Charity Shop Toys

It is mid-term break from school this week and the weather has been pretty cold and wet. So instead of staying in all day, one of the mornings I decided to give the kids €10 each and bring them shopping to a number of charity shops in the area. To say they were excited about this idea was an understatement! I wasn’t sure how it would work out if I’m honest, but it was great!

We went to five charity shops in Dundrum: Oxfam and The Dundrum Village Charity Shop (Women’s Aid) on the Main Street, Vincent’s on the corner at the Luas Bridge and then Human Appeal and the Sue Ryder Foundation on the Dundrum Road opposite from Vincent’s. They struck it lucky in nearly all of them. Books, board games, dragons, a drum and a skate board were among the purchases.

I think the thrill of it for them was rooting around and looking at all the different wierd and wonderful things. It was a good lesson in spending their money wisely. They were asking the shop assistants the prices, figuring out what they would spend their money on and working out how much money they had left.

When my 5 year old found a skate board, he was ecstatic! When he produced his find to me, he said he would give away some of his toys so that he could buy it! He didn’t realise that it was within his budget as it was only €1. His excitement was unreal. It made his day.

Skate Board, Dragons, Drum, Board Game

They didn’t end up spending all their money. They spent a total of €14.50. I’m not sure they would have had much change from €10 in any other toy shops in Dublin or have as much to show for it.

Also there are lots of things in charity shops that you just don’t see any more. I found a beautiful Peter Pan board game in Vincent’s which looked interesting. Neither of the kids were prepared to part with their money for it so I thought I’d buy it (€4) to check it out with them at home. Google told me afterwards that it was produced in 1989. This is why I like shopping in charity shops – you never know what you might find.

Vintage Peter Pan Board Game for €4

Buying second hand toys may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I get that. It’s probably the matter of cleanliness that is the main concern (although my kids couldn’t have cared less). But if you think about it, how many kids have played with the toys and books in the school classroom over the years? Or in the creche or Montessori? Or in the indoor play areas?

I’m not immune to these concerns and I try to steer towards those that are in good condition or can be easily sterilised or cleaned. I have found that kids jigsaws, craft sets, board games, DVDs and books have, by and large, been in good condition. Some have even been new and unopened. I have a bottle of Milton sterilising fluid for any plastic toys. I don’t like to get any teddies or soft toys even though they can be washed in the washing machine or put in the freezer. They have too many teddies as it is anyway!

I’ve only started going to charity shops recently since becoming more interested in living more sustainably. I have found that some charity shops are better than others in how organised they are and the quality of the things they have. If you haven’t checked out your local charity shops in a while then go see what they are like and what they have to offer. Don’t knock shopping in charity shops until you’ve tried shopping in charity shops. Whats the worst that can happen? You leave the shop without buying anything? You get a jigsaw for €2 that is missing pieces? What’s the best that can happen? Maybe you have a fun morning with kids on a cold day, find a few hidden treasures, spend less than €20 and support a good cause and help the environment! I think it’s worth trying.

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Happy 2nd Birthday 🍰

So it is two years since I started decluttering my house and @rachelwithless on Instagram to document it!

While votes were being counted in Ireland this week, I was doing some counting of my own as I hadn’t done an updated count since this time last year. When I started decluttering two years ago, I never would have guessed that I would come to declutter over 14 thousand items! Fourteen thousand, two hundred and fifty three items to be exact. I’m such a nerd I know. 😊 But this is mind boggling stuff.

This week I’m looking at the top categories that I have decluttered in a bit more detail.

Photographs

Top of the list are photographs. The total number of photos decluttered include both printed photos and digital photos from my iPhone/Cloud. For me, photographs are still a total mess. At the moment I have thousands of photos in different locations. My older photos are printed, some in albums and some photos in shoeboxes, with their negatives in a box, I have digital photos on my computer and some are backed up on CD and USB and I have photos on my IPhone, backed up to the Cloud. That’s the way it goes I guess when you are of a certain age and you have had to deal with changing mediums of photography. It’s hard to know where to start really. Head wrecking stuff. Honestly I think I can probably declutter another couple of hundred if not thousand of photos. Added to this problem is that photos are still accumulating as life goes on. Tackling this category is a priority for me this year.

Paper

The majority of the paper I decluttered consisted of kids colouring pages and art work. Again another category which is a work in progress. There is still a large enough volume of it coming into the house each year although I’ve found it has slowed down somewhat as my kids have gotten older. This is another category that I want to tackle this year. My goal would be to scan and discard most of it and organise it into photo books that will take up less space.

Bric-a-brac/Miscellaneous

All sorts of everything! From furniture and baby equipment to cups, cutlery and random bits and bobs and everything in between. I still have one box full of random junk that I need to sort out and then I should be pretty much finished this category.

Toys

I’ve done such a massive clear out of toys but another bit of a cull is required in the coming weeks. In general, I ‘disappeared’ the toys that the youngest kids were not playing with. The only thing that has been missed is the enormous blow up dinosaur. Thank you Zoe for that one! When it came to my eldest, I only got rid of the toys that she was happy to declutter for the most part……I may have decluttered a few of those squishy toys and any slime that came into the house without her knowing because I simply don’t like them but again, none of these have been missed.

Clothes and Shoes

This includes my clothes and the kids clothes. I did a massive cull of my wardrobe and I am now happy with the amount I have. Same goes for the kids. I still have one box of sentimental baby clothes. I have culled them already but I’ve kept some with some vague notions of turning them into teddies or a memory blanket or something like that. I’m not rushing into that decision as they are not in anyone’s way at the moment so this one can wait. I’ve bigger fish to fry as they say.

Books

This includes both my books, some of my husbands books and the kids books. I am happy with the progress I have made in this category. The kids still have plenty of books and we go to the library most weeks to add a bit more variety.

I still have more books than I’ll ever get through so I will continue to cull them but I’ve done a great cull already and books are not taking up as much space in our home as they used to.

Newspapers/Magazines

I have a problem with throwing a newspaper in the recycling before I have read it. If they didn’t come into the house in the first place then I probably wouldn’t miss them! So this is why I’ve ‘decluttered’ newspapers and magazines as they pile up in my kitchen waiting for me to get around to reading them. The pile has gotten a lot smaller and are all relatively current but this is a continuous challenge for me.

Donations / Freecycle

In terms to getting rid of things, I’ve tried my best to declutter responsibly.

Anything that was in good condition and would be sold easily, went to local charity shops or parish fetes. So this was mainly good clothes, bags, bric-a-brac, books, CDs and DVDs. I sold a couple of things on Adverts but I found it took up a lot of time so I would only do that in future if items were of high enough value to be worth my while.

Things like second hand kids clothes, furniture, toys, sheets and blankets, hangers, tapes and LPs, I have generally been able to rehome via the Zero Waste Freecycle Ireland Facebook group. This is a wonderful community of people who are using second hand items to reduce their environmental impact and reduce waste.

Clothes that were in bad condition and only good for the rag trade, I brought to my local textile recycling centre.

One resource that is really good for information on what items to donate where is the Living Lightly in Ireland page. This is a blog about all things to do with living more sustainably in Ireland. It is a great resource. You can find it at https://livinglightlyinireland.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/what-to-recycle-donate-where/

In summary, I am so happy with the progress I have made but I still have some work to do. Here’s to another year of simplifying and slowing down. Less is more.

#rachelwithless #lessismore #minimise #simplifyyourlife #simplify #minsgame #minimalism #declutteringchallenge #decluttering #declutteringtime #declutteringmylife #declutteringcontinues #declutter #sparkjoy #letitgo #clutterfree #livingsimply #minimalism #minimalist #minimalisthome #minimalistlifestyle #clutterfreeliving #simplifylife #organise #thegentleartofswedishdeathcleaning #sustainableliving #sustainable #reuse #reduce #recycle #reducereuserecycle #2020in2020declutterchallenge #2020in2020declutteringchallenge

The Minimalists Documentary

I watched ‘Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things’ on Netflix on 16 February 2018. Nearly two years ago! That same night I set up @rachelwithless on Instagram and I decluttered my first two items the next day. This started my year long decluttering challenge where I challenged myself to declutter at least one item a day and to post it on my Instagram account. Shortly afterwards I set up this blog to write about it. I didn’t get around to blogging as much as I would have liked. But I did stick to my challenge and decluttered something each day for a year and posted it each day on my Instagram account with the exception of (I think 🤔) maybe one day.

It was such an interesting documentary. I had never really heard about Minimalism and it gave such great insight into different types of people in different situations all applying their own minimalist principals to fit their life. Because there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to Minimalism.

The documentary is centred around two young guys, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, aka ‘The Minimalists’, as they crossed America doing talks and meeting people promoting their first book on Minimalism. But the documentary also looked at other Minimalists such as Leo Babauta, Joshua Becker and Courtney Carver amongst others. Everyone they interviewed were adopting minimalism but in extremely different ways. But the resounding theme was that minimalism is not about how many things you own or the size of house you live in. It is about not placing importance on all the things/stuff/items in our lives but rather placing importance on the people in our lives instead. It’s about focusing our attention away from things and on what really matters. As the Minimalists say:

‘Love People. Use Things. Because opposite never works.’

The two year anniversary of @rachelwithless is coming up. I can hardly believe it really. I am experiencing all the benefits to a clutter free home. I still have some decluttering to do but my mountain of clutter is now a molehill of clutter! Updates to follow in the next few weeks on how much stuff I have actually gotten rid of in the past two years. The mind boggles!

I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the Instagram decluttering/minimalism community. Thank you to everyone for supporting me over the past two years. All the encouragement, both on and off Instagram, has really helped keep me going.

#rachelwithless #lessismore #minimise #simplifyyourlife #simplify #minsgame #minimalism #declutteringchallenge #decluttering #declutteringtime #declutteringmylife #declutteringcontinues #declutter #sparkjoy #letitgo #clutterfree #livingsimply #minimalism #minimalist #minimalisthome #minimalistlifestyle #clutterfreeliving #simplifylife #organise #thegentleartofswedishdeathcleaning #sustainableliving #sustainable #reuse #reduce #recycle #reducereuserecycle #2020in2020declutterchallenge #2020in2020declutteringchallenge

Netflix Indecision

I have the TV all to myself this evening so in anticipation of this I bought myself Working Girl on DVD in a charity shop the other day. One of my favourite movies from the 1980’s. Why would I bother buying a DVD of a movie I’ve already seen countless times when there are a multitude of things to watch on Netflix? I mean my list of things I want to watch is pretty long. I could watch The Crown, House of Cards, Luther, Peaky Blinders, Fargo, Grace & Frankie, Homeland, How to Get Away With Murder, Call The Midwife, Derry Girls and Messiah to name but a few! But I’ve had enough decision making for this week thank you.

‘Decision Fatigue’ was coined by social psychologist Dr. Roy. F. Baumeister and refers to how people struggle with their choices after making too many decisions over the course of the day. We make so many decisions that by the end of the day, we find it hard to make a decision and we lack will power. Is that why I get to the end of the week and I can’t decide what to have for dinner or what to watch on Netflix?

Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg famously used to wear ‘a uniform’, the same thing each day, in order to reduce the number of decisions in their day. Barack Obama had multiples of the same suit. Steve Jobs used to wear black turtlenecks with jeans and sneakers. While Mark Zuckerberg is well known for grey t-shirts.

Barack Obama told Vanity Fair in 2012:

“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Mark Zuckerberg explained in a public Q&A in 2014:

“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”

They realised that by wearing the same thing each day, they could save their mental energy for more important decisions. Important when you are running a country or a large social media company maybe, not so important if you are little old me? But I think there is something to it and that everyone can learn from it no matter what their job.

I first heard about decision fatigue when I started decluttering my clothes. I did another little cull there this week. I’ve now downsized my wardrobe to the extent that I don’t quite wear the exact same thing each day – but I’m not too far off it. I usually wear my brown boots, dark jeans, a top, an extra jumper or fleese if it is cold and a navy jacket. So not quite a uniform but a capsule uniform? Everything easily mixes and matches and I have multiples of the same jeans and some tops. I find it so easy to get dressed now that I don’t have to think and it takes me no time at all. A bit boring I hear you say? If being a bit boring with your clothes is good enough for Barack Obama, former president of the United States of America, it’s good enough for me. 😊

But each of us make so many decisions each day – so many that we hardly realise we are making them. What to wear is just one out of many! If I think about my usual morning – Will I wash my hair or is it ok?Tea or coffee? What mug? What to eat for breakfast? What bowl? What jacket to wear? Will I bring an umbrella? What will I pack the kids for their lunch? Will I put a load of washing on now or later? Will I bring the recycling with me or will I drop it off later? And this is before I have even left the house. So while I’m not making big life or death decisions each day, I am still making plenty of little decisions and they build up. Having a boring capsule uniform helps me at least. It’s one less thing to think about.

The kids at the moment don’t go asleep before 9pm usually. So really I only have about a two hour window if I want to watch something on TV before I need to go to bed myself. So I don’t want to waste precious time and energy scrolling Netflix trying to decide what I want to watch only to finally select something an hour later and then fall asleep half way through it!

So Working Girl it is. Decision made! We all have decisions that we have to make each day, there is no getting away from them but maybe there is a lot to be said for saving our decision making energy and being a bit boring. So wear the same thing, eat the same thing, use the same cup and be a bit boring. And instead of scrolling Netflix and having Netflix indecision, re-watch one of your favourite movies for a change. Fingers crossed that DVD works now!

Links below are to good articles on Decision Fatigue and how to help prevent it:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2019/05/13/how-to-identify-when-youre-experiencing-decision-fatigue/

https://michaelhyatt.com/the-science-of-decision-fatigue/

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Finishing what you start

On 16th February 2018, I watched The Minimalist’s documentary on Netflix ‘Minimalism – A Documentary About The Important Things‘. That evening, I resolved to declutter once and for all. I set up an account on Instagram @rachelwithless where I would post a picture of what I decluttered every day for a year. A bit each day for a year, that should do it I figured.

So each day for a year I posted a photo on Instagram of what I was decluttering. I thought that if I got rid of at least one thing each day then that would be enough. I soon got momentum and it was usually multiple things per day. I was accountable to my followers. That feeling of obligation kept me going along with all the fantastic support and encouragement from others on Instagram decluttering like me. At one point I thought that I wouldn’t have enough stuff to declutter each day for an entire year, but I did. I had more than enough. I had too much. And nearly two years later, I still haven’t gotten through everything. So why haven’t I finished what I started?

Part of this reason is that I took my foot off the pedal once the year was up. I didn’t need to declutter each day. I wasn’t accountable to my followers any more as I had completed my year long daily decluttering challenge. I didn’t have to post anymore. A few more mins games kept me going alright but there was no urgency to finish. Things were fine. The house was in much better shape, we had less stuff, things were organised, the house was easier to keep clean and I wasn’t feeling as overwhelmed.

But I haven’t got through the sentimental category of stuff. I haven’t finished. Old toys, clothes, books, photos, papers and diaries from when I was younger. The hardest category to face and the most time consuming in my mind. It is stuffed in boxes in a few cupboards, out of sight but not out of mind.

So yes Will Scarlett, I am going to finish what I started. As Magnus Magnusson would have said:

‘I’ve started, so I’ll finish.’

To help me do this, I’m going to start another decluttering challenge of decluttering 2020 items in 2020. I’ve seen a few others I saw on Instagram who have already started it including @NourishingMinimalism @Vickie_Declutters @Minimalistmouse_pipamini and @Debtissopasse

So I’m going to join in with them. I think it’s a realistic and achievable target and we can encourage each other along the way. It will help to keep me focused, keep me accountable and help me finish what I started.

#rachelwithless #lessismore #minimise #simplifyyourlife #simplify #minsgame #minimalism #declutteringchallenge #decluttering #declutteringtime #declutteringmylife #declutteringcontinues #declutter #sparkjoy #letitgo #clutterfree #livingsimply #minimalism #minimalist #minimalisthome #minimalistlifestyle #clutterfreeliving #simplifylife #organise #thegentleartofswedishdeathcleaning #sustainableliving #sustainable #reuse #reduce #recycle #reducereuserecycle #goanddo #juststart #makeastart #2020in2020declutterchallenge #2020in2020declutteringchallenge #finishwhatyoustart

Taking The First Step

I’ve started reading ‘The Sustainable (ish) Guide – Everything you need to know to make small changes that make a big difference’ by Jen Gale to get more tips on living more sustainably. So far it’s very good by the way. But I liked what she said on her Instagram during the week, that she didn’t want people to buy the book for

‘Buying a book, in itself, changes nothing. Even reading the book doesn’t ensure that change happens.’

She has a point. There is plenty of information out there already about living more sustainably if you look for it. You don’t need to buy her book, or anything else for that matter, to start living more sustainably. On the contrary, one of the first things you can do to live more sustainably is to buy less stuff.

How many times have I bought things before making a start? How many times have I told myself ‘I’ll start exercising when I buy gym membership. And sure I can’t go to the gym until I buy new gym gear. And sure I may aswell get new runners too while I’m at it. Or I can’t go walking without getting a good pedometer, so I’ll start walking once I get one.’ Or thoughts to that effect.

I said this last excuse to a friend of mine before Christmas and she kindly gave me a spare Fitbit type tracker that she had. I still haven’t even gone out for one walk let alone go to the gym. 🙈 What is my excuse now? The weather? It is pretty cold these days!

These are common enough thoughts of mine over the years and that’s only relating to exercise. I have had plenty of other similar thoughts when it comes to other things I’m aspiring to do. I’ll start crafting when I buy a sewing machine. Or I’ll buy this months slimming magazine and then I’ll start my diet. What is it about spending money on stuff to feel better about my lack of action? Is it just so I can get an immediate sense that I’m taking a step in the right direction without actually taking any step?

So whatever it is you have resolved to change or do, you don’t need to buy anything at all. You more than likely have everything you need to take the first step.

My Mother would often paraphrase Benjamin Franklin when she would say

Never leave to tomorrow, what you can do today.

I’d like to change that to:

‘Never put off until after you buy new stuff, what you can do right now with all the stuff you already have.’

And as Jen Gale goes on to say very simply in her post, ‘GO AND DO!’. As for me, I’d already taken small steps in becoming more sustainable before I’d bought Jen Gale’s book. I’m now off for that walk around the block with my Fitbit type tracker finally. Thanks Catherine. 😊

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Rest and Catch Your Breath

The past week I’ve been listening to the ‘Your Top Songs 2019’ that Spotify kindly made me. Thank you Spotify. One of these is the song ‘Have It All’ by Jason Mraz. A lovely song where one of the lines is:

‘May you get to rest, may you catch your breath’

So far January has been about that for me, catching my breath. New Year Resolutions? I haven’t made any. The Christmas period was a lovely time for us but it was busy. With three kids off for two weeks and a build up to Christmas which started in early December, there was a lot going on. By New Years Eve, I was asleep by 10pm. I was shattered. The kids were not back to school until 6th January. This week it was about taking my time getting the house back into some form of reasonable shape and focus on getting the kids back into a good routine.

The kids went back to school on Monday and I started to put the house back together. Trips to the recycling centre, loads of washing done, bags sorted and decluttered and Christmas decorations put away. What I didn’t get done? I didn’t get around to sorting through my Christmas Cards or writing up my 2020 diary or I the million other things that I would have liked to get done to make the house and my life perfect. But that’s ok. There’s always next week. Or the week after. I’ve learned not to put unrealistic demands on myself (or others) and remember to slow down. Rest and catch your breath.

In the past, I would have always made numerous resolutions on New Years Eve, only to give up come the third week of January and beat myself up about it for a while after. But I resolved to start @rachelwithless and do a major clear out of my stuff on 16th February 2018. There was nothing special about that date whatsoever except it was the day that I was really ready to make a start and follow through. So resolutions can be made whenever you are ready to make them. It doesn’t have to be the first day of the year, or month, or week. So my 2020 New Years Resolutions can wait for the moment while I rest and catch my breath. In the mean time, I’m going to continue with my post Christmas tidy up at my own pace and in my own time, whilst listening to Spotify. 😃

Happy New Year everyone.

#christmasclearup #postchristmastidyup #postchristmasdecluttering #rachelwithless #lessismore #minimise #simplifyyourlife #simplify #minsgame #minimalism #declutteringchallenge #decluttering #declutteringtime #declutteringmylife #declutteringcontinues #declutter #sparkjoy #letitgo #clutterfree #livingsimply #minimalism #minimalist #minimalisthome #minimalistlifestyle #clutterfreeliving #simplifylife #organise #thegentleartofswedishdeathcleaning #sustainableliving #sustainable #reuse #reduce #recycle #reducereuserecycle