It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh

It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh

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Carrie McBride
Apr 8, 2008

Author and clutter guru, Peter Walsh, believes there's a "stuff epidemic" in America. Looking around our own apartment - we'd have to agree. We usually steer away from self-help type books, but It's All Too Much caught our eye at the library and has been a useful tool in helping us think about our stuff, our home and the home we want to have.

Walsh has lots of suggestions for how families can work together to evaluate how they use their space and the impact their belongings have on it. He especially encourages getting children involved by including them in discussions about defining specific activity zones within the house and teaching them the value of a clutter-free lifestyle.

You may recognize Walsh as one of the organizers featured on TLC's Clean Sweep. He starts the book by inviting the reader to take a quiz to determine their clutter rating: clutter-free, clutter victim or hoarder. He also discusses the top ten excuses he hears from clients about why they haven't cleared the clutter from their lives, many of which will probably sound familiar to you:

1. I might need it one day
2. It's too important to let go
3. I can't get rid of it - it's worth a lot of money
4. My house is too small
5. I don't have the time
6. I don't know how it got like this
7. It's not a problem - my husband/wife/partner/child just thinks it is
8. It isn't mine
9. It's too overwhelming
10. Fill-in-the-blank excuse

Walsh recognizes the special challenge families with children have in the fight to keep their homes from turning into giant toy chests. He strongly believes in the value of setting "stuff" limits with children:

The child's first three years set the tone for the rest of his or her life. From the beginning, you, as the parent, must provide some limit to how much your child can own.

Setting limits teaches the child:

  • you can't own everything
  • there is joy and satisfaction in giving to others who are less fortunate
  • Mom and Dad (or the grandparents) are not a bottomless pit of supply
  • you must make decisions surrounding the things you own
  • you must decide what is important to you, value it and look after it

It's All Too Much gave us a lot to think about and we've been pondering Walsh's essential question since we read it: Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you? What do you think, reader, does your stuff own you?

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