the lazy gal’s survival guide : craving simplicity

Hello, lovely friends! We’re back today with yet another blog in the lazy gal series!On Saturday, I walked into Aiden’s room, and it looked like this.

If you aren’t blinded by my amazing brass doorknobs (I know you’re jealous) I guess you could say we have a lot of stuff. The sad part is, that’s just one closet. Since he pulled it all out, I thought to myself It’s time to begin the pre-christmas purge. I busted out my battle gear once again and I was all, For Narnia!

And then I really started to look around.

This is ridiculous. And it’s only one closet of chaos. I’m not even covering our closet.

This series is going to be a little bit of a process. As much as I would love to snap my fingers and have all of these ideas right in front of you, to be all Hey! look what we came up with! Aren’t we oh so clever? A series chock-full of wonderful solutions… solutions are amazing and I need them. I realize they will all come in good time while we work our way through this process. We have some fun ideas we’re super excited about to bring you in the new year. But I’m writing this series because I want to go beyond that.

Through all of this, I’ve realized I crave simplicity. A purpose filled home, a pure home, a simplified home, and an intentional home …It’s a struggle for us, and writing this series has made me realize that this is what I want more than anything. I crave a change. I feel like I’m peeling back the layers of stuff to see what lies beneath in this little journey of ours, and it’s a conviction.

It calls for a lifestyle change, and I don’t like what I see.

Have you ever stopped yourself in the middle of a seemingly unimportant moment? Caught a glimpse of yourself that left you asking, Who am I? This was one of those moments for me. I’ve often said that your home is a good reflection of your actual life and where you are. This is it for me.

I was cleaning out our stuff so we can acquire more stuff. In this case, toys for more toys. And most importantly, our children are learning to emulate that. While we started a purge, and got our children involved, that’s a good start. But I don’t want it to end there.

Staying in our home has made us rethink our spaces. It’s made us analyze what we’re doing and why. It’s made me take notice of what we’re bringing into our home. Even to the point of thinking through how we are raising our children. It’s also made me realize that I’m a little disappointed in the way we’ve been handling it all.

I don’t think we can fully wrap our minds around all the things that we have. All of the blessings that we take for granted. We have bags full of disorganized clothes, forgotten toys and wasted food while other parts of the world just yearn for fresh water. And this is only scratching the surface. I am officially resentful of myself, for being discontent in my own life. And in turn, I have demonstrated that for my children to see.

It goes beyond a clean simple home. For me, it’s about how I’m raising my family. I want to grow children who are sensitive and responsible and care deeply for others. I want to stop myself when I’m silly and get caught up in what appears to be the wonderful lives of others… and as a result, find myself playing the comparison game. I want simplicity, in teaching my children that less really is more, without the guilt that comes with it. I want to cultivate our children to think independently and to have relevant, life changing throughts in such a muddled world.

It’s about more than the ‘stuff’, that bothers me so much. And it’s more than just this time of year although it does hit a little harder right now. It’s about simplifying. It’s about providing a relevant, intentional, pure home for my children to grow up in. It’s about being compassionate for others in the process.

We’re living a life of disorganized excess. I feel like we’re personally missing the mark on this one and it’s frustrating on so many levels. A lot of this in the past was because we were in survival mode with three young children. Because of that, our stuff is now currently owning us. So how do I change all of that? And more importantly, how do I teach my children in a pure way, without contaminating the message with guilt? I feel like we’re taking the steps to get there. But this is a real discipline and it takes a while to master it.

Are any of you out there finding that you yearn for the same simplicity in your home and in your lives? Do you feel like it’s a gradual process? Do you struggle with this? We’d really love to hear your take on it all.

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Responses to the lazy gal’s survival guide : craving simplicity

  1. maggie says:

    We recently moved 1,000 miles from home. We will be moving back in six months, so we were able to store much of our belongings in our hometown, but we decided to only pack what we could stuff in our two SUVs.

    The amount of trash we threw out was astonishing. But even more astonishing…what we’ve found we didn’t need or miss when we got here. I know where everything in our rental is, there has only been one crazy turn-the-house-upsidedown search when I lost one of my diamond studs (I think it was thrown away). There is very little clutter. The kids have two baskets for their toys. We’ve found our life is much more peaceful from a “stuff” standpoint. Confession: I play and read more with my kids than I ever have. Part of that is that we have no friends, but still! I’m with them and they’re not off by themselves! Since we’ll have to haul all our stuff back in six months, I also think much harder when buying something. I’m hoping this is something we continue to build on!

  2. natasha says:

    Hi this is totally my life! I was talking with my husband just this week about down sizing our home and getting rid of the overage of stuff, so he {I’m at home mom } can work less and live life more. That is a terrifying thought though! How do we change everything? and start from scratch? and not have my kids hate me for taking away the “stuff” ?

    • I know. I think we involve them in the process, and let THEM choose, as someone put in a comment below. I think there’s a key to not being hardcore about it, and making it a process, depending on their age. There are things I will get rid of behind my three year old’s back, because he won’t miss it. But there are things I will get my seven year old to donate because that’s good for him to realize what people don’t have and need. Thinking about even taking him with me TO the center where they take things for him to SEE it himself. That way he knows it’s a good cause. This will be a process. Stay with me and perhaps we can do it together.

    • Natasha….we DID that. :) The downsizing part. In the spring, I suddenly felt this sickening feeling that enough was enough and too much was just that – TOO MUCH. I felt overwhelmed, my husband works 80 hours a week (every single week) so that we can live in our giant home and send our kids to private Christian school, etc.

      So I told him I wanted to move somewhere simpler. I was ready to move from a 4000 sq ft home to a 2 bedroom apartment for a year to regroup my thinking about life.

      We didn’t go that drastic because I finally realized that we didn’t have to, but here we are….sold our big house last week and are living with friends for this past week (with only the items we could fit in our 2 cars) while our new (old 1956) home is being cleaned, slightly renovated, and freshened up for us. And I’m happy. :)

      As I unpack each box next week, I’m going to do it intentionally and if I don’t NEED it, it’s going away somewhere.

      We ultimately have chosen a bigger yard, a smaller home, something closer to my husband’s job and my son’s school, so that we can make more of family time, less time on the road going from place to place, more outdoor time and less indoor time, as much as possible. The kids bedrooms are tinier, their single shared bathroom is smaller, the kitchen is a third of the size with equally less space, but it will be home. That is all that matters to me anymore.

      Also, we will be choosing a child from Compassion shortly to sponsor and showing the kids the beauty of helping in that way. Also, at their birthdays we will be asking for no gifts from friends, but optional donations toward their sponsor child instead. Hoping to teach them love and sympathy and understanding of others and awareness of how very, very blessed they have been. It’s an ongoing battle though, but one that I feel mothers are up for. :)

      ASHLEY – You just wrote this post as if it came straight from my mind. I am sharing this on Facebook today because I think my friends think I’ve gone nuts and this explains it all. LOVE YOUR BLOG. :)

  3. Judy says:

    I feel the same and know that I too have not done my best in teaching my children that life is about so much more than things. I have a 7, 9, and 11 year old and it seems we are always fighting the clutter of stuff even though I purge/donate regularly. I yearn for a simplier life but struggle when defining and implementing that for my family. I look forward to reading more about how you go about this with your family. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Danielle says:

    I am so with you on this. I recently read Seven, by Jen Hatmaker. It rocked my world and I offer it up as a suggestion but only if you want to be challenged. I have begun baby steps in my own home to monitor and steward what I have accumulated for me and my children. I know we have a long way to go. I’m a simple person by nature and crave it in my own home but I am finding that if you have children, it is hard to get everyone on board and not just momma. I am excited to see future suggestions or solutions you might come up with!

    • Tiffany says:

      Yes! I was going to recommend Seven as well. It’s not a book that has all the answers, but it got me asking some important questions and taking some steps toward simplicity and more purposeful living. We’re far from where we want to be, but staying on track, for us, requires constant vigilence. Tiring, but possible with God’s help! Look forward to reading more.

  5. Meredith says:

    I’m happy to read your post, and I’ve been on the mission to “downshift” for several years now. It all started in 2008 when I read a book called Something From the Oven which profiled the change in the housewife/households due to advertising. I realized how much of how we live was a result of imposed expectations and ideals. A great place to start your pursuit is to read the book called Radical Homemakers. The book is amazing. It’ll show you many people with families like yours and mine (some suburban, rural, urban, fringe) have chosen to “opt out” and do things differently in order to create more generous, sustainable, green, simple and compassionate lives. I struggle with simplifying no matter how much I read or I try. I’ve narrowed it down to a few main obstacles: 1) I am a working mother, so I give up time in the kitchen cooking, freezing and canning in order to spend quality time with my husband and kids. I wish for more time in the kitchen so I can help my family off GMO’s, HFCS, preservatives, and the like. 2) My husband agrees with me, but not to the extent I do. I want to get rid of the TV’s, but he doesn’t. I don’t want the kids to have video games/wii/Leapsters, but he does. We’ve agreed on a middle ground of limiting the kids’ screen time. So, when your spouse isn’t as passionate as you are on the subject of downshifting, then compromises have to be made. The same goes for downshifting with finances, gifts, “extras” in the home like satellite TV, etc.

    • I’ve been thinking on that lately. How much I let into my home. It’s the same with the clutter. My defenses have been down, and I let things like advertising infiltrate our lives. I met a mother a couple of years ago who didn’t let her children watch commercials. And I kind of thought, “wow, that’s hardcore.” I watch my children now and when a commercial comes on, they immediately “want that” I was naive. And I’m ready to change it.

  6. charity says:

    this could me writing your post! i am guilty of exactly the same things. i could once also blame it on survival mode with 3 small kids as well. but enough is enough for me too.. time to get truthful here and make a change.. we can do it girl! our kids with thank us for it (one day!) :)

  7. Jackie says:

    I can totally relate. I older than you and at a different season, and I am stepping back and wondering when this all changed for me. When my children were growing up, we didn’t have tons of stuff, but sometime after they left home, the accumulation began. I have taken a step back as well, and this is going to be a process. I am tired of every closet being filled to the brim, and have been working towards a simpler and less stuff filled life, but I do know it is a process, a process of learning to let go.

  8. Nuukaska says:

    Seems to be a quite universal (at least wertern worlds) problem. I relate to this from another site of the Atlantic!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    My family has struggled with this in the past and recently as well. Being a military family, it always hits the hardest when it is time to move, again. We go through this HUGE purge of stuff, only to find items after the move that we don’t need or want anymore. Why is there always such a huge excess of stuff in our lives? So we, as a family, decided that we needed to change and that it wouldn’t happen overnight. We now have a system of monthly goals, as a means of establishing habits, as a family. Every month, we pick a new goal: “Find one item per person to donate everyday”, “No shopping at stores that are not locally owned”, “No television”, “Donate a book a day”. By establishing a goal, talking about it, tracking it, having a deadline, and working together as a family, it has established habits that work without having an aspect of singular responsibility, i.e. “That’s not my job!”. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the little steps add up to so much more than expected.

  10. Kim says:

    I was just thinking the same thing this morning while cleaning my kids room, great post, very thought provoking!

  11. Flick says:

    Wow, this really hit home for me! I’ve been going through a lot of similar emotions lately, but have had trouble pinning them down… Reading this has made a lot of things clearer to me, so thanks for putting it into words :)
    Simple, clean, appreciative, imaginative… That’s how I want my family’s life to be, I’m feeling very inspired!
    Flick :)

  12. Destiny says:

    YES. I think crave is the perfect word to describe it. Because even though we want it so bad we can taste it, it seems like it’s never in reach. So I just gotta to get off my booty and go GET it! We are going through the SAME thing over here Ash. The toys, the stuff, the closets! I don’t understand how we got here! For whatever reason at the time of purchase or the time of receiving :0) it seems like a great idea. But peeling back the layers is the only way to get through it and I’ll be right along with you dear! I can’t even seem to get going on Christmas shopping because I can’t imagine adding one more thing to our pile of stuff!:0) So this year, we are going to really try to be intentional as well! Love you girl and when I read posts like this it just confirms that we really are soul sisters! #samefamily #samelife #samejesus xoxo

    • Awe, Destiny. HUGS to you ;} I couldn’t agree more. I have no desire to shop for christmas this year. Its not that I don’t want to give… it’s that I don’t want to add to the unmanageable clutter. UGH. Why is the thought so exhausting to me? It’s like I have a real mental block.

  13. Kelly says:

    I also have been in survival mode with three kids! I think I was more mindful about the stuff when the older two were toddlers, but trying to keep up with the schedules of elementary aged children means the current toddler has lots of stuff from the older two to play with. I have dragged 5 garbage bags full of toys out to donate, and 3 to trash. Unfortunately, the donate ones are sitting in my garage when for the time when I finally take them. But they are out! The kids after purging, immediately sat down and wrote long Christmas lists. What am I doing? I feel like I talk myself blue, but they don’t hear me. The toys don’t really come from me either, they are gifts from extended family who in the past have called me a grinch when I requested they cut down on the presents to one per child. But when you add up all of the extended family presents, that is a lot! I need to evaluate again, and figure out how to talk so people listen to me.

    • How about you tell people, again, to limit the gifts to one per child, and that you will be donating anything over that to charity. It might make them think twice about spending the money – either they don’t want to spend money on a gift that will be given away, or they will want to spend money that goes to charity. Of course your children will have to know ahead of time too. Maybe they get to pick which to keep and which to give away.

    • Courtney says:

      We have been working on this idea of simplifying over the last year as well. We told grandparents and other extended family instead of “stuff” to give our kids experiences…movie tickets, a special outing, theme park tickets, etc. Everyone says they love the idea, we will see how it pans out in a few weeks.

  14. Jessica says:

    My husband always made fun of me when I would complain about the “stuff” in our life. I feel like I’m always dealing with “stuff” and none of it really matters. I recently read this blog and thought this is exactly how I feel.

    We moved into a much smaller home two months ago because I couldn’t deal with the big house we used to have while my son is going through chemotherapy again. We agree we are so much happier not dealing with as much “stuff” in the house. The problem is deciding what we truly need and what to get rid of and how. Our garage is still packed with “stuff” we’re having to find time to get rid of. The “stuff” is overwhelming!

    • Erin says:

      I read a lot of blogs and very rarely feel compelled to comment, but for some reason today I did. I am praying for your son and your family. I pray that his chemotherapy is successful and for strength for you and your husband. Hugs!!

    • Jessica-this is one of my favorite posts by her. Praying hard for your sweet son. And for you guys. I just can’t fathom it.

  15. Sarah says:

    I totally & completely here you. We recently did a purge of our daughter’s room. Some things were thrown away, some given away, and others boxed up. She now rotates toys in and out; if she wants a new board game, she has to give up a set of blocks or dolls. They go in the closet until she wants something new. This isn’t to say her room isn’t messy, because it looks very much like the photos above! That is mostly due to the fact that she shares a room with her infant brother, and isn’t in there often enough to pick it up. Regardless, she has less stuff, which makes this OCD mama very happy.

    One blog that speaks to a lot of this is The Simple Mom. I hear a lot of what you’re saying reverberating from her site, as well. It seems to be a common theme among many mamas; simplicity as a lifestyle, not just a quick fix to get our houses clean. Love this series!

  16. I definitely yearn for it. Great post. Hit home for me and has me thinking.

  17. Cindy says:

    I have been letting go of stuff for the past few years. I want a simple, clutter free home. Open space. I still go thru times when I feel – maybe, I need more this or that. It happened this past weekend. I think all you can do is take it as it comes and constantly go back to your values.

  18. Rebekah T says:

    I agree so much with your post and with the comments already left. We do semi-annual purges of our sons toys…these they don’t play with, they have outgrown, etc. I either donate, sell or give as hand-me-downs to friends. It also helps that we limit the gifts we give for birthdays. (Two or three – a real tool for the future, this was my husband’s idea – some of their tools are better than his – but this way when they are adults or even teenagers they will have their own tools to work with and then we give them a toy or two.) For Christmas we limit our immediate family to three presents per child (think 3 gifts from the wise men) – another tool (to add to the collection), a book and then something fun. We also get them 5 little stocking items from the dollar store. And of course they still get gifts from extended family, which we try to limit, but doesn’t always work so well. Even with this they get more than they need, but it does limit things quite a bit.
    Thanks for your openness and honesty and another wonderful post!!! Love this series…wish I could come help you with organizing your home. Merry Christmas to you and yours:)

  19. I think the yearning for simplicity is a spiritual one. The fact that your yearnings for simplicity in your home echo with concern for the poor and for those who have too little instead of too much makes me believe that your yearnings are a gift from God, and you are absolutely right to be listening to them.

    Richard Foster writes about the freedom of simplicity, and I think that’s a key thought. In real simplicity there is freedom. When our “simplicity” requires that we buy the latest and greatest organizational tool to corral our stuff, maybe we’ve gotten off the track a bit.

    If I’m honest, I’ll admit that a lot of my efforts at simplicity have just been trading one type of enslavement for another type of enslavement. I think I need to pull Richard Foster’s book off the shelf and absorb some of the lessons there!

  20. Janice says:

    Great post. You’ve just articulated what I’ve been feeling for months but couldn’t figure out how to explain. Thank you!

  21. Yes. YES. Shouting it from the rooftops. I have been whiny this week. And unmotivated. Because I’m overwhelmed by stuff and things and commitments. I feel like a negative Nancy. I crave simplicity. Crave. And we are going to get rid of SO much. Just needed the motivation.

    Excited to see what 2013 brings for you guys. While I love the idea of organic, pure eating I’m scared to death of how to go about that so I’ll watch you and you can figure it out for me, okay?

    • Absolutely, Erin. I will have more of that coming up but It may be as I learn, too. haha! I just want to avoid hormones in things like milk and chicken. It’s just ridiculous what we bring into our homes. I look around and think, no wonder we’re sick. I mean, really. What are we putting into our bodies? What are we LIVING with?

  22. Krys72599 says:

    Oh, my.
    While I CERTAINLY don’t wish anything horrible to happen to my home, I almost wish that it would all just disappear and allow me to start all over. I’m feeling weighed down by the “stuff” and I want to purge it all and start all over. I have too much. In every definition of the word: too many things, too much to do, too much to be responsible for, and not enough time, not enough space, not enough me.
    I actually had to take two days off from work to straighten out my house enough to begin decorating for the holidays! And while I did some cleaning up, I didn’t do any cleaning OUT. Everything I owned BEFORE, well, I still own it.

    I SO want to just get rid of it all, and start fresh. Clean, new, empty.

    I have no idea where my daughter learned it from, but she wants to own nothing. She doesn’t want “stuff” all around. Although in two weeks she and her fiance are moving into their first house (they’ve lived only in apartments as adults). I wonder if the “stuff” will start to accumulate in HER house (more room? more stuff!)… That will make ME feel better if it does, but it will drive her up every one of her walls!!!

    • Kim says:

      I agree with your idea of starting fresh. I often think about my life when I was first married – the “stuff” my husband and I had that fit into a tiny apartment has now grown to ridiculous proportions. Sometimes I wish I could go back to that early married wife and let her know she does NOT NEED that…..whatever it is. It’s overwhelming!

    • AMEN. I just need time to clean it all out. That’s what I’m doing over the next few months. I’m tired. and I’m tired of being tired. Because of all the stuff.

  23. Amber says:

    Yes, yes! I struggle with this! So true! Stuff has become a burdon! But, you’re right …. how? I mean … really, HOW? When you can’t even go to town without coming home with STUFF. Free balloons, plastic meal toys, etc. We want to teach our kids to be gracious and grateful. But, it shoudln’t come with a heaping load of guilt when we decline the extra ‘stuff’. I think about Katie’s kids in Uganda (The Katie from “Kisses from Katie”) and how they have so very little, yet they are filled with the Holy Spirit and overflow with joy as they play with trash with hearts full of gratitude and lots of laughter. My spirit longs to trade stuff for a deeper connection to God and family. It seems almost impossible living here, though. I battle it on every level.

  24. This totally hit home here, I have 4 kids with 3 of them under 5 and I feel swamped by the amount of stuff we have. I did the all the toys sorted into boxes and still feel overwhelmed but for us it’s clothes, I always seem to have an overflowing laundry basket or three, a sofa full of clean washing and still it’s all over the kids floors. It seems never ending, I’ve just come out the other side of 3 weeks of very sick kids after a vomiting bug and the only things that got washed were the sicky stuff so you can imagine the mounds that are here now!! I want a tidy and reasonably clean home for my kids but just don’t know how to maintain that, I’m a blitzer and consistency is something I battle with – I am craving solutions!!

    • YES. I’ve been there. Done that. You’re not alone.

    • Amber says:

      I ‘get’ that, too! We had the same flu bug right after Thanksgiving and I’m still not caught up on the mountain. I have a much easier time keeping up, thanks to inspiration from Michelle Duggar to keep the kid’s clothing storage/dressers next to the washing machine, but it’s still ridiculous how much stuff we have in the clothing dept! :)

  25. Janna says:

    I highly recommend the book “Simplicity Parenting” (I’m thinking the author is Kim John Payne . . . that is what popped into my head anyway . . .). It really helped me evaluate and think about the stuff we collect (not that we do it perfectly by any means).

  26. Lynn Bass says:

    Dear Ashley,
    I have enjoyed reading your blog over the last few months. I too struggle with the same desires to have a simple organized home where we are good stewards of our time and talents (and believe me – decorating is not one of my talents) and to raise our children to do the same. Thank you for sharing your talent, and insights with such candor. God bless you and your family, I am hoping for success in both of our homes. Merry Christmas!!

  27. Kim says:

    You hit the proverbial “nail on the head.” Yes, I crave simplicity, too. I recently told my husband that a lack of organization and simplicity in my physical space leads me to have a cluttered mind. I can’t seem to work through my “to do” list easily. And what is worse, we take so much of our stuff for granted, even while we see a world outside of our own living on less than $2/day, having no water, no homes, and worse, no knowledge or access to Christ. It melts my heart. This is a tipping point for our family, too. We are praying through some serious changes and I love to read that we are not the only ones. Blessings on your journey.

  28. Jeanine says:

    Yes, and amen. This is right where I’m at. You took the words right out of my mouth, but said it much better than I could have. I’m looking forward to this series for help and inspiration. No pressure, though:).

  29. Summer Brown says:

    Very well said! I have been struggling with the same feelings and trying to figure out how to make my kids less selfish and more compassionate for others. It is a hard one! It is nice to know I am not alone with these feelings/struggles!

  30. Toni says:

    I have also been getting rid of stuff to gain other stuff, but, the other stuff I am trying to acquire is open,peaceful, uncluttered space. It takes time and evaluating and reevaluating. My mudroom is starting to really make me happy. When we moved here 9 years ago a coat rack along one wall made sense. As the years have gone by the coatrack changed from a place to put you jacket to a place to park coats and shopping bags, school bags, aprons, you name it it was living there, gathering dust. In the mean time, brief case, backpack, home school stuff, beautiful shopping baskets, had no where to live and got left anywhere and everywhere. Solution. We built an adorable, large Cubby cabinet. We use laundry baskets for the people with small stuff and the briefcase and rolling pack go directly on a shelf. Pretty market baskets go on top and I donated some of the million reusable bags I had. Works great for now, but I will be willing to change it when it doesn’t anymore.

  31. HeatherB says:

    You’ve touched on so many things that have been gradually becoming apparent to me in our home. Looking forward to seeing where this is going!

  32. Kim says:

    I feel like everyone else on here. And with Christmas around the corner, I so want to be simple and just enjoy. I look at all the toys in my house and just cringe. When perfectly good toys from our oldest are just fine for our almost 3 year old, the grandparenst still want to buy a bunch of new toys – and they want it to be special/memorable/etc. That just does not happen at age 3 :) It’s a constant struggle to get my mother-in-law to understand that they do not need everything on their list – I don’t know why I don’t learn to just suggest 3 things and that’s it! But then she’ll go out and do more. If I have one more Hallmark ornament in my kids’ stockings I may go berserk on Christmas Day! NO MORE! Yes, they are cute. But O.M.G. They are big and with all the ones they make it’s just way too many.

    I hope to go on this journey with you – aiming for a simpler life where that one toy is a treasured one, rather than 20 toys that are only played with for a minute before begin forgotten. Meaningful things in my home, meaningful things in my kids’ rooms, meaningful life.

  33. I can so relate…I have two children, a boy and a girl, two years apart. such different ideas of what they wanted, but it always seemed to be SMALL and have MANY pieces. They are now 28 and 30 years old. back then…there were not as many options for storage, but we used baskets on shelves. I think you will be going through this repeatedly as they grow through stages and interests. Now, is a good time, before Christmas, when you can donate those that are “gently used” before Santa comes. I think it just comes with kids….stuff, stuff, stuff. It is great that you are staying on top of the stuff. Later, like me your children will grow up and move on… Hopefully they will take their stuff with them! periodically, we had packed a box of their “favorites” in a sealed box with the date on it. at last, when we sold the house and retired 2000 miles away, they finally got their boxes out of the rafters and we all had a good laugh at what was their “favorites” as they grew up. Some they still kept, most was donated. Hoping to be a grandma someday, but like my mother, the collection at my house will be small but special. Good luck!

  34. Lucy says:

    OMG! That is my house too. I am dying under the weight of stuff that we all have. My boys lego collection is ridiculous and yet he has asked for more from Santa! If I see another Barbie doll or princess and their tiny miniscule accessories that get sucked up in the hoover I may scream! Even my clothes are weighing down the rail in the wardrobe, something that has never happened before! I have limited time before Christmas to sort things through so it may have to be a big overhaul in the New Year to get rid of stuff that we do not need!

    • Lucy says:

      I forgot to add, I am reading a book by Tammy Strobel called ‘You can but happiness (and it’s cheap) – only on chapter 3 as started it this afternoon but loving it so far and I am hoping I can take some suggestions from her!

  35. Miranda says:

    I can 1000% relate. We’ve accumulated so much stuff over the past few years and instead of taking care of managing the ins (a lot) vs. the outs (relatively non-existant) on a regular basis, we wait until it’s a heaping pile of hoarder-ish craziness to take care of the problem. We are currently building a new house so all of our stuff is in storage, and I am promising myself that no matter how long it takes, I will go through and sort things into keep, toss, and sell piles before they even come into the house. I know if I don’t do it like that, and the boxes come in my new house, it won’t get done.

  36. Shaunna says:

    Yep. I totally get it. I just wrote about it last week…we are majorly simplifying and purging…but it’s for a different reason this year. Get it, friend!

  37. Candace says:

    This post really resonated with me. We just decided to stay in our 1,600 square foot home. We struggle with wanting more safe, but do we NEED it? We have a 20 month old daughter and are hoping to have baby number two on the way soon. We have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Totally enough space for 2 little ones. Why do we feel like we need more? Some times I catch myself feeling embarrassed when we have people over. Embarrassed that our home isn’t bigger or nicer. That is terrible. The bottom line is: we have a home! We have a roof over our head. A warm, safe place to put our children to bed at night. A place full of love. What else do we need? So, thank you for this post. I am glad to know that there are others out there striving for simplicity. And, trying to raise their children to be proud of what they have and not long for more. It’s a hard thing to not get caught up in all the materialistic stuff, but at the end if the day, it has nothing to do with our stuff. It’s all about the memories we are creating, the love we are sharing and the values we are instilling in our children (and, ourselves). Keep on striving for simplicity!

    • thank you for your wise words, Candace. I feel the same way. We are staying in our home and deal with the same things. So thank you.

      • Candace says:

        May I ask….what is the size of your home? I love that you have a playroom! I would adore that.

        • Hey Candace! I think it is a little over 2,000. (I’m bad with square footage.) Four bedrooms-we turned one bedroom into a “playroom” its on the same level and not a bonus room, but it’s their designated area to play. With five people + one big dog, we can feel a little squished…but then again, that’s where I’m going with all of this. There’s a lot to learn from losing some of the stuff that’s stuffing us up. ;}

  38. Gloria says:

    You are definitely off to a great start. Having the blinders removed to see the excess around you is ahead of most Americans. I have been subscribing to minimalist blogs for a few months now and read Jen Hatmaker’s book 7. All inspiring. Moving 10 times in 9 years helps us to stay focused on what’s necessary. I hate picking up, packing, unpacking, extra stuff. Yet, EVERY move I find at least 2-3 boxes to give away when I unpack. 1st world problem, I know, but it’s ridiculous. I think the key is limiting your space. All toys have to fit on this shelf, in this box, etc. No more. And staying out of stores in the first place helps a lot. That’s really what works best for me. Good intentions aside, it is hard to say no when it’s on sale and staring you in the face.

  39. I have been feeling overwhelmed with my stuff for several years now. And every weekend was a search for more stuff – as much as I hated the way stuff weighs me down, I had to have more. My apartment was so crammed full of my acquisitions I was embarrassed to have visitors. My niece said my apartment was like an obstacle course!

    Recently, I asked an out of work friend, who loves to organize, to do a clean sweep of my apartment. So far we’ve turned my guest room, which was stuffed to the gills with every random thing I didn’t know where else to put, into a well-organized, neat and tidy craft room. I can actually walk around in there now! Eight boxes of books to Half Price Books, who knows how many boxes of stuff to Goodwill, furniture to Salvation Army. Yesterday was the guest bath – the linen closet in there now actually has EMPTY SHELVES. Next we’ll start on the kitchen.

    I’m finding it emotionally draining to go through this process. Way more emotional than I expected. But the end result is SO gratifying. There have been 1 or 2 items that I regretted getting rid of, but for the most part it’s been a huge relief to get this weight off my shoulder.

    As my friend says, you have to get rid of the excess baggage in your life to make room for new possibilities. I DO feel more positive about my life than I have for years.

  40. I’m a grandmother who has been there and done that. It may have been a little easier because it was before Happy Meals and other similar give-aways. There also weren’t so many choices.

    Here is what worked for us. Each child had a three shelf, three ft long bookcase. If the toys didn’t fit, something had to go. Somethings were contained in dish pans (legos, Barbies). The rest was arranged neatly on the shelves. Not only does this keep the toy collection from getting too large but it also makes it easier for the child to keep it picked up. This is, somewhat, following the Montessori method but not completely.

    Don’t expect this to result in a neat and tidy room immediately but it will improve the situation and keep it under control.

    Both of my children are now in their 40’s and keep neat and organized homes but I will tell you that when they were teenagers, I kept the doors to their rooms closed.

    I highly recommend the book “Material World” which is a photo album which showcases families from all around the world and their possessions.

    Meanwhile, your struggle to live simply will be more influential with your children than the actual results.

  41. Valerie Malone says:

    We only have a one year old and I understand exactly what you mean, I can only imagine the chaos that 3 kids brings! We haven’t read it yet but we purchased a copy of the book, “The We Generation” for raising socially responsible kids. The book seems to transcend the power that “stuff” has over us, and push our kids to think outward of themselves and even their homes. Good luck with getting back to simplicity! – Val

  42. Lena L. says:

    You have touched something that we have been struggling with as well. I found your blog several weeks ago and love all the inspiration! In fact we are planning a storage shed in the back yard with a half story above it for the kids much like your play house. But back to the theme here – I think in today’s society we should all re-evaluate our “stuff” because it is that, just stuff! and teaching our kids that is so hard today with technology and the media. we don’t want to become survivalist with nothing but our bare hands but we want our children to value the things that are important: family, love, truth, life, beauty, health and a spirit. looking forward to more on this from you.

  43. Gin says:

    YES! I had the same exact feelings this week. My kids have too much stuff… they dont NEED anything for Christmas. We dont make them wait for birthdays or Christmas any longer… they get ‘stuff’ all year long. My husband and I were just having this conversation last night. How do you stop it?

  44. Marsha Sefcik says:

    Your post resonated with me. My family and I for the past two years have been working toward a simplified life. It is indeed a process. We decided to put our home on the market and downsize to a much smaller home- under a 1000 sq/ft. I want my kids to have experiences rather than stuff. We are also being mindful of the stuff we bring into our home. Looking forward to following your process. I will be blogging about ours in the new year.

  45. Maryann C says:

    Love your blog! I’ve been reading it for several months now. This post is right smack in the middle of where we’re at too! I keep trying to whittle our belongings down to less. LESS is my mantra these days. With less stuff, things just become simpler. Also check out the blog Man vs. Debt, lots of useful info and inspirational posts for living a better life, with more experiences and less possessions. I am not affiliated with it in any way, but highly recommend it. Keep up the good work, Ashley and Jamin! I bought your e-book and am going to try to make some frames this weekend! I looooove your style!

  46. Heidi G says:

    I couldn’t agree more, and it’s truly refreshing for me to read your blog. I love this series. I love that you are sharing with us how you are going through the process. I so want more simplicity, and less stuff, in my life and house. Yet every time I begin an purge/organization kick I find that my expectations are too high and I get frustrated and give up. It’s nice to read about someone who is chipping away at the process step by step. So thank you.


    I just heard a gal on the radio today saying that for the month of January they, as a family, committed to giving away 7 items from their home each day. What impressed me was that she didn’t stand in her kids way and let them give away what they felt they didn’t want. I find that my kids are WAY less attached to things than I am.

  48. Jane says:

    You touched on some of the very same things that are going on in my life although my kids are young adults, two of them daughters that live at home. In light of Christmas coming up, I was sorry I asked for wish lists! They have a ton of clothes, shoes, jewelry, books along with the requisite electronics. Their bedrooms are chaos because they have no room for all of their “stuff”. And they want MORE! Somewhere along the way I influenced them…my love of shopping, designer clothes, constant decorating and redecorating our home, having the latest gadgets. We have a summer home complete with a boat, wave runners and kayaks. We drive new cars. Granted, my husband works very, very hard to afford these things, my kids don’t get it. They thing life is going to be this way for them no matter what…like they are entitled. My son who just got married and bought a house came over one day, looked around and said, “You have so much stuff.” And I thought, yeah, STUFF! That’s all it is. So…I think what you are doing in your family and with your kids is very smart. Purge to get more? I think you should get rid of the things they’ve outgrown and let them pick what to donate. Limit what you buy them. Try to live more frugally and make them clean up their “stuff” in order to respect it. It has taken me a long time to realize what I did wrong, but hopefully my girls will head into their adult years with some limits and restraint.

    Sorry this is so long…I should just write a post!! lol!


  49. Dora Taylor says:

    I have been in the same mindset lately. My life is crazy busy with 3 kids at 3 schools (elementary, middle, and high school). I am constantly dropping someone off or picking someone up. Between school things, sports things, and then just their “stuff”, it seems my house is in a constant state of clutter. I too have been feeling like we have too much STUFF. I have been in the process of going through closets and giving away things that we don’t use or just don’t need. Now, with Christmas right around the corner, I feel like I am in a race to get the house in order, only to make room for more stuff.

  50. Angie says:

    I LOVE this post…I can even relate to the gorgeous brass knobs! This sounds oh so familiar. I have completely lost control of the clutter that a family of six brings home. I long for control of our hoarding ways…I can’t wait to see how you tackle this!! Thanks for sharing…

  51. You’re not alone, Ashley; most people have more than they need. I look forward to reading about your journey to living more simply.

    I thought what you said was so important that I linked to it in my blog post I appreciate your sharing your family’s challenges.

  52. Samantha says:

    My husband and I are in this same situation. We’re almost 4 years into our marriage, and we’ve moved apartments several times as we’ve done schooling, internships, new jobs, and visiting family. With each move we realize how much stuff we have that doesn’t matter, and yet with each apartment, there is something else specific we need to make it easier for us to live there. With this most recent move we have realized the opportunity we have to cut back on spending and on the clutter. By the end of next summer, we will be simplified… That’s the goal anyway. Your “lazy gal’s” series has been extremely inspirational. Thank you!

  53. Annette says:

    This is exactly what I’m going through right now and I’m terrified. I am so tired of excess and of all our ‘stuff’ but still I’m terrified to sort it, organize it and give it away. This is something I’ve really been struggling with. Thank you for baring your soul and speaking to mine.

  54. Lara says:

    Are you me? Everything you said mirrors how I feel…right down to the full closets of toys and brass doorknobs! I can’t wait to keep reading

  55. Kendra A. says:

    After reading Simple Mom’s “Organized Simplicity,” we changed our lives drastically. I shut down my business to stay home, and we moved into a smaller house. And got rid of easily half of our stuff. It was really hard, but the rewards have been amazing. AMAZING. The house takes less time to clean, my boys get creative with what they have (even though they still have a lot), we think really hard about a purchase before we make it since space is at a premium. It’s been a life-changer, and I remember those nagging questions all too well before we took the big steps.

  56. thefolia says:

    The Eureka moment is probably the most emotional but you crossed it! It’s wonderful that you see that you are an instrumental force in teaching the right path to your little ones. We remind our little ones all the time about how blessed they are to have shelter, food and water and especially toys. Finding your own system in your nest is an evolutionary one, so go with the flow and resist the urge to fill up your nest with stuff. Before the purchase, ask how will this make me feel in my nest? What will it teach my family? And always, always be grateful!

  57. Raylynn says:

    I have realized the same thing! I have started to declutter and really think about th eitems we have. I have 3 small shelves around my kitchen window. As I was clearing them off to clean last weekend, I wondered why I thought I had to have several items on each shelf, and not just one. Now they each have one item, and look a whole lot better! Not cluttered and easy to clean! Why have I kept those things for so long? Because I got cought up in life and forgot to really look around my home. Now that I am looking, I see many items that don’t make me happy any more. Instead, they make me feel crowded and stifled. I will take each room a little at a time and simplify!
    Thanks for posting about this subject. Helps me put life in perspective.

  58. Jessica says:

    I’m finding it is definitely a continual process. I go through and get rid of things, and then do it again after some time has passed, and then again. I find the more I’ve been doing this, it gets easier to just let go of the *stuff* and even not bring more in if it’s not going to help organize and simplify life. I just never know what to do with all the PAPER. It overwhelms me. And that’s why I have areas in the house that make me smile from ear to ear because they look simple, clean, and refreshing…and areas that are literally stacks of papers and things that need to be organized and corralled. I look at those in disgust.

  59. Tennille says:

    WOW! Ashley, thank you so much for writing this vulnerable, timely and relevant post. It was like coming up for air after trying to see how long you could hold your breath. I have been feeling all of these same feelings and having the same conversations with myself, inside myself for quite a while now. I even considered stopping all blog reading for awhile as it seems I’m always being directed to a website to buy jewelry or shoes or home decor stuff. ( It helps that I live in Canada and either most of these websites don’t ship to the North or it’s crazy expensive). However, blog reading is also the one thing I do everyday to re-charge and ignite the creative side of my brain so not to fear I will continue reading and loving what you have to say to us everyday. Here’s my take on this issue: we confuse contentment for happiness. What we really crave is to be content, with who we are, how we live, and the choices we make. In the struggle to find contentment, we settle for happiness which I feel is far more temporary than contentment. Also, the choices we make, like buying shoes in order to feel temporarily happy, often battle against our efforts to find contentment. We are also bombarded by media of every kind that “stuff” is the answer. What every happened to “all you need is love”? :) Sidebar: Have you watched Madame Blueberry? Stuffmart? A great lesson for us adults as well. What I’m learning is that we all have enough stuff and our pursuit for stuff robs us of the very thing we want more than anything which is “to be enough”. To be content with who we are, how we raise our kids, how we treat our friends and neighbors and how we spend the love that God has given us. We spend so much time getting stuff and dealing with stuff that at the end of the day we have nothing left of ourselves to give to or spend on others. The hard part is, how do we get off this crazy merry-go-round? I think for me, although I’m constantly purging and organizing something, it starts right now with Christmas. I just can’t do the craziness anymore. I want my kids to enjoy Christmas the way I did as a child but I don’t want them to grow up and feel ripped off because Christmas isn’t what it used to be. I want my kids to learn that there’s nothing wrong with having things but that there is so much more to life. I also want them to know that we don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of stuff for Christmas because that’s what the world is making Christmas about. We don’t need anything. All 4 of my kids have enough toys to last a life time and they don’t need any more. So, we are opting out of the excess of Christmas this year. I will buy them a few things that they need because they’ve grown out of their jeans or socks but we are keeping it small. Instead we are going to do a 12 days of Christmas of sorts. I’m going to try to plan one day out and then one day in. My kids love to swim and craft, and both of my older girls want to learn how to sew. I’m going to choose things that we can do as a family that will help us connect and spend quality time together over the holidays rather than having one crazy day of gift opening and then spending the rest of the holiday season feeling like we are missing something. I don’t know if it’s going to work, it’s definitely going to be different but we have to start somewhere. We have to begin to teach our kids that Christ came to earth to GIVE of himself, to show us love and make us complete. In Him we live, and move and have our being. In Him we.are.enough because His strength is made perfect in our weakness or rather, his excess is made perfect in our lack. I could go on and on as this topic is so fresh in my mind as has been for a long time. Please continue your journey Ashley so that we can all learn together to balance our lives and be content with who we are and what we have. Thanks!

  60. Betina says:

    “We’re living a life of disorganized excess.” That line really hit home for me, and sums it all up. Thank you for a great post.

  61. Maria Smith says:

    This is a great post. I am sort of experiencing the same thing, just from a different angle. Our family has done a lot of moving ever since we became a family. This is our first permanent home, but still we are learning about being intentional, and making sure our home/lifestyle is what we want it to be.
    I have worked with a deep cleaning service a few times. It’s great for cobwebs and greasy hoods in the kitchen, but I still have to get in there and make sure that we aren’t collecting junk

  62. Bam! I am right there with ya, can’t wait to see what you have coming because I am like a deer in the headlights, frozen, I don’t know where to start!!!!

  63. Rebecca says:

    We lost our home in the April ’12 tornadoes and pretty much lost all of our belongings. It’s a horrible feeling to lose your ‘home’, but it quickly didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t missing any of my ‘stuff’. As we were sifting through debris trying to recover things, I even found myself tossing out things I could have saved because I’d quickly realized that I didn’t need them. Through blessings of insurance we have a lovely home and quickly started buying things back. It was actually a nice feeling to live in a home that didn’t have ‘junk’ laying around. I find myself tossing things out much easier these days and don’t just stuff things into corners or boxes out of the way because I don’t want to get overwhelmed with ‘stuff’ again.

  64. Gemma says:

    I haven’t had time to read through all of the replies but there seem to be a lot of people out there with the same goals. :-)

    I’m a 31 year old mature student and this summer I started my own journey of de-cluttering and minimising. It’s been slow, I’ve had clear outs, I still have a looong way to go until I’m happy with the amount of stuff I have. I had my own house, then lived in a flat, then a tiny student room and now I’m in a shared house. I filled every space (I think it’s human nature to do this) and have had to get rid of so much every time I’ve moved over the years. My struggle is to keep on top of things on a shorter term basis, not just when I have to pack up and move house. I’ve read so many blog posts over the last few months and it seems that having some kind of routine so that the purging/taking stock of what you have process becomes normal for you. I think someone else mentioned how they do this with their children but I always have a bag by the recycling ready to be taken to the charity shop. When it’s full, off I go to donate.

    Even though I don’t have children I have managed to upset my family by asking them only to get ME one or two things I will actually use and need. I hate to imagine the fuss if I did have kids :-) I also suggested they buy a gift from Oxfam on my behalf. I’m not sure if this is just a UK thing or you have similar schemes in the states (you must do) but that could be nice way for children to understand the value of money and what giving up one gift could give another child/person/family in a less fortunate part of the world.

  65. Ugh! I struggle with this every. single. day!! I feel like we have all this stuff but it doesn’t mean anything. We don’t have a huge house and trying to stuff all the “stuff” in it is getting difficult. Some days I just want to throw it all away and start over. I’m so glad you wrote this and that someone feels the same way I do! I’m excited to hear about your journey and hope to be able to follow along and simplify my own (and my family’s) life at the same time!

  66. Yes, yes, and yes!! All of it yes. I feel like you took the words right out of my mouth!! I’m tired of trying to organiz all my stuff, when the real problem IS the mess. I too am craving simplicity and a home that works for me instead of me having to work for it all the time – constantly having to pick up the stuff. I have been decluttering for a while, but then I go back and wonder “where did all this stuff come from?” Constant battle. Thanks for you words and know that you are not alone.

  67. Marian says:

    It feels like this is how a lot of people are feeling the world over. It’s not like you try to have lots of stuff, somehow it just happens. I have been thinking of this as I look at gifts for Christmas, This is what I have come up with… just get them one gift, they will get loads of stuff from relatives, the other idea is to buy (it may not even cost anything!) them an experience, one they will treasure in their memories for ever (take photos!). over time the “stuff” will reduce and you will be teaching your kids that it’s not all about getting “stuff”, but how to make the most of life.

  68. Jenny says:

    I feel the exact same way as you do. You have beautifully said exactly how I feel. May we be successful as we strive toward this endeavor.

  69. Alison says:

    And wow.
    All I can think to say right now is ditto. To the millionth degree (as I have said to myself with so many other posts you’ve written).
    I’m three days late reading this post because I have just had a garage sale, which took me about a week to sort and organise all the stuff I wanted to get rid of. Perfectly good, functional, even pursposeful items that I knew no longer had a place in our home. The kickstarter for the sale was the decision to get rid off all my craft supplies and unfinished projects, 10+ years worth that had become a burden because every time I looked at them or even thought about them sititng there, Expectation and Comparison taunted me with their chorus of ‘it won’t be perfect’ and ‘you can’t do it as well as xyz’. Now, getting rid of it all may have been somewhat extreme, but God prompted me to really evaluate the things in my life that were keeping me from Him, and the crafting ‘issue’ was what came to mind first. Not the items or projects themselves, but the emotional ‘stuff’ that went with it all.
    So I put it all out with a ton of other things from the house, and it was so freeing and liberating, and somewhat sobering. I sold a lot of stuff, and whilst I can see the dent that was made, there is still so much stuff left. Fortunately it can all go to the local charity organisations, but I know there is still so much stuff in my house to get rid of. My cupboards overflow with things that I once thought were important to keep, and so I’ve lugged it all with me from house to house. Most of it went into the cupboards when I moved in here 3.5 years ago, and hasn’t seen the light of day since. It all has to go.
    But the things for me will be to not fill the cupboards up again, because that’s what I do. Accumulate to fill the empty inside. God has been working on that in me over the last few years, and those needs are beeing named and healed, but that is still my ‘default’ action – getting, accumulating, thinking the item will make my life better. And as you so beautifully articulated, my children have learnt to emulate that, and now I need to model a different way of living to them.
    I think it’s more than just a lifestyle change. It’s a ‘soul change’ – to recognise why we do what we do, keep repeating the same bad habits, with the same outcomes, and to ask the Holy Spirit to change that within us. That’s what I learnt through 31 Days – to recognise the motivations of my habits, and to be intentional about changing the ones that aren’t positive in my life. For me, the biggest one was my automatic response to nearly everything – ‘I’ll do it later’. When the ‘stuff’ overwhelms, and there isn’t any clean undewear because the washing fairies didn’t come, I always think ‘I wish I’d done it then’, and yet I don’t change anything to avoid ending up in that situation. I think Einstein (or someone) gave that as the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over agian and expecting a different outcome each time.
    Your post could have been written with my thoughts and frustrations. I think I can say ‘I know exactly how you feel’. I’ve posted ‘those’ photos on my blog (and they were of my bedroom), in the name of Keeping It Real, and I still cringe to think about it. Changing thse habits that have been ingrained my whole life is frustrating, difficult and somewhat painful, but also so liberating and peaceful, as I know they are changes that will make more room to breathe, and to let Jesus enter in. Like you, I feel guilty that this is the one of the primary issues I’m dealing with in my life at the moment, and there are people in our world who have no idea when they’re going to eat again. A little perspective can go a long way.
    For me, right now, the first change I’ve made is that there will be very few material gifts this Christmas. I’m giving my kids the gift of my time, an ‘experience’ for each of them with just me and them individually – a camping weekend, trips to the beach to go surfing, days to go exploring our community and discover new things. I’ve been talking with my kids about the changes I’m making, and why, how it’s cost me money to get rid of stuff that I spent money accumulating, and how I feel about that knowing that there are so many in our community who go without.
    I have been down this road so, so many times before, and I’ve always fallen back into my old ways. Not this time. The difference this time is that I’ve finally worked out I can’t do this in my own strength, I have to rely on God for His direction and provision.
    Less is more, in so many ways. Les, stuff, less comparison, less shame, less guilt, more room to breathe, more room to live, more to give and most importantly more of God.
    Like you, I wish I could click my fingers and be where I want to be, but that’s not how it works. Baby steps, one at a time, and people to share the journey with make the difference. Thank-you for putting your heart out there for us all to see, and for being an encouragement.

  70. Taryn says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I think sometimes people feel the more we have the happier we will be. I have been in reflection mode for the past couple of weeks on how to simplify my families life. I feel like I am running around dropping kids off at preschool and kindergarten all week long. Then on the weekends trying to make up for neglecting my kids by taking them out to have fun. The result a very chaotic home. Simplicity is the goal!

  71. Hallie G says:

    I have been feeling the same way. We have done a lot of moving over the last 13 years of marriage, and we always purge when we move, but even after our latest move, I still feel like we have too much stuff. So maybe with this next move in a couple weeks, I can be more deliberate with what I unpack. I definitely think life could be so much simpler than we allow it to be, and in order for our kids to be more responsible adults, we need to take control and simplify.

  72. Victoria says:

    I have always struggled with these very issues. A few years ago, we had a terrible leak in our kitchen and it immediately needed to be gutted and fixed. I had to hurriedly empty my kitchen, keeping the bare essentials to use in a make-shift kitchen. When the renovations were complete, I really evaluated why I had all the “extras” when I had managed just fine with the bare essentials. That was eye-opening for me. I’ve taken that same philosophy into other rooms of our home. But, I’ve stopped short at the kids’ spaces. I guess because I figure it’s not mine! But, it is my responsibility to teach them that imagination thrives in simplicity, not excess. I have no words of wisdom, other than it is a worthwhile venture! I’m right there with you! Do not grow weary in doing right!

  73. chelsey canterbury says:

    i definitely relate! something has been stirring in me for quite some time. a few months ago i came across a book called ‘7:an experimental mutiny against excess’ by jen hatmaker (that i HIGHLY recommend if you haven’t read it already) that hit the same chord that’s been bugging me for a while. now we’re moving out of state and i’m excited to take concrete steps toward simplistic, Jesus centered living.

  74. AMEN! I cannot tell you how much this has been hitting home with me lately. You said it all so perfectly, all the thoughts I’ve been having for a few months now. I appreciate you sharing because it helps keep the spark in me to create a change in my own home. It’s so easy to fall off track even after you have the revelation to make a change. I’ll be looking forward to reading about your journey to keep me on task too. :) have a great holiday!!

  75. Melissa says:

    Oh my – you are my emotional twin right now. I am cleaning (because my in-laws are coming to visit). My home, my life, is filled with stuff. Stuff we may use, stuff we might need, stuff that my be used for crafts, stuff we can ebay, stuff we can consign. Notice a trend….I am filled with stuff I don’t want! The frugal me, save a penny at all costs, has a hard time getting rid of stuff. Want I really want is less, of everything. I want a fulfilling life with my family, not a chaotic life with useless, meaningless crap. Thanks for the motivation to clear the clutter!!

  76. Lauren says:

    I’m right there with you… I’ve been making lists and I’m planning on spending the next two weeks simplifying our home and our lives. Like you said, it’s about so much more than just having a neat and tidy home – it’s a mindset and a way of raising kids. I don’t want my children to place as much value on stuff as our society (and their mom) does. I want them to value the eternal things. Purging our closets and donating toys will just be a stepping stone to that more simplified way of life, I’m hoping.

    A new blogging friend sent me your way and I’m so glad that she did!

  77. Andrea says:

    I am right there with you on this subject, in fact, I began my little reinvention of myself a few months back by attempting to simplify my life….taking a job that I actually like (maybe will love one day) the kicker…..a whole lotta less money and a real life work schedule….no more saying yes or sure I’ll help….with too many things that I don’t have time for….that take me away from my family….This was so hard for us. to choose to live with a great deal less money…knowing we would sacrifice so much of the stuff that we had grown acustom to…but it is a process. I failed miserably with christmas….buying more than we needed….more than I had committed to….. and now I am recommitting……going drawer by drawer….closet by closet… those things to others that need them…….and buying only what we need. we can live with more. I want to choose less and teach my children that they are more important and people are more important than things. I too am tired of keeping up……glad to see someone else on this journey. I hope to learn from you and gain insight and strength along the way. Thanks for the post……I am again inspired.

  78. Ms. Miles says:

    I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had people call us describing the same exact situation that you’re in. It’s a pretty common problem in houses across the country (at least it seems that way). We’ve heard everything from parents needing to help teach their kids how to clean up after themselves to husbands saying their wives have had enough of their hoarding and they need to get organized. The best solution everytime is to use some kind of containers. No matter where you plan on using them, they can help you get organized in a hurry. It’s a simple way for kids to clean up their toys after they’re done playing, just toss them into a bin and put it back under the bed or in the closet.

  79. Nicole says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! Each and every word here I can relate too –it’s not just the stuff but feeling like you are not being a good role model for our children and helping them learn what’s important in life. This is so very well written and inspiring! I look forward to see how you are progressing and getting started myself with purging! Here’s to a lighter 2013!

  80. Kelly Lane says:

    I recently found your blog and have been following the lazy girl series. I realized the other day that I don’t so much need to “organize” (well, ok, maybe a few rooms!) but what I want/need is to simplify. Which if you think about it is a lot harder than just getting organized! Anyways, I wanted to tell you that I love your site and your writing!

  81. Sara Caldwell says:

    I have 4 children ranging in ages from 19 down to 7 so we have been through this so many times I can’t count. We’ve tried many different approaches, like the toy storage in the basement where they can only have 10 toys out at a time(too much work for mom), or the “if you don’t put it away mom threatens to put it in a box for a month”, don’t recommend that one either. Anyhow, the best system for us is to simply try to not allow the junk to enter the house in the first place. I realized this past year with my new attitude on “stuff” that if you just don’t go to Target, in return you won’t have nearly the amount of junk. I recommend two books to stay inspired on the war against consumerism, that I have to admit I purchased because I wanted to have them to reread when I needed a reminder. They are Living Simply with Children by Marie Sherlock and Serve God Save the Planet by Matthew Sleeth.
    It is very eye opening when you start to go through and purge and I agree with you that it makes you more aware of where your priorities have been and the example that we are setting for our kids.
    Thank you for your honesty and for taking the time to tackle this very important task. We are a throw away culture and that needs to change but it has to be stopped at the production line but that won’t happen until a whole bunch of Americans realize that we don’t need so much to live and be happy. Now I sound like the Lorax but hey that book turned out to be strangely prophetic.
    Good Luck. I absolutely love your blog!

  82. Amye Mae says:

    Yes! This post definitely resonates. We are in an 900 sq ft apartment right now, but even that can take two adults an entire morning to straighten/clean…and the stuff I know is piled away in drawers and hidden corners causes undue anxiety. A simplified lifestyle is in order going forward. Can’t wait to follow this series!