Lessons learned from sippy cups

Shortly before Christmas we had a sippy cup dilemma. The one sippy cup I had for Silas was beyond yuck. We don’t have a dishwasher, so after a while, sippy cups seem to get to the point where they just have to be thrown away.

In a quick, not thinking clearly moment, I grabbed a pack of zip lock sippy cups at Walmart. Five sippy cups. For one child. I’ve always maintained the one sippy cup per child and that’s the rule. But these were cheap and I figured since they are intended to be disposable I wouldn’t feel bad throwing them out when they got gross.

I hate the idea of having a sippy cup in the fridge, and one in the diaper bag, and one in the sink, and one possibly under the couch, and one in the church nursery, and one…

No. I hate that. When we have only one, we instinctively keep really good tabs of it, because we know it’s the only one we have.

But in another unthinking moment, I opened the pack and dropped them all in the drawer of plastic dishes. All of them. We don’t need all of them.

Of course, as soon as the older two spotted new sippy cups they had to use them. Never mind that they typically drink out of a regular cup. And when Silas woke up and wanted milk, I didn’t bother to go get the cup out of the dish drainer, I just grabbed another sippy cup out of the drawer. And at breakfast, I didn’t bother to wash the cup I had used earlier, so I got another one out of the drawer.

And just as quickly as I dropped the cups into the drawer, every last one of them was used and strewn all. over. the. house.

Am not I the one that has said, “Have only what you need or love in your house”? And what about renting for free? Clearly these were being used, but they weren’t needed and they were actually complicating my life.

Now I had five cups to wash instead of one. And I needed to make sure I found them all before I smelled rotten milk behind my couch.


Have only what you need.

When we have only what we need available, we keep better track of it and we eliminate excess use.

I didn’t throw out the sippy cups. I just got the one we needed and hid the other ones in a cupboard until the original one needs thrown out. [For other items, I would have made sure they left my house, but I knew I would eventually need sippy cups so they warranted some space in my cabinet.]

Now when Silas needs a drink, we find his sippy cup just like we always have. And if it needs washed, I quickly wash it. But none of this having a dozen sippy cups spilling out of my dish drainer.That simply creates more work for myself.

I’ve known this concept and have seen it in my own household routines ever since I made an intentional effort to simplify a couple of years ago. But it’s amazing how quickly I fall right back into the trap.

It reminded me of another thing, too.

Simplifying and de-cluttering is an ongoing process.

Just as soon as I think I have the house de-cluttered, I open up another drawer or cabinet and am overwhelmed at the stuff.

Didn’t I just go through this? Oh, my bad. I guess it’s been a year already.

A once-a-year challenge is really helpful. But oh how I am feeling like my house is overloaded again. Aren’t we all feeling that way, especially after Christmas?

Whether it is visible on your kitchen counter, or tucked away in the back of a closet, clutter wastes our time. I would much rather be spending time doing stuff I love than running around tracking down loose sippy cups under couches and beds. Just sayin’.

You may have noticed that I had as one of my goals to do one small (sometimes very, very small) de-clutter project a week. That’s simply to keep things well maintained. I love simple living and have seen the value of it over and over in my home. But I’ve realized that I have to keep at it. I can’t just do it once and expect it to stay that way.

So with that in mind, I will be doing small projects throughout the year to keep up with it. And I’ll be sharing some of those small projects with YOU! I won’t be posting every single week, but I will post them fairly regularly and it will always be on Monday.

Clutter Free in 2013

How about it? Are you all with me on this? It’s all about maintaining. If I don’t do something small regularly, it will end up being a bigger job later.

So next Monday we’ll kick it off with toys. I figure if your house is anything like mine, the toys need a good bit of de-cluttering or re-organizing after Christmas.

Have you found yourself wasting time simply because you have too much stuff?



  1. “clutter wastes our time” That’s one of my biggest reasons for simplifying. And it’s amazing how quickly the clutter piles up. I’m with you on the sippy cup issue – one at a time makes life much easier.

    • “And it’s amazing how quickly the clutter piles up.”— yes! With 3 growing kids it is a constant battle…

  2. David Hanson says:

    We never had this kind of problem. Our family rule was (and is) that all food and drinks are consumed at the kitchen table — no exceptions. This protects furniture and floors from spills, and cups are never “lost”. In our Florida home, we have more reason to protect our floors — 100% ceramic tile and wood flooring — tile grout can be permanently stained and expensive wood floors ruined by liquids.

  3. Taking down the tree today after “Wise Men’s Day” and keeping “simplify” in mind. So easy to fall into the I-might-need-it-down-the-road trap. Thanks for your inspiration!

  4. This is so, so true and a good reminder for me that it’s an ongoing process-especially with kiddos in the house. I love simplifying and just having what we need in the house, but it does take a lot of work to live simply and to maintain that. Thanks for this-looking forward to seeing more posts like this!

    • I think with kids it’s the maintaining part that I have to constantly remind myself of. It’s nice to do spring cleaning once a year, but if I don’t keep up with it my house gets overrun…even if it’s just little stuff it adds up I guess.

  5. You’ve convinced me to stick to my goal. I have a water bottle for each child, and my two year old is notorious for losing her water bottle. I’ve been tempted to get her another one, just so we don’t have to tear the house from top to bottom before dinner to find her water bottle. I know what would happen though, we would lose both of them!

    • We have one water bottle for each of the older kids too and it has been wonderful. We always know where they are, I don’t have lots of extra cups getting used, and bonus…they drink lots more water since having it!

      • We did the same thing (got our kids’ adult sized water bottles) and the novelty made them drink a lot more! :) One got left in a relative’s car and lost several months ago so we got out of the habit of using them. Good reminder for me. :)

  6. I’ll be eagerly awaiting that Monday post on toy decluttering… Well, actually all of them!! they will be a great guide for one of my greatest goals this year, which as you know is declutttering :)

  7. I’ve actually been working on decluttering toys this morning. It’s a tougher area for me (than say, my closet, or the kitchen). I was super motivated going into it (having just read Miss Minimalist, which I really liked) but it’s harder to determine what to actually purge when in the thick of it. If it only affected me, I’d purge a lot more. :) But I’ve been surprised at the things my 3 yr old daughter asks for months after I’ve gotten rid of (or hid) them and she’s genuinely sad they’re gone.

    Looking forward to the coming posts. And headed back to my decluttering with renewed motivation, πŸ˜‰

    • I agree. Toys are hardest. I do do the purge with my son because he is sensitive and he remembers EVERYTHING! However, I have seen that as we talk about some things and I walk him through things he has learned to let go and I am surprised at how much he voluntarily comes to me to get rid of now. However, I know many people that prefer to do it without the child, so I think it probably depends on personality, etc…

      • Yes! Personality and age are both involved. My son responds well to talking through the various reasons to pass various toys along; but he’s a year older and not as relationally oriented. I think my daughter will understand better in a year or so. :)

        In the meantime, today I found it interesting that my kids both really got into playing with a toy that I almost threw out yesterday since they’d rarely played with it – but today I was sitting down playing with them. A good reminder to me that sometimes there’s another (possibly better) solution that getting rid of something. A hard idea to swallow for this lover of simplicity and minimalism. :)

  8. YAY!!! Love the slogan “Clutter Free in 2013”! Yes, I’m with you! I’m in the process of coming up with my “tackle clutter plan” and will definitely enjoy your Monday posts…and TOYS are a great place to start in my house too.

  9. I’m so on board with going clutter free! Post away!! :)

  10. I think it is funny how a small item like a zippy cup can teach us a lesson. I love where you are at and are telling the world.

    I had just bought a house in Holland, for the first time I invested in furniture and things like that. Exactly a year later I met this guy and it was apparent he was going to be my husband πŸ˜‰ It meant moving across the ocean though and leaving everything behind, everything I had worked hard for and everything I had meticulously researched and chosen. When this process happened fairly easy I realized how little ‘things’ really mean. I desired to simplify life and here it was. Now being State side and having to build everything up from the start, I am trying to remind myself of this experience. More means complicating things!

    • Yes, less is definitely easier. That’s neat that you are from Holland. My parents have a picture of me in a tulip field in Holland when I was little girl :)

Speak Your Mind