It hardly seems possible that Christmas has come and gone already. With just a few days before the new year begins I am starting to think about how I want to implement some goals, or resolutions if you must.
One of my major goals for 2015 is becoming a minimalist. While minimalism will look different for every person and family, for me it has meant drastically reducing the number of things we have in our home, and evolving from thr “throw away” mind set into only allowing things into our space that we love and actually use. Simplifying. But Christmas, with all the wrapping paper and little toys that you find after impaling your foot on them, can throw a major monkey wrench into a “stuff-free” lifestyle. Here are a few tips I am implementing to keep the clutter to a minimum after this holiday season.
Ask For Gifts That Aren’t Stuff
The best solution is planning ahead, so next year ask family members to give you and your kids experiences instead of packages. A membership to the zoo, tickets for an event, even lessons to learn a new skill. These are likely to enrich your life a lot more than anything you would tear wrapping off of, and they will add zero clutter to your home.
Now, there is always that mother-in-law or aunt that thinks you are abusing your children by not lavishing them with cheap plastic toys from Walmart, so they will OVERBUY and avalanche you with even more stuff. This shows a complete lack of respect for you as a parent, and for the boundaries that you have set for your children. Don’t feel guilty about enforcing those boundaries and donating items that you expressly asked people not to buy.
Replace Old Stuff With New Gifts
Up to this point I sounds like a grinch who doesn’t think kids should get any presents for Christmas. Not at all! One way to deal with new stuff coming in, is to replace the old with it. Got some new slippers? Get rid of the old ones. Kids got a new toy? Donate an old one.
One method that has been successful for me in keeping the multudinous toys, that inevitably happen when you have 3 kids, in check is storing them in plastic totes. When the totes are full, we don’t buy another tote. We downsize what we have until it fits into the totes again. Not only will this help keep down on the number of toys, your kids will become expert packers, able to cram in every last Captain America figurine and still get the lid on.
Buy One Big Gift
This year we got our kids tablets. Now, we don’t spend a ton of money on Christmas gifts, so that is the only gift they are getting. They can use them to play games, read, and even watch movies. They will hardly take up any room, and the kids will love them. I could have gotten them a ton of cheap plastic toys for the amount I spent on the tablets, but its not about the number of gifts.
Instead of following the “something they want, something they need” poem for choosing gifts, just buy less. Pretty simple, right? That doesn’t mean your kids have to miss out on a darn thing, you can spend as much money as you want, just don’t buy cheap crap so they have more gifts to open.
Break Your Relationship With Stuff
Why is it so hard to get rid of stuff, and so easy to bring new stuff in? Most of us have a very unhealthy relationship with stuff, and in this season that is about buying and getting as much stuff as possible, it can go into overdrive. It doesn’t mean that you love your grandma less if you donate the scarf she gave you because you truly do not need it.
He who dies with the most toys does not win, he just leaves his kids a house full of crap to deal with. The most freeing thing you can do is to break your addiction and unhealthy attachment to inanimate objects. Invest that kind of loyalty into people and experiences, not hanging onto things that have no eternal value.
Clean It Up
As you are taking down your Christmas decorations and trying to return your home to normalcy, it’s the perfect time to get out a garbage bag and start purging. A couple of years ago I got rid of my 7’ Christmas tree and bought a 4’ one from the Dollar Store for $8. It takes me about 5 minutes to put up or take down, and is small enough to store in a box. This also meant I was able to get rid of 75% of my Christmas ornaments. My home is no less cheery, just less cluttered.
While you are getting rid of Christmas stuff you may start to see other things around your house that you can live without. I can’t think of a better start to 2015 than one free of stuffitis, and with a simple, happy home. And, if you take your donations in before the end of the year, you can still claim them on your taxes!
2015 is going to be a great year. We are going to declutter, declare goals, and take charge of our lives! Don’t let the clutter of Christmas past get drug into your new year.