Every winter my family aims to take a few weeks off so that we can enjoy some sunshine and time together. We are fortunate to be able to share at least one holiday with both my parents and my in laws. This year we flew to Florida, went on a cruise for a week, and then returned to Clearwater Beach to spend a little over a week with my in-laws. On the cruise ship, my husband and I had an adjoining room with our 3 kidlets. The rooms were both pretty small, but it's easy to live small when someone is making all of your meals, you have space to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine, and lots of activities have been planned for you. When we got back to the condo with my in-laws, there were 7 of us sharing a two bedroom condo…my in-laws had a room, the 3 kids shared a room, and each evening, my husband and I would sleep on a mattress on the floor of the living room – now that is small living☺ While we were happy to get back to our own bed when we got home, amazingly it wasn't that hard to live in such a small space. For one thing, we had a lot less stuff with us…and we could have brought even less than that. It felt like the routine of making meals and cleaning up took a whole lot less time than it does at home where we have a lot more space, and a lot more things around us.
Each year when I return from our condo vacation, I start thinking about how I can simplify things in my "regular" life too. During the last week, I have been really inspired to do some spring cleaning. Here are the rules that I have made for myself to follow while I am doing it:f
- If I don't use it, then I get rid of it. I hold on to so many things thinking that I may need them in the future, but every time I see them taking up space in my cupboard or drawer, it causes me a bit of stress. So I have been throwing out or donating any personal care products, gadgets, food, and clothes that I haven't used or worn.
- I'm aiming to clean out a minimum of 1 drawer or cupboard a day. It can feel so overwhelming to think about spring cleaning the whole house. My goal of one drawer a day feels totally doable, and still gives me a really good sense of progress and accomplishment.
- I need to think carefully about the sentimental stuff I keep. I have SO many pictures and greeting cards and pieces of kids' artwork that I have stashed away in different boxes. They just sit there, I rarely (never) go back to look at them again, and every time I add something to one of the boxes, it causes me some anxiety. I haven't attacked these areas yet, but as I am going through the rest of my house, it has got me thinking about why I am keeping these things. If I never look at them, do I really think that my kids are going to ever enjoy looking back at 50 years of anniversary and birthday cards that my husband and I have given each other? I think I can get rid of some of them. If anyone has a system that has worked for them to organize these items, I would LOVE to hear about it.
- If something new comes in, then something old has to go out. I love adding some spring touches to our home, so yesterday I bought 2 bright pillows for our couch, but got rid of 2 that haven't been getting used. The same goes for clothes or shoes or anything else. It really makes me think twice before buying something.
It feels so good to be able to open a drawer or cupboard, and easily find what I need. To look in my closet and only see the clothes that I like wearing. It's like I'm literally getting lighter, and not so weighed down by all of the stuff. It saves time too because I don't need to waste time looking for what I need, and it makes it easier to keep what gets used close at hand. Having organized surroundings gives me the headspace to be able to focus on the things that are really important to me and make me happy…which isn't the stuff. It's spending time with my family and friends, cooking, being active, reading, and doing fulfilling work.
If you would like some help making space to create "Your Best Life" with healthy meal plans, time efficient exercise routines, stress management tips, and suggestions on how to improve your sleep, digestion, and more, I have another online group starting Monday, May 1. The group has been filling up fast, and the fact that there are several participants who are joining for a second time, is an indication of how effective, motivating, and do-able this program is. Contact me if you would like to go on the waiting list to join when registration opens, or if you have any questions.
Until next time,
Dr. Jennifer, ND