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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Finding a Simple Mean

My house is a mess.  When we packed our bags and tucked everyone into the car to drive up here to Michigan for this trip, I left behind a home sorely in need of organizing and way overdue for a good spring cleaning.

Over the past few months, I’ve had a desire to simplify.  It’s hard enough to keep a house clean and organized when you’ve got 6 people living in it.  Then add all their stuff.  Yikes!

To  be fair---we don’t have as much stuff as many families (I’m sure we have more than many others), but we really do have an extraordinary amount of certain types of things.
Like Lego bricks.

And books.

My husband stopped counting the books when we moved from Missouri to Maryland when he hit 2000 volumes.  And he hadn’t even finished counting his professional library, you know, the one he keeps in his office at work?  We have at least as many in our home library.

But beyond the books, there are all those precious scraps of paper that have some important tidbit of information on them. 

And then the stacks.  And stacks.  Of drawings by our resident 6-year-old artist. 

And the baby toys that no one is willing to let go of.  And all the stuffed animals that need to be removed and repositioned every time the kids’ sheets need to be changed.

I don’t enjoy cleaning very much, I know there are people out there that do.  But when there are all these little things that need to be straightened and put away every time it makes me want to cry.  It easily doubles the time it takes to put things away and makes those simple chores seem overwhelming.

So I eagerly anticipated this trip for weeks (silently dreading the 10 hour car ride each way, but that’s another post), because we would be living away from home for 2 weeks in a borrowed apartment with only the “basics” provided and whatever we brought with us in the minivan.

An instantly clutter-free existence!

It seemed the ideal time for a grand experiment.  What is our simple mean?  How little stuff can we get by with before it’s a chore to get things done?

Because while there’s definitely such a thing as too much stuff, there’s also such a thing as not enough.  My goal is to find a “simple mean,” the right balance of things for our family to live comfortably within our financial means without burdening ourselves with clutter and disorganization.

Case in point:  it’s a real pain to try to get by with only 6 plates, 6 forks, 6 spoons,  6 cups, 1 quart pot, 1 2-quart pot, 1 serving spoon, and so on…the “basics” provided in the apartment we are living in.  On the other hand, having too much in the way of kitchen gadgetry becomes a burden for storing, finding, and cleaning.  But the right number of basics and gadgets will vary from family to family, depending upon their individual needs.

We came here knowing that an empty apartment would be waiting for us, with basic furnishings, plates, etc., and yet we didn’t try to bring our home with us.  We wanted to see what we can do without and what is genuinely a good thing to make our lives easier.

We packed lightly, I don’t think I’ve ever packed this lightly.  Gone are my days of needing a play-yard or a feeding seat.  Gone are my days of packing  a suitcase for each family member.  We made a list of everything that we think we really need, like toothbrushes, fingernail clippers, and coffee, plus a few small luxuries (hey, I had to type my blog posts on something!) and packed it all up into our minivan with plenty of room to spare. 

The only thing I’ve missed so far is the cell phone chargers---not an oversight, they were on the list, but they mysteriously disappeared (doo-doo doo-doo) when we were packing.  Ok, and a large frying pan and my regular baking supplies and gear.

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be sharing with you how the experiment has gone and what we’ve learned from it.  I see some great home organizing and weeding out in my future. ;0)

For my next post on Finding a Simple Mean I’ll talk about what we chose to bring with us and what we found waiting for us.

1 comment:

  1. My MIL just took my kids swimming and I went through the house on a rampage trying to get 10% of everything bagged up for Goodwill. 10% less toys, 10% less clothes, 10% old towels, 10% less books, 10% less coats in our coat closet... etc. I'm not sure if this is going to work, but theoretically won't there now be 10% less clutter? Here's hoping!


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