The Why and What of Simplifying

We all know what is important, and it isn’t our STUFF. However, what do our actions say? How much time do we spend cleaning, organizing, sorting, storing and managing our STUFF? How much time do we spend just relaxing and enjoying our family?

These thoughts have motivated me to get serious about decluttering. I realized that I was spending more time picking up, cleaning, asking the children to pick up, or worrying about the mess than I was playing games or reading books to the children. It has been getting increasingly difficult to keep everything picked up and put away because we simply have too much stuff.

The stuff wasn’t enhancing our lives; it was taking over our lives.  Clutter and extra belongings make every job take longer.  How long does it take to dust an empty shelf? A shelf that is full of nick-knacks? I find that most of  what bothers me about our home isn’t the dirt, it is the clutter, the stuff that is not put away or doesn’t have a home.

Contemplate the 80/20 rule. 80% of our space is is occupied by things that we use only 20% of the time. 80% of our family entertainment comes from 20% of our games and toys, etc. Think about it. How much of that 80% could we get rid of and not miss. How much of your beauty supplies do you use every day, every week? So my goal is to really get rid of clutter, not just move it around. If we simply move it around and organize it, we will still have to manage it. If  we get rid of it, we never have to move it, clean it, or deal with it again.

Get rid of things that:

  • are broken or obsolete
  • you don’t want your children to have to deal with after you’re dead.
  • you have to clean and store , but don’t get much use out of. (We have a lot of games, toys and activities that fall into this category. Sure we use them, but only occasionally. There are some games that we play often, those we keep.)
  • you never really loved
  • you don’t love now
  • you don’t have room for

Keep things that:

  • make you happy
  • help you do what you love to do (or what you need to do)
  • are truly valuable
  • give more than they take
  • your children will appreciate and enjoy

Remember if you are really serious about decluttering, you will be getting rid of some good things, maybe lots of good things. It isn’t a question of whether the item is good or not. It is a question of whether the item adds significantly to your enjoyment or purpose of  life. Does it help you to achieve your goals? It is back to the question of priorities and trying to chose what is best and not merely what is good. We can’t own it all.

Let’s do this together. Spread the word. Post before pictures of the project that you are tackling this week, link back to this post and add your post to Mr. Linky.


1. Cardamom’s Pod 2. Joyful Johnsons

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.


Don’t forget to come back and  link up with us next Friday to show off  and check out other finished projects.

Other posts in this series:

Need more help getting the house in order? Read my posts on scheduling, chores or laundry management.

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8 Responses to The Why and What of Simplifying
  1. MomStarr
    March 27, 2009 | 7:49 am

    I just did this on our basement!! It’s a surprise for my husband; he’s been out of town. Three full days of decluttering and staying up until 1 am. Feels good and looks good! I am on a roll!! Lori


  2. Nikki
    March 27, 2009 | 12:08 pm

    What a great post Kimberly! The part about 80/20 really sunk in with me. I am so inspired to get rid of the junk. As soon as I feel better I’ll have to compose a decluttering post– because we will be doing some major decluttering/de-junking before our move.


  3. Kelli
    March 27, 2009 | 1:35 pm

    this is great-i’m getting to work right now!


  4. Jamie
    March 27, 2009 | 3:24 pm

    Wow, I’d love to be a part of this, but won’t be starting our projects for a little while. Going to Philly next week. Then we have some crazy weeks. I’m actually hoping our first project will be the incredible “switching seasons” clothing monster. Hoping that will be able to take place in a few weeks (we still have snow in our forecast… ugh). If you still want me to, I can take before and after pics of our many decluttering projects as they happen.


  5. Kimberly
    March 27, 2009 | 7:21 pm

    Can’t wait to see it. :o)

    Nikki and Jamie,
    Join in whenever you can.

    Be sure to take some before pictures.


  6. Jamie
    June 15, 2011 | 9:48 pm

    Well, this has been on my heart for a long time and I have done some, but not enough. THanks for the encouragement. I think I will start SOON. May I ask, how many toys do you keep for your children?


  7. ChristineG
    June 20, 2011 | 7:49 am

    Thank you for this post. It is so helpful to read de-cluttering posts from someone in a similar life-situation as I am in. Which brings me to my question…

    How do you de-clutter with your children around? I am not one of those moms who can never say “No” to a child or who caters to their food dislikes, but I do find it very hard to get rid of things they ‘like’ (and I use the term loosely here) in front of them. It seems every broken or unused-in-months toy/game/clothing item/movie I toss into the thrift store or garbage bag leads to a heart-wrenching comment of some kind, “Oh, Mommy! That was my favourite [piece of junk] that I got from [special relative] when I was three! I love that thing!”

    Now, again, I am not a spineless mom, but it does get very wearying to hear this over and over as well as see their genuine tears over parting with their things. I have read the tip to do this when the kids are not around, but as the mom of a large family, you know how little this happens! (And with teens who stay up later than I do, ‘after the kids have gone to bed’ is not possible, either.)


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Christine,

    Well, I make it a point to not get rid of things that the children do not want to get rid of.

    I do allow the children to help me make decisions based on our family’s needs. Sometimes we let them choose their favorites to keep. Sometimes we explain how much space we have for a certain thing (blocks or puzzles for example) and let them figure out what to pass on. They love passing on their things to friends who they think will enjoy them.

    If there is something that a child is attached to or doesn’t want to give up, we keep it within reason. We also try to keep in mind how much each child has, some children tend to be more attached to ‘things’ than others.


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