Friday, November 21, 2008

How much is too much?

I've started reading this book called Scaling Down: Living Large in a Smaller Space. No, we're not moving....I just want to STOP accumulating.....stuff! I'm not exactly sure how it happens really. One day, you wake up and absolutely every available space in your house has something in it. It's almost as though stuff has baby stuff and so on and so on.....

Honestly, I was hooked by the first sentence of the first chapter...."When Mother Teresa died, the media reported that she left behind only a bed, a chair, and a blue sweater". This was very humbling to me. As I look around my house, I see many things. I see wants and needs....but mostly wants. Could we get by with less? Absolutely!

The book goes on to say, "We also live in a country where it seems un-American not to have more things than we can keep track of, a society in which the largest homes, automobiles, or cheeseburgers are believed to be the best. Our instinct to accumulate has deep roots. Our parents and grandparents, in the shadow of the Depression, learned to keep an iron grip on anything that might still have some "good" in it. Little got thrown away. Then in the postwar 1940's and 1950's, Americans were encouraged to buy, buy, buy and to acquire every luxury they could afford".

This reminded me of a friend's grandmother who saved everything...even the little plastic strawberry containers and the big, thick, pink rubber bands that kept broccoli bunches together. Our dining room table tends to be the junk area of our house. As a matter of fact, here is a picture of my dining room table earlier this week.


I promise you that I clear off this table EVERYDAY....but...by the end of the day, it all comes back. There are times when I get most (or...all) of my discouragement as a wife and mother from this one, single place. The status of the dining room table pretty much tells you the status of our lives at any given moment. On this one table is Dan's coffee cup, Lego's, my ball cap, Olivia's baby that she sleeps with, plastic tub of crayons, my purse, place mats, pens and pencils, coloring book, Amelia's artwork and the anniversary flowers that Dan brought home for me.....among other things! How does one family of 5 eat at this table?? How does one 8 year old do his homework at this table???

I know it's not realistic to expect that we have only the things that Mother Teresa had, but, I want to be a better steward of the blessings that God has allowed us to have. I'm not sure exactly how to do this.....which is why I'm reading this book!

I will share more as I read further. Please feel free to share your thoughts on your "House of Stuff" and any decluttering ideas that have worked for your family.

7 comments:

Therese said...

I need to read this book. I need to learn to de-clutter. You're not alone on this one!

Juli said...

I thought you had taken a picture at my house, but the tablecloth was different! I immediately went to my library's website and put that book on hold. The biggest problem will be to get the rest of the family to go along. I am totally guilty of always wanting new learning things, though! And books, lots and lots of books.

Wendy said...

Here's a tip from someone who hates clutter! Start with one room and get rid of everything you can. I try to use the one year rule: If you haven't used it in a year it goes. Of course I don't apply this to sentimental items! Also, do not start on the next room until you are completely done with the first one. This means also closets and drawers! Donate everything you can. I frequently drop off at Goodwill.

Therese said...

I need to read it too.

I posted at the beginning of the year about de cluttering the children's clothes. I swear when I went through the girls stuff we gave away more than we kept. That is how much excess we had. I also wanted to keep it right down so that washing couldn't get out of control. It made such a difference. still I have found that it has crept back in. We need to declutter the younger 5 children's clothes again. I have started with Tom and Christopher's. I don't have the excess I had at the beginning of the year though.

Michele said...

I loved this post. For months now God has been laying on my heart to live simpler. I am fighting it though. I am not typically a big spender, but I buy stuff just because it is on sale. I guess I feel like I am missing out if I don't get it.

In fact this year for Christams we are getting my oldest 2 children a Nintendo DS with a few games and that will be it. They just always get SO MUCH STUFF! I don't want to teach them to find their happiness in "things." I can't wait to hear more about what you learn from your book.

scmom (Barbara) said...

I, too, try to live with less. I think raising children in our society is the problem. I have everything that I personally need and want, but the kids want everything they see. If we could get rid of TV that would be half the battle. I look forward to reading more. Thanks.

Jenn L said...

I go to AmVets or SVDP about 1x every other month. I also subscribe to flylady.net She sends daily reminders about de-cluttering, among other things. But, it's a never ending battle, esp. w/ having a smaller home. My problems start when I get something new and don't decide where it will 'belong'; then it sits out because of my indecisiveness and things pile up around it :)