I can’t say exactly when I first read about simplicity but it was years ago when I read Elaine St James book and I must say I was intrigued. I don’t think I ever really implemented any of it although I thought about it a lot in a romantic kind of way. I didn’t actually start trying to downsize my load of stuff until about a year and half ago. I started going through everything. Admittedly, I can be ruthless when I get my mind stuck on something. Given my way, I would have cleared out the house but, alas, I live with 2 children who would find the toys I was trying to be rid of and declare them precious (even though they hadn’t seen or asked for them in months). My husband is much more sentimental than I am and wants to hold onto all their school papers that I “gently” try to convince him to get rid of. As I cleaned out pots and pans or dishes or whatever, he would pipe in and want to keep something because he might want to use it. My simplicity gurus would be screaming in my head “If you haven’t used it in 6 months, you likely never will. Get rid of it!!” but I begrudgingly would keep whatever it was because I am trying to be a good wife.
See the problem is that you can’t change other people. You can only change yourself. This is true in just about every aspect of our lives so it only makes sense that it would make sense here too.
I can’t turn my children into minimalists overnight. Maybe never but I can try. I can’t make my husband less sentimental about his stuff or our children’s stuff. Its frustrating to be sure. It takes the wind out of my sails and I throw up my hands and then just do nothing. I want everyone to get on board with my idea. Right . Now. Since that isn’t going to happen, I can only work on the few things that are actually mine. I can carefully curate my wardrobe, books and sentimental items. Since I AM one of the parents I can eliminate toys as I see fit, I just need to do it when no one is looking (bwahahaha!) and they are none the wiser. I made can make specific requests of my parents for gifts for the children have them (mostly) honored. I can say NO when we are out shopping or better yet, refuse to take them shopping in the first place. And I can always package up what I want to give away and have my husband give it the ok so I don’t step on his toes (most of the time he is fine with whatever I am getting rid of).
I don’t want anyone to think my husband is a pack rat. In fact he was always complaining about MY piles of papers and stuff but he is more likely to keep something just in case or because of it’s sentimental value than I am at this point. I have burned old journals or thrown them out. I went throughout my baby book and took pictures of my favorite photos and made a Simple Prints photo book out of them then gave the original back to my mother. I have one small Longaberger basket with a few trinkets I am saving that are fun to look back at, like old badges, and a couple of little things from my older kids. He has boxes of old scripts and tapes of recorded music as well as scrapbooks and old articles he authored. (Do we even own a tape player anymore?) I can’t begrudge him his memories. My unsentimental brain wonders when he’s going to read or listen to this stuff (or how- VHS is now a dinosaur).
I really like Marie Kondo’s new book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” She has a systematic way of going through your stuff and keeping only what brings joy. It is a great inspiration but she too has learned not to try to change other people. She spent years trying to organize her family but it never worked. She finds that if you make the effort and others see your success, they will follow in time. I can only hope (and try not to injure other people in the meantime…).