxiety peeled away and I felt my life declutter for the first time in years.
We live in a culture of consumption, so how to we adjust our lives for balance and simplicity? Below are five practical ways our family has managed to do so:
- Laundry: I have three basic principles when it comes to this household chore that is the bane of existence for so many people. The first is that I only have two days per week where I permit myself to do laundry. I refuse to be a slave to a washing machine. The second is that I only keep two hampers – one for towels/blankets, and one for clothes. I have a warm/hot cycle and cold cycle. That’s it. I’m not sitting there wasting time sorting my blues from my purples. The third is that I do not own a laundry basket. This means that when clothes come out of the dryer, I fold them and put them directly in their place. Especially for those of us with kids, I promise you, this is a huge thing. Not having piles of clean and dirty clothes everywhere is very liberating.
- Food Shopping: Go food shopping once a week. Period. Buy what you need for that week – not too much, not too little – just enough to get you to the same day the following week. Buy fresh, buy organic, buy local. Pick one or two stores (maximum) and stick to them. Going to multiple stores multiple days a week is usually unnecessary. Try to get away from the fear of your refrigerator and pantry becoming bone dry. Americans waste $165 billion in food each year. You’re not going to starve. If you find yourself with excess food at the end of the week, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with your local food pantry. See if they are in need of anything in particular before throwing things away or letting them go bad.
- Cleaning: Pick one day per week to clean and, outside of extenuating circumstances, ignore it for the other six days of the week. On that day, devote a couple of hours to this is mundane chore and just get it done. Another helpful piece regarding this chore or any other for that matter – try to be grateful as you do it. It might sound silly, but lately I’ve been thanking God as I clean up around the house. I thank Him that I have a home to tidy up. I thank Him for the family that lives there.
- Entertainment: Have as few screens in the house as possible. I’m a huge advocate of no T.V.’s in the bedrooms. It’s a sleep disruptor and an intimacy buster in most cases. Have a television where the family can gather and watch together, and have your personal cell phones. I implore you to reconsider the need for a tablet, iPad, iPad mini, or whatever else we have laying around the house. It’s easy enough to be distracted in today’s culture, why provide even more temptation for ourselves within our own homes?
- Stuff: Clothes. Old furniture. Kids toys. Appliances. Housewares, Decor, etc. A few winters ago I went through my closet and realized that I had five gray sweaters (I love gray). I found that I always wore the same two. What were the other three doing in there all that time? Nothing. Someone else could use them, and I hope they are right now. My husband and I have one closet and one dresser total, and believe it or not, that is enough room for our clothing and accessories. If you require additional storage for your stuff than your house can provide, or if you’re living amidst clutter, I encourage you to let go of what you’ve been holding on to. Though it may stir up some anxiety at first, I promise you that it will be cathartic to cut back on your belongings.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve read this far and are now going back to justify why at least two of the above areas do not apply to you. Take heart, and try to tackle one thing at a time.
I encourage you to begin the process of simplification and in turn, organization. I promise you that you won’t regret it. It is liberating for the mind, heart, body, and home!
Lastly, I recommend you donate whatever you can to a trustworthy organization such as a local church or synagogue that works with the homeless in your community, your nearby Goodwill or Salvation Army, or to organizations in your area that work with adoptive and foster families. Doing so not only blesses others, but it also acts as one small effort to close the loop of excess consumption in our nation.