Near the end of 2012, my hubby and I were dealing with the typical aftermath of the holiday season with our 2 young sons, age 2 and 10 months at the time.
I was getting ready to head back to work in February and contemplating the changes about to take place in our lives.
I’ll be the first to admit that the idea of shuffling two young kids to daycare was not something I was looking forward to any more than the knowledge that while I was at work, I’d be missing out of the randomness that so filled our lives with much laughter and fun.
I was feeling the stress and the pressure of this impending change and how it would redefine our family dynamic.
In the midst of this, the topic of quality time was somehow brought up and it became painfully obvious that this was something we were lacking in our family.
We tried with moderate success to blame the life stage that we were in and the semi-true fact that it’s hard to find quality time for anything when you have toddlers ruling your household.
Though there is an amount of truth to this, the way we were living was playing an integral part in our lack-luster family time.
I wouldn’t go so far to say that we were doing anything wrong, but there was definitely room for improvement.
When we sat down to evaluate why we always felt “too busy”, “too stressed”, “too overwhelmed” the answer became very clear to us: Too. Much. Stuff.
We were literally drowning in the physical “stuff.”
Toys that were cluttering the house but not being played with. Clothes bursting out of drawers and closets that weren’t being worn. Technology that was increasingly “demanding” our time simply because it was all around us.
Something needed to change. It was time for a serious purge.
Our goal as a family in 2013 was to reduce our excess by half. Half the toys, half the clothes, half the clutter.
We spent a painstakingly long week getting rid of stuff we deemed we didn’t need, even if the item was something we used regularly. Among the purging victims were a computer, iPod Touch, half of our clothes, extra dishes and kitchen tools, towels, you name it, nothing was overlooked.
What resulted was 3 entire car loads (think child seats removed, packed to the roof) full of bags, boxes and other perfectly good items that were hauled over to the local thrift store.
And this was just January.
Throughout the rest of the year, we made several more trips with donations and sold a few items online. All the while, not spending any money on anything that wasn’t considered a need.
What resulted from this purge? Less distraction, less clutter and a huge surge in family engagement.
It’s amazing that such a simple process (though it was emotionally painful at times), gave us such freedom: physically, emotionally and financially.
It’s also a practice that has become a bit addictive.
Suddenly, it took less time to clean up toys because there were less toys. Laundry wasn’t a day long activity and less technology meant we were looking at each other instead of screens and monitors.
We now approach our purchases as “Do we need this?”
Nothing gets purchased without dual adult consent (and eventually, child consent when they’re a bit older) and with adequate rationale of the “need” in question.
It’s made for some grumpy days and pouting but in the end, we’ve never suffered for not having more than we need.
Stephanie is a working Mom of 2 little boys, flawed housekeeper, runner, aspiring triathlete, coffee lover, Christ-follower, lover of life, red wine and all around mediocre chef.