More space? How about less stuff?

With every pregnancy well meaning friends, relatives, and often strangers, share their advice whether you ask for it or not. Sometimes this can get annoying, but for the most part I just nod and smile. I’m not so sure I get this unsolicited advice as often as others do, however, as most my friends and family know that I have no issues with telling them my opinion or what I think of theirs.

I have been a bit surprised by all the opinions on the size and arrangement of our home though. I was expecting comments on the number of children or how close in age they will all be, not comments on the lack of square footage in our house. Even with the birth of our second son, a few people were surprised to hear that we did not give him his own bedroom even though we do have a three bedroom home. The third bedroom is being used as a playroom for the boys, and we like it that way. Now with #3 on the way, we plan to keep the same arrangement and have all three kiddos share a bedroom. You would think we were committing a crime from some of the looks we get! Several have commented that we have “outgrown” our home. While I agree that our home is small by today’s standards (It would have been “small” even in the 1980’s when it was built.), and we do plan to buy a bigger home next time (because we plan to have more children), I don’t feel that we have outgrown it yet. We have central heat and air, a roof that keeps out rain, a large kitchen, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. They may be small rooms, but they function, and that’s more space and luxury than most people around the world have. Most of us have heard the statistic that the average home in the 1950’s had 900-something square feet of space and the average home today is 2000-something square feet. Why? The average family size has decreased, so it definitely has nothing to do with the number of children.

Stuff. It’s all that stuff that we “need” so much. I am constantly being made aware of how much our culture focuses on “needs” that aren’t really needs at all. For over a year now I have been making a conscious effort to rid our house of unnecessary stuff. Just like most other families in the US, we have lots of it. Toys, books, furniture, electronics, dishes, cooking utensils, bath products and towels, and more clothes than some people own in their lifetime.  When I start feeling overwhelmed, like I have too much to do, and my home is suffering for it, it’s time to get rid of some of those things that aren’t necessary in my home and life. My husband and children are what is important, not my possessions. Not to mention, the fewer items you have in your home, the less time and energy it takes to keep clean. Just this past week I was steam mopping the floors for the second time (potty training forces you to do such things), and I was thinking about how much I really dread having a bigger home when potty training future children, as I know it will take much longer.

I’d like to encourage you to join me in this! Take some time this week and clean out one room, closet, cabinet, or drawer. You might just be surprised by how many unnecessary things fill your home and everyday life. Feel free to come back here and post a link if you blog about it too!

Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Grab a box or bag (I like diaper and wipe boxes because it’s what I have on hand) and start tossing stuff in it that you want to donate. Don’t leave it sitting around the house though. Immediately put it in your car so it can be dropped of while you are out running errands this week. I found this is much less stressful, and it gets everything out of my house faster than waiting until I have a larger drop-off load.
  • Don’t just assume it it is all your kid’s stuff cluttering your home. We adults have useless junk too!
  • Facebook and Craigslist can be great ways to sell unwanted items. Just don’t get sucked into buying more stuff while you’re there!
  • Dishes – Do you really need 2 full sets of drinking glasses? When was the last time you had 20 people over for dinner and didn’t use plastic cups that got tossed in the trash?
  • With lots of teenagers graduating high school right now and getting ready to leave for college in the fall, find one and load them up with your unneeded dishes, towels, bedding, and cleaning supplies!


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2 Responses to More space? How about less stuff?

  1. Great post, Emily. It’s really easy to get sucked in ans end up with too much stuff. Good tips.

  2. good for you!! i dunno – i think living situations are a personal thing so as long as you’re happy and have a roof over your head. do what you gotta do! one thing i loved most about military life was that we got the opportunity to look thru all that “STUFF” and purge every 3 years or so!! no one wants to keep moving stuff they dont use anymore! so here’s to our new life living in a larger home and being reminded we dont NEED all that STUFF (i think we’ve been constantly reminded of that since we STILL dont have our household goods from Guam and we moved 4 months ago, hah!!)

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