We have moments of calm, hours of quiet at night, half an hour at a time when all the kids are occupied and at peace. But we have a lot of chaos. We also have a lot of stuff. I have been seeing the connection between the two more and more recently.
Last week, two large wildfires threatened rural areas outside of town, well enough away from us that we were not really threatened but still felt the need to be prepared. It occurred to me during that time that we have way too much stuff. When I considered what I would want to save if our house were on fire or we needed to quickly evacuate, it was only important documents, two heirloom quilts from my grandparents, our wedding photos, our backup hard drive which has photos and documents from 2006 and on and Jenny’s baby album since we didn’t have a digital camera when she was born. These things would fit in a large Rubbermaid bin and the rest could be destroyed and I wouldn’t care all that much.
When you start thinking like this, it makes you wonder why you bother keeping all of it if you don’t really care. I always have reasons – we need lots of books because I want my kids to love reading and have plenty accessible to them at all times. We need all the toys because there are so many kids and they might all want to do different things at the same time. These two are so easily refuted – the books barely get touched because they aren’t organized at all and there are so many that choosing becomes overwhelming. The abundance of toys means that six different things (or more, actually) get dumped out at once and fighting is a constant thing because sharing and cooperation don’t actually come naturally when there is so much stuff.
I know people who have downsized and simplified and found that it brought a big change to their homes and families. Most of these people had two young children or no children at the time of starting the process. The more kids I have and the older my oldest children get, the more daunting the process seems. It is also difficult to imagine doing it without Mike being 100% on board and enthusiastic. He doesn’t mind having less stuff – he welcomes it – but he’s not the type to dive in next to me throwing stuff out. I’m the sorter, the seller, the decision maker on stuff in this house. With everything we have, it feels like too heavy a burden to continue bearing.