Recently an article was published in the New York Times celebrating clutter. As I read the article I found myself shaking my head in bewilderment. My son sent me the article and I looked at him and asked if this was meant to be a satirical piece? He didn’t think so but I am not sure. While I agree with some things, I disagree with many of the authors points.
I do think that organizing and de-cluttering is on every cover of every magazine these days, or so it seems. We are told to buy the books and magazines only to be told to throw them out later. I think that is why I have had a hard time publishing my book, I don’t want to create more clutter.
The act of becoming a minimalist is not a reality for most people. Even thinking about it for some makes their skin crawl. I for one look forward to the day that I can live a life with less items. However it does not mean I did not cherish the bookcases full of books that my children read. There is a time and a season for all.
The idea of clinging to possessions has never been attractive to me. I am an adventure girl. People give me a hard time for the amount of time that I travel, I am not escaping my life but rather living my life. It is a personal choice and I want to have adventures not things.
Yet some people do cling to possessions as if it is a safety net. I have never advised my clients to get rid of all of their possessions, just the ones that don’t bring them joy or add value in some way. Not every possession that we have brings us joy. Not every gift we receive must we embrace and hold onto for our entire life. As an organizer, the clutter I help people with is typically the day to day clutter of living; the pile of mail, the spare room that things get thrown in, the kitchen with no counter space or the tchotchke that they can’t find a home for. I usually am not brought in to help turn them into minimalists.
My parents have a lot of “stuff” but I have never seen it as clutter. It is artfully displayed and dusted and cared for. Everything has a home and shelves, closets and drawers are not overflowing. But the number of possessions is overwhelming to me. They have inherited things from their parents, collected art and books over the years and been given gifts from their well intentioned daughters. They have a full life. I would never expect them to get rid of all of their items and “de-clutter” as I don’t see it as clutter. I have however encouraged the getting rid of items that they no longer use, like the encyclopedia set from my childhood. My parents have no problem of getting rid of items, however what they do keep brings them joy.
But yet as we age don’t many of us turn into minimalists? Often through life’s events out of our control. We raise our children in large houses and then there comes a time to downsize to a smaller house, apartment or condo. We start to naturally get rid of bedroom sets and extra couches. We hold onto these things for when our children get their first “places.”
From that smaller house or condo we move into an assisted living facility, smaller still. We now have our possessions to the bare bones. Perhaps a favorite chair and some holiday decorations. The dishes and cooking gadgets are gone. The china hutch and coffee table have homes elsewhere. We suddenly find ourselves living with the few things that bring us joy.
Without warning we are minimalists.
The author wants her children to store all of her possessions in offsite storage. Really? She wants her children’s home full of her stuff. I however do not want my children’s homes full of my stuff. I want my children to have their own sense of style. I don’t want them beholden to what I think is important.
I am thinking of what I own of my grandparents (my parents are still living) and I have perhaps 5 items of my grandmothers. Each one is cherished. However I don’t expect my children to want these items as they are special memories to me, not to them. They have their own memories.
My client’s have a hard time disposing of items that they think they should hold onto out of guilt. I would ask that we let go of the guilt and focus on the word joy. Burdening our children is not fair to them or their families.
I find that people don’t even realize that they are doing it. I encourage my clients to call their adult children who they are holding onto stuff for. They snap a picture and send a text asking if their child wants the item they have been holding onto. Usually 90% of the time the child says they don’t want it. It is my job to then explain to them that just because they don’t want the item does not mean that their child doesn’t love them. We have a new generation of kids that don’t want clutter, my own included.
Let’s be honest and not put our emotional baggage onto our kids. Just because we loved something, or paid too much for something, or inherited it from our parents does not mean our children should have to dust it or store it for the rest of their lives.
To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,
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