Over on Love My Little Flower, the author has a Shaking Off the Bonds of Stuff schedule for the 40 days of Lent. The plan was originally written by Dale O'Leary, a freelance journalist and radio talk show host.
Here's how we've done so far:
Day 1 (Ash Wednesday, February 22): Make a decision to stay out of stores until after Easter - or at least, not to make a single impulse purchase until after Easter. If you absolutely must shop for your family, make a list and stick to it. However, it's easier all the way around if you just don't shop. Every time you buy something during Lent, write it down.
I think applying this goal to real life over the next 40 days is to focus on not making impulse purchases by making a list and sticking to it. Avoiding stores if there isn't a critical reason to go in them also is realistic and attainable.
Day 2 (Thursday, February 23): Clear all the trash out of your car. Make a decision to stop picking up free stuff and bringing it home.
I ended up doing this on Monday afternoon with Sophia's and Olivia's help. Each of us was responsible for one section of the car. In the front of the car, I gathered eight diet pop cans that I had put under the seat at some time. There was one small, serving-size bag of Cheetos that needed to be tossed.
In the back seat, each of the girls took a grocery bag from the grocery store and put garbage in it. In another they put things that needed to go inside. I was pleasantly surprised that both bags weren't even a quarter full. They've done a nice job with trying to keep the area they sit in clean.
In the far back, I put things related to tires and jump-starting the car in the hidden area where the spare tire is kept. The only things remaining are a wool blanket (in case the car breaks down and it is cold outside), a bit of extra coolant, and a bit of windshield wiper fluid. Otherwise, the entire area is cleaned out.
I've been carrying a large bag (trash bag size) full of plastic bags from the grocery store and Target. Found out that Cub recycles the bags, so I was able to get rid of that big bag from the far back of the car.
Day 3 (Friday, February 24): Collect all unmatched socks and put them in a plastic bag. Set aside. [You'll see on Day 40 that if you haven't yet discovered the matches to the socks, you'll joyfully throw those mismatched socks away.]
There's about a half a grocery-size plastic bag filled with socks that I have been collecting over the past couple of months. Looks like on Day 40 (if not before then) I'll see if any of them match.
Day 4 (Saturday, February 25): Recycle newspapers over one week old, even if you haven't read them. [On Day 6 we'll throw out catalogs. On Day 28 we'll toss magazines, so you need tackle only newspapers today. If you are feeling super ambitious, tackle all three today and then tackle something different on Days 6 and 28!]
Because we've been using the woodstove to reduce propane use this winter (and hopefully save some money), we've been using newspaper to start fires. So, as I went from room to room I only found one local paper and two days of the city paper. That was easy.
Day 5 (Monday, February 27): Empty your laundry room completely. Wash, fold, mend, iron, and return every item to its proper place, or give it to your church or Goodwill.
That sure would be nice to have a whole room dedicated to laundry. However, living in a home that was built in 1890, I need to be content with the tiny closet-like space that an upright, stacked washer/dryer combination can fit.
This washer/dryer duo is from 1996 and has to be one of the smallest washer/dryer combinations that was on the market at the time. Thus, to accomplish washing, drying, and putting away the laundry - including all the sheets and a rug in addition to the normal laundry - I needed to start doing this on Saturday.
At some point, I will be more than happy to get an efficient dryer that doesn't take multiple cycles to dry. Until then, I just need to plan to do laundry over several days.
That being said, the laundry is done and put away. There is mending, but it hasn't been done. (At this point there are several more pressing matters that need to be addressed.) And ironing? Honestly? That's only done as needed. All of the clothes we wear with homeschooling don't need ironing (thankfully!). So, there's still a bit more left with this task, but for the most part it's done.
Day 6 (Tuesday, February 28): Throw out all old catalogs. They will send new ones. [On Day 28, we'll tackle all the magazines in our houses.]
I haven't had a chance to do this yet. I'm thinking that I'll work on this project over the weekend when I can take a block of time and go through my office closet and make sure I get rid of all the catalogs that are there.
There also are some catalogs by the side of the bed that I was thinking of going through. In reality, though, I'm not planning on buying anything, so why waste my time looking at them?
What's coming up for the next few days? These activities:
Day 7 (Wednesday, February 29): Throw out all expired coupons and sale notices.
Day 8 (Thursday, March 1): Give every gift you received and never used to someone who needs it or could use it more than you. If you can't think of anyone, donate it.
Day 9 (Friday, March 2): Go through your photos. Toss those of people whose names you can't remember and all ugly or unflattering photos.
Day 10 (Saturday, March 3): Give every can of food that has been in your kitchen cabinets for more than a month to a food kitchen.