Monthly Archives: December 2013

From Me to You…

This is a little video the kids and I made to wish you a wonderful Christmas and bring a little peace to you and yours over the coming days, no matter how you celebrate.

I was going to finish off this week with a post about switching off, unplugging and taking a digital break for the holidays, but Courtney Carver summed it up perfectly in this post, so I won’t go cluttering up the internet with my own version.

I will be taking a break over the Christmas and New Year period, with less frequent posts and (much) less frequent social media and email. I will still be around in some capacity, but don’t hold your breath for an email before New Year! After all, there’s oysters and prawns and sparkling burgundy to be had. Pools to be swum in and afternoon naps to enjoy.

Thank you so much for being a part of the extraordinary community here this year. It’s been such a pleasure to get to know some of you and I’m looking forward to doing even more of that next year. It’s been a huge year though, so let’s make the rest count.

Much love,

Brooke xx

December is the Month of Preparation and Celebration

2013 in 2013 Declutter Challenge - December

This post is late, I know. And I owe that to biting off more than I could chew this month.

For those of you who have been following along with the 2013 in 2013 Declutter Challenge, I’m sorry. But the good news is… this is a very short task list. And if you’ve completed the previous months’ lists then it should only take you 1-2 hours to finish. Because, really, at this time of year, who needs another to-do list?

To jump right in to the list, you can download and print it from here. Or read on for the full list, as well as some additional tips and tricks.

December is the Month of Preparation and Celebration

Last month’s tasks and checklist were all about consolidating the work you’ve done this year. This means that, although you probably don’t feel like it, there’s far less for you to do in terms of decluttering now that it’s December.

That being said, if you’re still feeling overwhelmed whenever you look around your home, never fear! I’ve written the Amazingly Awesome Pre-Holiday Declutter Guide to help get things under control within the week. Check it out here, and then come back to the short list of tasks assigned to this month.

The length of time taken to complete his month’s task list will vary, depending on who lives in your home, the current level of clutter, the ways you celebrate the holidays and how or if you decorate specifically for the season.

Allow approximately 30-60 minutes for each area, remembering that we’re aiming for a light declutter. Who needs a huge list of to-dos at this time of year? There’s already enough going on!

The specific areas of focus this month are toys, holiday decor, the kitchen and any guest rooms you may have. After this you will have not only cleared out the clutter in our focus areas, but also have the space to deal with any incoming gifts you or your family might receive.

As usual, the best way to declutter a space is to empty it and only put back what belongs there (as outlined in the guidelines from Month #1). Considering this month is all about speed and light decluttering, you can just grab the surface clutter. Hopefully after a year of decluttering, that’s all there is left anyway!

The December Declutter Checklist

Just like in November, this month’s list is designed for speed and effectiveness, rather than a really deep declutter. It’s simply about preparing your home for the busy holiday season, as well as clearing out any obvious clutter such as unused toys, decor or kitchenware.

As you work through each space, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Target flat surfaces for the best results. Work through one flat surface at a time, sorting rubbish, donations and out-of-place items as you go.
  2. Keep an empty laundry basket with you as you move through the spaces, putting out-of-place items in it. This way you only have to sort and return the items to each room once. It saves a lot of time!

Toys (Bedrooms and Playroom)

  • Soft toys
  • Toys no longer used
  • Broken, torn or worn out toys
  • Forgotten toys – look under beds and in wardrobes

Holiday Decor

As you bring out your decorations, declutter those you no longer want, need, use or like.

  • Decorations
  • Serving platters, bowls, themed flatware
  • Linen – tablecloths, handtowels, etc.

Kitchen

  • Fridge (inside and out)
  • Top of the fridge
  • Junk drawer
  • Utensils
  • Benchtops – keep these clear, placing appliances in cupboards where possible)
  • Microwave (inside and out)
  • Oven (inside and out)

Guest Rooms

  • Under the beds
  • Side tables
  • Linen – throws, cushions, blankets

And that’s it! Obviously some of these may not apply to you, but go ahead and work through all that do and your home will be ready for the holidays in no time at all. Then pour yourself a drink of something lovely and celebrate the fact that 2013 was the year you made a change. Congratulations for making it through! You should be really proud of your efforts this year. It’s not easy to commit to simplifying, and you’ve done it like a boss. Well done. 

You can download the full December Checklist here, and you will find all previous months’ lists here.

An Update From Me

Throughout the year I stopped posting updates of my decluttering activities, partly due to time constraints and partly because I had less and less to declutter. (A really nice place to arrive at, can I just say.)

But after working through the November Checklist last month, I was floored at just how much more I could let go of. Part of it has been due to a change in circumstances, but mostly because we have arrived at a point where it’s just easier to let stuff go. Our kids are starting to understand the idea of passing things on and making room for play, and it is just getting…simpler.

December Declutter

This is what I cleared out one Saturday morning last month.

Loads of kids clothes, toys they’ve outgrown, linen and homewares. All gone.

This haul, combined with the 1800 pieces I had collected and counted earlier in the year, and the smaller amounts of stuff I decluttered each week, takes us way over the 2013 goal. And it feels good.

How about you? Do you think you reached your decluttering goal this year? 

A Note on 2014

As I mentioned in the November post, I’m closely considering how to proceed with a 2014 in 2014 Declutter Challenge.

What are your goals for simplifying in 2014? Decluttering? Striking a better balance in life? Finding rhythms that suit you, your family and you lifestyle?

I’m thinking about creating a guidebook that will walk you through a clutter-free year. It will follow the same basic structure as the 2013 in 2013 Challenge, with more in-depth instructions and guidance into how best to declutter your home over the course of a year.

Alternatively, I am considering a digital course covering the same topic. Video and audio would be offered each month, as well as checklists, task lists and a breakdown of what you actually need in your home.

If either of these options appeal, please feel free to leave a comment or drop me a quick email. I’d love nothing more than to help you create a simpler home in 2014, it’s just a matter of what works best for you.

 

 

The Elephant in the Uncluttered Room

Shift focus to the most important things -- The Elephant in the Uncluttered Room

For so many people, clutter simply isn’t a problem.

The problem isn’t of having too much, or being overwhelmed by excess, or feeling weighed down by their possessions.

The problem is in not having enough.

For those who make their homes in the slums of Delhi or the refugee camps in Darfur or the homeless shelters in every major city in the world, the problem is not, “I have too much stuff.” The problem is,

  • “My children need shoes.”
  • “I don’t know what we will eat.”
  • “We have nowhere to sleep.”
  • “There isn’t enough.”

This blog has never been a venue for self-righteous posturing, and I’m not going to start today. We know we are privileged. In the way that food in our belly, a roof over our head and access to modern technology is privileged.

But there are billions who have no such luxury. We are aware of this, and it’s my hope that as we – both me and you – continue to simplify our lives, we’ll be able to shift some of our privilege over to those who need it most. (In the way of financial aid and donations, volunteer work, clothing, micro-loans and decreased demand for cheap, disposable goods and unethical labour.)

But the elephant in this uncluttered room is staring at me.

The truth is, for someone who is so enthusiastic about living a simpler life with less stuff, I really do talk about it a lot.

Decluttering, donating, sorting, recycling. These activities all focus my attention on stuff, and while it has become less of a focus as we have simplified more and more, it’s still there.

Yes, it’s important to pare back your belongings. And there are so many good reasons for doing so. But stuff isn’t important. Not really. And it doesn’t deserve our full attention.

We are so lucky, so privileged, so fortunate, that to spend all that time focused on stuff is a waste. Instead, why not embrace the vital, beating parts of life? The breathing, the awe-inspiring and the quietly magnificent.

  • The jokes with friends.
  • The sun on our cheeks.
  • The unexpected view from a mountainside.
  • The heartswell of watching our kids learning and exploring.
  • The cocoon of an engrossing book.
  • The hot breath being pushed from our lungs.

It stings to admit we are privileged when we’re programmed to believe we deserve more, don’t you think? 

 

Two Things to Share With You

Two things I'm excited about

I have spent an inordinate amount of time in my office chair over the past month. Much more than I normally would, and most of it early in the morning. (For example, my alarm went off at 3am on Sunday, and it wasn’t even an accident!)

But I’ve been working on things. Exciting things that I haven’t been able to share. Until now.

A Simple Year

 

I’ve been lucky enough to be working alongside some of my favourite simplicity bloggers to help create A Simple Year.

Living simply provides so many benefits, but it can be challenging to maintain a commitment to long-term change. If you look forward to living with less stuff, stress and obligation so you can have more time, money and energy to pursue what means most to you, choose to live a simple year.

A Simple Year was designed to help simplify your life.

Each month you can focus on a new area of simplicity, working with one of the writers mentioned below. Here is a quick list of the topics, but visit simpleyear.co to learn more:

  • January: Clutter with Joshua Becker
  • February: Busyness with Courtney Carver
  • March: Travel with Colin Wright
  • April: Kitchen with Jules Clancy
  • May: Digital with Tammy Strobel
  • June: Work with Courtney Carver
  • July: Money with Joshua Becker
  • August: Stay Simple with Brooke McAlary
  • September: Challenge with The Minimalists
  • October: Food with Jules Clancy
  • November: Relationships with Tammy Strobel
  • December: Holidays with The Minimalists

Every month you’ll receive articles and information about a specific topic along with a live component such as a webinar, where you can connect with the author, ask questions and meet other people on a similar path. The live components will be recorded and provided so you can view them anytime.

You can read more about the course and the amazing group of contributors here.

I know many of you are hoping to make 2014 the year you create a simpler, happier life. This course, and the people who helped create it, can support you in doing just that. So take a look and tell me what you think.

 

Romper - Issue: X

 

The second thing I wanted to share with you, is the launch of Romper!

Those of you who pre-ordered Issue X should have received your copy yesterday, and I’m already receiving some amazing feedback from some of you. Thank you!

This exclusive pre-launch issue is now available to purchase, and will be emailed to you immediately, as a high-quality PDF. This means you can read it on your iPad, tablet, smartphone or desktop – anywhere you feel the need for a dose of optimism, simplicity and beauty.

Romper is about finding the tiny delights in life and celebrating them, and Issue X is packed full of inspiration.

Click here to grab your copy, or visit Romper to find out more.

And to those of you who have already bought a copy? From the bottom of my heart – thank you. I know it sounds naive, but I truly think we can change the world one person, one story, one choice at a time – simply by slowing down and seeing the beauty in the everyday. 

 

 

Moments Like These

Moments Like These Deserve our Attention

“Everything important in life is like this—here one moment and gone the next. All we have are these moments, and what we choose to do with them is what we choose to do with our lives. We can miss or relish every one.”

Jeff Goins (The In Between)

5:49am this morning, the door to my office pushes open and in shuffles our almost 3-year-old. He’s warm and sleepy and wants a cuddle. He climbs up on to my lap and I swing my legs around, putting them up on the seat next to me, taking the opportunity for a break from the last-minute pre-launch craziness of Romper.

He sits quietly on my lap and I begin to notice things.

His slow, rhythmic mouth-breathing.

The bumps of his individual vertebrae as I run my fingers gently down his spine.

The tickle of his fine white-blonde hair as I brush my lips against his head.

He looks up at me with his delicious morning face and asks, “You OK mummy?”

Never before have I been more struck by how fleeting these moments are, than right now. Had I been busy trying to work around him, had I tried to type one-handed as I stroked his back, had I given in to the opposing force in that moment, I would never have noticed those things.

Soon enough he won’t want to climb into my lap for early morning cuddles. Soon enough he won’t let me stroke his back and kiss his hair. Soon enough he won’t smell like Nutella and soap.

I’m not one to try to hold on to the past. Not anymore. But what I’m learning is that we have a choice to hold on to the present with both hands and pay attention to the tiny moments, the little things, the small beauties… or we let these moments slip on by, waiting for a better time to enjoy them.

If something is happening now, then now is the time to enjoy it. In all its imperfect inconvenience.

Yes, there are other things to do. Yes, you might short on time. But the moment is here regardless, so experience it.