Running Out


We should run out of stuff.

There’s a prevailing and destructive concept that most of our households struggle with which traps us in an unending cycle of hoarding, waste, and feeling overwhelmed by too much stuff: We can’t run out of that!

I have a vivid memory of freaking out to my friends in high school that my mom hadn’t gone to the store and I didn’t get to have my preferred breakfast. Fortunately for me, my friends weren’t idiots and they pushed back telling me to eat a sandwich and relax. I needed to learn to be more flexible.

I bought a lot of it because I know we’ll use it.

This is a really destructive mindset we have to vanquish from our brains and buying habits.  Unless it’s at an incredible price, you’re certain you’ll use it all before it expires or spoils, and you have adequate storage space, this isn’t a wise choice–it will just create clutter and potentially waste.

How I approach it
  • We can’t run out of essentials. Medications are essential. Diapers and toilet paper and soap and clean drinking water are all essential. You should NOT run out of these things. I think we can all agree that running out of them would be bad. We need to eat. We need to be able to do life.
  • We need to redefine “essentials.” Having our favorite snack around is not essential. If we’re trying to be minimalists and simplify life, it’s important for me and my family to reassess so we’re in agreement about what this should look like, because no one likes change or surprises
  • We need to be less manipulated by sales and do more with less. Most people I know stick pretty closely to a budget and therefore, take advantage of sales. There’s nothing wrong with doing that so long as we’re purchasing items we really want and need. And it should be reasonable. I used to spend a lot of time and effort to buy Tide at good prices, causing myself crazy stress instead of thinking outside the box for a better solution. Now I make my own detergent, which we LOVE, and it’s virtually stress-free.
  • It’s critically important for our hearts and minds to be without. Do we realize that when we always get everything we want we’re spoiling ourselves? We’re training ourselves and our kids that we have a right not to be without our favorite sandwich or chips or fruit or juice or soda. When we DO run out of things on a consistent and frequent basis, 2 things happen:
    1. We get used to it and can receive it with a better attitude. Think about the unpleasant things you have to communicate on a frequent basis (your favorite shirt is dirty, it’s raining and we can’t go outside, someone already checked your book out of the library). Unless it’s catastrophic, we handle it well, because we’re used to it. We want our responses and those of our kids to be “OK,” not screaming tantrums. Running out of non-critical items needs to become mundane.
    2. We become less prone to gluttony. This isn’t a word people use a lot, but since America has an obesity epidemic and all of us would at least say that we want to be healthy, we need to be more intentional about portion size and wise food choices—eating foods that will fuel our bodies instead of just satiating our cravings.

The Truth About Laundry


A while back I opened up a survey with some questions I was curious about in terms of laundry.  Here are the results.

If you want to take the survey:

The breakdown: We all have easy access to laundry services, the vast majority have it in our private residence, and we’re all over the place on how frequently we do laundry.  Bottom line: most of us struggle getting our laundry folded or put away.

The stats:

93% of respondents were female, 7% declined to answer

Work Status:
work full time: 26.67%
care for the needs of my home/family full time: 53.33%
work part time: 6.67%
am a full time student: 13.33%
am retired: 0%
other: 0%

What is your relationship to the laundry process?
I am the laundry person in my household: 93.33%
I do some laundry sometimes: 6.67%

Describe your laundry situation:
I have a washer/dryer in my private residence: 86.67%
I have shared laundry services in my building: 13.33%

How do you do things?
I wash and dry all my laundry on one day: 26.67%
I wash and dry at least one load daily: 6.67%
I wash and dry loads as needed: 40%
It kind of depends on life that week: 26.67%

I consider myself:
a structured/organized person: 60%
a non-structured/organized person: 40%

What is the HARDEST part of the laundry process for you?
Remembering to transition the load to the dryer (or clothesline, if that’s your thing): 6.67%
Folding; Everything ends up wrinkled in baskets until I need it: 46.67%
Putting the laundry away: 46.67%

What is your household reality in regards to “stuff”?
We have way too much stuff! 26.67%
We declutter pretty frequenty, but still have more than we really need 53.33%
We only have/buy what we really need/want 13.33%
I don’t understand.  My stuff is just my stuff. 6.67%

The Reality of Cups


I read a LOT about minimalism.  A theme that crops up over and over again is getting rid of multiples of things.  When I was decluttering some kitchen cabinets a few months ago, I realized we were OVERRUN with coffee cups.  It was like they’re been breeding in there or something!  Now I am SUPER INTO MINIMALISM.  But the rest of my family is not (yet).  So when I say things like, “I’m getting rid of all our cups,” I know my husband is going to FREAK OUT.  I have to take a more measured approach to maintain peace and marital harmony and encourage this transition rather than create defensiveness against it.

How’d I do that?

Here are the questions I asked (Most are pretty typical of minimalism):

How many do we really need on a DAILY basis?  2, for our daily coffee

What about handling contingencies like crazy life that prevents kitchen cleaning for a couple days? We have a BIG family, so we MUST do dishes at least every 2 days or life is unbearable.  That means 4 cups.  (For our ship to sail smoothly though, it’s daily dishes.)

What about guests?  This is a frequent defense to purging, but I encourage you to ask this followup question honestly: What do you USUALLY do when you have a ton of guests?  Anytime we have more than maybe 4 guests drinking anything, we go disposable so it doesn’t matter anyway.*  Bam! Purge it!

*If for some reason we were going to have several guests and REQUIRED real cups, I could always borrow from friends.  A super-unlikely exception shouldn’t hijack the decision-making process.

Are we really ready for permanent removal or is archive storage the answer?  We were not ready to permanently remove them, so they’ve been in storage in the basement.  I know it’s been several months, so I’ll bring that up in the conversation to donate them.  Usually, I’ll write a note that amuses me like “Will I miss these?” and date it so I have rock hard evidence that we should let go.

I asked Dan to pick his 4 favorite cups and I picked mine.  That’s 8.  And just like a bad TV show, 8 is enough!