Decluttering DVDs

Over the last few weeks I’ve sorted out the DVD shelves at home. To be fair, most of them were Steves (I downsized my collection back in 2012), and we finally got around to packing them up so he could take them to his house. From the remainder I committed a small pile to the charity shop. That left 6 films I like, 9 exercise DVDs, and 25 children’s DVDs.

I’d like to get to the point where we have none – then I could get rid of the DVD player!

We don’t have a microwave (got rid of that around 5 years ago I guess), a toaster (that went a couple of years back), or a stereo (yonks ago), so a DVD player is probably the next superfluous electronic item in the house. My computer plays DVDs if I really needed to access one.

Before and After Pics

Here’s a before pic – I didn’t take a proper before shot, so I dug out the most recent ones that had them in the background. That’s pretty much how they looked until I sorted them out. And that’s my smiley daughter in the foreground 🙂

declutter dads before and after

Declutter before and after

And here’s an after photo, all light and airy and lovely:

Declutter before and after

The ones on the bottom are kids ones. I have 12 on the middle shelf: 6 films and 6 exercise DVDs.

I’m thinking I might need to try out all the exercise DVDs and decide whether or not I really need them. I can’t even remember the last time I used one so I probably don’t. They are just more things sat on the shelf taking up mental and physical space.

Loft Clearout Update

Well, it definitely has to get worse before it gets better!

Clearing out the loft really has been a bit of a Pandora’s Box.

I took Boy1’s cot out of the loft this morning, along with all the toys I’d shoved up there previously. This of course means that the house is *temporarily* more full of stuff than ever.

I’ve also cleaned off the old baby gates that were in the garage and dusted down the double buggy (my boys are 21 months apart, so it got good use. I had planned a third before Boy2 was out of it, but, well, you know).

It feels great to be letting these big items go.

I have an evening on eBay planned tonight, which will help pay off the overdraft, and the loft is looking like it did before we had children. I am feeling strangely excited about it finally being empty of things I need to deal with. I’m even thinking of going through the baby items again just to make sure I’m only keeping those things I love.

There’s something symbolic about the space over our heads being free of things that clutter up our minds.

The Loft

loft

I have started sorting out the loft.

For 2 years I have been shoving things up there: baby things, highchairs, booster seats, babygros, small shoes, little clothes, baby books, baby toys…

Gradually it has formed a layer over the the existing piles of stuff like a layer of earth covering a silent city.

If you conducted an archaelogical dig in our loft, the crust would be the most recent collection of just-too-small boys clothes. Under it, smaller clothes, then newborn things, muslin cloths. And finally, you would unearth the perfectly preserved debris of the life we lived before we had children.

Evidence of a civilisation so different to the life we know now.

I have been avoiding the loft for a long time.

It sits literally and metaphorically above my head and is a heavy weight when I lie in bed at night.

I became scared to go up there, averting my eyes when we had to bring down the Christmas decorations, lest I should inadvertently see something that reminded me of a baby I might never have.

But today I broke through that fear.

Today I began.

I sorted, and rearranged, and tidied and reminisced and organised.

The baby things stay. I still have hope in my heart, and I can’t deny it, even if at the moment the body is weak and reluctant.

Those things are now in their own special part of the loft. Stacked and ready for use, should the need arise.

They are out of the way of everything else. Neatly to one side, so as not to cause distress and annoyance when I need something else that has been stored away.

I thought I would cry, but I didn’t. I smiled. Those beautiful little clothes that both of my boys have worn, those cute little toys and soft baby things that they had in their cots. The days of the moses basket and endless, endless tiredness. Such a wonderful, wonderful collection of memories.

Those objects aren’t tainted by miscarriage and loss, because they were never used for anything other than the living, breathing, messy, noisy, amazing children that fill my home.

I was afraid of something that wasn’t even there. Something my own mind had created.

The loft is no longer a terrifying ordeal that needs to be dealt with.

The loft is where the physical memories of being a new mother are.

I feel so relieved.

I’ve started a car-boot box in the garage. I’ve thrown a couple of things out. I’ve brought down some books and reinstated them on my bookshelves. I’ve even found an antique sewing machine that I’m going to sell. There is still some work to do up there, but I have taken a big step forward today.

Minimalism and order is something I crave and it seems to vanish when I am going through a hard time emotionally.

My environment always, so accurately, reflects my own state of mind.

Funny how that happens.

Craving Simplicity

I have had a very unproductive morning.

Twice a week I get a couple of hours in the morning to myself, at home, uninterrupted. I should be using this time to blaze a trail of Getting Things Done through our house and lives, but today (like many days before it!), I have pottered around, not really getting into anything and getting absolutely nothing done.

Not that I haven’t tried (sort of).

I spent a good proportion of time reading up on the best To Do programs, since I have fallen slowly out of love with Things. Eventually I downloaded Wunderlist on my iphone and mac but then when I started trying to add all the things that I need to do I became totally overwhelmed with the process. Recurrent tasks, one off tasks, tasks that are dependent on the completion of other tasks, low priority tasks, unimportant tasks… is life just too complicated for a to-do list?

I also spent some time looking at Money Dashboard (the UK equivalent of Mint.com), which looks OK and I might be able to get into. My overdraft seems to be doubling every time I look at it and I know I need to get control of money ASAP else I’m just going to completely run out and not be able to buy food for my family (gulp).

And I browsed through my inbox, lamenting the fact that it is stuffed to the brim with emails I don’t know if I need, and wondering how I’ll ever get to the bottom of it.

And I spent some time looking in cupboards and wondering how better to organise the stuff in there, but not really finding any answers.

And all this time what I should be doing is measuring up the stairs and hall so that we can get carpet put in because this has been bothering me for months and I still haven’t done it.

And then I stopped and came to write this in protest.

Life is just too complicated.

Why do I need all this stuff?? All these things?? All these tasks?? What about actually living life instead of constantly managing it?

THIS is why I started getting rid of things.

This is why I am aiming for minimalism.

This is the exact reason why I am not achieving my goals.

Too much stuff and too little focus.

Eurgh.

And how to break out of this??

A big part of me believes that organisation and tracking is the key.

I find it almost impossible to narrow my focus and not feel the weight of every other thing that still needs attending to. Even without all the “optional” clutter, we all still have to manage our homes, our diets, our money and our relationships. Is it possible to be on top of everything all at the same time?

I feel as though my only option is to reduce, reduce, reduce.

But even that requires some level of organisation and planning.

I’m 38 years old, I have a family that I am supposed to be a good role model for, I am a grown-up, and I should be able to work this out.

When I do, I’ll let you know.

Kitchen Packing Party

kitchen packing party

So far in my minimalist journey I have mostly been sorting through things in-situ. Everything around me in the house has been pared down without actually removing anything and putting it into storage.

I decided to change this today.

I have reached a point, I think, where pretty much everything in the house is what I would consider something I need. However, we still have a lot of stuff. Too much stuff.

I am nervous about just chucking out or donating these things that we have left. They are functional items in almost all cases and I do not want to realise in 6 months that I am desperate for a lot of the things that have gone, especially as financially I am not able to just replace things without justification (stay at home mum doesn’t pay too well, sadly).

Anyway, that aside, today I decided to have my own packing party. If you’re a follower of The Minimalists, you have probably already come across their extreme jump into minimalism, but to read more, check out this post.

Another blogger whose journey I have been following avidly is Ginny at My Simplicity Quest, and she did a similar thing back in 2011, although instead of removing everything, she packed what she thought she would need (as if going on a journey) and stored the rest.

Initially today, I was going to pack up the whole house. Within ten minutes I realised what a ridiculously enormous plan this was (with a husband and two kids living with me), so I downsized it to the area that I hate the most.

Our kitchen.

Our kitchen is sorely in need of a facelift, but since we don’t have a budget for that right now, we have to make the best of it. The thing is, because it is tatty and old, keeping it clean and tidy seems to be difficult for me. This becomes a big problem when it comes to cooking. I hate cooking in a messy environment (I don’t much like cooking at all to be honest), so any excuse to not cook will see me eating ‘easy’ (read: not healthy) foods, or worse, ordering a takeaway. And since our kitchen is pretty much always messy, we are suffering at our own hands by not eating as well as we could.

So today, I have packed up probably half of what we have (and we didn’t have a lot to start with because our kitchen is very small). It’s all going up in the loft. I’ve kept down the things we use regularly (but less of them – 6 mugs instead of 20, 2 kids plates instead of 6, etc.).

I’m not sure what Mr Tech will say when he comes home, but one of the lovely things about my husband is that he tends to take my eccentricities in his stride 🙂

Over time, all the things that have been packed away will either be needed or not. And if not, I think eventually they can just go.

I’m not going to list the stuff we have left, because it is still quite a long list. I am not sure if over time this will grow or shrink.

In fact, I’m not sure about a lot of things, but I want to see how we manage with much less. And I am hoping that by having much less in the kitchen it will be easier to keep clean and I might actually spend more time in there cooking proper meals.

We’ll see!

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