People sometimes ask me how I do it. And it makes me smile every time.
“How do you do it, with four kids?”
“How do you find time to work so much?”
“How do you manage when Thomas is away for three weeks?”
And I always answer—“You make do with what you have”! But maybe it’s more than that… Here’s my little secret: I SORT.
I sort and I purge, ladies and gentlemen
Those of you who know me know that I’m not a big fan of routine and chores (okay, really not a fan!) So the less I have to deal with, the better I feel. It may seem crazy to you to think that with so many kids (and not a full crew of servants in sight), I love my life. But I promise, I truly do!!
About 5 years ago, when we crossed the ocean to begin our great adventure in Provence, I had a realization: the more things you have, the more those things dictate the way you live. Sound absurd? Well, it’s because it is.
So I set out to purge… And I ended up enjoying it.
I always give this example: there was a moment when I realized that our children had so much crap that they spent more time putting their toys away than playing with them. It became obvious to me that something was off… But in reality, I wasn’t much better with my overflowing wardrobe, my humongous stack of papers and my messy kitchen cabinets.
Simply put, having less stuff allows you to:
- be more orderly
- be less stressed
- breathe better
- have choices (but not too many!)
- do less housework (YAY!)
- be more efficient (do you ever find yourself rummaging endlessly for something in a messy cupboard, drawer or closet?)
- spend less time on things (and more on people and experiences!)
The right moment
Newsflash: there is never a good time to sort your things :).
Of course, you could decide to tackle this colossal task once a year when you tackle your spring cleaning (if you do that kind of thing). But why wait until it seems insurmountable? I think you can gain a lot of efficiency by dedicating a moment, periodically, to do it. It can be once a week, once a month or even once every season!
You have to start somewhere… And here is an important piece of advice (which I am borrowing from Marie Kondo): don’t start with the emotional stuff, like your childhood memories or photo albums. Start with the stuff you hate the most! You’ll be amazed at how efficient you are and you’ll be motivated to keep going.
For example, you could start by sorting through the bathroom cabinet and getting rid of all expired medication, unused creams or lotions, almost empty (but abandoned) shampoo bottles and old toothbrushes kept “just in case.” The key is to tackle your sorting room by room, or even one piece of furniture at a time and complete each task before moving on. It’s better to do 20 minutes a day and sort through one drawer a day than to empty all your drawers at once and leave everything unfinished for months.
So, once you have chosen WHAT you are going to sort:
- Group similar things together to find one designated place for them (ex, there shouldn’t be batteries in the kitchen cupboard and in the garage. They should all be in one place).
- Make a pile of stuff to donate, sell and recycle or throw away.
- Make a pile of stuff to review later (if you are hesitant to get rid of something, don’t waste unnecessary time mulling over it).
- Complete the task before moving on.
Keys to success
Here are a few tricks of the trade that I’ve learned along the way that will help you move forward more quickly:
MAKE EVERYTHING ACCESSIBLE
Make sure that everything you have sorted and stored is accessible (if you have to move a ton of boxes or things to get to it, it will quickly become a mess all over again).
NO “JUST IN CASE.”
Don’t keep things “just in case”… I promise you will NEVER use them! And, if one day you think, “ARGH!!!! I should have kept it!” think of the many months or years that have passed with more physical space and less mental burden, and console yourself by going to buy that thing again when you really and truly need it.
Be disciplined (I know, your rebellious side is cringing…. It’s not my favourite word either). But believe me, the satisfaction that comes from being disciplined, like 5 minutes a day, is well worth the compromise. My biggest challenge is putting my clothes away every day, because naturally I tend to throw my things on the floor (or on a chair) instead of folding and putting them away or tossing them in the dirty laundry basket.
Find balance: your own minimalism is not the same as mine, your neighbour’s, or Marie Kondo’s. It’s what makes you feel good at home—so that you feel in control of your things and not the other way around. It’s what makes you feel good about yourself so that you feel in control of your things, not the other way around.
Are you ready?
So, are you ready to tackle the task?
Oh and let me know if you like this kind of post! Do you want more? Do you have any other topics in mind? I welcome all your ideas!