5 Things I’ve Learned From Decluttering My Home For A Year

It’s been a year since everything changed.

This time one year ago I was reading The Joy of Less and Seven after hearing about them on Instagram.

These books rustled me up, made me uncomfortable, motivated me to make some big changes. They were marked with an obvious purging of the house, but the results have crept into all other aspects of my life.

I have spent the past year getting rid of the ‘excess’ in our house. Nothing has been left untouched. I have rummaged through every room, drawer and cupboard in my home.  I have filled the basement with bags and boxes of ‘stuff’ to be moved out and watched truck loads and truck loads of my possessions be carried off to new homes, thrift and garbage.IMG_7097.JPG

Most of us can agree that we have too much stuff. Most of us will get fed up and try to declutter our homes. It sounds like it will clear up our space, make our home cleaner and more organized. So it surprised me, and not at the same time, that as I decluttered I would have to ‘confront my junk’.  I had to acknowledge that I was in an excess and that it felt like a burden. I had to talk myself into letting go of things. I had to wrestle the desires to buy more. All this doesn’t come without it’s own soul searching, ugly crying and feeling a bit lost and icky.

These are some of the things that I have learned/relearned/realized during my past year of purging my home.

    1. When is it enough stuff? I don’t miss anything I’ve gotten rid of, clearly I didn’t ‘need’ it. So, why? Why do I just keep accumulating? Since leaving for college I’ve spent my adult life purchasing and storing, purchasing and storing. To a point that I’ve felt like my home had become a glorified storage unit. At what point can I say ‘enough’? Logic tells us to accumulate only what we have room, money and use for….I’ve just spent a decade and a half doing the opposite. Illogical.messy hutch desk
    2. How much money have I spent?  This is such an amazing post on the true cost of having lots of clutter. I think as North Americans we have a certain privilege that we can toss dollars (whether we have them or not) around ‘for fun’. If something is cheap we tend to say ‘it’s only $15, if I don’t like it or it doesn’t work, I’ll just get rid of it’.  Even if it isn’t ‘cheap’, I’ve still been in the demographic that buys more than they need or can afford. Consumerism is the culture of excess, it thinks that spending money on things is good for the economy. We are a consumerist culture and now we are learning a thing or two from the ‘anti-consumerists’ who tell us to step back and spend with a conscience and intention. I know, that sounds so not fun – but, I know that I, myself, have been reckless with my money. Instead of going bonkers at my favourite stores and buying all the shiny colourful things that quickly lose their lustre – what if I invested in people, relationships, experiences, goodness – even my savings account?! (big eyed emoji)before purging kids toys, simple on purpose
    3. I really don’t know myself. In purging all the items of my early 20s it is clear that I was desperate to ‘adult’ without taking the time to get to know myself as one. Over the years I’ve accumulated two of everything, one for 2013 Shawna and one for  2001 Shawna – who didn’t have a clue about herself and just bought all the token adult items without really loving them. What’s that saying…’we spend money we don’t have, to buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like’. At least some of that was true for the young adult version of myself. IMG_3846.JPG
    4.  But I recycle. So I must care about the environment. I mean, we are a generation that just knows, 1. Oregon trail is the game that teaches you life skillz yo, and 2. Our land and water is limited, we should be responsible with it.  As I’ve watched truck loads leave my house, all I could think was that I was a shitty steward of the items I chose to take into my care. All of the little plastic things, electronics, clothes, accessories, and discount housewares were things I bought and took ownership of. As I’ve purged I have tried to take the time to find homes for things, but the rest goes to thrift….and if they can’t sell it it’s into the landfill. How long is my cheap wall art going to take to disintegrate? I mean, if this was the Oregon Trail I could use that tacky canvas art and old trendy necklaces to fashion barge across the fjord but now we have luxuries like tossing our items without a single thought or indication about what happens to it past our street curb. What if we were all responsible for our own garbage and had to bury it in our own backyards, how would I change my spending and consumption of ‘stuff’?IMG_3839
    5. This is all just a distraction. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t lived a luxurious or indulgent lifestyle (unless you count my need for brand name cheese and two drawers full of make up and hair products) but this ‘lifestyle of consumption’ has been a distraction.  The modern definition of ‘success’ is a guise for apathetic, selfish living and I believe we are the generation that can help shed that.   I’ve been self-focussed and running on complacency in my home, relationships, health and life. As I’ve gotten rid of excess stuff there has been a void. Not only in my living space, but in my time, in my thoughts. I would spend a lot of my life working to purchase, managing, avoiding, planning on acquiring, replacing, and re-sorting my ‘stuff’. With the bulk of it gone I’ve felt that this lifestyle is our norm and the norm is one big distraction of everything going on outside of our front doors.

Minimalism first appealed to me because I thought it meant I would end up with a house that looked like a boutique hotel suite. I thought my space would be clutter-free, always clean and my kids would frolic around in cute Scandinavian outfits spending hours playing happily together with one simple box of organic wooden Montessori toys.

I thought it was all about my physical space. This year, sometimes against my will, I’ve realized it is about living, about choices, about committing, and about taking responsibility. Most importantly, it is a work in progress.

Thank you for coming along this journey with me and my family.

Love Shawna, your Nerdy girlfriend who took six months to give up her IPSY makeup bag subscription #noregrets#allthemakeup


This post is part of #fiveonfriday where I team up with fellow Canadian bloggers and we share our list of five. Check them out and follow our Five on Friday Pinterest Board!

  • For five funny things that will make you feel better about your own parenting skills, check out Jac and Juli at TwoFunMoms! http://www.twofunmoms.com/.
  • Check out the blog that is basically all things in life at Eclectic Soapbox, because variety keeps it eclectic.
  • For tips on green living on a sensible budget with a smattering of parenting, ranting and raving, check out Judith at Juicy Green Mom
  • For Everything and the kitchen sink that happens in life, check out Diane at Canadian Basicsfor your 5 on Friday for laughs and fun!
  • Paula at Product Junkie
  • Local to Edmonton, this mom is blogging about a little bit of everything. Things to do with the family, a simple DIY, or life as a family of 5. Check out Christine at Just Another Edmonton Mommy
  • Louise of Surrey BC shares about the reality of family life with some very energetic kids at Talk Nerdy To Me

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