Moving is truly one of the biggest motivators to purge and get rid of stuff.   I love the refreshing feeling of dropping off bags at the Goodwill and dumping piles of unnecessary paperwork and old magazines into the recycling bin.  And with each move, it never ceases to amaze me how much our physical baggage can affect my emotions.

I am obsessed with organization.  When Real Simple magazine arrives in my mailbox, I’m often tempted to sequester myself.  I even have a binder, with sheet protectors and articles from magazines with examples of cool organizing ideas.

But….**CONFESSION TIME**…..I have lists of things that need to be dealt with and organized, however these days, I continue to find myself just pushing things back in the closet and shutting the door with my hip to keep it from bursting open.

Kids have added a whole new element.  Alex’s new obsession is taking bags, filling them up and giving them to people.  It drives me CRAZY.  I know I should celebrate his toddlerhood, and creativity, and ingenuity….but I can’t stand having bag after bag of STUFF brought out and painstakingly having each item taken out and laid on the floor.

About a year ago, I read a wonderful book Simplicity Parenting:  Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, & More Secure Kid by Kim John Payne.  Among many things, Payne discussed the benefits of reducing your child’s stuff by 75% to increase their creativity and engagement while playing.  I loved watching his theory work.  We started with Alex’s books (only having one tub available to choose from at a time, mostly library books).  For this former 4th grade teacher, this was painful!  I love having bookshelves full of children’s books, but Payne’s theory was so true.  We found we had less arguments and battles and life just seemed calmer.  I also appreciated his ideas about the types of toys you allow to remain.  Toys that actually have more that one purpose or creative use.  My child has more Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars than I’d care to admit publicly, but we’re working on it.

I’ve also enjoyed reading Sara Janssen’s blogs (yes, she has five!).  Sara and her family travel the country in an RV and have sold  most of their belongings.  As you can imagine, she has some amazing insights on consumerism, simplifying, and *stuff*.  Here are two links (one and two!) for you to check out and get some GREAT ideas on how to put a desire for a simpler life into action.

Clearly, I’m not stuggling with something new.  I mean how many channels have reality shows about this very topic?!?   Hoarding is even being proposed for the DSM-5.  But, for now, I’m trying to tackle it one day at a time.  One project at a time.

And this last move we did 6 weeks ago?  Purging?  HA!  With a 3 week old in tow and a busy 3 1/2 year old, that just didn’t happen.  Our amazing church paid for this move and packers to help us out since we were just insane [note to self and everyone out there:  MOVING WITH A THREE WEEK OLD IS KIND OF STUPID].  Anyhow, opening up box after box was not only overwhelming and exhausting, but often times hilarious.  My favorite find was one of those library-esque metal bookends wrapped in EIGHT sheets of newsprint to keep anything from happening to it.  Wow.

So, as Christmas approaches in a week or so, I’m trying to keep all these mixed up thoughts, frustrations, and longings in perspective.  As we enter into gift-giving frenzy, I almost want to cover my ears and yell, “LA LA LA LA LA” to drown it all out or turn into Drew.  Hard to be focused on *STUFF* when you’re two months old.

Rather just giving up, I continue to be inspired by numerous moms that are sharing their homespun ideas for the holidays via their blogs.  Tons of them are listed to the right under “Blogroll”.  Soule Mama is especially guilt inducing fabulous.  I also have dear friends, the Rodgers, who are living in Califon, NJ these days where Chad’s a solo pastor and Kim is homeschooling their three kids.  They are such an inspiration to me.  They have a 1200 sq ft garden, tons of animals and did I mention, they even mill their own wheat?!  Yes, they’re crazy, but I love them.  Here’s Kim making cheese, Annalise with Fowl, and Ava, Noah and A with the first blue egg of the morning:

I am trying to be easy on myself and not get too annoyed at my sloth-like tendencies these days, but continue to try and take baby steps.  To try and approach the holidays with more intention, a slower pace and a clarified focus.  Not sure how successful we’ll be, but here’s to the journey.  Please feel free to share any comments below about how you’re approaching these topics of stuff, consumerism, kid toy insanity, creating at home and influencing children in a lasting way.  Would love to hear  from you!

3 thoughts on “Stuff

  1. thinking of the email I got from you today…. that you forgot to buy Alex a Christmas gift… I think you are well on your way to reducing consumerism…. oh… and yea.. we bought more cars for his stocking… won’t even stay up on the mantle… sorry in advance, but we invoke grandparental privilege…

  2. More Fun, Less Stuff! When I moved to CA, I donated most of my belongings. All I brought was what I could fit into 4 suitcases and a few shipped boxes. Admittedly, matchbox cars and Thomas stuff came, too, but many books were left behind. I became a believer in the library and each Christmas, we sort through our belongings and giveaway anything that hasn’t been used that year to keep the stuff from taking over! My friend is amazed that my son so easily parts with his toys. But, we’ve raised him that way – to him donating his stuff is all he knows. I always tell him I prefer to spend my time and money on experiences rather than material objects. I’m not sure I could live without my computer, though. Some stuff can be a good thing, too – and Santa is bringing a few books and legos to the house this year, too!

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