After my post about “How far we’ve come,” I was asked about how I was going to get “back to basics,” what I was going to do to move in the direction of a simpler home. I could think, immediately, of a few things, but the more I thought about it the more I thought of….so here are some ideas.
First, there’s the obvious: those moments where I decide that “today I’m going to tackle that drawer…..” or shelf, or cabinet, etc. Not an entire closet; just a bite at a time, to make sure I finish what I start. I’ll go through each item, decide if it’s something we use or if it’s better off blessing someone else, and box or bag up what needs to leave the house. But that’s only a bit part of the whole. For lack of a better word, I’m going to call this a “lifestyle adjustment.” (That sounds really snooty, doesn’t it? I just mean that there seems to be a need to change how we think about stuff before we can conquer it.)
I also keep brown-paper grocery bags stowed away around the house. There’s one in our closet, so the minute I try on a shirt I haven’t worn in a while and realize why I haven’t worn it in a while, I can change immediately into something different and add the shirt to the bag. I keep one in the laundry room closet, so that once I’ve told one of the kids, “Last wearing on those shorts!” (or shirt, or whatever), I can add the item of clothing to the bag the minute it comes out of the wash. I also have a nice basket on one of the shelves in that closet (about 9×13, and deep), where I put things destined for the thrift store. This is, admittedly, where fast food toys go to die; but it also holds lots of other things that are preparing to move out the door.
The idea of “one-in-one-out” is gaining ground with the kids; they’ve realized that we’ll take a trip to the used book store if they have a stack of books ready to sell. This is actually better than one in/one out, since the ratio usually ends up being something like one in/five out; but since they come home with cash they still think they’ve got the better end of the deal. It’s also become easier with clothing: we bought you those shoes to replace your worn out ones seems to make a lot of sense to them, and out the trashed ones go.
Finally, though….this is where the “lifestyle adjustment” begins. I had a friend call recently from a store she was at, offering to pick up water bottles for my kids. Stainless steel, with the kids’ names on them, on sale for 99 cents. (99 cents!!) And I said….no. Because I know we already have two stainless steel water bottles, one for each kid, plus a Hello Kitty water bottle my daughter kept at school, plus two nice plastic water bottles….you get the idea. I know we don’t need any more water bottles; regardless of how cool or how cheap (or how thoughtful my friend was). The reality is, we don’t need a lot of things. But I have to change my lifestyle; my mindset; my heart about what is a “need” and what is a “want”…..and maybe, at some point, admit where purchasing a “want” might be okay. I have to change our buying habits; and we weren’t big spenders to begin with.
That’s the hardest part of the process: the heart change that has to take place to say, “Thank you, Lord, for the abundant blessings you have given me, and now I will be content with that.” Even better, to say “Thank you, Lord….what would you like me to give away today? May I be content with less.”