Posts tagged ‘reduce’

February 1, 2012

Clearing Kid Clutter… Eleven at a Time

Okay, clearing clutter is one thing, but getting kids to clear clutter is a completely different thing!  I’ve been trying a few different methods to get my son on board with reducing the amount of stuff in our house but many of the methods didn’t work so well.

Our initial effort was to set up piles in the hallway.  One for donating, one for recycling and one for trash.  He was overwhelmed at first, but then started to get the hang of it.  Things came out of his room, but he needed help deciding which pile they should go in so it ended up not being so efficient.

I tried a timer and tried to have him sort out his toys for 15 minutes.  That sort of worked, but usually he’d get distracted somewhere along the way because he’d discovered a toy that he had forgotten about and would start playing with it.

Then I tried sorting one bin at a time.  Asking him to decide by looking at each item what he was ready to “get rid of”.  That was tough.  Unless the toy or book was obviously way too young for him, he couldn’t see the need to move it along.  I get that.  Sometimes it’s hard to decide what stays and what goes.  After you do it a while it becomes easier, but I totally understand how it can be especially tough for kids.

My next thought was to have him think of his favorite things.  Since he has them in different places in the house I suggested that he gather all of his favorite things together and once he did, we’ll find a home for them so he always knows were to find them and where to put them back (with the alternate goal to get rid of some that didn’t make the favorite list).  That worked, but we still have a ways to go on the balance and frankly I was trying to figure out a way to help him decide how to handle the non-favorites.

Then yesterday I got my daily email from the FlyLady called the FlyLady News Digest.  In there was a brief article on teaching kids to clear clutter (FLY Kids).  The FLY Kid Challenge of the day was to have kids go on the hunt for eleven things that they don’t use anymore, are missing pieces or are broken.  Then have parents sort what gets donated, recycled or tossed.  When they’re done have them do it again.  We were going to implement this one yesterday but my son wasn’t feeling too hot so we started today.  It worked!  I sent him to his room with a paper bag and the mission of finding the eleven things.  In minutes he came back with his bag and a huge smile on his face.  He proudly showed me what he’s grabbed counting as he went along until he got to eleven.  Awesome!  I sent him for another eleven.  Again, he came back within minutes.  We agreed that he would do it two more times because we missed out yesterday.  So now, less than 20 minutes later I sit with his pile of 44+ (because he grabbed a few extras along the way) items for trash, recycling and donations!  I figure we’ll keep doing it every day.  Every day 22 more, eleven at a time.  (By the way, I have no idea why she picked eleven, but it works!)

It worked so well for him that I thought I would do the same thing.  I sought out eleven things I don’t use anymore, are missing pieces or are broken.  (Actually, I only selected things I don’t use anymore but was amazed at how fast I could pick them out!)  It happened so fast that I’m thinking I must have had the list sitting in my subconscious for a while just waiting to get out.  So it works for adults too. It’s perfect if you only have a few minutes on your hands or if you’re just getting started on reducing the stuff in your life.  What’s nice is that it is far less overwhelming to grab eleven things than trying to tackle a whole room, a cupboard, a closet or even a drawer.

So what are you waiting for?  Eleven things out the door, starting… now!

See ya in a few.


January 31, 2012

Your stuff has feelings too…

I come from a long line of “savers” (and a “thrower”).  Growing up, the “throwers” in my life always made me nervous.  They seemed so wild, uncaring and while they didn’t give it a second thought when they tossed something out, the muscles in my body would tense, I would fight every urge to try and catch things as they were catapulted out of their life and to the street.  It seemed so easy for them to just toss stuff without any concern of the feeling, the thought that went into the item to begin with.  For years I felt this way.  Many, many years. But then, I also experienced what it was like to save for a lifetime.  When my Grandfather passed away and my Grandmother moved out of their house, the house they lived in, raised their kids in, empty nested in and had grandchildren visit, I was there to help clean it out.  The house and the garage were full.  And when I say full, I mean full.  To the gills full, even the rafters were full, the spaces between the studs in the walls were full.  I knew then, in fourth grade, when we were throwing piles and piles of stuff into dumpster after dumpster, that I never wanted to have so much stuff that it became a burden.

So this is not to say that my house is anywhere near that, but I don’t want it to get to that point either, so like I’ve mentioned before, I would just like to have less stuff in order to have more time to be able to enjoy life.  But, before I made my resolution for 2012 to reduce, reduce, reduce and have fun I did some reading.  I needed a plan as to how I was going to make this change in my lifestyle and make it stick.  So I did a little research.  In the past I’ve read a number of organization books.  I don’t want to offend the authors or their methods, so I won’t mention them specifically, but they didn’t work for me so I kept looking.  Then I found “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui” by Karen Kingston.  Regardless of whether you believe in Feng Shui or not, this book makes incredible sense.  In this book Karen Kingston describes how stuff, things, the objects in our home all contain energy and…. feelings.  (Ha! I knew it!) And she describes how energy can hold you back.  Sounds crazy at first, but think about it.  There’s a story or a memory to go along with everything we own.  Whether it’s where you bought it, who you got it from, or what was going on a the time you got it, there’s a memory.

I’ll give you an example.  It’s Christmas 1980-something, you’re 13, you’re into Cyndi Lauper and Madonna and Prince and … okay, so maybe that was just me, but anyway you’re 13 and trying to dress so you don’t look like a “nerd” (this is obviously before being a nerd or a geek was hip).  Then you get your gift from your Grandmother.  You’re so excited, your Grandmother is so excited, it must be something good.  You tear off the wrapping paper to find exactly what you were hoping for… a white sweatshirt with an iron-on appliqué of Santa outlined in glitter!  Yes!  Oh, wait… no.  No, that wasn’t what you were really hoping for.  So now what?  You don’t want to hurt Grandma’s feelings so you tell her you love it and tuck the beloved sweatshirt into your closet just in case Grandma comes over.  You hang onto it for years and years and years.

Or there’s the time your parents take a trip to California, cross the border into Mexico and buy you a leather purse. (Gentlemen, bear with me.)  A purse you loved and appreciated, but as time goes on you have a hard time using it.  Why?  Because that purse reminds you that while your parents were in California, you stayed with your best friend.  But during that time frame instead of having a blast, your friend decided she could no longer be friends with you because you didn’t have the right skin color.  She spent the entire time that you could have been having fun on the phone with someone who was becoming her new best friend because she did have the right skin color.  Sadly, the cool purse your parents bought you carried those memories with it.  You didn’t want to get rid of the purse because your parents bought it specifically for you when they were on their trip and it’s not like they can just run back and get you a different one, so you hang on to it.  But every time you look at it, it brings your right back to that week when you were 13 and the feelings of losing your best friend.

Now don’t get me wrong, not everything has bad energy or memories or feelings, but those that do are prime candidates for moving on to a new home.  And when that “stuff” leaves, guess what?  It takes with it the negative energy with it.  Makes sense, right?  Bad feelings associated with an item, item leaves, bad feelings go with it. So, when you do this over and over again clearing clutter item after item, you’re releasing the bad/stuck energy,which opens up space for new, fresh, good energy for the things you want to achieve.  Pretty cool, huh?

So, by keeping only the things you love and ditching the things you don’t, you’re surrounding yourself with good memories, good feelings, good energy and love.  Eat a few raisins with this and I’d say you have the recipe for happiness!

By the way, if you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend the book “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui” by Karen Kingston.  It’s an easy read, makes perfect sense and makes letting go of stuff much, much easier, especially if you’re a recovering “saver” like myself.  If you’re looking for more frequent insight, Karen Kingston also has a blog you can follow here: Karen Kingston’s Blog | Space Clearing, Clutter Clearing & Feng Shui


January 3, 2012

Looking forward to 2012

As many have probably come to realize, I do a lot of reflecting and self-examination.  It’s pretty much my MO, and not just during big events such as birthdays and the end of one year or the beginning of the next (although that does tend to cause me to reflect even further) but I think reflection, trying to figure out how things fit into the bigger picture is just a part of who I am. I once read that is in the nature of those of us who fall under the Sagittarius birth sign and for the most part, I’d have to agree with that.  Needless to say, I’ve done some reflecting on the past year, but honestly, I felt like I reflected so much while everything was taking place that I’d be beating a dead horse to continue, so I’m not going to.  At least not today.

I am, however, looking forward to 2012.  I realize today is technically the end of the 2nd day of 2012 from where I’m sitting, but I’m going to pretend for a moment that it hasn’t quite begun yet.

This year, I’m not doing traditional resolutions.  I decided that I usually end up with something similar to that of which I had the previous year and fell flat on my face about day 2, then beat myself up for about 2 weeks over how I can’t even keep my resolutions for 2 days then spend the rest of the year doing about what I did the year before.  So this year, I’m changing it up.

My goals for 2012 are this.  Reduce, reduce, reduce and have fun!  Sounds simple, right?  I know we all hear “Reduce, reuse, recycle” all the time – or at least that’s been ingrained in my brain for as long as I can remember, but that’s not entirely what I’m referring to.  Well, sort of.  What I mean is this: I have far too much stuff. My whole family does.  And stuff to me equals work.  Work to use it, work to maintain it, work to store it.  I’ll give you and example: clothes.  We have way too many clothes in our household than we really need.  I can’t tell you how many times I go to a closet that appears full with clothes on the hangers, drawers that are full, so full I couldn’t put another thing in them and say “I don’t have anything to wear.”  What?  Yes I do.  What I mean is I don’t have anything to wear that I a.) like b.) feel is even remotely “in style” anymore c.) makes me feel good when I wear it d.) that I’ve worn in the last 2 years.  So what happens?  I put on something that I don’t particularly like, is probably dating me, makes me feel frumpy/chunky/pale (doesn’t take much with my skin tone!) and out of touch.  At the end of the day I throw the clothes in the laundry basket so I can send them back down into the mountainous pile of laundry to be washed then to the mountainous pile of laundry to be folded and to the mountainous pile of laundry to be put away into a full closet and full drawers.  And here comes my vision for 2012… REDUCE the amount of clothes I have to only include clothes that I love, that make me feel good, that aren’t outdated that I will wear.  The rest are getting donated.  Then I’m going to REDUCE the clothes I buy.  They have to pass a test before they enter the house.  If they can’t prove that I love them, that they can make me look good or feel good in them they can’t come in the door.  Because, get this… if I have fewer clothes in general and I feel good about wearing all of them, I’ll feel good. And when I feel good, I’m more fun. Plus, there will be less to wash, dry and fold, less in my closet, less in my drawers, etc. meaning it will be easier to find the things I like because hypothetically I’ll like them all and easier to put things away.  And what does all of this do?  REDUCE wasted time: less time trying on a million things before I find one outfit I feel good in, fewer clothes means less time washing, drying and folding clothes (with the added bonus of REDUCING the amount of water, detergent and other resources used for doing laundry which also means REDUCING expenses and REDUCING consumption), less time spent “dealing” with clothes I never really liked to begin with equals more time for fun!  And that is just by reducing the amount of clothes in my closet.

The same goes for the rest of the house.  REDUCE what is in the house, paring it down to just the things I love means less time spent sifting through the rest of the stuff to find what I like.  And how about food?  REDUCE what I buy (only the good stuff), how much I buy (only what I need, when I need it) and how much I eat (everything in moderation) will REDUCE my spending, my waste and my waist!  Leaving more time, money and energy for fun!

So that’s my plan for 2012… reduce, reduce, reduce and have fun!

Now I’ll fast forward to today, January 2, 2012.  Project #1 of my reduce plan is in progress and nearly complete.  The front hall closet.  This has been a scary place for a LONG time.  If you were brave enough to open the closet door you may have regretted your decision.  Shoes would jump out and attack your feet nearly taking you down before you could get in the front door and as you regained your balance and composure you would realize it was all for not.  There was nary an empty hanger in the closet.  Well, folks that is not the case any more.  The coats and shoes and hats and gloves and scarves and gloves and coats and coats and shoes and… have been pared down and you are welcome to come over any time and I will gladly take your coat and hang it in the front hall closet.  And don’t worry.  The shoes can’t get you.  They’re kenneled now.

So welcome to 2012, I hope you have as much fun as I plan to!


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