Experimenting with less doesn't mean that we have to get rid of all of the things that fall outside of our "enough". It might just affirm that we have enough + don't need more. It might allow us to release some resources for the use of others. It might help us manage the laundry, toys or dirty dishes more easily + effectively. All of these outcomes could be especially useful around the holidays...in the midst of a pandemic.
There are a many ways that we could approach this experiment, a few of which include:
- Going through our things "shopping" for what we imagine is "enough"...moving the excess to another cupboard, room or basement/attic...and experiencing life with what's left.
- Collecting (+ separating out from the rest) the items that we use during the month.
- Deciding on some system shifts to try out for a month...like having six plates + cups out for a family of four and asking each family member to wash their dishes after each use.
The examples above each reference the kitchen + that is where I propose we start this go round. Obviously, one can begin wherever they'd like...and often that is in the wardrobe. I intend to get there too, but I thought November might be a good time for the kitchen.
Step 1 ::
Let's pull out all of our dishes...plates, bowls, cups, mugs, silverware, serving ware (platters, serving bowls + utensils), etc. and put them all on the table, if we have one. (Yikes, I have a lot of plates!) Take note of how it makes you feel to see all of your dishes in one place?
We've moved quite a few times, so I've encountered all of our dishes quite often. Having to pack + unpack all of these delicate pieces does inspire some second thoughts about the necessity of a Christmas-only platter or a Halloween-only candy bowl. (Did you remember to grab those serving pieces too?) :)
For the sake of "finding enough", think about what dishes the people living in your house right now need to stay fed (considering your current weekly reality). We don't have to get down to the bare minimum (like one bowl + one spoon for each person)...let's just call it a slightly uncomfortable or somewhat challenging minimum, if that's helpful. :) We are experimenting after all.
We currently have four people living in our house + I chose:
- 4 shallow bowls (out of which we eat most suppers)
- 4 smaller bowls
- 6 plates
- one set of silverware (12 of each)
- jars (that we use for glasses + lots of other things)
- 3 mugs (three of us use them daily)
These are the dishes that we will keep out for this experiment. The habit enabling this decision is that each person hand washes their dishes after use. We let them drip dry to lower the level of effort required. :)
We already have this habit in place + no longer have a pile of dishes crusted with food sitting by the sink. This has been especially nice during Covid, when we are all at home more than normal. Since the dishes get washed right away, no elbow grease + little water is necessary. I dish up our meals, so we don't use serving bowls or platters for family meals.
Set everything else aside...maybe put it into a cupboard that you put a note on reminding everyone to leave it be...or box it up...or whatever gets it out of sight.*
If there is anything that you are happy to let go of now, do your best to get it into the hands of someone who will appreciate it. (Offer it to friends, family or an agency that works with adolescents aging out of foster care, refugees, abused mamas, formerly incarcerated or homeless folks.) Or sell it. Take note of the feelings this brings.
Live with this set up (and any new habits required) + observe. Let fellow family members know what we're trying + why. Make it positive + fun. Thank them for playing along. Shall we try this for the month of November?
(I am aware that there are some wooden bowls + a little ceramic creamer shown here that I didn't include in my gathering of dishes. I don't use them as dishes + have already reckoned with the fact that they function as decor in my kitchen. We'll deal with decor in the weeks to come.) :)
I have not forgotten about entertaining. Whether you want to consider entertaining right now or at the end of our experiment, I'd encourage you to consider less here too. We can often use entertaining as a reason (or excuse) to have lots + lots of extra things. If you have two sets of dishes, you might consider using your favorite set of dishes every day + whether two sets of dishes is necessary. Guilt is never my intention. I just like to mention that "enough" offers opportunities for release + generosity. :)
The extra dishes we keep for company include: 6 more of the same 8 inch, white plates we use everyday + 4 more mugs. We can use our assortment of bowls for serving dishes (as well as our mixing bowl). I also serve food straight out of our skillet, pot or glass, baking dishes. We let everyone dish out their food buffet style with our wooden spoons + spatulas. (I like + embrace homey + informal entertaining.) :)