40 Bags, 40 Days Decluttering Challenge: Weeks 3 & 4

I was going to make a joke about how I accidentally tossed out the Week 3 update of our 40 Days, 40 Bags group in a massive decluttering binge, but let’s be honest — I just didn’t get around to writing it. For the most part, I’ve kept up with the group’s stated goal: to remove one bag of excess from the house every day, but between a crazy work week and a weekend jam-packed with church events, swim meets, the daddy-daughter dance, a kid birthday party, and a visit (but no dancing) with MY daddy, life just got in the way of documenting it here. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me to declutter my schedule as well?

In any case, I’ll summarize Weeks 3 and 4 for you now: we all have SO MUCH STUFF. That’s definitely the conclusion I’ve come to as I work on my own house, and watch the roughly 200 people in our group pull bag after bag out of their own homes. We own too much, we shop too much, we hold on to too much (often for the wrong reasons), and we toss too much into our landfills and then start the process all over again.

Right now we’re 30 days into our 40-day experiment in minimalism, and I think one of the biggest realizations for me is that I’m not even close to being three-quarters of the way done. It’s going to take me a lot longer than 40 days to undo the work of the past 43 years of my life, and to (hopefully) start new habits for the future.

I’m feeling good about the progress I’ve made so far, especially when it comes to my kids’ toys. We’ve pared the art room/playroom (which is technically the formal dining room in our house) down considerably, and you know what? The kids don’t miss a darn thing. In fact, I think they actually play MORE in there now that it’s not so cluttered. There’s space to breathe and space to create. There’s actually space to PLAY.

I think that’s a big (albeit obvious) revelation from our group — kids, and adults, actually need far less than we think to be happy. In the name of happiness, or keeping up with the Jonses, or what have you, we’ve acquired all this stuff, but all it’s done is make our lives more difficult.

This past week I also tackled my bedside tables, and along with about $7 in coins, I found some great old family photos, my library card from when I lived in Hawaii in 1999, and a bunch of stuffed animal dress-up clothing from Build-a-Bear Workshop. Not exactly an organized system I’ve got going on there, but now that all the clutter has been removed, I can start from scratch.

My closet is still a work in progress. As one member of our group noted this week, you can never declutter enough in there, mostly because of our consumption habits. She said, “This project has given me a lot of insight into HOW I consume, especially clothes, where I seem to buy ‘items’ (sometimes for certain occasions, sometimes on impulse) without really thinking about what else I need to mix and match with that item. If nothing else, I hope I’m becoming more thoughtful and purposeful about what I bring into my closet (and whole house!).” I definitely second that!

Yesterday I asked the group members to share some of their successes so far, small or large, and the results were impressive: clear counters in the kitchen, a place to park the bike in the garage, a junk-free junk drawer, and bookshelves that are not overflowing, to name a few! I’m looking forward to seeing what else we can accomplish as we round the corner to the final 10 (official) days of the challenge!

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I'm a mother of three young children and a former newscaster-turned-PR director who writes to stay sane! If you like what you see, click on over to monashand.blogspot.com for more!