I’m not sure where exactly this fits into Natural Parenting, but I’m pretty sure that my Experiment in Natural Family Living this month must fall in a category somewhere: Decluttering. I’m pretty sure that having a decluttered home can only lead to a more peaceful mind, a gentler existence and a happier living space, so my mission is to declutter this month. I’ll let you in on a little secret though: We’ve been decluttering for weeks, months, years! We lived in a really big house and moved to a smaller house from there and it seems like for the past three years we’ve done little but give stuff away.  And yet, no matter where I turn, there are piles of stuff. No matter where I look: piles of stuff. I wish I could bolt the front door sometimes as that seems the only way to prevent the influx. Perhaps it’s time to consider dumpster rental in Neenah to help us manage this clutter.

Welcome to the January 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living This post was included in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. ***

So this month my aim is something I’ve titled the 5-5-5 project. Each day I will pick one of the rooms in the house, and find five things that can be Recycled, five that can be Reduced and five that can be Reused.My definitions of these terms are loose. Recycled generally means thrown away, but hopefully most of it will find it’s way into the recycling. Reduced means combined, added together, minimised and reused can mean by us, or someone else.

2 weeks worth of 5-5-5 reusable items waiting to be re-homed

I can imagine, as the weeks go on, that 5-5-5 might have to change to 4-4-4 or 3-3-3 and so on, but the point is that I want to be able to walk into a room and not feel my chest close up. I want to be able to walk into the kitchen and not spend so much time and energy cleaning or making space that I reach for ready-made foods instead of preparing something healthy and nutritious from scratch.

I want to be able to spend time at the table, painting with my daughter, rather than spending so much time making space at the table that I have no energy left for spending time with her. So, for the last three weeks I’ve been doing the 5-5-5 thing, and I can already see the difference.

So far I’ve given away (Reused)(on our local Freecycle network) a box of sanitary products I don’t foresee myself using in the next while (I hope), a box of travel sized toiletries, gorgeous soaps I’ve had for up to eight years! And have never used. A few baby books I really don’t need, two games that were given to Ameli as gifts, but are really for ages 8 and up -a long time to keep things in a cupboard for – and a bottle of steriliser liquid that we never opened.

We have reduced a good amount too, specifically in the bathroom (why on earth would certain members of my household open a new bottle of shampoo or bubble bath when there is still a half or a quarter bottle of the exact same one already in use?) by combining like products, and ordering things in such a way that we can use the almost finished products up first and get rid of the bottles.

Ameli’s room was a bit harder to tackle, really, as books and toys she’s outgrown can be saved for Squidgy which I guess counts technically as reusing it and other things she hasn’t quite grown into yet. I did put together a bunch of toys I’ve never been overly keen on and she’s not particularly attached to, however, and that will go to be Freecycled or perhaps sold at a baby fair in the new year. Recycling, or binning things, has been sadly easy.

I do not know why we seem incapable of throwing away empty toilet rolls, opened envelopes and similar things.  But they fill up our home and clutter our shelves, tables and sideboards. So we’re three weeks into our project (we did a couple of test efforts before January) and so far so good. We also found out that there are commercial recycling containers and Air Conditioning Recycling centers where we can send our old ac units to, instead of throwing them away. Home and business owners who regularly collect scrap metal should consider working with a metal recycling company as an initiative towards sustainability.

We have a way yet to go, before our house will feel like a home rather than a jumble sale, but I trust that with steady effort we’ll get there. Of course, with a baby in the house there will be a new kind of clutter, but at least as Squidge grows out of things we can pass them along instead of storing them.

It seems decluttering is going to have to be a lifestyle if we’re ever going to just have a simple life.



Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Make your own moisturizer! — Megan at boho mama whips up a winter skin-friendly moisturizer.
  • Cold Water Only — Brittany at The Pistachio Project talks about how you do not need hot water to wash laundry.
  • Family Cloth… Really?? — After lots of forethought and consideration, Momma Jorje finally decides to take the plunge with family cloth.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle : 5-5-5 Things A Day — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about decluttering her home in an attempt to create a gentler living space. She takes on a new project where she sets a goal of reducing, reusing and recycling every day.
  • Pros and cons of family cloth — Lauren at Hobo Mama would love to continue replacing paper products with family cloth … if she could only get over how damp she feels.
  • Craftily Parenting — Kellie at Our Mindful Life finds that crafting makes her a better parent.
  • Changes — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen couldn’t choose just one area to experiment with, so she wrote a long post about all the fun changes initiated in her life!
  • Life without Internet: Not all it’s Cracked up to Be — Adrienne at Mommying My Way tries to go a week without the Internet, only to realize a healthy dose of Internet usage really helps keep this stay-at-home mom connected.
  • My Progression to Raw Milk — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares her natural parenting progression all the way to trying raw milk.
  • mama’s new little friend. — Sarah at Bitty Bird tries a menstrual cup to “green her period,” and is pleasantly surprised when she falls in love with the product!
  • Before you throw it out, try homemade laundry soap! — Jennifer at Practical OH Mommy shows visual proof that homemade laundry soap is cheaper, easier, and works better than the store-bought chemicals!
  • Oil, Oil, No Toil, No Trouble — K from Very Simple Secret talks about her foray into the oil-cleansing method.
  • I Need a Hobby — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro couldn’t decide which experiment to run, so she did them all.
  • 7 days of macrobiotics for a balanced family — The Stones make a [successful] attempt to release the “holiday junking” with 7 days of macrobiotic meals to balance their bodies and souls. Elisabeth at Manic Mrs. Stone includes an explanation of macrobiotics.
  • Chemical Free Beauty Challenge — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction turned to natural alternatives for her daily beauty and cleaning routine, with great results.
  • Greening my Armpits!? My Green Resolution — Shannon at The Artful Mama talks about how she decided to give up her traditional antiperspirant and make the switch over to crystal deodorants and definitely isn’t looking back!
  • Going Raw (for a while) — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares her family’s experience with raw food.
  • Do we get to eat gluten today? — Sheila at A Gift Universe has been trying to figure out if her son does better with or without gluten in his diet … but it’s really hard to tell for sure.
  • Hippies Can Smell and Look Fabulous Too! — Arpita of Up, Down And Natural details her experience of going shampoo-free and overhauling her cosmetics to find the balance between feeling beautifully fabulous and honoring her inner hippie.
  • Our cupboards are full…but there’s nothing to eat — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud takes on the challenge of chomping through the contents of her storecupboard rather than going shopping — but there’s something that she just can’t bring herself to do …
  • Elimination Experiment 3.0MudpieMama recounts the messy adventures of her baby daughter trying to be diaper free.
  • Family Cloth Trial — Amyables at Toddler in Tow talks about making and using family cloth wipes in the bathroom for the first time.
  • Taking a Hiatus — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares how her experience of much less internet interaction affected her family and how it will change her approach in the future.
  • Trying Out the Menstrual Cup — Lindsey at an unschooling adventure ditches the tampons and gives menstrual cups a try.
  • Managing Food Waste in Our Home — Tired of the holiday waste, Robbie at Going Green Mama takes a weeklong focus on reducing food waste in her home, and learns some lessons that can take her through the new year.
  • Going Offline, Cloth Tissues, and Simplicity — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses over her time away from blogging and social networking. In addition, she shares her newfound love of cloth tissues and simplicity.
  • The Oil Cleansing Method — Erica at ChildOrganics explores an easy, organic and natural way to tackle skin care.
  • Experiments in Natural Family Living – Natural Toys! — Lani at Boobie Time enjoys the silence of natural toys and being more present with her son.
  • Discovering a New City and Organic Foods — Amy at A Secure Base describes her family’s switch to and search for organic foods for one week.
  • My Experiment in Homemade BreadCrunchy Con Mommy tried — and loved — baking her own homemade bread.
  • Menu Planning: Stop the Excuses — Gaby at Tmuffin stopped the excuses and started planning her weekly meals, drastically cutting her grocery budget and stress level and improving the quality of foods she fed her family.
  • My First Menstrual Cup — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children was pleasantly surprised with her first experience using a menstrual cup.
  • My Natural Beauty Regime — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares the results of banishing cleanser and soaps from her bathroom, as well as a couple of natural homemade recipes that have worked well on her skin.
  • Unplugging and Creating a Rhythm: Our Experiment in Natural Family Living — Dionna at Code Name: Mama focused less on gadgets and spent more time with her family to create a healthy rhythm for the new year.
  • Experiments in Natural Family Living: 5 First Steps Toward Preparing for a Natural Birth — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama discusses how she tackled the pressing matter of how to begin preparing for a natural birth.
  • All you need is…vinegar! — Kristen at My Semi-Crunchy Life learns that one household product can replace all the cleaners in her cabinet.
  • Nope Nada Ixnay Negative Pass Decline — Zoie at TouchstoneZ finds out what shakes loose if she says, “YES!!” to anything anyone asks of her over the space of 10 days.
  • Reducing our exposure to toxins found in plastics — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how she began the process of helping her 2-year-old son stop physically acting out.
  • Experiments in Natural Parenting: Starting, Stopping, and Gaining Perspective — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings explains how pregnancy brain interfered with her attempts to complete an experiment, but how she gained some interesting perspective as she started and stopped several.
  • From Experiment to Lifestyle — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares her experience avoiding processed foods for a month, and deciding to make it a permanent lifestyle change.
  • From Disposable Paper to Reusable Cloth – AGAIN! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle stops flushing trees down the toilet and switches to the softest ever butt-wiping material: cloth.
  • Extra! Extra! Water Heater Turned Down, Mom Doesn’t Notice! — Thomasin at Propson Palingenesis finds an energy-saving experiment that’s so easy she didn’t even realize it was happening.
  • Worm TeaCatholicMommy isn’t sure how successful her worm bin will be, but she’s having fun anyway.
  • Miles to Go … — Rachael at The Variegated Life learns that when it comes to sleep debt, she’s in real deep.
  • My Month With Water Kefir — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries experiments with a new fermented probiotic drink homemade in her own kitchen.
  • OMG Mom is Home… All Day Everyday: A Week-Long Experiment in Connecting — What a difference a week makes! Ana at Pandamoly is afforded a week off from work and takes the chance to reconnect and reattach with her 16-month-old son through an experiment in simply being there.
  • Creating Healthy Family Recipes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her experiment with healthy, gluten-free recipes and a chocolate muffin recipe that was created during the experiment.
  • Adventures in Alternative Haircare: No ‘Poo — This guest post at Natural Parents Network from Amy at Anktangle chronicles a months-long journey into the world of no ‘poo.
  • My Experiment in Natural Family Living: Natural Family Planning — Birth control options are seriously limited for those of us trying to live a little closer to the earth, so Mama Psalmist experiments with natural family planning.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle : 5-5-5 Things A Day

  1. My husband laughs that I just turn things over. I’m constantly giving things away or selling them and then trolling garage sales for new “stuff”!

    1. Lol. I’m the same. My hubby makes Freecycle runs a couple times a week at least. And I wonder where the STUFF comes from! LOL. But I get things and pass them on again and keep the ‘best’ of it and so on. On the up side, I don’t waste money on new toys!

  2. Decluttering (or minimizing) is definitely a way of life, not an end goal. There will always be an influx of things coming into the home so it is “an endless job.”

    I think you’ve seen them already, but I’d like to suggest you check out my Monday Minimalist series. Just flip through until you see a topic or project that appeals to you. I try to find bite size projects that yield enough result so as to be very encouraging.

    1. I’ve definitely seen them and will continue to read them. They’re very motivational! 🙂 Thanks Jorje. I’m so blown away by how you’ve had a baby and carried on and just taken everything so in your stride. You’re an inspiration!

  3. This is a great challenge. Moving house at least once a year, sometimes twice forces you to go through everything and clear things out so at the moment we don’t have the same problem. If we settled somewhere for a length of time, however, this would be a great way to avoid clutter.Thanks for sharing!

    1. That is soooo true! We used to move all the time… it was so much simpler then! I do sometimes think of just binning everything and going back into furnished lettings… but that seems like ploughing backwards, you know!?

  4. We did something similar to this as a part of the decluttering process in the Fly Lady cleaning and organizing plan. I think she calls it the 7-thing fling or something like that – walk into a room and find X number of things to throw out, repurpose, or donate. We’ve been doing that less methodically after our initial cleanout but still regularly. It feels great to not have so much “stuff.”

    1. That’s a great name – 7 thing fling – love it! I agree, my first round was much easier and produced more than five things in some areas, but doing it a second or third time becomes waaaaay harder. I find myself walking around the house rating things in order of likelihood of being next now 😀

  5. Great idea! We live in a small apartment and I’ve been going crazy with clutter that has built up since my twins were born. Putting out boxes and setting a goal is just what I needed to hear! Thanks!

    1. Fantastic! Let me know how you get on! What I do find helps, sometimes, is actually having two or three boxes – reduce box, reuse box and recycle box – and as you go into a room, pick up one thing to go into one of the boxes… then it becomes a bit of a habit. Although it can feel like an eternally ongoing project then!

  6. What a great idea! Normally I try to keep things pretty clutter free but I feel like I’ve let things go since the holidays…ok maybe before then… I’ll have to try this out and get my house back in order!

  7. I love that you included Freecycle in your experiment! I adore Freecycle. And decluttering is admirable, frustrating, necessary, and horrible, all at the same time. Way to go, for your progress! 🙂

  8. This sounds like a really great idea! We’ve definitely got too much clutter in the house, and the feeling of stress when entering a room (unfortunately) resonates with me. I’m going to give this a try!

    1. It’s a horrible feeling, isn’t it. I hate waking in the morning and dreading walking downstairs because I know what’s waiting for me. With the decluttering, I feel better!

    1. Lol… Let me know how it goes! I’ve not done anything all week, but that’s another story – I need to get back into it next week and go for round 2, I think! (which is probably the 4-4-4 phase 😉

  9. I get incredibly stressed if I go long between declutterings. I’m feeling that way now, b/c I haven’t been able to do much cleaning since Ailia was born – plus we had Christmas gifts descend. You’re doing yourself a huge favor by starting before the new baby is born! (ps – I’d say decluttering easily fits under “strive for balance”)

    1. you are so right – strive for balance – I think that’s perfect.
      I guess it could be nesting kicking in early? Either way, I feel released from being bound by ‘stuff’ and if I had to, I can now pretty much point out the things I’d want to save if the house were on fire. (You know what I mean!)

  10. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who looks around and sees empty toilet rolls all over the place for some reason. 🙂 This sounds like just the project I need. It’s one thing to declutter occasionally, and it’s another to keep it up!

    We’re also currently having the problem of figuring out what of Mikko’s that he’s outgrown is worth saving for Alrik, even though that could be years off. Sigh. Sometimes it makes my head hurt, but at the same time, I hate living in the chaos of clutter. Thanks for the motivation to do something (small but ongoing) about it.

    1. I’m in the same place with Ameli & Squidgy, although to be fair, there’s only 2.5 years between them… but then, we didn’t have that much ‘baby stuff’ for Ameli and most of what she has she still plays with, so sometimes I think putting things at the back of the cupboard and bringing them out a month or two later is a form of recycling and keeping them fresh! But then I also view Freecylce as a sort of toy library – use things, pss them on, use more things etc

  11. I’m digging your system, what a fun way to get through the decluttering. I completely agree that this *is* a green issue because our homes are part of our well being. Good luck!

  12. This is a great idea! My husband and I have been spending the last 4 weeks picking out each room in our home and spending a couple days on it. With each we wrote down what about the room bothered us (what piles of clutter, pieces of furnature, wall decor, etc) – pretty much anything that negatively affected our energy. Then we made a checklist to figure those things out and so far it’s working quite well. I really REALLY love this idea of picking x amount of things to reduce, reuse, and recycle during a given amount of time. I think I may have to do the same thing.


    1. That’s a really good idea Elisabeth – I often make lists in rooms, but of things that need to be done, rather than what I would like to like about it, you know. That’s a fab idea. 🙂

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