I’m on a mission to declutter our home. Unfortunately, this isn’t my first time. Three years ago, before we moved to our current home, I decluttered. Boy, did I declutter. I took at least three trunks full of “stuff” to Goodwill, I had a garage sale, and I sold things online. However, I wasn’t able to complete the job before moving day arrived, so some of our “stuff” we didn’t need came with us.
Still, when we moved into our new home, my husband and marveled at how comfortable it felt without extra stuff everywhere. We loved the feeling. And then, well, like a weed that just won’t stop growing, the stuff started piling up again.
Seriously, how does this happen? How does the stuff take over even when you’re trying to manage it?
Now that I’m decluttering the second time, again, in preparation for a move, I’m taking steps to make sure that in our new location, stuff doesn’t get the better of me. Here are some strategies I’m utilizing:
1. Embrace minimalist principles
Look around the web, and you’ll find plenty of minimalists writing about their experience. For instance, the minimalist mom limits her wardrobe to items that are black, white, gray, and black and white so everything mixes and matches. She has less than 15 pieces in her wardrobe. Considering that many of us have walk in closets that house more clothes than we can wear in three months, it’s easy to see how her philosophy would lead to a lot less clutter, expense, and environmental cost.
2. Get rid of the fear of not having something just in case
I hold on to a lot of stuff because I think someday I might need it. Do you know there are some things in the basement still packed in boxes from our last move three years ago! I’m pretty sure I won’t be needing anything in there any time soon.
Let’s be honest, we live in a world where we can quite easily get what we need when we need it. If you’re afraid buying something when you need it will cost more, you’re probably right. However, you can always borrow what you need from someone or buy it used. Most likely, you won’t need all the stuff you’re holding onto.
3. Practice one item in, one item out
I failed at this with my first round of decluttering. Basically, every time you bring something into your home, make sure to take something out. If you buy your child a new doll, make sure that you donate or sell another one of her toys or you’ll end up with a toy room filled with toys your children don’t play with.
If you bring in a new chair, take another piece of furniture out. This principle limits the total number of items you have in your home.
4. Know that not all children’s art work can be kept
My children love to draw and paint, and I love seeing their work. However, since I have three kids, the artwork can pile up quickly. Now, we save only their best or favorite pieces. Everything else goes in the trash. (My confession–I have to do this job when my husband and kids aren’t around because they would prefer to keep every masterpiece forever.)
I’ve taken pictures of my son’s favorite preschool paintings and drawings, and when I see a good deal on photo books, I’m going to create one for him and toss the originals. That way we can have the memories without all the accompanying clutter.
5. Deal with mail immediately
My kitchen counter and living room end table become clutter magnets because I toss mail there until I have time (or the inclination) to deal with it, sometimes a week or two later! My new rule is to deal with mail as it comes in so there won’t be paper piles.
Battling clutter will be a lifelong activity, especially in our consumer society. However, using these tricks, I hope to keep clutter at bay when we move into our next home.
What’s your favorite tip to keep clutter at bay, or do you struggle with keeping the clutter in check?
I used to keep a very clean and decluttered house when I was a bachelor. Now that I am married with a 13-year-old kid, I find that making sure things are clean is more important than decluttering. I do declutter my own stuff, but stuff that belongs to others just gets stacked. It still looks messy, but it’s the best compromise we could come up with.
Bryce–Kids just seem to multiply all of the clutter. Even if you try to limit what they bring in. . .
Maybe we should all keep our favourite and best pieces of art work done by our children since they are a window into memories and surely, unless they’re done on size A1 paper, they won’t take up as much room as most other things.
In my living room we have all sorts shoved into the corner, relatively neat. Things like guitar amps and sleeping bags, but then we don’t have much storage space in the house and I think stuff can give a room character 🙂 …but yes, some stuff needs to go.