Some of you may remember that way back at the beginning of March I published a post called 'Why I'm Giving Up Shopping & Clutter For Lent'.
For those of you that don't remember it (and lets face it, it feels like ages ago I wrote it), or didn't read the original post, here's a quick synopsis.
For Lent, we set ourselves two challenges. The first challenge was not buying anything we didn't need. Ok so we still bought groceries, presents for the boys birthdays and Easter eggs, but all other non-essentials were off the menu. No little luxuries, no 'presents to cheer myself up', no treats 'because it's been a rubbish day', or 'Yay, it's a thing I like' items.
The second challenge was to de-clutter. To try and sort through our house filling a bin bag of stuff we don't use everyday for 40 days. We'd already decided to use Organised Jo's Working Mum's De-Clutter Plan to sort through the house in bite-sized chunks. Biting off to much to soon would spell disaster and we knew there was a chance we would lose motivation if we allowed this to happen.
Basically, for fifteen minutes each day we would focus on one part of one room and declutter and tidy it. Every piece of clutter left over, that was suitable and not just ready for the bin, would be bagged up in a bin bag and given to a charity. This bin bag could then be given to a charity shops of our choice, or a charity collection service. Both Jon and I have our favourite charities, so where possible and suitable, we would donate goods to those.
Now I'm not saying we totally filled each bag everyday, even for hoarders such as Jon and I, this would be a pushing it and besides it wasn't our main objective. The objective was to de-clutter whilst doing good. I'd set up a Just Giving page where anyone who wished to sponsor me on my mission could donate with all proceeds going to Christian Aid.
Within our house there are two adults and three children. As you can imagine, three boys aged four and under create a lot of 'surplus goods'. Add to this two adults who are borderline hoarders and things can get a little 'spatially challenged' shall we say. There's so many things we've 'held on to', or put to one side because 'we may need it/use it one day' that it just made sense to have a clear out. With two of the boys having birthdays in March, we knew more toys, clothes and other things would be heading our way soon so room would have to be made for these impending items.
Starting with our kitchen we set about our task. It was incredible how much stuff we actually got from this one small room alone. Mugs, plates, kitchen utensils we never used or had ever used, some still boxed, all went to one side for charity. Just how many mugs alone can one household need? We counted 15 spare all unused, all unneeded, all on the first day... it was a real eye opener, and that was just the beginning.
In addition to the house, Jon spent half an hour clearing out our car. By doing so he produced a bin bag full of oddities. Bits of toys, odd socks (it's amazing how babies decide they only want to wear one sock whilst in transit), books, Cd's, pens (now I know where all my pens end up), tools, phone chargers (cars don't even have plug sockets!!!). Add to this the separate bag of rubbish he collected and we now have a cleaner, lighter, more efficient, and happier car. Journeys are suddenly more pleasant and the children have agreed that the car is no longer a mobile restaurant...the difference it made is amazing! (I'm just annoyed that he didn't think to take before and after photos for blog purposes!)
Room, by room we went. Bit by bit, all items were bagged, tagged and cleared from their cubby holes or from under beds. Some to the rubbish bin, some to charity.
We'd got in the habit of collecting 4-6 bags then taking them to local charity shops or donation bins. I'm pretty sure that some of the local clothing bins have never been as full as they must have been by the time we were finished.
Our efficiency in clearing increased as each room was cleared. Every time we started a de-cluttering session we found we got a little more done, a little more cleared in the time allotted. It started to become something we looked forward to each day and there were times when we may have bent the rules and done two or three sessions per day, but all were done separately and spread out during the day. It was becoming a healthy addiction.
During this time, we noticed small differences to our lives. No items falling out inducing head injuries when we opened cupboard doors, no searching through piles of toys to find that one elusive item, no fingering through a seemingly never ending collection of books whilst looking for the desired article. We now knew where things were without spending ages hunting for them. We became more efficient with our time, and this was a real revelation, a new benchmark we suddenly wished to maintain.
You see, not only were we de-cluttering our house whilst donating, we were de-clutting our lives.
We were freeing up space and time for things that mattered. Those 15-20 minutes per day have payed off. Now we find we really do have a little more time with one another, a little more time with our children instead of wasting collective hours searching for knick-knacks, or scouring through drawers.
I can't say we won't eventually find ourselves with shelves full of mugs, or piles of books but if we do, we know it can be cleared and need not be daunted by doing so.
Lent may be about giving things up and self control, and I like to think we succeeded in doing so on both counts. Above these though and best of all, this Lent we gained something truly priceless, that is the gift of a decluttered mind and some precious extra moments saved each day.
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