When nothing is sure, everything is possible.
Downsizing isn’t finished around here and has become more difficult. What to keep? What to get rid of? I crave the space but cling to the craziest things…like my lesson plan books I used when I was teaching 17+ years ago! But they were so good, I think, it was so fun… But I have never used any of those things in homeschooling, and even if I were to go back to teaching in a public school (not likely), I would do things differently.
But there they were: notebooks of photos, lesson plans, schedules, etc. and etc. (and etc.) I thought about giving them to someone and I thought about making up some nifty ebook about *whatever* from it all, but I finally just chucked them. I’ve also been going through all of our homeschooling books and curriculum. I have used so many different approaches, different books, different work texts…it just made up for a lot of books and things that not only took up space, but collected dust (literally). A friend taught me how to sell books on Amazon and woo-whee have I been making a lot of trips to the post office to mail books! I tell you what: it doesn’t hurt as bad to get paid to downsize! Slowly, slowly, I am consolidating my books to the ones I reference often, or reread. I figure if it’s just attracting more dust, I am blessing my children ahead of time with less to deal with later when I die.
Here are some other areas I am consolidating. Consider this a “7 Tips To Downsize!” with “BONUS 3 more for free!” without the annoying ads or pleadings to join my email list. (You’re welcome. But do join my email list :))
- recipes: I know I don’t need 50 cookbooks, but that is what I’ve downsized to at this point (I know…it’s a sickness…). Any cookbook I kept for only one or two recipes went buh-bye and those recipes got copied into my recipe box. Someday I will go through that recipe box and flick out every card that hasn’t seen the light of kitchen workspace into the garbage can. And someday I will then downsize my cookbooks again (and again) until I can happily have…I dunno…five? I am finding that the library has a bazillion cookbooks I can try out, so that’s my plan for fresh inspiration when I need it. And then–wouldn’t it be cool?–I can type up all of my consolidated recipes into a personal cookbook!
- art/craft/sewing instructions: so.many.tutorials. All just waiting for the nebulous time I’ll get to it “later” but you know what? Whenever I get that “later” time, I always find something else I’d rather do. But just looking at all of this stuff makes me long to make this or create that and promise myself (again and again and again) that I will get to it. So now I *am* getting to it…by letting most of it get-to-gone.
- art supplies: I love art journaling and have started my second book. But I find that I am using the same materials over and over again, and I have a whole lotta of maybe-someday-meh things that are pretty to look at but I’m tired of maintaining and organizing. In fact, I am sick of “organizing”. I don’t care how well I do it; it still means s.t.u.f.f. I’m tired of plastic bins, shelves, binders, and drawers. Most of my art things happily went to an artsy friend of mine.
- herbal recipes: I am an herbalist and have scraps of paper everywhere with recipes and notes on them. I am consolidating them all into two books: one for recipes and my own materia medica, and one for lecture and class notes. Once my lectures notebook is full (it’s almost there), I will just use the other one for everything.
- photographs: I love Shutterfly, and manage all of our photographs there. One day I’d like to consolidate all of the old photographs into a digital book, but spending time on the computer is definitely not my thing (I’ll forgo the rabbit trail of where I see this blog going for right now…). What I’ve done with my loose photographs is gone through various stacks and tossed the extras. For example, when I came across photos for a holiday event, I tossed all of the repetitive or otherwise unworthy-to-be-saved pictures. Do I need 15 photographs of a child in various poses in a single outfit? I think not.
- clothing: I am terrible with my closet. It’s not that I have too many clothes; I have very little. I’ve been trying to gather clothes according to some mathematical number (have so-many shirts, etc.) but I’ve since decided that I need *outfits* for certain days. I need a “going out” outfit, a “gardening” outfit, a “clean the house” outfit, etc. This is easier for me to manage; I can just grab Monday’s clothes. Mathematically, I guess that means like “ten outfits”, giving some flexibility to the week.
- time: I’m always trying to arrange my time to give priority to what I feel is most important, letting go of *extra* tasks and outings that are not fueling my main purpose at this season in my life.
- homeschooling: From many different curriculums, to joining together as one group. Finally. My oldest is 17 and I feel like I’ve finally come to peace with how we homeschool. Combining grammar with Bible with reading with writing with history and so on. Everyone working at their own levels, and with time to pursue their own interests. I know….because you’ve been asking…I need to write a homeschooling post or do a podcast on it. But I’m too busy homeschooling 😉
- gardening: Well, it’s certainly easier to consolidate my gardening when there isn’t much to do! The old house we were in had never-ending (although satisfying) garden work, and this current house has kept us so busy with repairs and upgrades that I haven’t been able to spend time OR money outside in the kitchen garden. The raised beds desperately need to be weeded of morning glory and buttercup, and it seems so daunting. Furthermore, I need dirt and compost but seriously cannot find anyone to bring me $50 worth of soil. So do I want a dump truck delivered with a tremendous amount of extra for $364? I am soooooo thankful for our CSA down the street and cannot wait for the first box this upcoming weekend.
- kitchen: One drawer or shelf at a time, that’s how it’s done. Do I really use 12 wooden spoons? No, I use the same 3 all of the time. Do I use my soup tureen? No, I just use the pot, even with guests. And so on…
One thing we just consolidated was the time we spend on our hens. I get the great idea of a chicken tractor and we’ve used one for many, many years. But it is falling apart, and it is daily work that takes time. I was ready for a simple coop with access to the outside pasture. Thankfully, we were blessed with a gentleman that gave us his labor and time in exchange for playing with his baby (and such a sweet baby!). So, he put up some gates in our yards to keep our toddlers safe and then built us a small coop to put the hens in at night. He also relieved us of our wasted feed problem. I am immensely grateful to him and wish he could continue to work for us, but he has his own homestead to work on.
Here is our easier chicken work load; isn’t it pretty? The duck house is in front of it; we brought that from our old house. The ducks free range, too. Having a livestock guardian dog is a very nice way to keep predators away.
The inside has crates for the nest boxes which will be far easier to clean than the wooden ones we had in the tractor. And there is PVC pipe for a continuous, clean, non-waste feed source, and branches for the roosts. We still need to set up a watering system, reinforce the bottom to discourage digging varmints, and put in bedding for the bottom.
I can’t say I love downsizing. The *idea* is great, but the work is hard. It’s not the difficulty of taking stuff out, although there is work in that. It is more of a mind and heart work, and a very stimulating and provoking challenge to where my treasures really are. I’m keeping my eye on the prize.