Give Yourself The Gift Of A Decluttered Home That Lasts

Written by Caroline Muggia

Image by Meaghan Curry / Stocksy

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Here at mindbodygreen, we believe in trying your best but accepting that life—and parenthood—is a journey, with ups, downs, and potholes along the way. That's why this Mother's Day week we're introducing (Mostly) Mindful Mamas week, where we're offering stories to help the mother figures in our lives get back a bit of that time, through wellness that isn't perfect but feels achievable. Instead of spending one day at the spa, our stories this week focus on small changes moms can make now that will last long past Sunday, which is exactly why we're sharing this essay by Allie Casazza from the new book This Is Motherhood. We also know this isn't an easy week and time of year for a lot of people, and our hearts are with anyone feeling tender. Wishing you all a good week...

I was struggling. I thought I was the only mom in the world who couldn't get it together, who wasn't really enjoying motherhood. I felt terrible. I sat on my couch with a giant pile of laundry next to me. Another day had come and gone, and I had barely been able to keep up. The days were flying by me, my kids were all 4 years old and under, yet I felt I had missed what childhood they'd had so far.

I was always cleaning up—and I was always falling behind.

When I thought about my days and how I spent my time, all I saw were dishes, an endless amount of laundry, and so much picking up—picking up toys, books, markers, jackets, shoes, empty water bottles, and paper artwork.

I thought I'd get to enjoy my kids when I became a mom, though I never spent time truly with them. I had to keep moving or the house and the day would collapse. When I did press pause and spent some time with my kids, it felt like I had to pay the price—catching up on housework, putting things away, helping us stay afloat amid the chaos.

After another particularly difficult day, I reflected on how I'd yelled, how I'd been the mom I never wanted to be, and how I was counting the hours of peace and quiet before morning came and I'd have to start over.

My life didn't feel abundant; it felt overwhelming and depressing.

In that moment, I had had enough. I decided I wasn't going to let this be my life, and this overwhelm wasn't going to rule me any longer.

What I did next set my life on a new course, and it never went back to the way it was. It changed everything.

I went into the playroom—the room that was the bane of my existence—and there were toys everywhere: on the floor, in chests, in boxes. It was too much. I started working through the room, making piles—keep, trash, or donate.

I got rid of every single toy I felt wasn't benefiting my kids.

If it didn't cause them to engage in constructive or imaginary play, it wasn't staying in our house because it wasn't worth the work it caused me.

If I was going to clean up, I'd save only the things that added to our lives—the things we absolutely needed and the things we truly loved.

When I was finished, all that remained were trains and tracks, a couple of dress-up costumes, books, and blocks. The trunk of my car was overstuffed with toys to take to Goodwill, my playroom was purged, and I immediately felt lighter.

The next day my kids ran downstairs for breakfast, and as usual I sent them into their playroom to play, curious to see if meltdowns would ensue because of what I'd done with their toys. They walked in, looked around, and said something along the lines of "Hey! It's nice and clean, Mommy! Hey! There are my trains!" and happily started playing.

I was shocked. I stepped out of the room, poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat on the couch. To my surprise, my kids played in that room that day for three hours. Three hours!

They started going outside more often, making up stories and scenarios together, playing tag, and creating art.

It was as if I had unclogged their God-given gift of imagination when I got rid of their toys.

I took my purging into other areas of the house—the dishes, the clothes, the drawers and cupboards—and our entire home life continued to transform. Without all of the stuff to keep up with, I spent less than half the time cleaning up my house. I played with my kids and took up home schooling. My marriage even improved because I wasn't so cranky anymore.

Life felt lighter, more intentional, and I was no longer just "getting through it." This is what abundance in motherhood felt like.

I believe stuff is the cause of an epidemic of stress for today's mothers. Our stuff is literally stealing away our joy and our lives. It's stealing the most precious thing in the world—our motherhood.

Joshua Becker, founder of the website Becoming Minimalist, said, "Minimalism is the intentional promotion of what we most value and the removal of anything that distracts from it." I believe mothers need minimalism more than anyone else.

Minimalism is less cleaning, it's the joy of always being ready for company to drop by without stressing out, it's more free time to focus on your priorities, it's enjoying your home rather than being owned by it, it's being able to be a mom who plays instead of always cleaning up. It's being a happier person.

I want this for you, sweet friend. You can choose a different path, you can thrive, you can love this life, you can escape the chronic overwhelm that everyone else calls normal.

Less is so much more, mama.

Based on excerpts from This Is Motherhood: A Motherly Collection of Reflections and Practices, by Jill Koziol and Liz Tenety and edited by Colleen Temple with the permission of Sounds True. Copyright ©2019. 

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