Once you start having kids, the stuff in your house seems to multiply by the thousands between all the toys and baby gear, plus all the papers and other junk you have no time to sort through because you’re too busy chasing a 2-year-old.
We’ve lived in the same house for the past 13 years. During that time, we’ve had two kids, three dogs, two cats, one massive battle with childhood cancer and a serious buildup of junk we no longer need.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a deep call to purge. My friend must be feeling it, too, because she invited me to do a minimalist challenge. It’s based on a website she follows, but we adapted it to suit our needs.
Each day in January, we text a picture of the items we are planning to get rid of along with a funny little anecdote about why we’re choosing to get rid of them. On the first day, we got rid of one item. The second day, two items, and so on. Neither of us could foresee ourselves being able to physically remove the items from our house to a donation center each day, so we’ve settled on putting them in a “purge pile” to be taken all together to donate at the end of the month.
Texting each day has been a nice way to keep in touch with my friend. She and I were college roommates, and we’ve helped each other drag our junk from house to house plenty of times as we moved over the years. Now it’s fun to band together to help each other get rid of the excess.
We’re only a few days into the challenge, but it’s motivated me to start sorting through some of the deep, dark recesses of our house, and I can’t believe some of the junk I’ve found.
So far on the list — an online banking manual for a bank I haven’t used in over a decade, giant cardboard boxes, a doodad that went to a car seat we haven’t owned for three years and an old name tag holder I got at a conference four years ago.
The crazy thing, though, is I actually considered keeping some of these things. I held them in my hands, worrying I might want to use them someday. As I debated, I imagined what I would say in the text to my friend if I decided to get rid of them. It was in that moment, mentally texting her the reasons, that I could finally see how ridiculous it would be to keep this stuff.
And while texting has definitely helped me in this challenge, I have found one downside to it — I want some of my friend’s old junk! Yesterday, she was giving away an adorable clear serving platter with multicolored stars. It would be so fun to use it for bringing cookies to gatherings or serving people at card parties. But I don’t need it. Most of the time, it would just be gathering dust at my house like it is at hers.
Hopefully, I can resist the urge to accumulate instead of purge, because I am starting to notice there is something deeply satisfying about getting rid of unneeded items and moving toward a house where we have what we need and nothing more.
Jenni DeWitt is married and has two sons, the youngest of whom battled childhood leukemia — and won. Jenni writes weekly for Momaha.com. She is the author of “Forty Days” and “Why Won’t God Talk to Me?” You can read more about Jenni here.
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