How To Not Be Like Rocky

We are uncluttering. Decluttering, minimalis/zing – whatever you want to call it. We’ve been able to come up with a few categories for this clutter:

  • Duplicate items we didn’t realise we had because we had lost the first (usually in another pile of clutter), or duplicate items where we bought a “just in case” backup and never needed it.
  • Things we were conditioned to keep “just in case” and rarely (or never) wanted, needed, used, or wore.
  • Six years’ worth of receipts, labels, tags, warranty slips, pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. that we do not need anymore (and are either giving the manuals/warranties/receipts with items, where someone is buying them from us – or tossing them!)
  • Things we thought we wanted or needed… but it turned out, we really didn’t.


rockyThis is Rocky from Paw Patrol. Reusing and recycling is great. Hoarding is not. Adam and I are pretty sure Rocky is clinical hoarder. We do not want to be like Rocky. Spare umbrella? Yes. Broken clothes dryer? Not so much. We are also pretty sure we hit “hoarding” phase partway into our first contract here at Woodstock as we learned what we could and could not get here, and then never did a (frankly, much needed) sort at the end of each contract term. This is something I would change next time – and hopefully since we’ll be in Beijing more than 1 contract, we can implement it!


There are also items we have that we are not taking with us, either back to the USA or Canada or onwards to China. These items tend to be:

  • Ones that we will be provided with in China, or can easily (and more affordably) acquire there, such as down comforters (IKEA) and cooking gadgets*
  • Kid things that have been outgrown
  • Things we will not need over our home leave/break/visa acquisition period & in China


We have donated two giant MEC duffel bags worth of clothing to the school’s community engagement team to use, either to resell at one of their fundraisers or to turn into fabric for various projects. I know there’s at least one, possibly two, more bags worth of clothing. We also have a large number of books that will be staying here – some I have inherited (much like yarn and tea) from other departing staff, some we have purchased and do not want/need, and some we have duplicates of in Canada (anyone want a copy of Olivia in board-book form?)… And then there’s all the stuff we’re actually selling.

While we still have more than we want, and more than we need, we are looking forward to being able to start life in Beijing with less, and a deliberate lifestyle plan and change to make more conscientious purchases and work towards having fewer of some things. The hardest part is being honest with ourselves and realizing that we can’t do everything we want to (Adam can’t do all the art projects and music he wants to; I can’t quilt/sew, and knit and crochet, and embroider) and saying goodbye to the investments we’ve made into those fields that we can’t truly pursue.

We want more time with the kids, and pursuing just a handful of hobbies – not spreading ourselves as thin as we are to try to do all the things we think we can, or want to. And a cleaner house, and fewer things competing for our attention, will help us be able to refocus on the things we really want to.

The idea of uncluttering has taken a lot of people over – simplifying, uncluttering, minimalizing and organizational advice/tips dominate self-help books and fields. If you’re uncluttering or organizing or minimalizing, I think one of the important questions to start asking yourself is: why do I have this in the first place? And am I happy having it, right now? If it continues to make you happy, and is worth bringing with you or cleaning, repairing or maintaining… don’t feel obligated to get rid of it. But if it is burdensome, obligatory, a pain, or – and, I think, worst of all – something that makes you feel resentful if or when you deal with it – then it is probably something that can go.

* Some things we are keeping for sure: some knives we’ve received, the mandoline that Adam now guards with his life, a set of measuring cups and spoons.

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