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Monday, October 16

October : Opt Out

October – Opt Out

It’s hard to keep a clear mind when we’re constantly being bombarded with stuff!  This month, your challenge is to get off junk mail lists, clear the clutter in your house, and simplify.

Now, I know that for some folks, it can be stressful just to think about parting with possessions, but it can be done.  Not only is it good for your mind, but it’s good for your body, too.  A clutter-free home helps to build a calm space that has less dust, dirt, and allergens.

Clearing the Clutter
If you have things that you're on the 
fence about parting with, put them in a box and put that box up for a year.  If you haven't needed, or even thought of, those items during that time, then it's probably safe to toss them.  But they're still there for that year, if you decide that you do need them.

To not get overwhelmed, just do one room at a time.  
As you're sorting, consider these three categories :

Strategies for Refusing the Clutter :
  1. Buy less :  The less you consume, the less you pay for, and the less you have to find a place to store / maintain / clean.  In this sense, less is more.
  2. Eco-purge :  Don't just toss items....donate the things in good condition, and re-purpose or recycle the rest!  (Clothing in poor condition makes for great cleaning rags.)
  3. It's a process :  Life happens.  Stuff happens.  Recognize that you may purge now, and need to purge again later.  Letting go is a process.  Just remember that having less possessions doesn't mean you are deprived.  It benefits you and the nature around you.
  4. Watch "The Story of Stuff" below.  It will change the way you look at purchases!

Now that the Clutter’s Gone….Clean the House!
I’m not saying to turn all Martha Stewart and keep a picture of perfection.  After all, I have a hard time believing that anything magazine-worthy can house a truly active, and happy, family.  In fact, if you have children who haven’t been involved in your new healthy habits, now is the time to get them involved in your changes!!

Home Economics - Real World Style
About twice a year, spring and fall, we do a deep cleaning and de-cluttering.  It's a light week of school - mostly the three Rs with the emphasis on home economics.  Our children need to learn housekeeping skills, whether they be girls or boys.  If we take the time to teach them properly, then we can effectively work ourselves out of a job one day...and I don't know about you, but sitting back and watching them do the housework while I read a book sounds lovely.

It's a lot of up-front work, but it gives us a chance to bond over our dislike of cleaning the toilets.  It also allows me to teach them that we all have to do things in life that we don't like, because everyone relies on everyone else to do their part.  (And sometimes, that part is "math lesson.") 

We don't switch out the clothes each season because I keep everything in their closet and drawers.  All seasons.  Oklahoma's weather switches often enough that it's prudent to keep everything handy.  Plus, they have enough space.  We don't need eighty changes of clothing per person.  Enough to get through two weeks is more than enough.  The same rule applies to toys : you only need what you can play with.....except - I seriously think that the Legos are procreating in the middle of the night!

I created a worksheet for them to use as we clean the house.  It lays out exactly what needs to be done (no, they can't do it all yet) and how it should be done.  Details that you and I would take for granted are spelled out (eg, remove items from counter before wiping).  After a while, most children will take pride in helping to keep the house tidy.

If you're ready to get started de-cluttering your home, here is a beginner's worksheet from Home Storage Solutions.  It says September on it, but will work for any month - just start with Day 1.  


The Lure of Souvenirs & Mementos

As we've travelled more, and begun collecting, my husband and I have talked about the option of choosing memories, consumables, and photographs as our souvenirs.  Right now, we tend to purchase consumables - artisanal foods from factory tours, activity books from a museum that we use for school, or postcards to mail to family members.  But we often find that the experience itself, and the photos and memories of it, are more satisfying.

Mementos, on the other hand, can be a hard thing to categorize...you don't want to part with them, but they're not really something that you use either.  Where do you put trophies, artwork, certificates, and such?  One suggestion is to get a revolving picture frame (replace the artwork every week or two).  Another option is to get a plastic tub for each child, label it with the child's name, and put it in the basement or attic.  You can store mementos in these bins and pull them out for reminiscing.
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