Note: This is a guest post from Melissa of Melissa Camara Wilkins.
While watching our kids play, a friend and I noticed how very quickly the little ones took out every toy they could reach. I think the room went from “clean and clear” to “buried up to our ankles in legos, doll clothes, blocks, and trains” in about forty-five seconds.
“And pretty soon there will be even more stuff,” she said. “Just think what this room will look like after the holidays!”
I kind of don’t want to.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Kids will always be kids, and toys will always need tidying up—but not every toy needs space on our shelves. We could probably do some editing, and this is a great time to do it.
As the year comes to an end, we all tend to look back at what worked and what didn’t, and on how we grew and changed over the year. We think about where we’ve been, where we’re going, who we are, and who we want to be.
While we’re doing that, why not reimagine what our homes can be, too? I want my home to be welcoming. I want it to be a place where my family feels comfortable, a place where it’s easy for us to enjoy time together, and a place that helps us each do our own work.
What do you want your home to be? Make plans now to start the new year in a space that feels more peaceful and more purposeful.
1. Reflect on the past year.
As you’re thinking over the year that’s coming to a close, think about how your stuff has served you—or not. Think about whether you own things that have fallen out of use.
Are there things in your house that never got used this last year? Do you have a stockpile of stuff for old hobbies? Are there books on the shelves that haven’t been cracked open even once in the last twelve months?
More importantly: how has your life changed over the last year? How have your priorities shifted? What could be removed to let you focus on what matters most to you, where you are now?
2. Ask better questions.
I used to look around at our stuff and ask questions like, Does this work? Do we like it? Is it any good?
Those were fine questions, but just because a thing is good (or good enough) doesn’t mean I have to own it.
To really figure out what we needed and didn’t, I had to start asking better questions—questions like, Could we live without this? Would we be just as happy without it? If we didn’t have it, could we use something else for the same purpose? Could we borrow one if we needed to?
I realized there were plenty of things in our home that we didn’t dislike, but that we didn’t need or love, either. There was nothing wrong with those things, no particular reason to pass them on—except that someone else could use them better than we would, and we didn’t want to invest any more energy in storing and maintaining them. We found more joy in letting go of those things than we did in having them available “just in case.”
3. Imagine the possibilities.
Look ahead to the new year. Let yourself wonder, what would life be like without this stuff? What if cleaning up wasn’t such a chore? What could I tackle if my workspace were clear? What could my family do together if we didn’t have to spend as much time cleaning and organizing?
How can you rethink your space to help your family do more of what matters to you? How could you make it easier to host family game night, or to read aloud before bed, or to invite friends for dinner? What gets in the way? What can change?
A little reflection and planning now lets you make better choices about which holiday gifts you might purchase to be used in the year to come—and which you might pass on. And paring back ahead of time lets you make space for all the possibility the new year offers.
There’s no rule for which things stay and which things go, or for how many things you can have in your home. There is no right number of toys to keep on the shelves. (And no matter how many there are, they’ll probably all end up on the floor at some point. That’s okay.) You’ll decide what’s best for your family.
Reflecting back and imagining the year ahead just gives us a chance to find a fresh perspective. When you think about which things you need and which get in the way of what’s most important to you, you might just find there really is more joy in having less.