Writer’s Block: Less stuff means more time for adventures

Managing Editor
Mandy has been with ABC Newspapers since 2007, when she joined the staff as the editor of the Anoka County Union. She has been the managing editor of the UnionHerald and Blaine Spring Lake Park Life since 2014.

I have a friend who aspires to live in a tiny house. Her ideal setup would be something under 400 square feet on several acres.

Mandy Moran Froemming
Mandy Moran Froemming

I look at those tiny houses on Pinterest, and they really do seem lovely. Perhaps one would make a nice retreat at the lake or in the woods.

But full-time living with a family in an area the size of my garage (which is not nearly big enough for our vehicles and garage-related paraphernalia)? No, thank you.

It’s not certain that she will be able to make her tiny house dream happen, but in the meantime she is adopting a tiny house mentality. While following her Facebook posts I’ve been inspired.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend shared an internet meme that was like lighting bolt to my brain.

“You don’t need to be better organized. You just need less stuff.”

I struggle with stuff, especially when it comes to managing a house. Having a child has only magnified the problem.

I have always thought I lacked organization skills, but maybe the problem is that I have too much to keep track of.

My sock drawer was the tipping point.

I was wasting far too much time every morning trying to find two socks that (mostly) matched, without holes.

So I went out and bought about 10 new pairs of much needed socks and spent an evening while watching a Wild game sorting through this, and many other, dresser drawers. Now, I’m on a mission.

For quite awhile my husband and I have been debating whether to stay in our house or sell. I’ve regularly made the argument that we don’t have enough room to keep our things under control.

But shouldn’t 2,000 square feet be enough room for two adults and a 5-year-old? I know people who raised large families in a lot less space would say yes.

Either way, we needed to clear out the clutter, give the place a thorough deep cleaning and tackle a few projects that have been on the back burner.

I’m happy to report that so far the Froemmings are on fire with this initiative. The main living spaces will be painted this week and we’re waiting on a bid to replace our circa 1986 banister.

We’ve gotten rid of upward of a dozen garbage bags of stuff, sorting things into four categories: trash, donate, sell and keep.

In the past, this is the stage where I really got hung up. I battle guilt on many levels; I feel bad because I’ve bought something and didn’t use it or I struggle with what to do with it. I want to make sure it goes to its highest and best use as a donation. But that also takes time and research.

I see people successfully selling their castoffs in garage sale groups online, but it appears they spend a pretty good chunk of their day managing who gets what and arranging meet-ups. I don’t have time for that. Instead, I’m just channeling my inner Elsa and encouraging myself to “Let it Go.”

Sometimes we divide and conquer. My husband tackled a deep cleaning of the bathroom following a ceiling repair while I emptied, sorted and scrubbed our entryway that was bursting at the seams. I haven’t tripped over a pair of shoes in days.

Rather than sell off the things we no longer need that are in good shape, my husband has decided to hold a garage sale in the spring. I’ll help him with the sorting, the organizing and the pricing. He’ll man the tables for a couple of days because selling things for pennies on the dollar stresses me out.

Along with the great feelings of accomplishment, this exercise has also made me think long and hard about how I spend my money. I’m shifting to investing in items that are well-made and will last, rather than what’s disposable. And I’m working hard to adopt a less-is-more mantra. It’s easier to do this when I’m cleaning out a closet of things I just had to have, but then rarely used.

I’ll never be a minimalist and I’ll never live in a tiny house.

But I’m trying to take what might work for our family out of both of those trends so that we can spend less time managing our things and devote that energy to new adventures.

Meanwhile, if anybody needs a nice stroller, let me know. I’ve got one for sale.

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