2021 saw me starting on my decluttering and simplifying journey. I started examining my budget, routines, time use, and stuff (oh so much stuff) to see what needed to go, what needed a change, and what I needed more of. I realized that I needed less stress, more time with my family, more time for exercise and self care, slow down, and to let go of things I had been holding onto that I didn’t need to keep carrying around.
Decluttering is all about unmade decisions and it can be a really fraught process. Stopping to examine why you have something and why you have a certain habit can be sometimes a simple question or sometimes a very complex one.
This is not an exhaustive list but, in no particular order, what did I let go of?
- Old baby items and baby clothes
In 2021 my pandemic baby turned into a toddler and I had to grapple with a lot of feelings. It’s hard having a preschooler and a baby/toddler. Its hard parenting young kids, especially during a pandemic. And I had to admit that I was struggling with postpartum anxiety, burnout, and rage. I had always thought that I would want a third kiddo but when my second one turned one I didn’t feel the strong urge to have another that I had felt after my firstborn turned one. I realized that as much as I loved babies, I didn’t think I had the mental bandwidth to have a third kid and be able to give them all of the good parts of me. I felt stretched too thin already. Hence, I started the slow process of going through baby clothes and selling them online or giving them to friends. In 2021 I made $450 selling clothes and miscellaneous items I decluttered!
2. 10 sandbags
Hurricane Ida came through southeast Louisiana in late August 2021. We put about 10 sandbags in front of our front door in case our street flooded again. We kept the sandbags in our carport through the end of hurricane season which ended in November. By the end of December I was happy to post them for free on Facebook marketplace and someone came and picked them up the next day. Easy peasy.
3. The kids’ bath mat
It dawned on me one day that the bathmat was a waste of time and effort. I had to hang it up to dry after each bath and stuck it on the bathroom wall. But even though I remembered to hang it up after (almost) every bath, it still got mildewed. Yuck. I have washed it by hand, tried to scrub out the mildew with various cleaning products, and washed it in the washing machine. This is the second bathmat we have had in 5 years and I have scrubbed both countless times. Then when the kids were in the tub one night it dawned on me that I could declutter the bath mat and instead get those nonskid stickers for the bottom of the tub. Genius! The kids were happy to select the underwater creatures bath stickers and chose where to place them in the tub And I happily threw the mildewed mat in the trash, never to be washed or scrubbed again.
4. Cutting the grass
It may sound not very frugal of me, but my favorite thing I decluttered this year was my grass cutting schedule and deciding to simplify my life by paying someone else to come cut the grass. Its a godsend honestly. I am happy to write each check to the grass guy, and that extra $100 or so a month is WELL worth it. I don’t mind cutting the grass, in fact I like it and would enjoy the exercise and alone time to listen to a podcast and cut it for 6 years. But throw in incessant Louisiana rains which make it impossible to plan around, fast growing grass, the literal hours it takes on a Saturday to push the mower through all the grass in the yard, being interrupted constantly by a hungry baby who needed to be nursed and a preschooler who is always asking me to “watch this” while running around the yard made for a less than relaxing time. So I gave up trying to save that money by cutting it myself and am grateful every time I see the grass guy show up that I no longer have to do it. Even if it slows our debt payoff a bit, it builds my sanity and simplifies my life.
5. Old mirrored panels
When we moved into our house 7 years ago we found 8 mirrored panels in the storage area next to the carport. What were they there for? Where did they originally go in the house? These are questions for the former owner which we never got to ask. Another question to ask myself would be, why didn’t I get rid of them 7 years ago? Again, a great unasked and unanswered question. We never had any use for them and never even thought we might want them. They should have been trashed long ago. But FINALLY I resolved to get rid of them. I hate wasting anything and figured that they could be useful to somebody, so I posted them for free on Facebook marketplace. A nice woman came by the same day to pick them up, excited to have them to decorate in her teenager’s room. Perfect.
6. Shaving Cream
I decided to stop buying shaving cream and figured that soap and water did just as good a job for my standards and that it would give me one less thing to constantly use up and re-purchase and a little more space in our shower. Immediately, I felt like I was going against my training/indoctrination by beauty magazines and advertising, but I tell you what, I have not noticed any nicks or super dry skin on my legs. Seems like a good plan so far!
7. Eye Makeup Remover
I also stopped buying eye makeup remover for the same reasons as shaving cream. It seemed redundant and that I could find another product I already was using to work in its place. I started using coconut oil as eye makeup remover. Its natural and environmentally friendly, safe on my eyes and skin, and removes all my eye makeup easily. It costs much less and I use much less than traditional eye makeup removers. And I use coconut oil for lots of other things like my son’s ezcema, my own dry skin spots, dry lips or a chapped nose when I am sick, etc.
8. Dryer Sheets
Instead of buying and using up and then re-buying dryer sheets, I switched to wool dryer balls to help tumble and dry our clothes in the dryer. Dryer sheets can leave a film on clothes and I didn’t like to use them with my husband’s quick-dry athletic clothing. Also, dryer balls are less wasteful, cheaper overall, and more environmentally friendly. A triple win!
9. My last freelance writing client
I was writing for several freelance writing clients in 2020 and 2021 but after a while I was so overwhelmed and burned out (#pandemic #secondbaby) that I couldn’t keep up. I really enjoy freelance writing and the extra income, but it caused me a lot of stress and I couldn’t get assignments done on time. I had to drop down my writing load to only one client and finally had to quit that remaining client. I was sad to do so, but at the time I realized that it was best for my physical and mental health to have a little more sleep and less stress since I was staying up past midnight every night and falling asleep on my laptop to get writing jobs done. Sometimes simplifying means re-assessing all the responsibilities I pile onto my plate and removing the ones that are no longer serving me or are doing me a disservice. It may seem again like this wasn’t the most frugal choice, but as soon as I quit I felt immense relief from the pressure and stress and that is priceless.
10. Stacks of unread magazines and magazine subscriptions
I used to have about 5 magazine subscriptions. Glamour, Parents, Better Homes & Gardens, etc. I love flipping through them, reading articles, getting inspiration and parenting tips, the whole shebang. I also tend to not let go of them until I have read every single article. Why that is is completely beyond me but I feel like I haven’t finished reading a magazine until I have read every page. So last year I realized that I had to let that go. Not only did I need to let go of the idea that I had to read a magazine cover to cover and keep them for years if I hadn’t yet finished with them, but I had to purge the stacks of magazines since I was not going to read them after all. I just didn’t have the time. I stacked them up, posted them for free on Facebook marketplace, and away they went. Letting go of the task to read them and the physical clutter was so freeing.
What have you let go of that you found freeing and really helped simplify your life?