I don’t know what grabbed ahold of me last week, but it sure wouldn’t let go. I felt an energy building in me. It was time. Time to make another big movement forward on this journey toward a more simple existence. I am constantly searching for ways to free myself from the bondage of mundane day-to-day housework – not only is it boring and time consuming, but I want to free up that time and space for other pursuits. Allowing myself to be more fully present with my family. I refuse to be held hostage by dirty laundry or messy bedrooms for even one more minute. I have drawn my line in the sand. It will be family over stuff – and the work associated with stuff – from now on.
Eric and I have talked at length about what our ideal home will look like, feel like, smell like. We have a clear vision of what our home will hold and do and how we will move around within it’s walls – it’s so hard to be patient while we lay the foundation of our dream in the here and now. Among other things, we both agree that order is necessary for us. We are calmer and more open in a peaceful environment free of clutter. Acknowledging this fact means we will never be totally free of housework, but our desire to simplify drives us to find ways that we can streamline the basic functioning of our home routines, opening up this space we are craving.
We had been steadily releasing unused items out into the world via Freecycle, but we hadn’t yet made one huge, purposeful push to downsize. We want to feel lighter and less encumbered by stuff – the physical stuff we have accumulated during our life together. Oh, we have been busy releasing the spiritual junk as well – it’s all so much deep work both inside ourselves and in the space around us.
Our attention this past weekend was focused on our clothing situation. I have been reading and researching and looking online for brilliant ideas to simplify our laundry routine. It is by leaps and bounds the single most time consuming task I am responsible for, and although my mother will cringe if she reads this, I loath doing it. (Remember?) How does one go about spending less time sorting, washing, folding and putting away laundry for six people? Those were my questions to answer. I saw many clever and elaborate organizational ideas during my search, but I settled on a very basic solution, one that resonated with our family – with our way of being. Simply, we needed fewer clothes, and one single location to keep them all in.
Our new wondrous family closet was born from this notion. We decided that the small walk-in closet in the master bedroom would be clothing central for our family from now on. With the single exception of a dresser in our bedroom, every article of clothing we own must have it’s own dedicated place in this one closet. We decided to keep only what would fit, easily, in this space. Absolutely nothing more.
I spent all day (and a good portion of the night) Friday getting every piece of laundry washed and folded and sorted by person so that Saturday morning could be spent sitting cross legged on the bedroom floor going through, one by one with each child, every article of clothing they owned. Items were sorted into a thoughtful keep pile and a rather impressive donate pile. Each child was given one small dresser drawer for under clothes, tights, belts and swimming suits, and two larger drawers for the rest. That’s it. It worked out to be about one very full laundry basket worth of clothing each.
I was surprised, and at moments overwhelmed, by the maturity of the decisions my little people made. They were so brave and so generous. Sage expressed to me, after her big sort was done – and my was it a big sort – that she felt kind of sad giving away so much, but kind of amazing at the same time. Exactly.
Eric and I ended up letting go of about half of our clothing, sharing one side of the closet, so the kids could have the rest of the space. After all was sorted and put away, we ended up letting go of twelve, twelve, kitchen bags full of clothing. They were all promptly packed in the back of the car and driven to a local charity. Someone is going to hit the jackpot when they discover all of the fancy dress clothes I decided to part ways with – I have absolutely no need for dry-clean only anything on this new path I am walking. I have so much less to wash now – oh, I feel so much lighter already.
And while we were at it, we decided that Eric and I would swap bedrooms with the girls, because, well, it makes more sense for the three of them to have the larger room. The upstairs was already torn apart and I do not cope well this sort of crazy here there and everywhere chaos, so I wanted to squeeze as much progress into one day as possible. I know, I know, slow down. I’ll keep working on it, promise.
It was a lot of heavy lifting and a lot of vacuuming, but the result is just how I envisioned it. The girls are all lined up in their bigger room, bed next to bed next to bed. A few precious toys make the room feel warm and familiar. Our new room is cozy and neat, very purple, but lovely all the same. I switched the bathroom things as well and that added yet another bag to the donation pile. Whew. The entire upstairs of our home feels lifted up, elevated – open and quiet – even when it is filled with screaming wild children.
At night we all go to the closet to find jammies and our outfits for the next day. It’s becoming a peaceful routine. I am deeply grateful.
Now when laundry day rolls around I am planning on just dragging the hampers (we have one in the girl’s room and one in Jarl’s room that we share with him) to the laundry closet in the hall and simply sorting the clothing into two baskets – whites and then everything else, all to be washed in a cold cycle. I feel like I am breaking a fundamental rule of laundry day. In my house growing up, and until now in my own home, each color had it’s own designated pile which was carefully separated and cared for. This new system is wild and dangerous. Rebellious even. Ha! It’s so freeing, and healing, to break the rules!
Then, when it’s all clean I will walk a few steps to the family closet and put everything in it’s place. Done. Simple. Easy.
It feels like we are finally starting to gain a bit of forward momentum and confidence on our journey. We are beginning to establish our stride. After having taken several small steps and a few larger paces in the right direction, we are starting to let our arms swing at our sides. We finally have a bit more room to stretch and move out into this newly open space around us. We’ll be skipping and leaping forward in no time. Lighter. Free.
So much less stuff. So much more of everything else.