How many is too much?

Sounds like a simple question doesn’t it ~ How many is too much? Angelina asked me this question yesterday about children’s toys and my response was ~ There is no definite answer, but for me their indoor toys should be able to be tucked away neatly in their own bedrooms when they aren’t being played with. If they are overflowing into all the living spaces as well then there is just too much.

You will notice among the words in my response were two small words ~ for me. Although I feel you can spoil your children by giving them too much or anything it is not up to anyone else to decide what is too much. That is your decision, but think wisely.

The same goes for anything in your home. I have three pairs of kitchen tongs is that too much. For some people yes, for me no. Quite often all three of those tongs are in the dishwasher at the same time so clearly I use them. If only one pair was ever used at any given time and I kept the other two just in case one day I have a house full of people and need three pairs, then yes three would be too many. Could I cope with one pair? Of course I could but I don’t choose to. If one pair broke would I replace it, probably not.

I have one bottle of perfume is that too few? Some women would think so because they like to mix it up a little, something floral one day, something oriental the next. Some may even think I am very unsophisticated for this. I care little about their opinion because one is enough for me. I am sure also that they would have the same opinion of me because I only use one handbag and it doesn’t match all my shoes. Once again, I don’t care. I find life simpler with less choice.

Someone else may only have two towels, two pair of shoes, one set of sheets but a display cabinet full of china handed down form a relative long passed. So what, minimalism is one thing to one person and something else to another. It is not up to anyone to decide what you care about and what you don’t, what is too much and what is too few.

Anyone reading my blog is here because they want to reduce what they own in order to free themselves of the restrictions that clutter can cause. Space restrictions, time restrictions, cash flow restrictions etc. Having the intention to declutter will set you in the right direction, then I am sure you are all capable of deciding in what areas you want to reduce and by how much. As momentum takes over you may get more adventurous but that is up to you. Be an individual and do it your way.

Today’s Declutter Item

I am pretty sure that if I hung these towels in our bathroom my husband would say ” Why are we using these old things?” WE have since moved on to thicker more luxurious towel which rotate regularly through our bathroom. These can go to thrift store where someone not so fussy as us will likely be happy to have them.


Gratitude

Instead of my usual list of things that made me happy, made me laugh, made me feel grateful, fascinated me or I thought were just plain awesome today I leave you with this poem from The Kitchn.com. In its simplicity it exemplifies how if you take your time to feel and see what is around you at any given moment you will realise there is plenty to be grateful for in life.

Today my pear at breakfast was perfect, so very ripe and juicy and scented sweet. And although a pear is just an ordinary thing, still I felt a little spike of pleasure when I spooned it into my mouth along with some yogurt and honey. There was pleasure, too, that I had this quiet time to notice the pear and the way the morning light was washing into the room where I sat on the floor with my back up against the wall. Without their wooly slippers, my bare feet were getting cold but I stayed there in that moment of pear delight until the whole bowl was licked clean. An ordinary pleasure, a simple moment.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow.



Continue reading with these posts:

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  • Life Circle Clutter I have written, more than once, about clutter categories on my blog. Categories such as obligation clutter, sentimental clutter, lazy clutter, guilt clutter... One category I have written […]
  • Mini Mission Monday ~ Multiples Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Great post! One other thing to remember — if you only have one towel you only have to wash and fold one towel. Saves time all the way around. Besides, you can only use one towel, wear one pair of shoes, sleep on one set of sheets, etc… at a time! 🙂
    typeAminimalist

    • Hi typeAminimalist,
      it is nice to meet you and welcome to 365lessthings. I see from your blog that you are also in purge mode and that you have a good cleaning/decluttering routine in place. Good for you!
      I don’t think I will ever get to the stage where we only have one towel each, one set of sheets or one pair of shoes but we certainly have a lot less than we used to.

      • Hi TypeAminimalist
        I get where you are coming from. But we need two towels each and 2 sets of bedding because we do not own a tumble drier and living in the uk, it generally takes several days to dry a washed towel/bedding . So there can be practical considerations to what one keeps/declutters.

        • Hi Katharine,
          I have 6 pairs of towels just for my husband and I and there are at least another 6 towels in my son’s bathroom, four sets of queen bed sheets and two fitted sheets for my son’s bed. Yes I could live with less but I have them and one day they will start to wear out so I won’t be decluttering any of them until natural progression decluttering takes over. I don’t see the point of decluttering things that have a limited lifespan so that I will have to replace later if I get rid of them. Sure once they are gone I will keep less of them in the future but for now I am content.

  2. I think your answer to indoor toys was nicely put. I think we’re still in the too much phase, and we’re gradually getting our daughter’s toys down to a manageable level. While she is generally cooperative when we head into her room to straighten and declutter, it’s still going to take a few more go throughs before she is comfortable getting rid of more. We give her the authority to make the final decision on most items, and that’s worked well for us.

    We go by the “for me” philosophy also, and have done this in almost every room of the house. There really is no one size fits all in minimalism, each person and situation is unique.

    • Hi Freedom,
      I think one of the easiest ways to help children declutter toys is just to let them know that there is a limit to how much they are allowed and that no new ones will come in unless something goes out first to make room. Usually there are items that they have grown out of that they are willing to part with. I remember declutttering with my son once when he was much younger and he got a little emotional so I said you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. He said that he did no longer want the things but watching them go made him feel like he was saying goodbye to his childhood. I thought that was very profound considering he was only about 12 at the time.
      I am glad that the “for me” philosophy is working for you too. when you make what you are doing about someone or something else you are more likely to have regrets later. Best to do it your way.

  3. Hey Colleen. I completely agree. How much is too much is very personal and varies from person to person. For example, I’m completely against knickknacks of any sort in my house. I don’t want them laying around — needing dusted, etc. My mom on the other hand LOVES these little crystal figurines she collects. She has a special cabinet to display them, and finds great joy in cleaning them, one by one.

    It’s all about deciding what’s enough for you, and then working like crazy to keep the excess from sneaking back in! 🙂

  4. Spot on! I have a lot of second-sets in the kitchen, because while I was writing my cooking blog and developing and testing recipes, a second set of measuring spoons, cups, pots, baking dishes, etc., really saved a lot of time. But since I’ve folded that blog and our grocery budget is extremely frugal, I cook so much less and am very likely to do another paring down. Things do change, and what suits at one time will not suit in another, people–and their stuff–need to move on.

    • Hi Meg,
      I agree. Also if something is still useful to me but I don’t really need it I will let natural progression decluttering to take its toll eventually.

  5. Love this; so important to keep in mind while reading others’ clutter clearing/minimalist/simple living blogs. And I feel like this stays forefront in the thoughts of all the blogs I read, that minimalism is an idea and a way of life, not a test.

    I thought my husband and I could/should reduce to 2 bath towels each. But before I actually had a chance to get the other 10 or so (ha ha) out of the house, I realized that we really need 3 each, since we only do laundry once a week, and sometimes we’ll use one for a non-bathing reason. However, 3 extra blankets and several necklaces were “too many”, and I decluttered those!

    I love how you say “As momentum takes over you may get more adventurous”. Decluttering is an adventure! You are so right!

    • Hi Liina,
      Minimalism is certainly a lifestyle change in progress for me. I am in no hurry and I will get to my desired quantity of things in my own good time.

  6. For me, Colleen, this piece exemplifies everything I love about your blog – tolerance, good advice, practical examples and encouragement – your philosophy in a nutshell. Thank you for the help I find here.

  7. I really like this post, as I’ve been thinking along these lines more and more. I actually bribed my kids to get rid of lots of their toys and games this weekend, and got out of it only $18 poorer! It was worth it, as 2 full wicker baskets full of plastic crap left the house, along with 2 bulky board games (never played). I actually wanted them to get rid of stuffed animals, but they are very attached to these, and as they only take up one shelf in each of their bedrooms, with no overflow, I was happy for them to stay.

    I’ve whittled down my clothing to about 1/2 of what I had last year, and don’t miss a thing. I like nice clothes, but am happy to wear the same things (that fit, and feel and look good) over and over again. I’ve been known to wear the same pair of black pants for over a week before washing them. My kids are the same with their clothes.

    As for books, I’ve purged 100’s from all of our shelves, but still have over 1,000. Many would say that’s too many, but I think it’s just enough 🙂

    • Hi Loretta,
      they say you should never bribe your kids but I think it just depends how you go about it and whether it is for a worth cause. I am offering my 25 year old nephew a cash incentive to give up smoking at the moment and I think that will be money well spent. I am looking forward to coughing up the cash because that means he has succeeded. The is one catch he has to pay me back if he starts up again.

      You are certainly doing a wonderful job of decluttering Loretta, and don’t it feel good! For you to purge 100s of your beloved books is a really biggy. Good for you!

  8. Jo@simplybeingmum :

    I too have just one bottle of perfume. I have one pair of earrings, and two pairs of jeans. And yet I own 3 slow-cookers?? Why??? Because I only wear one scent, one pair of earrings (infrequently) and I wash and wear my jeans alternatively. Yet I sometimes use 3 slow-cookers. For me it’s about using what you own… Not the number or amount… Use it or lose it!! Love the post! Jo

    • Hi Jo,
      this is exactly what I mean. I don’t even have one slow-cooker although I would get plenty of use out of one because I make lots of curries but I get by with my saucepans. I have a bread maker that I only use to make pizza dough and that is very infrequently these days because my hubby has changed his eating habits. I won’t get rid of it though unless it breaks down and then I won’t replace it.

  9. Perfume: 0
    Dishes: Corelle, 16 place settings. We have a large family when they’re all home.
    Sets of Bedsheets: 2 (summer and winter)
    Towels: 10 (too many)

    I’ts all personal. What’s right for you.

    • Hi Willow,
      my mum has a huge set of Corelle dinnerware. Her set are made so even 16 cups stack nearly into one and other and take up the smallest space. I am sure some 4 piece sets take up more the the 16 piece set she has. She likes to be prepared for if we all come home together. The is rare though. I just had a call from her and I think she will be coming to visit in a couple of days if not tomorrow. That will be nice. He he! I hope she doesn’t ask what happened to the silver tea set she gave me. 😉

  10. Hi Colleen! About having too much, I have many, many books. I love taking them out of their places, cleaning them, reading them, and was very upset when, at unclutterer someone at the forum suggested that books are clutter, and we should all go digital (heaven forbid!!! 🙁 ). But I don’t have any technological gadgets, I think they are useless. So everyone should declutter what they don’t use or don’t love. I think your post is right on spot. Decluttering is something very personal, to be done at someone’s own pace.

    • Hi Andreia,
      it wasn’t me that said that about going digital was it? 😆 I must admit I am one of those people who don’t understand book collecting. I have very few books and my husband has culled his several times over the last 15 months but that is us. I know a lot of readers and read a lot of minimalists who love their books and they would be the last thing they would resort to getting rid of. I am more of a borrow books kinda gal but I have never been an avid reader either. To each his own though I say!

  11. As a definite non-minimalist who nonetheless sees the benefits of decluttering, I really like this post. My rule of thumb is that it needs to fit neatly into whatever space I plan to keep it in; I don’t count, but I start culling books when my shelves are tight, and shoes when my shoerack is full. I try not to buy anything (more bookshelves, closet shoe racks, etc.) that will enable me to expand my current collection of stuff. Slightly less than net zero is my ideal.

    • Hi Jennifer,
      I like your plan of not enabling yourself to fit more stuff in and keeping at less than net zero. One in one out is also the policy I use at the same time as decluttering so that I am not recluttering while I am decluttering.

  12. Hi Colleen,

    as I has almost caught up with the blog I think I can dare to comment – and your mentioning to bread machine you only use for pizza dough made me think of how my bread machine practically decluttered itsself – not by breaking, no. First by moving: No roommates anymore = no need for the size of bread the machine made anymore, plus two places to get super nice bread in walking distance. But I still used it for pizza dough (and loved it for that) until I found this recipe:

    Put 400 g flour in a big bowl, make a pre-dough of 15 g fresh yeast, 1 tsp Salt, 125 ml water in the middle of it, cover with a towel and let sit in a warm place for 20 minutes. Then add 2 Tablespoons olive oil and about 125 ml more lukewarm water. Then kneed with hands for a good while until the dough is firm and elastic and let it rise (towel-covered) for 40 more minutes.

    This becomes a superflat, italian style, crispy pizza dough which I liked so much it was impossible to go back to my former recipes.

    It still took me about a year to move the now unused bread machine from the crammed kitchen cabinet to the basement and another year from there to let go and give the bulky thing to Goodwill … Well, I guess I am not at all in the wrong place here on your blog with my decluttering procrastination 😉

    • Hi Ideealistin,
      thank you for taking the time to read all the way through my blog from the beginning. There have been a lot of wonderful readers willing to do that lately and I am touched by their dedication. I welcome you to 365lessthings with open arms and hope you enjoy the posts to come. I also hope to be of help with your decluttering mission and if you ever have any questions don’t hesitate to ask, either here in comments or to me personally through my contact page.
      Hopefully we can have you getting things like bread machines out of the house quicker than in two years but hey I am still working through my stuff and it has been 15 months now. Slow and steady wins the race. Better to be slow than to do not at all.
      I will have to try that pizza dough recipe then maybe I could off load my old bread machine. That would free up some serious space in the kitchen.

  13. I know this post is from a week ago, but I just got time to catch up on reading blogs today. I always wonder if it’s “too much” for me to have multiples of kitchen tools, but I am like you where I use them daily so I may need more than one of these items. On the other hand I own only 2 dresses. I only dress up significantly a few times per year, so I don’t need a closet full of dresses. It’s perfectly acceptable for me to wear nice pants and a nice shirt to work. I think it’s interesting how we have different things we need more of, but what is important is knowing where this is ok and where we should cut back.

    • Hi Rebecca,
      you are completely right here. What may to too many for some can be just the right number for you and vise versa. Knowing when enough is enough is the key to staying decluttered. Being versatile in your thinking is also important because you can then often figure out how to utilise certain things in different ways so you can minimise the number of items you have.
      Like you I only have a few good outfits and I don’t care if people see me in them over and over again. I am fairly sure though that they wouldn’t remember what I was wearing from one even to the next anyway. If they do then they are far to involved in other peoples business to care about.

  14. I love less, less, less 🙂 Still we need two sets of sheets because we have no tumble dryer, and with a toddler sleeping in the bed I would not feel comfortable with one set only in case some kind of accident happens in the middle of the night 🙂
    But though I could make it with just one wooden spoon for cooking, I think two or three is good to have (but I would not run out to replace them if they broke).
    We have a pretty generous amount of plates etc. because otherwise we would run out before we run the dishwasher, I think we have between 6 and 10 pieces in each category of glasses, small plates, cereal/dessert bowls, pasta/soup bowls and dinner plates.. We use the small plates and cereal /dessert bowls the most so 10 is a good number for them and six is the most we would need the larger ones..
    I hate knick knacks and if something is displayed in the house it would better have some real sentimental value for us -and even those things need to be kept to a minimum.
    I have seriously downsized the books. We could give our other shelf to DD’s toys and books and we have empty space too. I kept my most favorite art books and some non-fiction I really thought was great and will read again. I wish DH would declutter his books more though. Library is good and I always check if they have the book I want to read before ordering from Amazon 🙂 After I read it I immediately donate if it wasn’t so great I want to hold on to it for a while at least so DH can read it and I may read it again. Some may be keepers for indefinitely.
    It’s definitely an ongoing process and our needs may change and we have to re-evaluate.

    • Hi Cat’sMeow,
      quantity really is a personal thing which is why I talk about decluttering but don’t deal with numbers. There are a lot of variables involved when it come to how much is enough for one person versus another.

  15. Hi all, I just read the spot from Freedom regarding de-cluttering toys, I’d like to share with you what I did when the time came to tidy my son’s things. Although I have always been going through the process myself I was finding that my son was hanging onto everything!! I made a phonecall to various daycares and kindy’s and playgroups and found that these places always have a budget and considering my sons toys were well looked after I figured that they could be passed around, so I made an appointment to meet with the Teacher, organiser manager whatever, discussed it with my son (as young as he was he was for it) off to the places we went armed with toys & books. The places we visited invited us in to meet the kids and my boy got such a kick out of seeing so many kids wanting to check out the BOX. I chatted to him about how many kids for many years will enjoy what he has grown out of. It was great to see everything go to a great home, be well used for years to come and best of all the Teacher hasn’t had to worry about explaining her budget spends. We have been doing this for quite a few years now, although we’ve moved through the grades. Another good tip I found along the way was joining a Toy Library that proved to be a great hit and best of all you keep the toy much like a Library book and return it in a fortnight, earlier if you wish, for a small join fee it was a great resource for all. You get to give your child a toy experience and send it packing hahahaha.
    Smiles Dizzy x

    • Hi Dizzy,
      that sounds like the perfect situation, from finding new homes for your sons toys, to involving him in the process and then reducing the number of toys her needed to won by joining a toy library. Well done!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Jo slide into obscurity without it being noticed. It is true what she says which is evident from this post I wrote back in march, even though at times I probably come off as the clutter Nazi. Contrary to […]

  2. […] time back I wrote a post ~ How many is too much ~ which addressed the issue of ~ what is clutter for one person is not neccessarily so for another. […]