I have this love-hate relationship with Real Simple magazine. I love the notion of simplifying my life, their recipes have never let me down, and the pictures are always so calm and pretty, but I also think that their approach to simplifying goes something like this: "Buy organizational crap to organize the crap you already have!" And, "Purge your wardrobe! Then buy really expensive classics! Then splurge on some trendy pieces!" And, "Go buy these seventeen absolutely essential skincare products!" Irksome though this is, does it stop me from buying their magazine? Not at all.
My wardrobe currently consists of:
- two pairs of jeans that are so big on me, I nearly mooned the gym teacher at "Take Your Parents To PE" day
- seven long-sleeved t-shirts (three black, one grey, two red, one pink)
- one pair of workout pants
- two pairs of pajama bottoms
- a polarfleece jacket with a broken zipper
If I purge any more, I will be arrested for indecent exposure.
My essential skincare products are these:
- Face wash of varying drugstore brands
- Neutrogena SPF 45 moisturizer
But they are right about one thing. Clutter is bad. We are fairly drowning in clutter here. Eight years of preschool and grade-school projects alone are about to bury me. So we are on a mission now to reduce the clutter. We need to purge extensively, because this is a teeny-tiny house, and we need it to look as large as possible so as to sucker some unsuspecting, dreamy-eyed young couple into thinking it's the perfect starter home, thereby enabling us to move to a bigger house. Which we will probably fill to the brim with papers and art projects and stuffed animals and knitting supplies.
Yes, I know it's a terrible housing market. I don't care.
Anyway, years ago, Real Simple published a tip they called "The 25% Rule." The idea was that one should get in the habit, whenever something was three-quarters used up -- a tank of gas, a gallon of milk, your supply of Charmin -- of refilling it. This would ensure that you would never run out at a crucial moment. A solid rule, actually. I cannot quibble with the notion of being prepared.
But whereas their 25% rule is about adding stuff, MY 25% rule is the inverse: we need to reduce the amount of stuff in our house by a minimum of 25%. Books, projects, furniture, art supplies, kitchen gadgets, toys, toiletries (I may be devoted to Carmex, but 11 tubs is probably excessive.) Pretty much everything around here, except for people, could stand to be pared down by at least a third, but I find 25 a much easier percentage to eyeball when staring at a pile of stuffed animals than 33 and 1/3.
The girls, of course, are the ones least excited about this project, but I think in the end they'll be much happier. Less "stuff" means more room to play with the things they really love, a chance to rediscover old favorites, and a fresh start. I'm looking forward to it -- and with any luck, the only money I'll be spending on organizational supplies is the gas money I need to tote things down to Goodwill. That should make things really simple.