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.