When I clean my kitchen…which is about a million times a day (I have no idea how it gets so disgusting so quickly)…I like to listen to podcasts.
I have about ten I enjoy, but probably my favorite one is Happier With Gretchen Rubin. My minor in college was sociology. It would have been my major, but my academic advisor told me I could get literally no job with that degree.
I’ve literally had no job since graduating college (that required a degree)…sooooo I guess I could have stuck with it. I am obsessed with human nature, and why we do what we do. Personality assessments…social norms and mores…I love it all!
Gretchen Rubin’s topics are sociological in nature. She presents two sides of a particular human trait. I find it absolutely fascinating.
She podcasts with her sister, which makes me love it even more. Mostly because Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, are near clones of my older sister and me. Every time they discuss their differences, it sounds just like us. It’s so fun!
One of the traits they discuss is whether you’re a simplicity lover or an abundance lover.
I am 10000% a simplicity lover. I underbuy food because I don’t like to fill my fridge (which is a problem when there are six people who prefer to have food to eat). I don’t wear much jewelry. I can’t handle clutter. I will give away things I may need just because I am annoyed by the space it takes up.
You can imagine how hard it is living in a smallish house with six people. None of who share my love of simplicity, it seems.
The constant mess in my house is probably my biggest frustration in raising kids. I homeschool my kids and limit their extracurricular activities. Not because I am weird, but because I can only juggle so much in a week. My husband works a lot, and we have no family in town…so I can only enroll them in that which I can do on my own. Which is a long way of saying my kids are home many more hours during the day than most kids. My house is well lived in (to put it kindly). To put it less kindly, it feels like I am living in a frat house. Sticky floors. Clothes all over the floor. Food shoved in weird places. And the faint smell of pee lingering throughout the house. It’s glamourous.
About a year ago, I stumbled upon Becoming Minimalist. I became obsessed immediately. I have always been really good at decluttering my home and getting rid of stuff I don’t use, but reading through Joshua’s posts made me realize I could do even more. Over the next several months, I cleaned out every room in our house. I was surprised how much stuff I found to give away, because as I said, I had kept up well with the decluttering process.
I have LOVED clearing out my house. But I will be honest…it hasn’t helped all that much with the mess. However, the clean up process is MUCH faster now. I gave away a lot of my kids’ toys (and/or threw away small parts of toys they never use anyway). They didn’t even notice. But instead of messing up the house with little toys (that take FOR. EV. ER. to clean up), they destroy it with different things…sheets pulled off of the bed, art projects, repurposing boxes from packages, food creations, etc.
While I love the creativity it’s bringing out, the mess remains. I definitely have let go of a lot of my household standards, but I still realllllllly love a clean house. It’s just elusive…except for the one night a week I stay up super late to clean it. I will literally stay up an extra hour just to enjoy the clean.
The journey to owning less has been really great. I no longer buy cheap crap, and for me to spend money on a tangible item, I have to really want it. I was not a big spender before anyway, but now I am just less apt to make an impulse buy. (Though it’s still a journey, I have loved becoming less materialistic.)
Even though my house remains messy, because I have less stuff, the clean up is much faster (sticky floors notwithstanding).
You would not come to my house and think, “Oh, wow, you’re such a minimalist.” Once again, I have six people in my house, so there is still lots of stuff. But there isn’t an abundance of stuff…and 99% of what we own, we actually use.
Giving stuff away becomes addicting, so when I heard about Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up…I wanted to read it! Becoming Minimalist is very thorough and has more than enough information, so I was not expecting to learn all that much from this bestselling book. The reason it intrigued me was for the sociological factor: I am not a world traveler, and I know very little about the social mores of other cultures. The Japanese perspective on tidying up interested me.
As I expected, the information isn’t really anything that new to me (but kudos to Marie for selling millions of copies!!), but her quirky style is fun.
Over the last year, I have gone through my closet a few times and have pared it down. Shopping for clothes is something I love, and it’s what my mom and I do anytime we’re together. She knows how much I enjoy shopping and also knows how limited to my budget is…so she so generously takes me shopping (yes, I am 33, and my mom still buys my clothes! Don’t judge.). Getting rid of clothes is probably the hardest part of decluttering for me. (I am super good at getting rid of everyone else’s though!)
Marie Kondo said something I found to be very interesting. To paraphrase, she said that if other family members aren’t as tidy as I wish they were and it’s bothersome, it probably means I have an area of my life that needs tidying.
It sounds weird, but it’s true! I knew my closet was the one thing I could definitely be more hard core with.
This is what my closet looked like before (this is in its full glory…I did not tidy up for the pictures):
Per the KonMari way, I took everything out of my closet. This step is actually super helpful. When you have to touch every item of clothing and put it back, it really does help to get rid of stuff. I tried on most every item. Some things I had to admit just don’t look good on me. And some items actually looked cuter than I remembered.
You can see I didn’t have that much to begin with (compared to most women). Even so, there is a finite amount of clothes you can wear in a given week.
After taking every item out and only putting back clothes that fit, I am very happy with the results.
This shoe holder had been on Brett’s side of the closet in a funky place behind his clothes kind of. It was hard to see my shoes. I like this much better. Because I am working to keep my clothes to a minimum, I don’t need the space for clothes.
The process of owning less has been strangely freeing. We aren’t in debt, and we live fairly countercultural (in that we don’t spend more than we make…and our income is not a lot)…yet, owning less (and thereby buying less) has been empowering. Not to get all philosophical…but somehow by giving A LOT of stuff away (and not missing it at all), I’ve come to see that there are a lot of cultural ways of thinking that I subscribe to without even realizing it. And it is kind of cool to get out of the rat race of American consumerism and consumption. Not that I am perfect in it. Not even close. But I have definitely changed the way I live.
It turns out that sociology degree could have come in handy after all. Blogging about the deep-seated issues in our culture could totally be a job. Thanks for nothing, advisor man.