Welcoming The New Year With Less

I feel like I’m a little late getting into 2013 because I was sick most of last week. I had plans to jump right into things when we got back, and well, that didn’t happen.

All is not lost though!

Friday was a productive work day, mostly because Chris graciously let me lock myself in the bedroom to work so I didn’t have Junior head butting me from under the elbow whenever he wanted attention. He’s just the right height that he can get in there, then stand up fully and there goes my arm and whatever I’m typing at the moment.

Today I felt a bit overwhelmed with what was on my plate work wise, thinking it was going to take me days, but it instead took me hours. Love that! Not only am I caught back up, I can see that my to do list isn’t as overwhelming as I thought it was.

What is overwhelming me right now is our house. Do you ever have those moments where you just think, “We have too much stuff!!” It’s kind of like an epiphany where you realize that nagging, annoying thing is that you’re tired of your stuff. Not that you’re bored by it. You’re tired of it controlling your space.

Having small kids means they’re really good at spreading stuff around and not really good at putting it back. OIivia is getting better at tidying up, but not so good in the organizational department, which is to say if she cleans her room it means stuff just gets stuffed in any available nook or cranny. Also, what it is about kids toys and small pieces??!?! Who invents this stuff. Do they not have kids, and do they not understand that when you make things with small pieces those said small pieces will end up all. over. the. house. ALL THE TIME. And, do they not understand that the four year old will think each small piece of something is a treasure and should therefore be kept, but not kept in a manageable way. Nooo, those small pieces will all be kept in random places all. over. the. house. UUUGGGGHH!!!!

I think I especially feel this way after Christmas. Thankfully this year wasn’t as overwhelming as years past, and we were able to control the “little pieces” a bit, but we still have to find places to put things now that we’re back.

And that’s where I am. My booty from Christmas really was a mixer, a bigger bowl for it, a couple picture frames and a few other small things. Nothing horrible. The stuff I’m feeling overwhelmed with is stuff that was all here before. Stuff that has collected. Stuff that we keep telling ourselves we might use one day.

I’m done with “one day”.

The bread machine that we have tried using over and over and that has now sat in the cupboard for at least the last 8 months without being used, will get passed on. All the extra random cups will get given away in favor of the ones we actually use. If at some point in the future we find ourselves lacking cups, we will buy more. I think it might even be time to get rid of my college sweat pants. Why on earth I’ve held onto them, considering they have holes all up the inside of the legs and I live in Haiti, I can’t explain.

My goal for the next week or so is to take one room a day and sort and clean out and get rid of. The linen closet needs sorting and our supply of medicines needs to be gone through. Our under sink bathroom counter hasn’t been tidied in about two years… The kids toys and books… heart palpitations. I need to go through our closet too and sort and dust and finally say good-bye to certain items of clothing that I’ve been holding onto for “one day”. I’m pretty sure that if I fit back into them I probably won’t want to wear them anymore because they’ll be outdated style wise. It’s time to say good-bye and gain some valuable storage space.

Today was the kitchen. I went through the cupboards, into the places up high that get forgotten or just have things put there to get them out of the way. I went to the bottom corner cupboard and the backs of others. I still have a couple to go through but the result so far has been almost half of our dining table covered in stuff we don’t use or don’t need, and a lot of unusable junk has been tossed out. I moved some stuff out that we don’t use any more – like those baby bottles! And I put other things in places that make more sense. You know, putting the stuff we use all the time where it’s more accessible and the stuff we don’t use all the time away where we can get it if we need it, but not in the high traffic areas. I cleared the counters off. There are still some deep cleaning things that need to be done, but I’ll get Yonese to help with that. I’m the only one that can do the sorting. Once that’s done I can ask her to clean certain things and I know she’s happy to help.

This whole thing makes me think of a strange dynamic that I often see here. When I first moved to Haiti it was harder to find certain things in the country, we didn’t go into Port as often, there wasn’t as much available in our area etc. So, the natural tendency was to stock up on things and to hold onto them and to keep things for “one day”. I remember when we finalized the purchase papers on the mission and Chris and I could finally go through the house contents and get rid of stuff. I found a ziploc bag full of ziploc bags – with holes in them. Totally not useful for what a ziploc was intended, but someone saved them anyway, just in case. When I went grocery shopping last weekend in St. Marc there were only a couple of things on my list that I couldn’t get that would have to wait for the Port list, which is HUGE. More is coming out our way on a more consistent basis and it means I don’t need to be stocking up on so much. We don’t need to have extras of everything. Someone often goes to Port every couple of weeks too, and while I try to only do a grocery shop there once a month, I know if there’s something I need I can get it. Most of all though, we’re working at being content with what we have access to out here, and we’re not suffering in the least. In fact, I think we’ve been a lot more resourceful that most missionaries I’ve met in the sense that we’ve found sources for fresh milk and we plan based on what we can get here. I make stuff from scratch and there is very little I can’t figure out.

Hopefully in the next week or so I’ll feel less overwhelmed and controlled by our stuff, and more in control of it.

~Leslie

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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

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