January (Book Talk and Whole House Purge Update)

Here we are - the first month of 2022! And...it's the first post of the 12 (minimum) I've committed to writing this year. If you're short on time or there is too much, here's the "let me sum up" version:

BOOKS: Last year my one goal was to clean off/read through "The Stack" on my nightstand, but, despite reading 72 books in 2021, only a sliver of them came from The Stack, while the rest were re-reads, read aloud to the kids, or Kindle ebooks. I give myself grace with that though, and it just means that I will continue to give updates from The Stack this year as I work towards my 2022 Goodreads goal of 75 books! So far I've read (or re-read) A New Song (5 Stars), Mary Poppins in the Park (4 Stars), The Four-Story Mistake (4 Stars), and A Common Life: The Wedding Story (4.5 stars)...none of which came from The Stack. 😉

PURGE: If you've been following the Facebook page, then you've seen or read about our first two weeks of donation hauls heading out. I'm definitely meeting (and exceeding) my goal of 12 items a day. So far the most surprising purge has been the day I wore some Supergas that I just loved (so cute) and had worn for four years or so, but with recent back and foot pain (hello 40!), the heels of my feet were killing me by the end of the day, and so I came in, took them off, and put them straight into the donation bag. I am past the point in my life where I will sacrifice for cute shoes - especially when they're tennis shoes that are supposed to be comfortable. 

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

And now, for the "too much" version! Hello to those of you who want the full scoop on the purge. Let's dive right in! 

First off, can I just say that I cannot believe we are already halfway through the first month of 2022?? That's incredible to me. It also means that I need to get my rear in gear to get everyone through the second half of this school year, which means more lesson planning, more book reports, and more moments of panic when I realize how much remains. That being said, while the year was off to a challenging start, literally from minute #1 (long story, don't ask), it's also been a productive two weeks when it comes to the whole house purge.

I stopped counting how many items I was donating shortly after going through a kitchen cabinet early on and coming up with 75 items in one swipe. Needless to say, our home is just (embarrassingly) overly stuffed, and I'm tired of being overwhelmed by it. The plan was to work room by room, with an occasional pass through a cabinet or drawer if I happen to be there anyway, so I've pretty much been stuck in our bedroom for most of the month. And yes, I know it might be shocking to think that I could spend so much time in one room, but with seven people (five of them under the age of 17) in a 2,000 sq. ft. house, our bedroom (along with the laundry room) tends to become the catch-all for all the things that have no home, like medication for a hamster and broken doorstops. 

Some of the tips, tricks, and questions I've been using this time through include:
  • Touch it once. If I'm walking out of the room and I see something that has been sitting there for ages, do something with it - take it where it needs to go, throw it away, file it, or stick it in the donation bag. 
  • Give honest answers. I'm routinely asking myself now: 
    • Do I use/wear it?
    • When was the last time I used/wore it?
    • If I didn't have it, would I miss it?
    • Do I need it or just like it?
    • If I like it, would I miss it if it were gone?
  • Go with your gut. If I look at something and think, "that should go," don't second guess myself. I'm probably being more honest than if I took a lot of time to decide.
  • Using black bags. This is something I heard the Minimal Mom say, and it makes sense. If you use black trashbags, you can't see what's inside...once it's entered the portal, it's gone. This worked really well for the kids.
  • Donate quickly. I used to keep piles of donations in the basement or by the backdoor, like purgatory, just waiting to be donated. Instead, they just languished there for months (or sometimes years), collecting dust. This time, as soon as a bag or box is full, I put it in the back of my car. When the back is full (or once a week, whichever comes first), I drive to Goodwill and drop it off, which leaves little time for second guessing a donation.
If you're wondering what kind of things I'm ridding myself of, it's everything from pajamas I haven't worn in years (and probably never will again) to socks that I was keeping because the color is hard to find now (but I never wear, because the pants they matched no longer fit!). It's cute plates for various holidays that I've held onto so we could use them with the kids, only to realize that my life is too busy for cute plates and we use paper plates for the holidays. And Easter decorations, when I realized I don't like celebrating Easter with eggs and bunnies, because it means far more to me than that. It's movies I no longer find appropriate (or find time to watch), books I'll never read again, and returns I never got around to making. In short, nothing is safe. 

I'm happy with the progress, and, in full disclosure, don't expect the cleanout to be done by January 31st, but that's okay. The 12 in 22 Project, specifically the 12 items a day during this month, was the kick in the pants I needed to be a little more honest with myself, a little harder on the kids to purge, and a little less attached to the stuff that has been slowing taking over our home. And it feels good.

2022 started with a bang, and it feels like life has continued to throw one thing after another at us in the first 14 days of this year. From teenage drama to late night visits to not one, but two urgent care centers with two different family members - I told you it was crazy - having this steadiness of cleaning out has been therapeutic in many ways. I can't control much in this life (really nothing at all), but I can put things in a bag and make them go away, and some days that's just enough. 

What are you learning in 2022?

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