September 1, 2010

Supermom Doesn't Live Here

Just today another mom asked me (on Facebook), "You have time to read?!" And I said something back about making the time to do the important things. And then another mom chimed in and told me she needed my secret.

So here it is, I guess.

I've mentioned before that we are in the middle of a huge house overhaul and mega lifestyle change. There are many reasons behind this: depression's leading us to see the world differently, preparations for a new baby, the need for simplicity, etc. But another reason is because I am sick of chaos. Sick of clutter. Sick of crap. Sick, mostly, of things not having a place. For the first year of Charlie's life, our emotional overload reflected itself in the state of our house. And once my mom left after her trip at the beginning of this summer, we began to take on the overload in earnest.

This whole summer has been one giant purge of our possessions. One big uncluttering process. We took our TV out of the house and put it in the garage. Then we sold it. We cleaned our office and garage, which were both in a horrible state. We went through boxes in the garage that hadn't been opened in at least two years. We started going through every nook and cranny in our house, every little pile of crap to be found, and we started making a home for all the stuff that didn't have a place. And if we looked at a pile of crap and said, "There's no room for this," out it went.

Our house is far from where I want it to be, but we have made huge progress in the last couple of months. And one thing that I have realized is that uncluttering is not something that you do once and never do again. It's a lifestyle. It requires that you really examine what you already have, what you want, and what you buy. Our consumer culture makes it difficult for anyone to downsize, minimalize, or unclutter, and we've had to actively fight against buying and keeping things we don't need. It's very, very difficult sometimes, and there have certainly been transgressions along the way. We become so emotionally attached to our belongings, but in the end, there is very little we need. My motto has become this:

If I don't love it and/or it hasn't been used in six months, it goes.

So here's where my "secret" comes in. Once you have less stuff, it's easier to clean your house and take care of your belongings. And when it's easier to clean your house and take care of your belongings, it takes less time. And when you spend less time cleaning your house and trying to pick around that pile of papers, you have more time and more energy to spend on the things you love. For me, those main things are spending time with my family and friends, writing, reading, and photography. And preparing for Burt Reynolds' birth, of course. And once I'm able to really exercise, I want to add fitness to that list.

So there it is. I'm not Supermom by any stretch of the imagination. I just refuse to believe that we need tons and tons of stuff to make us happy. I don't think kids need craploads of toys for entertainment or educational purposes. I don't believe that TV is essential. I don't think that a closet full of clothes will make us more beautiful. And I am a person who loves stuff. I love my Macbook, my books, my journals, my cameras, my memorabilia. I obviously don't believe in total deprivation, but if I walk into a clothing store and all of a sudden want to buy the same shirt in five different colors, I have to question that.

And really, just to drive home the point that I am not Supermom, I am a terrible housekeeper. I don't mind doing things like dishes and laundry, but when it comes to floors and stuff, forget it. Chances are, if the carpet needs to be vacuumed, you'll probably find me in bed reading a good book. Because I do have my priorities, after all.


amber said...

Right there with ya - love doing dishes and laundry but floors? Well, let's just say it's good that Jim doesn't mind doing them. Heh.

My mom is a clutterbug and I always say that my way of rebelling was to not fall into the clutter trap. Sure, I have my moments, but I try to actively move stuff out to Goodwill once it's past it's usefulness to us and to keep a tight organizational leash on the stuff we do have. I'm lucky that Jim is the same way. And you're right - when you have less stuff and places where it all lives, there is a lot more time to do other things.

alejna said...

Thanks for this, Leslie. We have way too much stuff in our house, and I often feel completely defeated by the clutter when trying to go about my day. I need to be reminded that there is a light at the end of the tunnel if I can just clear the clutter out of the tunnel to see it.

I think I'm going to get out my rake and shovel now, and see if I can find the livingroom floor.

weezermonkey said...

I really need to do this. I would be much happier.

If you didn't already know, we are hoarders. Not to the extent of the A&E show, but bad enough that we could go on Clean Sweep or Clean House.

It's our dirty secret. :(

sherthebear said...

I really need to be more like you. Our house is a disaster.

Lydia said...

I'm tackling our garage this weekend. We have boxes in there that haven't been opened in 5+ years. Not to mention all the spiders! EEK!

Amanda said...

I really respect you for this. I *wish* my husband would go on this with me. I have this urge to just purge our lives of all this useless shit we have and my husband fights me every step of the way. It's frustrating and disheartening. It all falls on me to do it, but god forbid I throw out ANY of his stuff! ugh.

Oh and what weezermonkey said....we could go on clean house. it's pathetic.

cowboyboot lady said...

Right on. I totally agree with not needing so much stuff. Minimal is better sometimes. I, too, don't own a TV. But I have loads of books. I really should use the six month rule on my wardrobe though. And I always love seeing what you are reading and listening to on your blog.