40 Bags in 40 Days

So you may not know but I’m Catholic.  And for Catholics (and perhaps other Christian churches – sorry for my ignorance!!) today is the beginning of Lent.  40 days of preparation for Easter.  Typically people try to give up something for Lent; make a sacrifice for 40 days as an acknowledgement of Christ’s sacrifice for us.  I’ve got to admit…giving things up is never my first choice.  I don’t feel like I allow myself too many pleasures…though I’m sure I do.  I personally have always felt more inclined to DO something rather than give up something.  Both are great ideas, I think that it depends on what feels like more of a gift to you.  To me, giving my time and doing things is a better reminder of what Lent is about than giving up a treat here or there.

Last year I remember hearing about 40 bags in 40 days.  And trust me when I say that this is something EVERYONE can participate in.  It was started to coincide with those celebrating Lent, but has become something that speaks to many people.  It is about simplifying and decluttering.  Letting go of the excess and giving life a fresh start.

Check out the link above for more details on this and how you might participate even a little in your own life.  I’m personally going to make it a goal to tackle something new every day.  Even 15 minutes to clean or tidy goes a long way when you do that for 40 days!  And you will begin spring with a fresh decluttered mind.

I know that personally I could probably spend all 40 days just in my sewing room.  You think I’m kidding.  I’m not.  And my sewing room is organized.  But there is excess and there are things to let go of.

  • I’ve started already with a major tossing of tiny toys and junk that seem to mysteriously appear in my 5 year old daughter’s toy box.  She’s a great purger so it really helps.  She knows what she is done with.
  • We’ve also gone through her bathtub toys and tossed the gross ones that probably had mold growing in them and moved some new toys into that bucket.
  • I’m not counting them as my forty days but we recently did a MAJOR purge on her wardrobe and I made her try on EVERYTHING to see what fit and what she actually wore.  And guess what?  She’s now wearing more than the one outfit she insisted on wearing every day.  She LOVES that everything is something she loves.  *I desperately need to do that for myself but feel like I need help*
  • We went through the game closet and organized all of that. Had bags of things to get rid of!
  • We went through her crafts and reorganized so it was more accessible for her.  She now has access to her scissors (God help us!  So far only one incident of doll cutting hair!).
  • There are cyber cleanups to do and shoes and bathrooms and cleaning supplies and oh so many things.  But remember…one day at a time and one little idea at a time.  I’m not in a rush.  I have 40 days.

    Has anyone else done this?  Any tips?

26 thoughts on “40 Bags in 40 Days”

  1. Brilliant idea, my home could use this. I second Lucy's warning…. the dolls are just for practice before the real thing! Maybe you should tell how "upset I was when I was a little girl and cut my own hair once". 😉

  2. Great idea! This is something I am planning to do this year as well, but I like the idea of the incentive of Lent. (I'm also Catholic.) I am giving up fabric purchasing this year. Because I need to learn better to use what I have and be grateful for it rather than "lusting" over everything new and keeping up with the "Jones'". 🙂 Best of luck during your purge!

  3. I am not Catholic, but I participated last year, and it was amazing. When I was done, I had less stuff, my house was better organized, I had been thoughtful and deliberate about the things I kept, I had donated several boxes and bags to local charities, I could actually use my office desk again, and it was a good lesson for my boys. It was a really positive experience, and I was excited to start again this morning. Good luck!

  4. I get a great sense of accomplishment from purging and organizing. (In part this is a result of my personality, but my dad hoards, so that plays a role in my desire to keep my physical environment under control.) It's not an exaggeration to say that the tenets of the effort you write about are how I live my everyday life. I find it useful to have bags in each of our closets. When something doesn't fit any longer, in the bag it goes — and ultimately to charity (if there's life left in it) or to the textile recycling. There are also boxes in our basement for toys that we've grown out of. When we've amassed enough, we have a yard sale or make the trek to Good Will. Good for you and your Lenten commitment — best wishes on culling through stuff and tossing what you don't need!

  5. I started following a Fb group declutter365. Small tasks every day! Very doable and a great feeling when you open a decluttered drawer!
    I have started a BIG PURGE of all the paperwork in the house. I dread that task. But I am DOING It!
    esthersipatchandquilt at yahoo dot com

  6. I've been feeling the urge to decrapify for a while now. The clutter is everywhere – my sewing room, my closets, my basement, and my head. I need to clean it all out and hopefully that will clear my head as well, making it easier to eat well, shop better (and spend less), and reducing stress. I recently came across a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. It has rave reviews and approaches the decluttering of our lives from a different perspective, and I just ordered it. Here's hoping it lives up to the "life changing" statement.

    1. I've heard good things about that book too! I'm a natural purger so I have pretty good instincts about it. One thing I would recommend is to literally touch everything. When you have to put your hands on something, you will probably have an emotional reaction to it: happiness, guilt, disgust, apathy… Use that to help you make your decisions. Don't keep anything that gives you a negative emotion. Apathy goes in the maybe pile. Keep what you love and use. It's a great first way to start going through things.

  7. Will join you in my version: 40 drawers in 40 days. I am in the middle of a huge musical production, Savior of the World, His Resurrection, to coincide with Easter. So drawers I can and need to do. 40 Bags will be saved for post production!

  8. I think your idea is excellent. When I was growing up, the emphasis in Lent was to give something up. At age 66, I still think that is a good idea, but it needs to be in a mindful way. Giving up chocolate or coffee is only of value is you donate the money spent on those items to charity. Decluttering is a great way to put us in touch with our values and what is really important to us. There are a lot of groups who can benefit from the items we no longer need.

  9. Rosemary b here
    I like Karee's idea too.
    I could easily do both at this point.
    I just spent the last year moving my parents to Virginia 4 miles from me. They are both 92 and lived in a retirement community in Annapoilis Maryland. Now they live in an erickson community called Ashby Ponds. Google it. anyway, their house was FULL of stuff. So much. We threw a lot away. I gave some to charities and groups. But they still have a mountain of stuff now in their apartment, but it is mostly what they like. Still much more I could have thrown away. They traveled the world (my dad was with St Dept and NATO) and they did everything.
    So, spending the last year doing all of this, I have learned a lot.
    I did pack up a lot of things and dump it in our basement, I have given plenty to Purple Heart and Am Vets. Find good charities in your neighborhood, even abused womens shelters need clothing, shoes etc. I gave all of my high heels away ages ago haha

    My only other advice is, just do not give yourself too big a job for one day. I am taking care of my parents now, so I have very little time, I try to do small projects
    Best wishes to all of you

  10. Angela, thanks so much for the inspiration! We've got beautiful snow (maybe a little too much–snow banks over 7 feet in the driveway and drifts halfway up the back door!) here in Maine and it's hard to get motivated to do much more than make a cup of tea.Our German Shepherd is plowing his own trail into the yard for. . . ahem. . .–poor baby.

  11. This is a great challenge and I loosely followed it when we moved. For me, time is the issue after working all day I don't really feel like going home and doing more major work. Hopefully I can declutter a little over the span of the challenge, but I doubt I'll purge for 40 days straight. I would love to hear and see more of your progress throughout the challenge! Good Luck 🙂

  12. Hi, Angela. My mother used to make us try on ~all~ our clothes in spring and in fall, in prep for the change in season/start of the school year. I just had a really close friend come over (one that I didn't mind being only in my undies in front of) and I did the same thing. Most stuff that I got rid of used to fit, but doesn't now, or is no longer the style of clothes I wear. It was actually a lot of fun, and I got rid of 6 plastic grocery bags worth of clothes. So, that's my suggestion; get a partner who knows your style and that you will listen to when he/she says, "get rid of it."

    1. Yes, I know that is the way to go. But I'm not sure I have the self esteem to handle that right now. I would have to do one type of clothes at a time. But I do truly want a wardrobe that I feel beautiful in everything. Is that possible for women's bodies that are constantly changing?

  13. I'm Catholic too and have always liked the idea of doing something instead of giving up something. I've been doing a lot of praying lately for family member health issues.

  14. I effectively did this post breakdown. Everything around me was so cluttered I felt like I was suffocating, so I cleared out my bedroom, cleaned up the hall, bathroom, kitchen and living room, and put myself in the position where I could get my bathroom replaced (next week). I still get amazed every time I open my bedroom door and discover I'm not about to trip over a pile of crap…

  15. What a great idea!! And even if I only stick to it 20 days(I'm not Catholic, so no guilt here!!) 🙂 I'll be way ahead!! And it was so much easier for me to go through my kids things than my own!! But I should start with some of my almost 20 year old fabric!! I'll bet I could give you a good run for your money with all the crafty stuff I have stowed in the house and garage (no craft room for me in this overpriced, undersized Calif house!!) Good luck on "Decrapifying" and give us a few updates to keep us motivated too!! Hugs, H in Healdsburg

  16. Wow, I love the idea of trying on all my clothes and being more strict about purging not only what doesn't fit but being honest with the clothes when they're on my body that it may no longer be a good outward representation of myself. Thanks so much for sharing this idea with us!

  17. I have been working toward decluttering our home for months. Your challenge gives me new incentive. At age 60, I've had to clean out older relatives' homes, plus I have been to my share of estate sales. I don't want to leave a mess for my kids. Something that Bob Dylan said in the current issue of the AARP a magazine was that he wants to "die light". Nail on the head. I don't want to be pressured by extraneous possessions. And to twist a popular phrase, "She who dies with the most (whatever) LOSES".

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