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Monday, 26 March 2012

Simplifying is Way Too Complicated

(sorry in advance - having major issues getting the font size and style to save properly. No idea why.)
I recommended Jen Hatmaker's new book, 7, to our small group. They went for it. So now we are reading it, and I have to keep facing this idea of simplicity and stewardship and accountability.

I will be honest. While I want my main motivator to be the needs of the world, the implications of consumerism on people and the environment, and my ability (financially, time-wise, mind-wise) to respond fully, the issues most constantly in my thoughts have to do with daily life, and my family. I want our kids to grow up being content with practicality and simplicity. I want our work decisions to be more family-friendly and less money-dependent. I want the peace of living in an uncluttered home, with organized closets where it is easy to scan and choose what to wear. I want fewer toys to confiscate when they are not put away, and less resentment toward the kids for taking everything for-granted, and not even using half of what they have (that has somehow happened even without constantly showering them with stuff - it's just there).

I think one of the reasons it is so easy to accumulate is that it is simpler. Sort of. With books, it is way easier for me to order them online, from my couch, than to see if the library has the ones I want, and if not, to see if I can borrow from someone else. And take shoes, for instance. Rather than searching high and low for a pair of sandals that is comfortable for all-day wear, streamlined/dressy/cute enough for casual and semi-dressy social occasions, and neutral enough in colour AND style to go with everything, it is way easier to find 5 pairs at reasonable prices that together satisfy all (most?) of those demands. And as a definite bargain-hunter, I often could find those 5 pairs for the price of that one, elusive pair, and likely save time doing it. That is, at least, how I generally rationalize the situation. But 5 pairs sitting on a crowded shelf is a lot more complicated than one pair. Reducing the stress of visual clutter is just about as important to me at the moment as being financially responsible and addressing issues of materialism and vanity.
The question is, do I consign all my other shoes and find that one pair, try once again to weed out anything that isn't required frequently, or what? Do I somehow, with a large support network standing by to offer words of encouragement, physical restraint, and substantial chocolate bribes, get rid of everything except my two-strap brown Birkenstocks (and then only keep the clothes I would wear with those)?
Yesterday, I posted on Facebook, curious to know how many pairs of shoes people find are necessary for kids. Here is what I had come up with for a child living in Ontario, Canada:
Dress shoes (formal events - purchase as necessary)
Street shoes (for boys, can perhaps double as church shoes if chosen carefully)
Street sandals (for boys, can perhaps double as play & church sandals if chosen carefully)
Play/hiking shoes (in my experience, too dirty for other casual wear - church, shopping, etc.)
Play/hiking sandals (possibly, for boys, same as street sandals, depending on style/material)
Water shoes/flip flops/Crocs (one of this description)
Rubber boots
Winter boots

This does not account for any extra specialty footwear required for specific sports or other activities (which I intend to limit). So, my estimate is about 6 pairs for boys, and closer to 8 for girls - at least when church and semi-dressy occasions are a regular part of the picture (and that is without any "fun" extras for dress and casual wear, or between-season shoes like ballet flats).
Most responses to that post so far are that my Facebook friends' kids tend to have about 5 pairs of shoes (some as low as 4, a few likely closer to 6).
I was then curious to learn what other women in this climate (distinct four-season weather, including quite a bit of snow in winter, to intense heat in summer) have in their shoe collections. I am curious to see the responses as they come in.

In my case, if I could really pare it down, here is a pretty simplified list:

Steel toe boots (needed extremely rarely for work, and taking up precious shelf space)
Winter "play" boots
Winter showing my face in public boots
Rubber boots
Running shoes
Hiking shoes/boots (I go backpacking about once/year)
Hiking sandals (can get dirty)
Flip-flops (can get wet, throw on for pool, popping into the yard for a minute)
Comfort sandals (for everyday, day trips, etc.)
Cute casual sandals
Dressy sandals
Work shoes (dressy-ish, but easy for driving, etc.)
Skinny jeans boots, low heeled/flat
Casual jeans shoes/boots - flat
Casual jeans boots - higher/dressier
Casual flats (for in-between boot and sandal season)
Dark heels
Light heels

Also in the stash:

Bike shoes (optional - came with my road bike, thanks to Kijiji)
Hiking boots with orthotics (covered by insurance after our car accident)
Misc. "other" winter boots (yeah, hard to say goodbye to my Cougars)
Extra rubber boots
Various flip-flops
Crock knock-offs
Various decorative sandals
Various comfort sandals
Various heels and dress shoes (collected over time for various occasions)
Comfort shoes
Additional work shoes
Boots of various descriptions (including my red Docs...classic, but rarely worn)
Ballet flats
"Urban" sneakers

Hmm...think that's pretty much full disclosure, without actual numbers attached. Feel free to share your own experiences! (And be kind - this list looks ridiculous to me, too).

1 comment:

Kelly Caffee said...

I completely get where you are coming from. It's just SO HARD to get there! I love the way it feels to purge and repurpose things - I love the uncluttering of our lives- but it only lasts for a short time until I "need" the next thing. I am trying to be mindful of what is an actual need and what is a nice to have, but not necessary. It's tough!