The following are seven signs that you have too much. No judgement here folks. Where do you think I got this list, anyway? (answer: my own past)
1. Your sink of dirty dishes is filled with maggots. Yes, this happened to me. We lived in an apartment with no dishwasher and I let dishes pile up. I think I was 8 weeks pregnant and feeling sick a lot of the time, but that's still pretty gross! haha. We now live in a home with a dishwasher but we actually stopped using it recently (except to use it as a drying rack, thanks for the idea Colleen). We have stored the majority of our dishes on the top shelf in the kitchen where we can't easily reach. Those are to be pulled down when we have friends or family over for big dinners. For the rest (and majority) of the time: my husband has a large plate, small plate, large bowl, small bowl, a fork, spoon, and knife. I have the same, and so does our older son. This paring down of dishes forces us to wash our plates after each meal which means that dirty dishes don't have a chance to pile up. I know this idea sounds way too radical for most people, but I love it so much, it now seems strange that we ever did things any other way.
2. You are having friends over on Saturday evening which means you need to spend most of Saturday afternoon 'tidying up' OR you skipped a fun outing with friends because your house was too messy and you needed to spend hours putting things back where they belong. Preparing for friends should not have to demand more of us than wiping the bathroom sink, doing a quick sweep or vacuum, cooking some food or appetizers and buying some beer, etc. Here is a tip I read once: Before you buy anything, ask yourself three questions: is it worth the money I'm about to spend, is it worth the space in my home that it will take up, and is it worth the time that I'll spend cleaning, caring for, or repairing it? I bet that will seriously alter your purchasing habits!
3. You have not mopped your wood floor in 6 months because there is too much stuff on it. ie: doing a deep clean of your house requires a primary cleaning of all of your stuff. Or put another way for some folks: you need to 'clean' before the cleaning lady comes. Main point here is that we all have a certain amount of things that we can handle taking care of. Yes, even the walls, floor, and furniture are 'things', because walls sometimes need a fresh coat of paint, floors need mopped, and furniture needs dusted. You'll start to realize that you have the right amount of stuff when you are able to take care of what you have. This will look differently for everyone. (I personally don't love cleaning, so I prefer not to have a lot of stuff).
4. You look in your closet and think 'i have nothing to wear'. This is a classic sign that you have too many clothes. When you look in your drawers and see all the shirts you DON'T love, it gives you a frustrated feeling that you have NO good cloths. Tip: clear out clothes that you don't absolutely love. When you think you have finished, go in and clear some more out. Drive those clothes to a donation drop off, stop buying more clothes for a few months, sit back and see how you feel!
5. You have food that's gone moldy in the fridge, or stale in the cupboard. Nothing bugs me more in the kitchen than throwing out food that we spent good money on. Open the fridge and the big beautiful bag of asparagus from costco is slimy because you only ate 1/3rd of it last week and then started working on your broccolli crown. Look in pantry and realize that of the 3 boxes of cereal, your least favorite has gone stale. These things are destined to happen in most people's kitchens. I will do a whole post on storing food the Zero Waste Home style, but for now I have a challenge for you: don't buy any more food until you've eaten a good chunk of the food you already have. It will take you a surprisingly long time to do this. (you may have to supplement the fresh food, but that's fine). You will save money, help the environment, and then you'll be able to start over on making the purchases you really want, now that you've eaten up all your second or third favorite food types before they go bad. This challenge will make it hard to make recipes that call for lots of ingredients, but try it anyway, I promise you will feel utterly liberated.
6. It takes you more than 5 minutes to help your toddler clean up their toys. Most parents will quickly tell you that their children have way too many toys. The average American child has 150 of them! For lots of reasons (that I will expand on in another post), homes are inundated with toys. They don't have the capacity to understand the nuances of this, but too many toys is overwhelming for children. Its also incredibly frustrating for parents. Take a stand people, pare down the toy collection and say 'No' more. Your kids will thank you one day, and so will lots of landfills.
7. You think a good storage solution is the answer to your lack of organization. Now, I'm not talking about seasonal decorations or art or sewing supplies. I am referring to the stuff that you don't use in your daily life, but you're too chicken to release. There is a lot that can be said here, but possibly the best point I can make is this: I released 75% of the things from our home and I cant even remember what I let go of. That's how important it was.
Write me and tell me how you feel about your own minimalist journey!