one small change

by eringoodman on January 22, 2010

in at home

When Suzy from Hip Mountain Mama introduced the One Small Change project back in December, I knew I wanted to participate and immediately started thinking about what we could do in our family.

As the holidays came and went, and we moved into the New Year, I was inspired by all the changes others were making, but still wasn’t sure what we would do.

Right around that time, we embarked on yet another major house clearing and decluttering, this one initiated by my husband. (Umm…yeah. Let’s just say that when things get above John’s threshold for clutter, it’s safe to assume it’s a pretty scary scene at the Goodmans.)

CSA event stuff, Birth Network materials, teapots and other supplies for my retreats and mothers’ circles, and magazines being collected for my next Treasure-Mapping funshop mingle with cleaning supplies (a.k.a. white vinegar), bulk dried herbs and clothes waiting to be mended — all in our tiny downstairs bathroom.

As John did load after load of laundry and together we dug through closets, the floors of which have not seen the light of day in years, it hit me.

We need to clear the clutter and lessen the chaos.

Not just for ourselves and our sanity and peace of mind, but for our world.

Did I lose you on that one?

Let me explain.

As we were cleaning closets and emptying drawers we started finding things. Hammers, pieces to toys, flashlights, missing flip-flops. Things that we have lost, and in many cases replaced (sometimes multiple times).

Wasting our money, time and energy chasing down lost items detracts from our ability to live a simple, purposeful life and wastes world resources.

The contents of one of our many junk drawers and the sorted container of hardware and tools on their way to our new tool cabinet (yay!) in the basement.

We frequently have to repurchase items that are lost in our own home — things that could otherwise be reused for years. And many of the items we repurchase are done in a panic, leading us to shop at the most convenient places, which are often not in alignment with our eco-conscious values.

I also started thinking about how I feel in my home when the clutter level peaks and how much more likely I am to throw everyone in the car and go out to eat, at times even opting for food that is purchased by me shouting into a speaker and then grabbing a bag through a window, because I am just too overwhelmed by the state of our kitchen to attempt to cook anything.

Clutter and chaos get in the way of me making the kind of nutrient-dense, locally-sourced, whole food meals that I believe in.

I also thought about about all the trips to Pier One Imports ( TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Michael’s, my favorite thrift store…) to buy baskets and bins and other storage containers in hopes of creating the illusion of calmness and peace.

Or the trips near-weekly trips to the thrift store I *have* to take because I have nothing to wear — or more accurately I can’t find the clothes I want to wear because they are mixed in with piles of clothes I no longer like or don’t fit into and it’s all rolled together in a heap in the bottom of our closet or buried in the mountain of Are these clean or dirty? clothes that permenantly live in a laundry basket on the floor of our our room.

Clutter and chaos often lead me to seek out retail therapy, which only serves to add more clutter and chaos to our small house.

So what are we doing? What One Small Change(s) have we been making this month?

~ We’re noticing and talking about how we treat our belongings and creating storage places for things we value.

Favorite family games, our soft globe and my dancing kit now live on top of one of three new storage shelves built by my cousin, Dan.

~ We’re being more conscious of stopping “future clutter” before it comes in the door.

~ We’re making regular trips to the thrift store, not to shop, but to purge no-longer-needed stuff.

~ We’re “doing a sweep of the house” every night and making sure that the kitchen is ready for cooking healthy meals the next day.

~ I’m creating an inventory sheet of our most used items so I can quickly scan our pantry and see what supplies we need before I go shopping and can group my errands accordingly. (Saves time and eliminates extra driving.) 

~ And on the recommendation of a friend, this book is on its way to me. I think the title perfectly sums up our family’s first step in the One Small Change project.



{ Happy weekend, friends. } 

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth January 22, 2010 at 8:52 am

I really appreciate this one small change. This is an area I am constantly working on in our own space. Now if I could just figure out how to tell everyone that Jude really doesn’t need anymore toys…that would help so much. My husband spent the first 2 weeks of this year purging his shop…wow, I never thought I’d see that happen…I know it is going to make a huge difference in the way he works and uses that space. And a friend was talking to me last night about clearing out a filing cabinet full of stuff from the eighties only to receive an email the same day from a friend with a picture of her and some friends hiking in 1984 and it turned out her friend wanted some of the stuff she was getting rid of….I think this purging energy is going around.
.-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..wabi sabi moments…weathered lamb =-.


minnesota:madre | Sarah Jane January 22, 2010 at 8:56 am

I’ve been trying to implement FlyLady and the Simplicity Parenting is all about getting rid of clutter. While I fight cleaning I am so happy when I do. I DO feel freed to do other, more important things. Cheers to you and happy sweeping!
.-= minnesota:madre | Sarah Jane´s last blog ..random thursday =-.


caroline starr rose January 22, 2010 at 9:24 am

We used to have that globe. It was great for babies just sitting up.

How’s the writing going?
.-= caroline starr rose´s last blog ..Jambalaya Writers’ Conference =-.


Devon January 22, 2010 at 9:33 am

I also highly recommend “Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui” — it changed this clutterbug’s LIFE!!

She talks about how our energy gets tied up in our junk, and how freeing it is to get rid of things that don’t serve us, especially broken stuff – those clothes that need mending? Fix ’em NOW or get rid of them! :)
.-= Devon´s last blog ..Sleeveless Gloves =-.


Ivy January 22, 2010 at 9:56 am

Right there with you Erin. No matter how many times we clear off the counters they seem to re-clutter in a matter of days (or hours). Some times I think the stuff multiplies at night.

I’ve been having a hard time thinking of something to do for Suzy’s challenge. This is a great idea. It seems like we already do the little things, and all the good ideas are already out there. But the thing I like about it is that I’m reading those ideas and consciously implementing these little changes because of them, even if I don’t add anything new to the pile myself.
.-= Ivy´s last blog ..The Creative Weekend =-.


Rose January 22, 2010 at 10:50 am

Wow! That’s quite a massive undertaking, or so it appears. Congratulations on taking the first step, and good luck!

I love starting off the new year with a clean slate, so to speak.

Happy weekend!
.-= Rose´s last blog ..Happy Second Birthday! =-.


Denise January 22, 2010 at 11:23 am

awesome. it must feel sooooo good too. this was a really good post. Love the “sweep” through. I think that is really important and takes just a few minutes.
.-= Denise´s last blog .. =-.


Hillary January 22, 2010 at 11:27 am

Love this post. I swear we feel like we are doing a big organizational clean *every*. We act like if we could just get organized it should last, but, yeah, ditto on everything you said and some good inspiration!
.-= Hillary´s last blog ..flowers13: @paganmama Thanks for sharing that. I am amazed by her trust and ability to adapt to her clients needs. Good sign in a midwife. =-.


Hannah Marcotti January 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm

This is what I have been doing for the last couple of months. Each room, each drawer, each closet, eventually to the basement of horrors! What I decided to do after was to inact a no buying policy for one month, nothing new could come into our house, we had to use what we had, plan for what we wished for. It has been such a lesson for me in escaping into retail therapy and really valuing what we already own. I also had that feeling of using up so many resources for the stuff that just clutters our life. I”m glad you have been working on this and I feel as though it can only lead to great things entering the space, such as balance, energy and calm.


BOATBABY January 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Good for you! It’s so refreshing to hear this perspective because many people don’t want to face it. This is one of the reasons I LOVE living in such a small space. By it’s very nature it forces us to TRULY live small and simple. Of course it can still clutter up like any other place, but it’s much easier to tidy up again. And I love seeing how my son thinks about “stuff” rather than just desiring it. I say when you start to pair down your “stuff” it feels just as good as getting your body in shape.
.-= BOATBABY´s last blog ..Turtle Tide Pool =-.


kate January 22, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I LOVE this idea. And may have to make it our February change…may also have to get that book coming to my house– VERY fitting when I couldn’t find my keys for three hours today:)


renee @ FIMBY January 22, 2010 at 9:44 pm

sounds good erin. I love the power and peace that comes from being organized. And in a small space there is no other real option besides total chaos. (one of the many benefits of a small home). I tend to the organized end of the spectrum and I’m quite happy in this spot. I also think starting the day with a clean kitchen is a must, I don’t think I could face the morning without a clean counter to start the day.


Iris January 22, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Oh, I know so well what you’re talking about! Sometimes when I look at the clutter in our house it makes my mind cluttered as well, and it certainly doesn’t help to feel relaxed. And yes, it does have an impact on our environment to pile up clutter, just as you explained. Congratulations for doing these first steps! I need to do the same thing…
Oh, and did I really win that giveaway from Hannah?? That makes me very excited!! Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity.


Dan January 22, 2010 at 11:14 pm

well put. clutter eats up energy in terms of diminishing efficiency of finding things we need, as well as creating a negative/draining aesthetic vibe in the space. it blocks creative flow and prevents us from living up to our aspirations in those spaces. adding those kind of shelves is one simple thing anybody can learn to do for themselves to help reduce it.


Mousy Brown January 24, 2010 at 7:08 am

What a brilliant and brave choice for one small change – one I have been concidering but might have to wait till I am feeling more able to tackle it! Truely inspirational to see what we can acheive – love the idea of finding all those things you thought you lost – good luck with your goal, I will be sending peaceful, clutter free thoughts in your direction x
.-= Mousy Brown´s last blog ..On the road to recovery! =-.


Hip Mountain Mama January 25, 2010 at 10:28 pm

I am so excited that you have your One Small Change post up! I am so glad you you are taking part in this and loved reading this post!
.-= Hip Mountain Mama´s last blog ..Meditate =-.


Rosaleen (MamaUK) January 29, 2010 at 8:51 am

I would love to declutter our home properly, but I know there is so much stuff that needs to go I am almost too scared to think about starting it, it seems like it would be so much hardwork that I feel completely overwhelmed by it and don’t know even how to begin.
.-= Rosaleen (MamaUK)´s last blog ..Shirley Hughes =-.


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