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Diving In

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have been a proponent of simple living for several years but have only recently begun to make a move towards minimalism. After much reflection, my husband and I came to the decision to move to a smaller more energy efficient home at the end of our lease this year. We made the necessary arrangements for this move and then began to look for a back-up plan just in case our best laid plans fell through. Our research for a back-up plan led us to a far better moving plan: a small but beautiful apartments located in a lovely new planned community that has everything we need within walking or biking distance. My husband may be able to bike to work taking us from a mere one car family to a car-lite family. We learned that a new building in our chosen community will be opening right when we were planning to move and put down the reservation fee for our unit this week.

 

And now the real work begins: decluttering a simple but still quite ample amount of possessions from a 1500 square foot home with garage, shed, and backyard to a less than 1000 square foot apartment with markedly less space and storage. I'm excited to be putting our plan into reality but am honestly feeling a bit overwhelmed with pondering what to get rid of, what to keep, and figuring out what I might be holding onto due to the influence of cultural expectation as opposed to what we really want and need for a life well lived. 

 

With that long-winded and decidedly non-minimalist (ha!) novella out of the way, what resources, wisdom, or reflections might you wise mamas have to offer to somebody new to the minimalist lifestyle. How do you decide between necessary and frivolous? What do you keep that holds sentimental value? Do you ever feel guilty while pondering your decluttering plans, especially as it relates to gifts and items that are culturally expected to be seen as sentimental? 

 

Thank you for any thoughts you might be willing to share. Any wisdom and encouragement would be much appreciated. 

post #2 of 9

I don't think we are minimalist yet, maybe more along the lines of simplified at this point. However we are always downsizing. We live in about 1000 sq ft, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. And we're 2 adults, a 5 yr old and a 2 yr old with a baby on the way.  Also my partner works from home so we have to have an office.

 

How do you decide between necessary and frivolous?  I just ask my self if it's something really useful or not, and if the answer is  no, then I ask myself if it's something I really really love, or is it something another family feels strongly about. Not everything can be a favorite, then it's not really a favorite. Even if something isn't useful, I don't think I want to go minimalist to the point of getting rid of things that make us really happy- like say house plants. Useful to me means something I use pretty often and/or life would be harder without it.  There's a couple things we don't use often, but are very useful like chains for the tires. There's always a couple times a year here when there are blizzard like conditions and we have to drive, and its definitely dangerous without them. So I guess emergency supplies are my exception to the used often rule.

 

What do you keep that holds sentimental value?  We have 1 box for each kid for clothes- I am forcing myself to limit what I save to those 2 boxes. I'm planning on using whats in there for the new baby, and then hopefully saving a much smaller amount after that.

 

I also have some photo albums/scrapbooks of pictures and artwork.  I'm not going to print any more digital pictures unless I want to give them to someone or frame them. I think photo books will be better for the future if we want them in physical form because you can put thousands of photos in a 1 inch book (like on blurb).   So right now there are 7 albums, 7 yearbooks, and my partner has one box of his sentimental stuff.  I'll probably try to get a scanner sometime and scan the albums and make a photo book because it will take up considerably less room. 

 

Oh and one thing I just can't seem to let go of, is a shoebox of my old ballet shoes, a couple of my favorite leotards, tights and skirts. It's so silly.. I'll probably never dance again due to injury but I really just like having them.. lol. I think because it kills me to have to have given that up, I loved it so much and I don't want to give up these things yet.  Now that I think about it more, I might just keep the shoes.

 

Do you ever feel guilty while pondering your decluttering plans, especially as it relates to gifts and items that are culturally expected to be seen as sentimental?

 

Not usually- definitely not for cultural reasons. Sometimes I feel bad when I get rid of a gift for the kids before they even see it, or when I sneak toys out of the house. My youngest is too young to notice. Every once in awhile my 5 year is like "hey where did that one thing go?" The good thing is that it doesn't happen a lot. I think I will have to try to include her/convince her to let go of things in the future because she is getting too old/smart for me to just decide without her. So I think if I do that, it will eliminate all guilt. I've always found that if you openly talk about minimalizing your belongings with people that give you gifts, just as a topic of conversation, they tend to take that into consideration when buying things. My mom used to send boxes of stuff like every month but lately they have been more food and less things, or experience things like science center passes.

 

Thanks for asking these questions- I think listing out what I have that is sentimental will help me pare down more.  I'm working on a room to room inventory, but thinking about it by category instead of room is a good idea.

post #3 of 9

How do you decide between necessary and frivolous?

 

If it's something that I use every day, once a week or fortnight, then it stays without any further questions asked.

 

Like the PP, emergency supplies do not count. This includes a first aid kit, fire blanket and extinguisher, tool box and items that are suited to our conditions/circumstances.

 

We have seasonal items - Christmas decor - which is obviously frivolous, but I (and especially our children) adore our decorations and would never part with them willingly. I guess this comes under the 'is it beautiful or does it make you happy?' section.

 

What do you keep that holds sentimental value?

 

Family photographs (both digital and physical), a few stuffed animals from childhood that my children now play with, the girls' dresses (including some of my own from childhood), wedding, baby, anniversary and birthday cards (only the cards from family - not friends/colleagues).

 

Believe it or not - The handful of magnets on our fridge. Each one is from a trip we've taken.

 

That's about it really.

 

Do you ever feel guilty while pondering your decluttering plans, especially as it relates to gifts and items that are culturally expected to be seen as sentimental?

 

I do if they are items that someone had hoped to keep in the family. I feel a pang of guilt and a sense of obligation (wrong, I know). If it's a drawing or artwork that one of my children made for me - Again, pang of guilt. I'm trying to work on this by meeting somewhere in the middle. It's the hardest section to deal with. 

 

 

 

 


Edited by LoveOurBabies - 3/4/12 at 8:17am
post #4 of 9

If I'm thinking about getting rid of an item, I move it to a hard to get place.  If I don't go back to get it in a few weeks, it's probably not necessary. 

 

For sentimental items, I'm trying to find ways to display items, and I am currently doing a major overhaul of our paper things to get it down to one scrapbook for me and DH and one for the kids.  I've looked through everything at least twice now, and keep finding things I'm not that attached to.  Yesterday I tossed a lifetime's worth of birthday cards into the wood stove.  I couldn't even remember the people who had given them to me when I read the cards.

 

Yes, sometimes I feel guilty.  If I feel guilty I usually wait on the item in question and try and figure out WHY I feel guilty.  I've come to realize that having something sitting around that I don't really want, but feel bad about giving away usually makes me feel worse then just getting rid of it and forgetting about it.

 

 

post #5 of 9

For my kids toys - I just picked out 7 big things from the playroom that I never see them play with. I put them out in the living room to get rid of them, but then I realized I should see if they would play with them. After about a week, only 2 of the 7 things were even touched from the pile. So I am going to keep those and get rid of the other 5. If they don't even notice it when it's in the middle of the living room.. lol

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomethingAnonymous View Post

For my kids toys - I just picked out 7 big things from the playroom that I never see them play with. I put them out in the living room to get rid of them, but then I realized I should see if they would play with them. After about a week, only 2 of the 7 things were even touched from the pile. So I am going to keep those and get rid of the other 5. If they don't even notice it when it's in the middle of the living room.. lol



Good test. Just moving a toy makes my kids want it! I am teaching them not to hoard though and it's helping the craze. They rarely balk at tossing a broken toy and my 4 yo actually likes picking out items to get rid of, especially his sister's toys smile.gif I think we are going to sort the books soon since they have tons they don't ever want read.
post #7 of 9

lol yes my oldest always wants to give away her younger brother's things. so funny. I think books are next for us too, they never look at the majority of them! I'd love to eventually just use the library. I do have a hard time keeping library books from getting damaged though.  We probably end up having to pay for a couple books a year :(

post #8 of 9

Oh and one thing I just can't seem to let go of, is a shoebox of my old ballet shoes, a couple of my favorite leotards, tights and skirts. It's so silly.. I'll probably never dance again due to injury but I really just like having them.. lol. I think because it kills me to have to have given that up, I loved it so much and I don't want to give up these things yet.  Now that I think about it more, I might just keep the shoes.

 

 



What if you frame the shoes in a shadowbox?  Would your dd like that in her room?

post #9 of 9

Moving is the perfect opportunity to purge! DH, DD, and myself are making a move this summer. We are only taking what can fit in our Fit. Each of us will have a bin for whatever we want to keep (including clothes, journals, books, keepsakes, etc). There will be a fourth for stuff we all agree on. And that is it.

 

How do you decide between necessary and frivolous?

I always ask myself what use something offers, how often I use it, if I can live without it, or borrow it/rent it if necessary. And since most *things* support an activity, I ask myself if I can accomplish the same task with less. A borrowing community is extremely helpful! Not everyone needs to own one of everything, like tools or books or cooking gear or board games or art supplies.

 

I try to keep seasonal decorations living activities that come and go with the seasons. For example: xmas - making wreaths and decorating with candles, pine cones, candy canes, setting out cards we receive, displaying the wrapped presents we accumulate. And we have our special stockings we hang. Halloween - carving pumpkins, displaying squash, making ghosts and skeletons with cardboard, paper, paints. And so on. This means less stuff to store.

 

What do you keep that holds sentimental value?

Pictures. Pictures are great now that they can be digital. Some letters (just one or two special ones from each special person). I keep very few gifts, and usually the small ones. Most of the stuff I hold onto for sentimental reasons, I display in my house. No more stuffed away mementos. Whats the point? That said, I kept my wedding dress, which my friends mother made for me, and some baby clothes. But I plan on making the latter into a blanket. Transforming special things into useful things is a great trick.

 

Here is an idea that has served me well. Only keep sentimental or decorative objects that are sources of inspiration, magic, or power. In other words, only keep talismans.

 

Do you ever feel guilty while pondering your decluttering plans, especially as it relates to gifts and items that are culturally expected to be seen as sentimental?

Not really, because many people probably want to throw out all those cards they saved too. Cards, artwork, pictures, crafts, nicknacks etc. usually end up tucked away with rare revisits or they add to visual clutter. You can take pictures of these items so you have a digital file: store it on a computer, make a digital picture book, post them on a website, etc.

 

If there are things you just don't want to get rid of, give them away to someone you know will like them. Share the wealth! In a book I am reading I learned that the Lakota people were fierce gift givers. The act of giving the best of what you have to a guest or friend is honored and enjoyed. And, if everyone loved to give, then everyone would also receive. There would be no need to hold on too tight.

joy.gif

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