Thoughts on Simplifying

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Although this site is a place I created to share ideas for crafts, DIY projects, design (and even a few mood boards) I have also been thinking about the idea of simplifying my home by way of reducing clutter and excess material ‘stuff’ that is taking up not only physical space but also time and energy to deal with. I’m looking for ways to balance the still-important-to-us creative process of craft projects, hobbies and small DIY-ventures with a simple, organized home life. Because a peaceful and well functioning home (and family) is more important to me than all the stuff I could make or buy or design.

Much has been eloquently written about allowing ‘stuff’ to weigh us down, and the idea is not new to me, but of course, it is sometimes easier said than done. I would not describe my home as being either too cluttered or very spare, just sort of average. As a family we neither buy a lot of new ‘stuff’ and gadgets, but we are not exactly doing without, either. We are privileged to have what we need, and then some.

However, I have been feeling a need to make some changes to keep things simpler. My goal is certainly not to become a minimalist, but I find I do admire the idea of living with less, even if it is just a little less to organize, clean and put away at the end of the day.

Here are a few ways I am personally going to challenge myself to try to keep ‘stuff’ in it’s place.

1. Just buy less stuff. It seems obvious, but it is not always easy to practice if you A. are a magpie/collector type, and B. are in the habit of having multiple small hobbies, C. making various craft projects all the time and D. are simply not self-disciplined. (All of those apply to me.) I’m not even talking about buying expensive stuff or big stuff. Just any extra stuff I don’t immediately need. That means I throw a lot of craft store coupons away before I get a chance to think of what I might ‘need’ there, and try to resist going to the thrift store ‘just to look’.

2. Keep less in my closet. I have a relatively small closet and I go through it often, but I could do way, way better. I’m currently a stay at home mom, and, although I do dress up and don’t wear sweatpants all the time, I probably don’t need nearly as much stuff as I have. I just spent a few days gathering clothing/accessory items for a large consignment ‘event’— which was a lot of work, actually. Some of this is just a natural part of passing things along, but I know my habits, and recognize that often, things that I end up selling or donating are just extra stuff I’ve accumulated or poor choices I made buying something (even if it was on sale!) that I never really liked. I’m intrigued by the sensible concept of having a simple closet of basics where ‘everything goes together’, and everything is of good quality.

Closet purging takes time and makes a mess. Maybe I should start with less.

Above: Closet purging takes time and makes a mess. Maybe I should start with less?

3. Be more selective about what I do purchase. This goes with the first two points, but I’m focusing on some specific things that have been problem areas for myself. Clothing/Shoes/Bags, Hobby/Project items, and Toys. Our family doesn’t have a large budget, but I am already aware how easy it is for me to pick stuff up for cheap (dollar bins/clearance rack), get things used (it’s from a thrift store!) and try to convince myself I have ‘saved money’ by doing so, or perhaps I buy something ‘because I’m am going to make something with it’ and feel vindicated by my resourcefulness. Sometimes I do get a good value on something I needed. But just because something is on sale or secondhand doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be good to think it over and decide if I really need it first. In other words, I want to make sure I have no waste from what I buy, and that I only select things that are very useful, well made and will last for myself and my family, no matter where they come from.

4. Look less. There is a lot of visual inspiration in the blog world that I enjoy: beautifully designed and organized homes (and gorgeous products to fill them with), and clever, seemingly non-stop DIY ideas from creative folks that cause me to want to get up and make something myself: design, paint, bake, build, whatever. These things aren’t terrible, in fact they can be challenging and healthy, and of course, I am sharing ideas myself. But even inspiring ideas can get a bit discouraging at times if we compare ourselves to others and start to feel as though we’re in a race to make, do and accumulate — even if we do it ourselves.

I really enjoy creative work and making things, but I realize that I need to keep these things in their place, and make sure I don’t feel the need to accumulate a lot of extra stuff to satisfy a creative ‘need’ or desire to keep up, and I want to make sure my little ‘projects’ don’t take time away from more important things. So, maybe I simply need to limit some of the looking I do.

I know what my family and I really need from our home is not necessarily lots of pretty products I see on blogs, or latest the design trend, but to function as a happy, somewhat calm, organized, and clean place. So I am going to try to work on these points and not only evaluate what is already in my home, but also be determined to simply accumulate less and try to make better decisions about what we have as well as what we spend our time on.

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