When you read many organisation type articles or websites, the content often revolves around storage. There are lots of lovely photos of beautifully organised home office spaces, arty pin boards and niftily stored children’s toys. The focus is on what pretty containers to buy to put your stuff in and how to store it all so that it looks interesting.
What is the problem?
We might learn that the latest trend in pretty storage boxes is spots or stripes but rarely will you see someone advocating simply getting rid of the stuff you might otherwise put in them. Personally I believe that it’s simply an avenue for websites to sell their products. If someone is struggling with overwhelm because of the amount of belongings they have, it’s madness to even consider purchasing more belongings in an attempt to manage them.
To be honest, for me, pretty striped containers would only make it harder to find the things I need because every box on the shelf looks the same. My pin board is there to stick things on so that I can find them again when I need them, not to add any beauty to my kitchen wall and the kids toys live in their bedrooms so we can just close the door. Perhaps I am taking it to the other extreme here but any other option for me is just too time consuming and unnecessary.
We are encouraged to own more and more stuff
My husband and son love watching those storage shows like Storage Wars and Storage Hunters on TV where people bid on abandoned storage units and try to make some money from what they find inside. I understand that there are many reasons people rent these storage sheds but a lot of the time it’s simply to manage the overflow of possessions from their houses. This is certainly one of the advertising messages these types of facilities use. Here’s an example of one storage facility’s message to their potential hire customers: Moving home? Building a new home? Decluttering to sell? Renovating, or just out of space? People are encouraged to hire more and more space to store their ever increasing number of belongings because their homes are no longer large enough to accommodate it all.
It was with relief that I stumbled across Joshua Becker’s fantastic website Becoming Minimalist earlier this year. It was so nice to see that someone had put into place the solutions that I had been halfheartedly trying in my own life. Joshua tells the story about he and his wife spending the day cleaning the garage and bedrooms while their son played alone in the backyard. He quickly realised that all of his possessions were not adding value to his life and decided to do something about it. They intentionally began the journey towards owning less stuff. Joshua states, “As a result, we discovered more money, more time, more energy, more freedom, less stress, and more opportunity to pursue our greatest passions: faith, family, friends.”
The Becoming Minimalist slogan is Live your life with stories to tell, not stuff to show Click To Tweet
What is the solution?
In our family we have taken this philosophy and made a conscious decision to share experiences for special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas in preference to purchasing more possessions. Some of the things we have done so far include:
- Given our children activities such as a day at the adventure park.
- Taken them out to see the The Lion King musical.
- Signed them up for an afternoon art class and Minecraft day camp.
- Taken a group of their friends indoor rock climbing.
When we do give physical gifts it’s often something like a special jigsaw puzzle that the whole family can sit together to complete or a bicycle helmet so we can go out riding.
For me there has been quite a significant mind shift too in the way I think about my time. Rather than complaining about the time I have to spend in the car taxiing my children to after school activities, I actually look forward to and enjoy the opportunity for interesting conversations that these moments provide. We regularly go on camping holidays together and spend time reading, fishing, bushwalking and simply taking the time to enjoy nature and each other.
As a result we are making a conscious decision to fill our lives with stories and not stuff. Although my son recently asked me not to buy him a ticket the next time I decided we should all go and watch a local community drama production, (apparently there is a limit to the number of these a teenage boy can handle) I believe there has been a positive shift in our relationships as a result of this new mindset. There has certainly been a dramatic amount of clutter reduction in the entire house. After all, you don’t have to find a place to store a gift if it is in your memory.