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Join me for our ten part series as we work along side Country Living's Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old-Fashioned Ideas to Simplify Your Life by Susan Waggoner. I touch base on a few points in each chapter and expound upon them and share some of my own tips. Grab your favorite cuppa and join along!
The Home That Welcomes
The marketing industry wants us to believe that we need more things. I agree that a buy one get one free sale is tempting but all those things can add up to one big cluttered mess! That clutter can hinder us in many ways. Clutter can get in our way not just physically but socially as well. For me personally I get cranky when the house starts to clutter up. When it's cluttered I don't want to entertain guests. Who wants to see someone else's mess?
Nip the clutter in the bud! Before it even finds a place to live and start to multiply! (It seems to do that, doesn't it?!) Since we are a big family we are often given hand-me-down clothes. If I kept all of the clothes that everyone ever gave me I wouldn't be able to walk through my house! Don't get me wrong. I'm thankful for their generosity, but we really don't need to keep everything. What I do to cut the clutter is set the bags on the bench by the door until I can get to them some time that day. When I sort through them I take out what I want to keep (put it in the laundry so it gets washed and put away soon) then the bag of items we don't need is sent to the van to drop off at our donation destination on our next trip to town. When the kiddos choose something to keep from our "new" clothes, they pick something from their current stash to donate. That way their closets don't get out of control.
Same goes for books. We're given books a lot. School books, theological books, cook books, magazines, etc. I flip through the books/magazines and if there's enough to peak my interest they go to a proper home in the house. If they're not interesting enough...to the donation bag they go. Besides, with the modern convenience of the internet we have so much information at our fingertips so I'm even more choosy when it comes to keeping something to read!
Our children are perpetual packrats. I think they get that from my dad. He kept my old swingset and stored it in the attic of their garage not getting rid of it until they sold their house to move about 14 years ago. Yes, my dad kept my swingset almost two decades after I was done using it! In order to keep that gene in check with our children we make it a point to deep clean their rooms regularly. A story from a few years ago: The week before Christmas we had them sort through their belongings. We made a deal with them that for every grocery store bag they filled with toys or stuffed animals we would give them one dollar. We were paying them to get rid of stuff! They were ecstatic! We were $23 in the hole, but we were free from 23 bags of stuff they no longer played! With their money one child put it towards her savings for a camera. Another bought a new Webkinz. Our oldest is into building with motors, batteries and techie things like that so he bought some parts and pieces with his money. In our eyes it was a win-win situation!
It's nice to deep clean on occasion (like spring cleaning), but to keep the house in tiptop shape on a regular basis we have regular chores. I have my regular chores and the kids have theirs. (And of course my poor hubby has his never ending honey-do list.) We've added to their lists that each kiddo has a room they need to tidy up before dinner. It's supposed to be every night and it works best if it happens this way, but some days are very busy before dinner so it waits until after dinner or before bed.
Another thing that has helped me in my clutter maintenance was to toss the guilt! You don't have to save everything! I have a hard time letting go of something that was a gift that just isn't my size, style, or fits my needs. Instead of it cluttering up my home and doing no one any good sitting on a shelf or hanging in a closet I have decided that it's o.k. to donate it or give it to a friend. Lest you think I'm cold and heartless let me just say you should see my cedar chest, the top of my closet, and a few totes in the basement. Moving right along...a-hem.
Speaking of closets...we all keep things that don't fit us hoping that they will some day. Right? For me I've started just in the last few months getting rid of skirts and dresses that I haven't worn since before baby number three over ten years ago! Fashions have changed and I need to, too. I made a big donation deposit that week and I suddenly have extra hangers!
Something that we do at the end of winter is account for all the winter gear. Round up all the coats, scarves, mittens, and hats and decide which should be given away, thrown away, and kept. (I think I have a few mittens out in the mudroom that are destined to an orphan's life!) Wash and dry them. Pack them away in totes with cedar wood blocks to keep them fresh. If the cedar scent has vanished do what the author does -- give them a light sanding with sandpaper and the scent will come back full strength.
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What tips helped you best? What might you do this week to control your clutter?
Join me in the coming weeks as we unwrap the present that is our lives. The next step in our series is making our home pleasing to our senses. Please share this series by placing the button in the side bar of your blog or share on Facebook by clicking the "Like" button under this post.
* photos courtesy of Country Living