Excess combined with neglect

I felt the need to write this post because I am continually confronted with examples of what I am about to write here. And that is homes crammed with abundance while suffering from neglect. It saddens me that such situations can cause so much stress to those involved. And, even more sadly, the cure people turn to alleviate this stress is to treat themselves to yet more stuff.

Sometimes the neglect comes in the form of money being spend indulging in some sort of abundance, often causing clutter,  while other more important regular financial necessities are barely if at all budgeted for. Things like the power and water bills, health insurance, vehicle maintenance etc.

Another example is a home full of abundance while the house’s physical maintenance is being neglected and is slowly crumbling around the occupants and their stuff. And, as any home owner knows, one seemingly small maintenance issue can turn into a major expense when neglected causing collateral damage.

And of course there is the time spent acquiring abundance while the housework is neglected. Any sort of shopping requires time to achieve, whether that be time spend searching and buying the best deal one can find on-line, or time spend scouring the stores for the same. This could be time better spent taking care of ones home.

Of course clutter can just be an accumulation of stuff over many years and does not reflect the true financial expenditures at any given time, however I am not referring to those situations here. So if you can identify yourself in any of these situations stop and think about what you are doing. Buying stuff will never give you peace of mind, the novelty wears off almost as fact as the act of acquiring.

Instead,  cut back on the acquiring and put some money aside for a time when you might need it. Or use the money to fix something that has been waiting to be repaired. And instead of wasting time shopping take some time to sell off some of the excess you have and put that money away for a rainy day or use it now on home maintenance.

Clutter isn’t about the stuff it is about our desire for stuff, often at the neglect of other more important things. Decluttering your home should then be about questioning your desire for stuff and breaking the bond it has on you. Especially if, as mentioned above, your home and peace of mind is suffering due to such a poor relationship.

Today’s Mini Mission

Work on using up all the leftover food of the holiday season. Condiments, spices, frozen leftovers etc. Oh and of course wine and beer. ;-)

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

Eco Tip for the Day

Instead of buying stuff you don’t need, that adds to the stresses on nature, put the money aside for a rainy day.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

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

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • Mini Mission ~ Wednesday 20Dec2017 Declutter by recycling some items. That mound ofused takeout containers, old newspapers and magazines, paperwork that needs shredding, glass jars you set aside in case you have a use for […]
  • Mini Mission ~ Tuesday 19Dec2017 Start a trial separation on an item or two that you are on the fence about letting go. Put this/these items in a out of the way place where you won't encounter them on a daily basis and […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Oh, that is something I learned for myself, even as a teenager. (I’m now in my twenties and glad I’m learning my lessons so young!) Less time spent acquiring excess = more time for what really matters = more peace of mind…

  2. This post is incredibly timely. I need to (again) talk with hubby about selling our third truck. I mentioned in a previous post that stupid spontaneous purchase of a Jeep in October of 2013. We did not trade in my old truck because we were going to keep it as a “work truck”. The Jeep turned out to have so many mechanical problems that we quickly traded it in on a different truck, while retaining the old truck. So the old one is parked in the back yard. Sometime after that, we had a mini-flood and water got up to the very bottom of the truck, causing rust. A few months ago, I was driving it and discovered that the 4-wheel drive component is failing and it will be $1,100 to fix that. Now the battery is dead. Why are we keeping a vehicle that is doing NOTHING but deteriorating??!!

    It makes absolutely no sense to keep this and it makes no sense in putting more money into it. It will now take around $1,300 just to get it saleable. I am so frustrated. 🙁

    • Ugh, Michelle! I have a similar problem. My husband has a 20-year-old pickup truck that he hasn’t driven for at least 5 years. It needs some work, but he thinks it will be a great first vehicle for our son when he starts driving, and it’ll be a great father-son project to work on. Nothing has been done to make the truck drivable for years, and our son is only 13! The truck sits in our single-vehicle garage, while our two working cars sit outside (in the now subzero temperatures).

      He is unwilling to let the truck go for whatever reason. At least I got smart and changed the insurance to storage only and stopped buying the license plate sticker (for $100) when I realized the truck would sit another year without being driven.

      Good luck dumping your Jeep!

      • Oh Donna B. – those grand plans of father/son time working on the truck. hee hee 🙂

        We already had a 2001 Dakota and a 2004 Ram. Bought a Jeep. Hated the Jeep and traded it in on a 2008 Dakota. Three Dodge trucks! I’m calling my husband a hoarder!

        • You should get something for brand loyalty! Let me know if you find the magic key to getting rid of the extra vehicle.

      • Donna B – what is the minimum age for a drivers licence where you are?

        • Moni,

          Our driving age is 16, but with quite a number of hours of behind-the-wheel practice in addition to the official road and written tests. We still have a good 3 years before my son is driving. One of my friends has an old minivan that her son hated to be seen in until she got a new car and gave him the dreaded minivan. Now he loves it, and it’s now the coolest thing because it’s his!

          • Donna B – it was 15 here but rose to 16 just as my middle child came of age. By my calculations its been sitting around since your son was 8. I guess now he’s 14 you sort of are close to the age of a father/son fixer upper car, especially if your son has heard or overheard that it is to be his car……..but maybe you could put a time limit on it to be actually fixed up and road-worthy. I can understand your feelings because we store hand-me-down house items and furniture for the son who is turning 20 soon and may or may not leave home (again) and I know eventually its going to be useful and a savings for him but in the meantime, it doesn’t sit with my plans/goals.

      • My husband and his father re-built an old truck when he was about 14. His dad died this weekend, and my husband told me the only thing he wants from the house is the picture of the two of them with the truck. That said, I’d never encourage people to keep things that make them unhappy. On that note, we recently got rid of our third car (a Jeep, LOL) that was dead in our garage while our other two nice cars were parked outside. I took $1000 for it just to get rid of it. You can donate old cars, too, for a tax write-off.

        Sorry for just barging in here like this. I like this website a lot. I have my own de-cluttering project going room by room at the moment, but I still call it my 365 project. I get rid of something every day. I’m a minimalist by nature, but I’ve let too many things accumulate this past year. But I am sending the daily missions to my sister (who is not a minimalist by nature, LOL), and she is loving the random suggestions! She is getting rid of WAY more than I thought she ever would, and I think it’s the daily missions that are helping her. She doesn’t have to put any thought into it….just do it. I live over 5000 miles away, so it’s something we’ve been doing together over text every day.

        Anyway, love the blog, Colleen!

        • Hi Melanie and welcome to the comments section of 365 Less Things. I wish you success with your decluttering mission and am very pleased that your sister is embracing the daily missions. Proof yet again that daily decluttering is not only successful but can also be a fun challenge. And any reason is a good reason to keep in touch with your sister.

    • That certainly does sound frustrating. Makes me glad we only own one little four cylinder hatchback. Luckily one car is enough for us for that is all we have to budget for. Is the rust damage on the truck claimable in insurance since it was flood related? It might be best to sell it as-is so you don’t have to plough any more money into it.

      • Hidey ho, Colleen. We didn’t make an insurance claim. I didn’t realize that the water had gotten high enough to even touch the bottom of the truck. Next spring, we are going to have it detailed and I am hoping that a good cleaning and application of a rust inhibitor/protectant will resolve the issue. The water didn’t get in the tailpipe, thank goodness. And I’m flip-flopping on whether to fix it or try to sell as is. Something to think about.

  3. *shudder* thinking about a relative’s house. You described it exactly…literally falling down. It makes me sad but there is nothing I can do.

    • Willow, even if there was something that you could do should you be expected to jeopardise you retirement budget plans because someone else hasn’t taken proper care with their own? That leaves a person in the position of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  4. “Clutter isn’t about the stuff it is about our desire for stuff” -‘nuf said

  5. This post is very spot on. Clutter can be a double-edged sword. The more we have, the more time we need to devote to cleaning, yet we are inclined to spend more time acquiring than cleaning.

  6. Good post Colleen. the stories I could tell. I just don’t understand why anyone want’s to fill their house to overflowing let alone let the house deteriorate around them in a major way. I’ve come to the realization that I would prefer an apartment than a house if I can’t take care of everything.

  7. What you wrote is pretty spot on.

  8. I know of at least 3 households where there is what I consider physical chaos – old bed frames, couch, and stove jammed into a porch along with bags and boxes of miscellaneous “stuff”, broken porch windows… constantly lost belongings… dining hutch full to bursting with “stuff”, extra furniture piled in “spare” rooms… boxes piled to the garage ceiling… random stuff dotting the floor in each room (tripping hazard, not décor)… Hard for me to understand why anyone wants to live in such an environment… I don’t claim to be “minimalist” (yet) but I can say that I generally know where my things are and most areas are organized with at least some empty space rather than stuff stuffed together… I take the time to care for my household because I care about how it functions… The attitude in the “chaotic” households seems to be that stuff is the ultimate value but that caring for stuff is less worthwhile than practically any other activity…

    • Yes Peggy, I agree with what you said here. I was about to write that if people want to live that way it is their business but it isn’t really unless they have no relatives of friends who care for them. As there is always someone out there is despair for the way one of their loved ones live. And of course others who have to deal with the mess once they part from this world.

    • Oh Peggy, that is sad and it happens all too frequently.

  9. Currently our house is in a state of disarray (especially the kitchen) due to a myriad of health problems over the last few months (my grandmother nearly died from a brain bleed, my mom has gastroparesis, my dad was diagnosed Type II diabetic [yey, more dietary considerations], and I had my gall bladder and appendix removed and recently found out I have active HHV-6 and fibromyalgia). I have acquired a sharper desire for less stuff and less house. I am in the midst of a fibro flare that is kicking my butt. I’m trying to stay positive (hard when dealing with sleep deprivation) and still be productive but it is difficult. If anybody has any tips or insight into dealing with the pain of fibromyalgia, I’m all ears – well, I guess eyes since this is text based. XD

    • Hi Rachel,

      It might sound “frou-frou” but some people get some relief from soaking in Epsom salts and / or apple cider vinegar for 15 or 20 minutes (in NOT scalding but at least therapeutically warm water). Also, you could try eliminating any “inflammatory” type foods from your diet, while adding in anti-inflammatory foods. I’ve been trying “golden milk” (my recipe is 1 cup coconut milk heated for 1 minute in the microwave, mixed with a paste made of 1 tablespoon honey, 2 shakes black pepper, & a teaspoon of turmeric). You could try going without gluten for a couple months just to see if you feel any different. I don’t have Celiac, but feel much better on a gluten free diet. (gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, so those are what you would have to eliminate… yay, as you said, more dietary restrictions!). I wish you well in whatever approach you decide to try 🙂

      • Rachel W, I too have fibro and the biggest thing I have found to help the pain and fatigue is to pace myself. YOu also will learn that stress will really set things off. Learn how much you can do in a day before you set off the pain and fatigue to the point you are uncomfortable. I take Cymbalta in the morning and it helps with with the anxiety that comes from the exhaustion and neurontin at night to help with my leg pain/restlessness. I take no other meds because I am either allergic or have bad side effects. It is still hard to find a doctor who will no how to treat you but finding a Rheumatoligist who believes these issues are real will help. Each person reacts differently and will have different responses to various treatments. I’m praying you will find good ones for you. If you want to ask questions or talk more Colleen can give you may email address.

        • Oh, Deb J. I empathize with you so much now. I’ve been symptomatic of fibro for a few years but never went to a doctor. The one time I tried, the doc basically shrugged and was like “I have no idea what is wrong with you.” I was just like “…Ok then. I feel stupid now.” My new doc is not like that. He listened to my long long list of complaints, ran some tests, asked questions, poked and prodded, and bam. Diagnosis. HHV-6 and fibromyalgia. It is the most amazing thing to have a medical professional believe you and help.

          I have such a hard time pacing myself. It will be a learning curve for sure. I’ve been under a lot of stress the past few months so I guess it makes sense I am just coming out of the worst flare I”ve ever experienced. I will have to learn my limits. And pay attention to them.

          I am just over two weeks on Cymbalta. I notice I feel clearer headed when I’m not sleep deprived due to pain. Neurontin? I’ll have to talk to my doctor about that. My pain is usually in my arms. It is hellish. Especially because when it hits, it doesn’t go away for hours or days. Something to help that would be awesome. I’m glad to hear Cymbalta is working for you. I’m not allergic to anything thus far. As for side effects, I’m only on Cymbalta and prescription strength vitamin D so I guess I will have to wait and see. Finding a Rheumatologist is a good idea, then? I will have to find out if there are any good ones who believe these issues are real in this area. It’s early days for me with this diagnosis so only time will tell how I respond to treatment. Thank you for your prayers and suggestions. I would love to be able to talk to you more and ask questions when I have them. How would I go about getting your email addy from Colleen?

          • Rachel, if your doctor is doing a good job of taking care of you then stay with him/her. A rheumatologist is for if you need more help than your regular doctor can give. Up at the top of Colleen’s Web page it a link called “contact Colleen.” Ckick on that, fill out the message form including your email address, send it and she will send you my email address.

      • Hey Peggy! Thanks for the reply. I don’t think Epsom salt/apple cider vinegar soaks sound frou-frou at all. In fact, I have used them in the past to help alliviate muscle pain due to over-exertion. I will try “golden milk” and am thinking of going on an elimination diet to see if any of the foods I eat are adding to/triggering my flares. I already know gluten and caffiene aren’t causing my current flare because I eliminated both of them well over a year ago. I’m gluten intolerant and my daughter is allergic. Caffiene gives me night terrors and acid reflux so it had to go. Thank you for the tips. I’ve been feeling very much like “Really?! Another health issues?” XD Thankfully I do have a great family and small circle of friends. They help remind me of my blessings.

    • Rachel W – wow you have a lot going on. Are there any friends or community groups you can call on for practical help?

      • Hey Moni. I have friends and family members I can depend on. Sometime the biggest issues with getting help is actually asking for it. I can be really bad about asking for practical help. It’s not a pride thing (anymore). I just don’t think to ask. I don’t know aboout community groups. I didn’t mean to sound like my life is this extreme state of chaos and misery. It’s not. Mostly it has just been as the dust settles from one event another thing happens. It’s tiring. I will look into what practical help there is out there in terms of community groups. Thanks for replying.

        • Rachel W – I can relate, I describe 2014 as the year I felt I was driving down the wrong side of the highway. I have high hopes for 2015. Getting back to you, the next time you visit your GP mention the bigger picture situation with your family, often they know agencies that can assist which may be covered by the health system or some other avenue of assistance.

    • I wish I had advice for you on relieving your medical conditions but sadly I don’t. All I can say is to embrace the less stuff and a smaller home when the chance arrives. I am glad to have taken these steps while my husband and I are in good health because you just never know when you might be struck down with some sort of debilitating illness. It is never too early to plan for the future but there sure is a lot of too late time.

      • Hi Colleen, saw your reply here and just had to comment. My mother is a hoarder (something I don’t think I have mentioned here), and I could write volumes but let me just keep it simple to say that with her failing health already at only 64 my husband and I dread the day she passes on because of her accumulations. She still has a path of stuff to walk through but it is fast closing. And she’s been renting rooms for years, this is her first rental house in a decade and in just a few months it has become completely stuffed and cluttered. One of my aunts took on the responsibility of clearing out my grandmother’s hoard, 2,000 sqaure feet of townhouse plus four storage units (out of state to boot ) last year and nearly had a nervous break down. It really is the worst legacy to leave for your loved ones.

        • That is terrifying to think about, Jean. I can understand to an extent your dread when you finally have to deal with your mother’s stuff. Your aunt deserved to have a nervous breakdown after dealing with your grandmother’s stuff. Really it sounds like she deserved a vacation to a warm, white sand beach with fruity drinks and hot cabana boys. ;]

          • Thank you, Rachel W, she actually did get a vacation. Her husband rented a mountain cabin for her for five days with some of the inheritance money. They hired catering and a masseuse! I think it’s so sad about my mother, but I feel I have tried everything for her so I just have to let it be and ride it out. I am only 32, but I am the “responsible child” in the family so the lot falls on me, even though I am one of the younger ones. I worry more how it will affect my husband since he has shoulded the brunt of moving her in the past.
            As a side note, after reading about some of your health issues, I wanted to tell you I have a rheumatological condition called generically “vasculitis”. I don’t know exactly what disorder it is in the overall family of the disorders. It would be pointless to explain all of it’s many, uncomfortable symptoms, (it’s essentially a hyper immune response of the vascular system, so systemic inflammation), but I had experienced it since childhood and doctors usually waved it off. I was diagnosed by a dermatologist in my late teens. The only treatment is Prednisone, which in my case would do more harm than good.
            There are days where I feel feverish all day despite the chores that must be done and I become easily over-heated and very photosensitive here in the environment we live. In the heat I turn bright red and in the cold I turn blue. Instead of the blood vessels opening they constrict and more than a brisk walk has me winded. Cardiac issues and threat of stroke are very real during a flare-up, which blessedly doesn’t happen too often. It can be very challenging for us to deal with physical as well as emotional/mental infirmities but I can attest to you that by living a simpler, more easily managed life we only lose those cumbersome and often unnecessary possessions and maintain those things which are most important to us when we are side tracked by illness. I had a small health crisis last year and I am so thankful I have made efforts the last few years to eliminate the extraneous. And coming to this blog and reading the comments has been such a fortifying practice for me as I hope it is for you as well.

        • Hi Jean, my sympathies to you and also to your mother because there is obviously a psychological problem there. I hear many stories like this here at 365 Less Things and it saddens me that people are forced to go through this. I am happy though that many of my readers who have experienced a similar thing are determined that they will never inflict it on someone else.

          • Yes, Colleen, my mother has some major issues, that apparently she has in common with her own mother, even though they were vastly different women. My grandmother got to the point where she had piles of garbage in her living space, and major rat issues as she lived in a coastal town. My mother recognizes that her mother had a serious problem but feels she is different because everything is collectors items and knick-knacks from consignment shops. But her situation I fear will become like my grandmother’s was. We try to be forgiving and understanding but it’s hard. I know many others can identify with my feelings.

          • Hi Jean, oh how I hate “collector items”. As far as I am concerned anything made specifically for collecting is a waste of time collecting. Simply because the majority of them will never appreciate in value because they were mass produced crap in the first place. Even the “limited” edition ones usually aren’t that limited. Baseball cards for instance are just another form of gambling
            I think the question has to asked of people who overindulge in clutters is ~ “What is more important to you clutter or a happy relationship with your family?” Sometimes the obvious isn’t all the obvious to people until it is pointed out to them.
            I hope things never get to that with your mother.

      • Colleen, you may not have advice on relieving my medical conditions but you have created an awesome community where I can ask for advice about it, especially in relaiton to living a smaller, simpler lifestyle (though not necessarily a smaller life). Also this blog has been a huge inspiration to me when it comes to decluttering. The whole concept of one thing a day can apply not to just decluttering one thing but organizing one thing, sorting one thing, fixing one thing, appreciating one thing you may have overlooked in the past.

        I’m glad you and your husband are in good health. I don’t wish health issues on anybody. I am embracing a decluttered life and will embrace a smaller home when the chance arrives. The house we currently live in is just too much for four people with various health issues. It’s too much house when we have two whole rooms that rarely ever get used. Four people and there are still two rooms that rarely get used. That’s just sad. And I’m tired of the time and energy it takes to clean this place. My family is tired of the time and energy it takes to clean this place. Though I am very grateful I have a house to live in. And a family. And friends. And pets. There is stress but there are blessings too. 😀

        • Thank you Rachel W, I am glad that my blog is a place where like minded people can share there issues and perhaps receive some good advice that is helpful to them. I love the community here as it is always so positive. I am so glad you have embraced the uncluttered lifestyle. And yes it is very doable when you only have to work on one thing a day.

    • Rachel W, keep taking it a day at a time. I am sure you don’t need anyone to tell you that, but keep that goal of less in your mind for when you are feeling better.

      • Thank you for the encouragement, Jean. It never hurts to be reminded to take it a day at a time. It’s very easy for me to lose the trees for the forest. XD

    • Rachel, if it is possible have your vitamin D level checked. I had severe fibromyalgia for almost 15 years. Within a few months of taking between 4,000 and 5,000 units a day of vitamin D3 I noticed improvement. In less than 2 years I was off all medications (gabapentin, tramacet, and zopiclone), weaning myself off one at a time gradually. I was not able to get my vitamin D level tested because the tests are too expensive so my GP is not able to get a specialist to approve it where I live (BC, Canada). I had to guess at the dose to take. I wonder if a higher dose would have made me well faster but wasn’t sure it would be safe.

      • That is an excellent suggestion, Sabine. My doctor had me on 2,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 daily but when I basically got worse after two weeks he put me on 50,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 (that is prescription strength) once a week. I just started that course yesterday. My doc is pretty confident I will notice a difference. I’m supposed to go back in six weeks to possibly have my level checked but the test is, as you said, super expensive so I may not be able to have it done. From what I know of Vitamin D, you can’t overdose on it. Your body just flushes out what it doesn’t need/use. However, I am not a medical professional so I would ask your GP if that is correct information.

        It is awesome that you have slowly been able to get off all the meds. Do you ever have any flares at all? Did you make any other lifestyle changes? I know my experience will differ some from other fibro sufferers but I figure it doesn’t hurt to know the possibilities. I feel very blessed to be diagnosed in a time where fibromyalgia is much more recognized than it used to be. It seems more and more doctors are moving away from the whole “it’s all in your head, little lady” standpoint. Even though my estranged husband told me basically that at one point. XD

        • I had a few mini-flares when I cut back my vitamin D to 2,000 units for an extended time. I thought I was getting enough sun since I was able to garden again in the summer. The flares started after the summer but didn’t last long (a few hours) and were relatively mild. I didn’t need pain meds, just rest.

          During the worst flares I’ve had over the years, I literally wanted to die. Once I was sitting crying in the middle of the night with the phone in my hand and the crisis prevention number handy. But I thought, I am not going to kill myself and what can they do, really? So I prayed and eventually fell asleep.

          Since it’s winter here and I don’t ever really expose much skin to the sun at any time of the year, I am back on 4,000 units. So far, so good. My doctor said that is a safe dose. He said vitamin D can build up in your tissues. Theoretically you can get too much but not at that dose. I might try cutting back again in the summer and see how it goes.

          Fibromyalgia is a nightmare. I am so glad that medical professionals are recognizing it as a real disorder/disease even if they still have no idea what causes it. I was always very blessed in that my husband and all my family totally believed it was not all in my head or that I was lazy!

          • Forgot to add: no, I didn’t make any other changes. Well, I did, but long before the vitamin D. I couldn’t work any more and wasn’t doing much of anything. But that didn’t cure me. I led a quiet life for many years and the fibro pain came on like clockwork every afternoon and evening.

          • I so understand. I had to quit work 9 years ago. Too much stress.

    • I have fibro as well and I’m 25 yrs old and have 2 small children . Here are some things that I have found work very well for me: light activity (such as pilates or swimming – helps with blood circulation which has been tied very closely to fibro), at least 8hrs of sleep a night, doTerra deep blue cream.

      • I can’t imagine having fibro and 2 small children. I’m so grateful my daughter is 16, understanding, and self-sufficient. Thanks for the tips. I’ve never heard of doTerra deep blue cream.

  10. Spot on, Colleen.
    I have always believed that when you take care of your home, it will take care of you. Doesn’t matter if it is an apartment, condominium or house. I agree with Deb J. If there comes a time that your dwelling is too much to care for, it is time to downsize.
    As crazy as this might sound, I thank my home (here in Hawaii we call a home, hale, pronounced haaalay) every day when I return.

  11. Such a great post! We are currently undergoing a repair/renovation of both of our bathrooms. They share a wall, so water damage was found in both bathrooms. Work started before Christmas and we had our son, dil, and 2 dogs with us while work was going on. The house was also decorated for Christmas, so there was some extra clutter as well. I love Christmas, but was never so glad to be able to put away all the decorations. Now I have 2 rooms full of things I was already sorting thru with the contents of 2 bathrooms added to the mix. My clutter didn’t cause the damage, but it would have been so much easier to deal with all of this if I didn’t have so much stuff. I’ve told my husband that I am going to be selective of what goes back into the bathrooms and I’m going to chunk the rest. Work is stillongoing (and today was one of those days when nothing seemed to go right), but once it’s done there is a major purge on its way!

    • Hi Mary S and welcome to 365 Less Things. I had some drawers fitted in my kitchen in place of shelves last year. It didn’t cause much disruption but it seemed to go on forever. So I can’t imagine what it must be like getting bathrooms renovated/repaired. And yes, you are right the less stuff in them to relocate while the job is going in the better it is for you. Although I have little spare space after downsizing I also don’t have much in my bathrooms so that wouldn’t be a problem for me. And the same goes for every room of the house, the less stuff that less organising is required and the less disruption if moving, renovating, repainting or repairing is going on. The ease of preparation for our last move compared to the pre-decluttered one was very obvious. As was clearing out those kitchen cupboards for the drawers to be fitted.

  12. It is more or less the principal of stewardship. If you own it (or rent or lease it) you are responsible for its maintenance and upkeep. It could be the house as a structure but also applies to say, kitchenware and pantry – if it’s not easily accessible, it won’t get used which means fewer meals will be cooked and more fast food consumed. If a bedroom is buried beneath layers of clutter, it can’t give you a restful night’s sleep. If you have so many clothes that you can’t find what you want to wear, your wardrobe can’t do its job. So on and so on.

    • Now I think about it, it is more or less what Kimberley was saying!

    • I agree Moni, The sad part is that I think some people are convinced that they are content to live among the clutter and the neglect while all the self-indulgent things they do are only a salve to make up for the discontent caused by what is surrounding them. Perhaps I am wrong but I can’t imagine how one can’t be concerned about the state of such things.

  13. I was chatting to a co-worker re clothes. She couldn’t fathom that I don’t go shopping as entertainment. I told her that I don’t have the time or desire to spend hours every week to just shop. She thinks that I am strange. But she complains about not having any money and how crowded her closet is. I hope that in the future, she will think about the benefits of not shopping.

  14. Hi Colleen, really enjoyed this post. Increasingly your writing is very to-the-point and powerful, just like your lifestyle philosophy. I have been in a few well maintained and clean but cluttered homes, and they are definitely in the minority. Usually it really is one or the other, clean and uncluttered or crowded and dirty. My husband and I both grew up in very crowded, dirty homes, which is a huge motivator for us not to live that way. Aside from more maintenance and stronger desires to accumulate, piles of dusty unused and neglected things and grimy walls and floorboards are breeding grounds for other things. Insects/rodents of course, but also depression and anxiety. Nothing sucks the light and life out of a room like crammed wall niches and furniture that is piled high with discarded clutter or jam-packed with inaccessible things.

    • Hi Jean, I am glad you think my writing is as you say, sometimes I feel it is getting a little cynical but then, as I said, I am continually confronted with these sorts of examples of adults behaving badly. Either advertising has really done a number on people to the point where we don’t know our own minds any more or it was always like this only I have found my way out and am looking at “normal” life from the outside.
      Oh you are so right about the “breeding ground” comment. This thought did come to me more than once while writing the post but I figured what I was already mentioning was confronting enough. So I am glad you mentioned it.
      I think that even the people who think they don’t mind living like this are possibly living in denial. As I said in my post that they have the stress but are misguided as to where it is coming from. They feel more stressed about the workload being clean would entail but they don’t realise that the feeling of achievement in doing this is a better feeling than laziness. And the feeling of tranquilness of living in a pleasant environment is worth the effort of stay uncluttered, tidy and clean.

  15. Reading this post makes me sigh heavily with frustration.
    3 years ago we bought the little house my Father-in-law had been renting for 10 years. We bought it because he REALLY didn’t want to move, we were wanting a revenue property, and the price was do-able with potential for eventual zoning flexibility. It’s a tiny place. Under 700 sqft, but on a good road for a professional office to set up shop. Sounds like a win-win, right?
    We didn’t take into account the possibility that the father-in-law may not care to protect the investment. Result – unfortunately now we are slum lords with a tenant we wouldn’t dare evicting. His health has been rough and he can’t (or won’t) do the housework, maintenance or yard work. And he won’t let anyone else do it either. Embarrassed? Proud? Who knows, but it’s really frustrating and sad! The place has gone from a cute little century old house to a decrepit shack. He hasn’t let us step foot in the place since we agreed to buy it… he always has some effective way to meet us somewhere else or greet us out by the car… sneaky. If he was just a tenant, I would insist on regular inspections. Alas because he is not even just family but the father of the man I love, and undisputed head of the family, I have to respect his privacy and his wishes (sounds archaic but its the family dynamics that keep harmony).
    The company that holds the property insurance did a random assessment this year and forced our hand. They want the rotten deck replaced for safe egress reasons, the roof inspected because they don’t believe him that its not leaking, the yard cleaned up because of liability as well. The only thing they said about the inside is that they want the furnace serviced, so that’s good. I shudder to think of the massive renovations that will be needed when he moves eventually.
    We are in a rush to get the deficiencies taken care of before the end of next month. Otherwise there is no insurance. I wish I could use the insurance as leverage to completely clean it out as a blank slate (I know he physically can’t do it at this point, but as I said before he wont let anyone else do it either), I would love it if he felt comfortable letting us inside once in a while.

    • You poor thing creativeme. I’m sorry you have to see this happen. I pray that all this fixing up you have to do will give you a chance to see what all needs to be done. I say rip out all the carpet and put in easy clean vinyl flooring so that any messes he makes can be easily cleaned up after he is gone. It’s much easier to get replace that and you won’t have mold and who knows what growing so easily. I feel for you and want you to know we are behind you with whatever you CAN do. SO hard to deal with people like this.

    • Oh Dear creativeme, I can imagine the pain of your situation. My oh my! Also be careful that there are no Squatters Rights laws that could allow him to claim the property for himself.
      Personally I think that you need to insist on entering the property and do any maintenance that you feel necessary. Why should you bare all the pain while he is allowed to destroy your property, patriarch of not.Perhaps together as a family you all need to insist on helping him get things in order.

    • Creativeme – hmmmm what a conundrum! May I ask, how does your husband feel about the situation? I would look into tenancy laws because here in NZ the landlord is obligated to do six monthly inspections and can be held responsible if sickness or injury occurs due to condition of the house or unresolved maintenance issues or damage and it is found that inspections haven’t occurred. I can appreciate it is more difficult that it is your FIL, but he isn’t being fair and is taking advantage of you. Is there anyone else in the family who you can talk to? Or is there an independent tenancy inspection agency that could do an inspection on your behalf and provide you with a report. Or an elderly persons advocate or agency who could do a well-being inspection on your behalf. If there is a requirement for yard work to be undertaken to meet code, it is a safe assumption the interior has been neglected too.

  16. Yesterday, I realized another motivation for keeping a home clean and clear of clutter. My parents recently down sized to a smaller home (900 SF). They have a paid caregiver that comes daily to help with medical concerns and light housekeeping. When a new caregiver came yesterday, she sat down on the floor to assist with shoes, and immediately exclaimed, “How wonderful to be able to sit on the floor!!”. My mother asked her what she meant. She said that it was unusual to have a clear and clean spot to do so! It seems that if you will have need of caregivers, you will be able to attract and keep good ones when they appreciate the environment.

  17. Sabine, that is so horrifying. I am glad you were able to make it through. I am so glad you received sufficient medical attention for that.

  18. This is a great post and the comments are wonderful too! I wish you all well with your various endeavours. Colleen, I think that magazines, advertising and lifestyle programs on TV cause a lot of insecurity and that leads to unnecessary purchasing. I never buy magazines now and rarely watch TV and never ever watch lifestyle/”reality” shows. I feel I am not missing anything and gaining a lot of serenity and extra time in my life. I have a few blogs etc that I follow and that satisfies my “entertainment” needs pretty well – they are all positive spaces, as is this one.

    • Thanks Laura, it needed to be written. For my own sanity as much as any other reason.
      I no longer buy magazines either. For so many reasons, not the least of which is that,considering the ratio of articles to advertisements they ought to be giving them out for free since surely they make enough out of the advertising alone not to need to charge for the paper and the printing.
      I am with you on the reality shows too. I don’t think I would want to ever show my face in public again after being a part of one of those shows. If the participants aren’t being real asses on the show, a little clever editing can sure make them look that way.
      Thanks for being a part of my blog, and for so long too. Comments like yours are what makes it a nice community.

  19. Yesterday I lent a hand to a friend who plans to downsize from a five bedroom, one office house to a three bedroom house. These friends are first time declutterers and wanted to attack their attic storage first. I was expecting them to be somewhat reluctant once we began and was prepared for very little progress to happen. What actually happened is that I had two greyhounds on my hands. We filled their SUV with one load of clothing and general items to take to the Op Shop, then we filled their SUV again with stuff that went to the recycling depot and dump. At the end of the day we decided not to bring the last of the stuff down until we clear the ‘sell’ pile and the ‘donate’ pile ie specific charities plus pretty much a garage lot of furniture they have decided is excess. So tomorrow I will help them get the sell stuff listed and we can re-visit the ‘under consideration’ pile. We also made piles of ‘like with like’ ie camping gear, Xmas decorations, household items (older teens due to leave home in the next year or so) etc so they could see quantities and duplicates. I have discovered a local buy and sell facebook page which is less formal than trademe, no fees and targets a quick sale market so we’re going to use that. we still have a lot of work still ahead of us but it is exciting seeing the quick burst of progress that happen.

    • I am also participating in a big declutter at my workplace too. We emptied one of the workshops on Monday for some renovations and today painting got underway. Yesterday the guys culled half a tonne of timber slabs that aren’t usable, it has been given to a friend for firewood. This morning a recycling dumpster left plus two rubbish dumpsters – one of construction debris and one of stuff that is broken or scrap. Early next week all the equipment and tools and materials need to be back in place, but all those will be given the once-over as they are brought back. I worked on the upstairs storage room and this afternoon filled about a third of a dumpster and listed a number of things on a local facebook buy and sell site. So busy, busy, busy.

      • It is wonderful that the guys were so ready to dump so much. I hope they kep this attitude while you go through the entire place. Another exciting win for you. I know you have been wanting to do this for quite a while.

        • Den J – yes I was impressed with the guys. My daughter and I had the job of shifting all the tools, fixings, stuff to the empty workshop next door, so I’m not looking forward to the return task. But once it is done, it will be done.

          I am getting quite tired though with two big projects on the go, especially as we’re going into the hottest time of the year but I’m glad I have the skills to help my friend as she has been a great friend for many years. Another friend wants help with clearing a room for upcoming guests, so it’s all go, go, go at the moment. Unfortunately, I’m not getting my decluttering done, everyone cleared out their wardrobes and its sitting on my garage floor and Ive been collecting up books from friends as a collection spot for an upcoming community book sale, the funds raised go towards scholarships, community projects etc.

          • Wow Moni! You are really geting in the decluttering for others. Sorry you aren’t getting to your own but it will get done everntually. In the mantime think of all that good you are doing and all that stuff going somewhere other than work.

    • Moni, isn’t it exciting when someone you help like this is ready to just DO IT!!? I wish everyone could be this ready and willing. Good job helping them.

      • Den J – I remember your friend S that you were helping, and yes it is exciting to be back at the beginning but without the emotional attachments. My friend also wants help going thru her cupboards so that when the house is listed and shown, it looks spacious and organised. Unfortunately we are at the stage where to achieve spacious and organised it is chaotic, or at least in the garage it is. Still, you can’t make omelettes without cracking eggs

        • Moni, chaos while decluttering is normal. I just remember that the end result is wonderful. Good luck helping your friend.

  20. I related so much to this post and the comments above! My parents are in the “excess & neglect” situation in their home. There is fibromyalgia and other major health issues adding to it all. I am the only one in the family who will be left deal with their 2,000 sqft cram-packed house in the future. The house itself is falling apart and will be a teardown. It all overwhelms me so much that I am on my way to becoming a minimalist so that at least our stuff won’t require so much effort in the future. It might be in reaction to the way our parents live but I feel much better on my way to minimalism and miss nothing from before. I definitely believe it is a very worthy endeavor. I’ve got a some to go still but I’m going to keep at it. So nice to be able to read about our similar situations here! My parents were visiting recently and were a little be scolding of me for getting rid of “so much” – We still have a two bedroom, 1,500 sqft place with four beds, 12 chairs, 9 bookshelves, two desks, 3 dressers, one sofa, a dining table and a piano, etc. in it!!

    • Hi Claire, just don’t allow yourself to go overboard in the other direction as an overreaction to your parents situation. I am always aware of keeping my own emotions in check when it comes to this. Although from your furniture count I would say you are still in control of yourself. Isn’t it funny how people will scold others like us for living with less when we still have more than enough. It just goes to show what society has set as normal. I am quite happy not to be normal if that is the case.

      • Yes, for sure, Colleen, I am trying to be balanced in my decluttering. I don’t think I’ve gone too far yet though. I forgot to list another bookshelf above – we actually have 10 bookshelves! The one I forgot to list is 7 ft tall and contains only knickknacks! I love all of them :-). Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure that nobody coming to our place would ever say it was cluttered. I just know that I can still probably pare down some more.

  21. The comments for this post really are wonderful.

  22. While every one of these blogs is helpful, this is THE BEST.