Guest post by Brittany from The Gentle Home (check out part one here):
I love simplifying. I love cleaning out closets and bedrooms and filling up my car with things to give away to the thrift store. I (and my home) feel lighter, freer and more energetic. Once you begin simplifying, I have a feeling you’ll love it too! Here are my thoughts on how to simplify the different areas of life:
Clutter is anything that does not belong, serves no purpose and has no benefit. In our homes (apartment, dorm or whatever living space you are in) especially, it is easy to store up clutter. We all have those secret places we hide things we don’t want to think about, but it’s time to bring them out into the light! The light is where it is exposed for what it is, whether it benefits and builds us up, or whether it steals life and drains us of precious energy. A beautiful, simple home has everything it needs and is enjoyable to live in. In the Bible, God’s home is often described as His “resting place.” I love that. Our homes too should be places of rest.
To begin to simplify your home, go through an overflowing closet or bedroom. Start creating piles: TRASH, KEEP, GIVE AWAY, or FIX. If you come across something that you want to keep – you must find a place for it in your home! Ask yourself some questions:
Do I need it? Will I use it?
If I want it, where will I put it?
If I keep it, will I maintain it?
Can someone else use it more than me?
If you cannot find any good place where it can be enjoyed or used, there is a good chance it needs to go on to another family who can make use of it. I’ve kept so many things over the years, and finally realized I didn’t need them and didn’t even have a place where they could be enjoyed! It was a little difficult, but now I’m glad; I have much less clutter and another family has a chance to make them a part of their home.
No one has a perfect house all the time – especially me, but we try to make it easy to keep organized. We keep a trash can by the front door to easily sort through junk mail. We have a “to be filed” bin that holds papers we need to file but can’t or don’t want to go through at the time. Because closets tend to attract random “things,” I try to organize them regularly, and I almost always have a “give away” pile going in our house.
This is a process, and sometimes a long one! Don’t lose patience or get discouraged. Go through your house a couple of times a year, at least. Eventually clean out and organize every area of your home, throwing away trash, broken and expired items, shredding and recycling mail and papers, giving away clothes and household goods that you don’t use, cleaning or repairing items and organizing the things you use and love. Don’t forget to go through your cleaning supplies, pantry, bathroom cabinets, garage, clothes closets, coat closets, desks, nightstands, dresser drawers and refrigerator!
Meals ought to be simple as well. This is very helpful on our budget, waistlines and peace of mind. My husband likes simple meals. Usually a protein with a side of vegetables and maybe some bread or potatoes. I have to admit, this used to bother me. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t want to try something new and exciting, but now I see what a wonderful blessing this is! In this country where food is everywhere in abundance and we can have anything our eyes desire, I think we have forgotten that food is for strengthening us in our work and for refreshing us at the end of a long day. It is does not need to be fancy or complicated to be satisfying.
Our time can be spent simply as well. When we slow down we are rewarded with simple joys that many others overlook… Taking a walk or going to the park (even on your lunch break at work!) Noticing the change of the seasons, the birds, the trees, the clouds. Playing with your kids. Watching them learn and tinker with their toys. Catching that sweet smile or loving glance. Cooking a meal from scratch. Investing time to create something satisfying and life-giving. Turning off the TV, radio or phone. Letting your mind and body rest. Learning a new craft. Making something with love. Using your time with a conscious effort not to get lost in the busyness of life.
I have learned (the hard way!) to be purposeful about my spending. When I go to the store I ask myself “Do I really need this?” Most of the time, the answer is no. I also ask myself:
What can I use instead? Can I make it instead of buying it? Do I already have something like this at the house? Why do I want it? Clearing up the clutter from my spending habits has allowed my husband and I to pay off our debt, save more, and give more. We’ve learned that the true joys in life don’t come from anything we can buy.
These are just some of the more practical ways I’ve learned to simplify my home and life. I am always learning and always growing in this area, and will never really be “done.” Simplifying can be a small project or a big one, either way it restores rest and balance to these hectic lives we often lead, and is well worth the effort!
[Editor’s note: Brittany is a blogger who likes to write about her days as a wife and new stay at home mom. She loves to share her faith, thoughts, crafts, recipes and photographs. The gentle home is all about slowing down, consuming less but having more, and finding purpose in even the smallest things in our day. She has amazing stories and ideas. Check out her blog at The Gentle Home. Thanks, Brittany, for guesting on my blog!]