I found this website doing a desperate Google search. I've been feeling like the walls were closing in on me for awhile but it seems like there is always something going on that keeps me from having the time and/or energy to do anything. I'm also emotionally attached to things in a way that I can't understand or explain.
First, I grew up very poor and often homeless. We would have a house and then be evicted and leave everything behind. I never really learned to declutter because every few months we had to find new things. I do okay for awhile and then we have something in life that upsets things and I find myself clinging to stuff again. I KNOW that it stems from insecurity but that doesn't seem to fix it. My poor husband was in the Army before our marriage and has no attachment to material things and doesn't understand why I need help getting rid of stuff.
My daughter is a child of divorce and we've both been guilty of compensating so she has TONS of stuff. Her father is sentimental and she feels like she's betraying him if she gets rid of things that he's given her. I've sent things to his house but he lives in 500ish sqft so that doesn't work. We also homeschool and all 3 have been diagnosed with ADD.
I say that I live with Einstein and his protege and sometimes it really feels that way. My husband will wear mismatched socks, not comb his hair and leave things all over the house but write amazing code that is great for our finances (so HOW could I complain?) but still leaves me feeling dazed and overwhelmed. There are a billion half-done projects or grand ideas that were never completed but it seems impossible to give up on them (feeling like a failure) and the funny thing is that HALF of them are "decluttering" and "organizing" tasks.
Our biggest problem? I don't know where anything is and neither does my husband. We have hundreds of socks (I'm sure) and 50 tubes of neosporin and blah blah. We have a very well stocked pantry and freezer (food insecurity is in full force there) and I feel uncomfortable if we don't have 2-3 packages of toilet paper, paper towels, tampons... you get the picture. I went without basic healthcare and medicine for so long that I FEEL better just knowing that we have 100 bandaids and enough Advil to last through a nuclear winter.
I take on too much and I'm not sure how to prioritize them. Are there any tips to mentally "forgive yourself" or let yourself let go of something? I get so overwhelmed that I shut down. It usually starts with me getting sick or going through something big (I've lost a family member or close friend every 3-6 months for the last 4 years!!!) I just let everything go and end up with 20 loads of clean laundry in the living room and dishes piled to the ceiling and a carpet of toys and art work and randomness.
I never let things get unsanitary (the bathroom and kitchen are priorities but scratch cooking means 2 loads of dishes a day!) but I still fear that someone will call child services or something.
I probably need to find a therapist instead of a forum but we spend our disposable income on eating out so that we don't have to face the kitchen (totally defeats that whole cooking from scratch thing) and I'm just ready to pull my hair out. DH is helping out today and my DD is gone for the day but it just seems daunting. I also feel guilty that he works and goes to school and has to help keep up the house.
I sometimes fantasize about running away and starting over. It seems so insane since I've spent my life looking for stability and financial security (which we didn't have in the beginning but we've built a life where I don't even have to work now.) If you could picture your local Target or WalMart or whatever and imagine having just about 1 of everything... that's my house. People come over (when things are cleaner) and mention that they need XYZ and I go find one. I just don't know how to distinguish between a well stocked house (what I want) and a mental illness. I wish that there was a master list somewhere of the 100 or 300 or whatever things that every house should have and then I'd know. I'm always trying to anticipate DH and DD's needs and make sure that we have those things ahead of time. We typically do and they're accustomed to being very comfortable but it's gotten out of hand and after moving in with a family member after the death of her husband and only coming home to pick up supplies before going back, then spending a month sick almost as soon as we moved back home (not able to get out of bed for a few weeks) everything is nuts.
I think the spark that started my desire to change was when I realized that I hadn't been to the store to pick up anything in a month and the only thing we didn't have was 3oz cups for the bathroom. Sure, hubby ran to the grocery store for some milk and bread and stuff but woa. How much is being a good wife/mother and how much is being a bad wife/mother by drowning them in stuff?
I know that this is TOTALLY opposite of living simply. My IDEAL life would be very simple. I don't buy status items, we don't let our kiddo watch TV with commercials, we buy things 2nd hand and try not to have an attachment to consuming things that are OBVIOUS but the little things are killing me (medicine cabinet, soap/lotion/etc, craft supplies, homeschool material, books, linens, upcyling projects, 8 different kids of laundry detergent from trying to find one that works best and not being able to tell a difference...) I wish that someone else would be the decision maker in my life sometimes. My husband is a great man but he has no opinion on the whole thing and wants whatever makes me feel good because he doesn't really see the stuff, he is in his head and when he is home we sit around having deep conversations and (as long as the internet and his curiosity machine don't go away) he'd not care if we lived in a hotel room with 2 outfits and a hot plate.
Sorry for the long ranting post.
TL;DR - I'm feeling lost and overwhelmed by stuff and want to find some structured way to know what to KEEP. I grew up with nothing (homeless) and have no idea what is appropriate for a household. My husband was in the Army and lived out of a backpack and my daughter thinks that she should keep ToysRUs. I find myself buying 1 of everything at WalMart or Target or Ikea or whatever. Point me to a list or something!?
A good place to start is by not bringing more stuff in. Let your dd's father know that whatever he buys, will have to stay at his house. Or give him a number, one or 2 things per birthday/holiday are OK, but all others will be donated or sent back to his house. Don't feel bad about it either. You are fighting to give your daughter a better life. Give yourself a limit on how much extra stuff you can have. 1 spare tube of neosporin for example. Then when you open the spare, you buy another.
If you really want to go on a decluttering spree, start in the kitchen. Once it's done, make a bunch of meals and freeze them to make feeding you guys easy. Then use that money and see if you can have someone come in to help you. Here's the thing that i have learned. Just start anywhere. Eventually you'll see some progress, and that will motivate you to keep going.
I wish I had more time. Go easy on yourself and borrow some library books like "It's All Too Much" and "Buried in Treasures" and let it sink in. Think through what would happen if you didn't have any neosporin? Is it a serious problem or can you go to get some? You can't expect yourself to never worry about things like that, but you can realize when you're doing it and turn it around.
chasing AJ .... i'm not as "severe" as you describe but a lot of what you wrote resonate with me
- trying to make the distinction between mental illness and a well stocked house
- not being able to let go of half done projects
- kids (and DH in my case) seeming to find normal to hang on to every toy/playgthing given or offered for the last 13 years ....
- kitchen and bathroom being a priority for sanitation .... but all the decluttering and organising being EVER SO SLOW
+ i think i have "Buried in Treasures" & .... quite a few other books about decluttering and a simple life
finding the time and mental energy to read/put in practice seems like climbing the Himalayas with plimsoles ....
sending you Hugs (sorry, no advice ... but thanks for making me feel that i'm not alone !!!!)
One thing that helps me is space limits. I can stockpile as much as fits in this space. Only one shoebox of toothbrushes and toothpaste (I had to get rid of a bunch that went bad before we could use it). Toys need to fit in our toy area and bins.
What to have.
Imagine you a have a giant warehouse in your basement where everything you own is laid out neatly on organized tables and you can find it right away, but it will be a bit of a walk. Now when you need something (a spoon, a pot), you go get it, use it and put it away in its home inside your house. When you need it again, there it is. What you never get out of the imaginary warehouse, that you don't need to have. For everyone it is different. I got rid of my hairdryer at 17 and more than 10 years later have never missed it. Other people, use one every day.
The other thing to keep in mind is that Target is not going anywhere. If you need it, you can get one.
Start small with something that bothers you. Do a kitchen drawer. Get rid of the easy stuff first.
The Out box. This is a box in a convenient but out of the way place. For me a ledge at the top of the basement stairs. Anything that is not making my life better right now, that I am not using, what should stay on the imaginary warehouse, gets tossed in there. I don;t have to get right of it right now and I can still change my mind if I need to, but if a few months pass and it is still there, it can go to Goodwill & co. Thanks to Apartment Therapy for this. For me it was a pizza pan that never worked right and was passed over for baking sheets ever week, odd cups that never fit in the cupboard, toys with too many small pieces I hated cleaning up.
I like http://www.365lessthings.com/ for lots of ideas, and stories. Gentle, but persistent work, gets it done.
Mama to J (Jan '09), E (May '11), and C (August, '13)
Professional Cloth Diaper at Diaper Lab in Boston (ask me about laundry)
(((hugs))). You recognize the issues and their source, so that's a good start.
My city has quite a few small companies that offer judgement-free, sympathetic assistance for decluttering and organizing the home. You would probably benefit from some neutral, objective understanding support while you start this process. Since you have some disposable income, consider whether it makes sense to pay a little upfront for the help, compared to how much you are spending on buying all those extra supplies and eating out so often. I wouldn't be surprised if you come out ahead fairly quickly. If there are several available, you could interview a few of them and find someone you are comfortable working with. You may find that after a couple of sessions with someone by your side, you can start integrating new habits and carry on independently.
My next step/project is to list what I have and how many and why on an excel spreadsheet. I'm going to just do the bathroom. Each year I've gotten a little better at decluttering, but it is the fear of not being able to purchase replacements that is so scary. Over the past few years, my stockpile has gotten smaller and smaller. I want to be able to have people over. Maybe knowing how much I have will help me choose reasonable amounts!
I often feel the same sense of pure dread and overwhelmed-ness. I'm currently going through it one pile at a time and was donating most of it to Goodwill. I still felt a sense of loss even though I thought I was doing good letting go of all those "what if I need this someday"s and "surely I can use this for something!"s to better my sanity and family's well being. Even though I was making my donations to Goodwill in hopes of my stuff finding a good home, I was left feeling so unfulfilled. I finally hopped online and found several organizations that I can donate to instead and my stuff will directly benefit those desperately in need...for free. (One works with homeless children and one is my county's child advocacy center. I bet churches/synagogues are a great resource.) This has totally turned my purging around and the past few days I've been looking for MORE to declutter and clear. Maybe a solution like this would help you too. Thinking of a small abused child who could use anything of my son's or daughter's that I've not been able to part with puts a whole new perspective on things. This works for not only clothes and toys but cleaning supplies, first aid/tolietries, etc too! Now to work on the part of not replacing them with more wanton spending!
This is how I have felt....throwing all my preloved stuff into charity bins often makes me feel a sense of loss each time rather than feeling good about it, so I think I will try to find somewhere also to donate directly.
it's a standard first-aid ointment. I'm allergic to it so I don't have a tube to reference, but I believe it's antibiotic. But now you can buy bandaids with antibiotic built-in, so it kinda defeats the need.
Katie, sahm to two wild and crazy guys (8/07) and (3/10) and their sweet new baby sister (4-1-13)
|Simplifying , Organizing , Decluttering|