Simplifying, World care, Your best self

Some lessons on decluttering and simplifying mindfully

So, if you haven’t heard, this month I’m playing along with The Minimalists for their Mins Game. It goes like this, day 1, get rid of 1 thing, day 2, 2 things… and so on until day 30, where you get rid of 30 items. At the time of writing this i’m on day 15, and have purged 121 items from my home. These have ranged from books and clothes to more random items such as the extra nutcracker i found in my cutlery drawer (I hope to never be in the position to need two nutcrackers – worst job ever!)

There aren’t many rules, just purge the items before midnight each day! I’m not really into rules though, for me, the game is about getting rid of clutter whilst being kind to myself. Playing the game is actually just another point on my ‘to do’ list everyday this month. So if I have a busy day and don’t get it done, I’m not gonna kill myself doing a midnight run to the Sallies store!

Decluttering vs mindful decluttering

The part of me that wants to declutter and minimalise my physical belongings is very often in direct conflict with the part of me that wants to simplify my life and do everything I can to reduce my environmental footprint. And trying to marry these concepts up can be tricky. But it can be done. So I decided that this time around I would play the Mins game ‘mindfully’.

That is, deciding where each item will be re-homed (most of my things have been donated to op shops) or re-purposed (like the broken electric blanket I’m making into a mattress protector), rather than adding the item to our rubbish bin. This has been fairly easy so far but as I get closer to the end of the month it’s going to get hard. You see there are quite alot of items in our homes that no one else would want. Like the ‘free’ items you accepted from your Grandma or the chemist where you spent your paycheck. Case in point – the free makeup brushes I got when I brought my last lot of foundation. 

So it leaves me wondering… why did I accept this ‘free’ item in the first place. I’ve put free in quotation marks because ultimately this item was not free. It has cost me space (albeit a small amount) in my home, and space in my head – deciding what to do with said item. And then it has cost me time to declutter it. This is just one example but there are many more things like this in our house. And when you add up all those ‘free’ items and all the time and space it’s cost you…? Well you get my point.

And herein lies Lesson # 1…

Mindfully refuse things that you don’t need.

Easier said than done sometimes! If you know that you don’t need the hand me down clothes from your sister-in-law’s auntie then just say no. Politely of course. But flex that no muscle! You don’t have to accept everything that comes your way. Like the free saucepan that comes with the the set upgrade at Briscoes… that you don’t really need because you are already purchasing 6! Free is always tempting but if you can’t immediately think of a use for it – REFUSE! Also don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll try and sell it or give it away. Chances are it will sit in a cupboard until the next time you declutter. Or if you really must accept a free item then challenge yourself to give it away in the same day.

My second take out for this month so far is not really about the challenge or minimising/decluttering at all. It’s about being kind to myself. My month didn’t start off well, I spend a good 5 day’s of the first 2 weeks down a hole of overwhelm. I missed several days of decluttering. I missed my weekly blog post for the first time in 3 months. I was completely drained and exhausted. When I realised I had quite a few days of this challenge to catch up on my brain immediately went to quitting mode. It’s too late. I’ve missed too many days. I’ve failed. Today, day 15, i’ve picked myself back up, dusted myself off, and caught up.

So, lesson # 2…

Be kind to myself.

Stuff happens. Life is unpredictable. Kids get sick. Mums get PMS. You over-commit yourself. The dishwasher breaks down. And yep, it can all happen in the same week. Grace is a crucial component of taking on any challenge. Whether it be a decluttering challenge, or a healthy eating challenge, or something a bit more serious like quitting smoking. We are human, completely and utterly imperfect and designed to fail 🙂 That’s why grace and forgiveness are needed.

I’m glad I didn’t decide to quit my challenge for the month. I’m 115 items lighter and it feels fantastic! I’ve already learned and relearned two important lessons as well.

Onwards and upwards!!

If anyone out there is playing along or if you think you might want to give it a go… here are a few guidelines i’m using to help me.

  1. This month I have to stick to my items only. I’m not touching the girls toys, books or any of my husbands things. Kitchen is fair game though since that’s predominantly my space.
  2. I’m determined to think mindfully about what to do with each and every item. I don’t want to add 500 items to landfill.
  3. Learn from the challenge. The biggest thing we can do to reduce our rubbish is to REFUSE items. We have to think carefully when we are offered things.
  4. Teach. Try and involve the kids in what i’m doing.
  5. Be kind to myself. Like i said above, if i have a busy day on day 21, i’ll just add those items to day 22. Also, I’m not gonna bust a gut to get to the recycling centre before it shuts everyday. Being in the boot of my car is good enough!

Let me know how you are going with your decluttering/spring cleaning!