It’s time for another mom tip! I am so thankful for all of my friends and my family who have given me wisdom and advice over the years. Some wisdom and/or advice has become a staple in our home, and other advice has not. It didn’t make the advice wrong necessarily. The advice usually just didn’t work for myself or for our family. So, this blog is geared towards giving you something that works for me, and if it works for your family then that is great too!
Last year in August, I wrote a blog about my launch pad which is where I keep all of the items that are going to be making their way out of my house. It is a concept I had gotten from a book called The House That Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark. I also guaranteed you in that blog that it would not be the last time I mentioned that book. It is a book that literally changed how I looked at, organized, and cleaned my house. So, here I am with another tip from the book.
This month is January. It is the time of year when you see all of the workout apparel at the store on sale, but what is one of the other main selling items? Storage containers. Why? We all got so much stuff for Christmas that we have to figure out how to store all of the stuff we have. Bins to store all of the extra Christmas decorations you bought, or new storage containers to contain all of the kid’s new toys.
Well, one of the ideas from the book that changed my life was to allow the container to dictate how much of any item you keep. For example, years ago I bought three large plastic storage containers, one for each child I have, to store all of the kid’s keepsakes from their childhood. Examples of things I have in there are the outfit they wore for their first year baby photo, their first pair of shoes, hand-knitted blankets, a favorite rattle or toy, etc. If I come across an item that I think needs to go in the keepsake bin, I go to put it in the bin. If there is room for the item and the lid can close properly on the bin, the item can go in the bin. If there is not room for the item and the lid cannot close properly on the bin, the item either does not go in the bin or another item from the bin has to be purged so I can put the new item in there. It forces me to consider what is really important. I think it is good for the kids to be able to see that we cannot keep everything and purging is a way of life.
When we moved into this house, I had 3 wicker baskets for CDs, 3 baskets for kid videos, and 3 baskets for grown-up videos. The night I was unpacking the boxes for the living room, I dumped all of the DVDs we had onto the floor. We sat around our DVD pile as if it were a campfire. I instructed everyone to pick out 5 DVDs that were their favorites. My pile consisted of titles such as The Notebook, Sense & Sensibility, and Pretty Woman. Carl’s pile was Star Wars, Spaceballs, and National Lampoon’s Vacation. You get the idea. We still had a huge pile. I instructed everyone to pick out 5 more, then 3 more, etc. until we had a pile of videos that no one really wanted. I was able to purge and donate probably 20-25 DVDs that no one really cared about or watched. I let the container dictate how many DVDs we kept, and we still have a little room to grow. When the DVD bins get full again, I will have to purge again to keep within my own storage limits.
This month I came across some CDs in a box that I wanted to put into my CD baskets. I went to put the CDs into the baskets, but the baskets had reached maximum capacity. I had 5 CDs I wanted to keep and put into the baskets. So, I spent a little time and purged 5 CDs we never listen to anymore. I let the container dictate how much of that item I was going to keep.
I think of my house as a container too. Carl and I set a goal a long time ago that if we had more stuff than our house could hold then we had too much stuff. We determined not to get and pay for a storage unit to remedy overflow from our house. The only exception to this is that we have gotten a storage unit for a couple of months both times we had our house on the market to sell so we could purge furniture, clothes, and toys to stage the house better to sell and make it appear bigger. Other than that, we have not had one. Our house is our container. We need to live within it’s realms. This is not a judgement on anyone who has a storage unit. This is just our personal conviction that we need to live within our means and that means for us to live within the walls and space that God has given to us.
Jesus says in Luke 12:15 (NIV), “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Our culture sure sends the message that a man’s life is the abundance of things. Isn’t it amazing that in 2,000 years not much has changed. In the end, it is not going to matter how big the TV was or the house or the how cool our car was. It will matter how I lived my life and if Jesus Christ was a part of it or not. That is what is going to matter in the end. So, in the words of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Give it away, give it away, give it away, now.” It is always amazing when I put stuff in my donate bin (subject for another blog?) or when I give outgrown clothes to friends, how good I feel. Sometimes less is truly more.