Michael could have started the minimalist movement. The amount of things the man doesn’t need astounds me.
I struggle a little with stuff. Not as much as I used to, but still. I feel the responsibility to keep enough books around so that children will not grow up to be idiots (Michael tells me not to worry…that there is no risk of idiocy here…if the amount of books truly has anything to do with it, we are good to go), and, you know, I keep a few other odds and ends around. I keep paper. And real printed pictures. And such. That’s not very minimalist.
I also have an odd and possibly inherited habit of putting furniture in strange places.
Seeing me walking around measuring walls makes Michael uncomfortable.
For example, Michael’s perfect dining room, with a (very small) addition from Mary:
Originally I was writing this post because people kept asking me things like “how did you get rid of so much stuff?” or “how do nine people live in 1,400 sq ft with all their stuff?” So I was thinking, well…I don’t really know. And then I started laughing, because the idea of me giving “hints” on decluttering is a little hilarious. It should be Michael. But he’s busy.
My main helpful comment is: become overwhelmed and then start getting rid of everything. And I mean everything. All the better if you’re so overwhelmed that you’re crying, because then you can’t see what you’re getting rid of, so it doesn’t matter (mostly). Or, be married to Michael…the man who often shakes his head at me when I think I’ve really gotten rid of a lot of stuff. Sometimes for the sheer joy of it, he’ll walk into a room I’ve been decluttering, and say “man, things are really piling up in here, aren’t they?”.
As one of the original minimalists, Michael just gets rid of stuff and tells me we can buy it later.
This freaks me out.
I magically turn into a crazy person. (This is also his preferred conversation to have with me when he finds himself bored, with nothing entertaining to talk about. )
Suddenly my frugal side rises to the occasion, and I immediately want to start a savings account for buying those things back that we are getting rid of right now. Getting rid of stuff that we might need later seems so irresponsible…(Michael assures me that keeping all of this stuff is actually the irresponsible thing to do.)
This frugal side of me rears it’s ugly head at unique and quite unaccountable times. Unfortunately it doesn’t work in all situations, mainly just when I need to argue in circles with Michael.
One of our more memorable arguments in early marriage happened because I forgot the baby bathtub on a long trip, and Michael wouldn’t go back home for it.
(If you’ve ever gone anywhere with Michael, then you know that NO, we will not be going back to grab something. Unless you forgot your tooth or your leg. Those are acceptable reasons to run back home.)
As a new mom, I was absolutely devastated over forgetting the baby bathtub. So devastated, that when Michael offered the solution of bathing the baby in the sink, I got quite angry, and was able to keep him awake for several hours of our drive with my crazy ranting.
Moral of the story: do not mess with young moms (unless you’re Michael), because they are a force to be reckoned with!
Maybe there’s another moral of the story: minimalists don’t use baby bathtubs. It took me years to figure this out…too many years…
And then sometimes I feel all smart with how intentional I am about purging my stuff. Until I go to pack it for a move. And then I feel stupid. Because, there is still too much stuff. How? I don’t know.
In fact, in our recent, and worst planned move ever, he was dealing with major jet lag, and it was about 12 hours before we had to move out of our house. He came into the house, saw the way I was packing things into boxes, and said “I’m not mad at you, but I can’t handle watching this. I’m going back outside”.
That was a very helpful comment he made, because I do think there is a real thing called rage purging, which allowed me to get rid of an incredible amount of stuff in a very short time.
If you are attempting to declutter, you might borrow Michael for a few hours, so you could have him say things like that to you. It may be quite motivating. Or, you could ask your husband to say similar things (he may have been storing up these phrases for awhile) so that you can attempt a rage purge!
It is surprisingly effective.