Last February, I began a major decluttering campaign in my house. It wasn't consistent. I went through spurts where I purged a lot more than others. Still, any progress is better than no progress. I got rid of over 50 garbage bags of stuff!
Picture that for a minute.
And I still have a long ways to go.
When I am feeling overwhelmed and can't understand why I can't keep the house clean, I think back to those times when I WAS able to keep things consistently clean. I had a few less kids and a lot less activities keeping us on the go. But, we also had a lot less stuff.
I love the sense of accomplishment when I purge an area and it just makes me feel lighter. I know I am not alone. Many people are aspiring towards minimalism and trying to get rid of the stuff that is burdening our lives and weighing us down. There are thousands of books and websites dedicated to helping others part with their many possessions. It is so hard in so many ways!
Like I said, I still have a long way to go. I have made some progress and I just wanted to share a few things that I try to keep in mind when decluttering.
- Don't anticipate regret. This is usually the hardest part. I can honestly say that there are only a handful of times that I have regretted getting rid of something. Usually, I was a bit too emotional when I was cleaning (but isn't angry cleaning often the most thorough?!) I have stopped holding on to so much stuff "just in case" I might need it later. I can usually find a way to make do without it. It helps to also tell myself that I need to trust that God will supply all of my needs.
- Bless others! I don't save things to have a yard sale. It usually is not worth my time and it is definitely not worth having a pile of stuff waiting for the community yard sale weekend. Craigslist and facebook yard sale pages are too much of a hassle for me. We are not ashamed to wear hand me downs and if we are blessed by others' generosity, we should do the same. I give things away to family and friends. The local pregnancy center accepts donations. And, the simplest thing to do is drop a few bags into one of those convenient bins the thrift store seems to have in just about every parking lot in the area. I tell myself that is selfish to hold onto things we aren't enjoying that could be a blessing to others. I had a hard time letting go of my daughter's Elsa nightgown (pun intended) but when I saw that a little girl is wearing it every day just like she did, I felt bad for even hesitating.
- Is it junk? Sometimes, I don't even realize I have so much garbage around. Is it broken? Am I ever going to actually get around to fixing it? Do I even want to? I stopped saving "play clothes" for my kids as hand me downs. They make their own play clothes soon enough and new stains appear like magic when clothes come out of storage. I look at things and made a judgement about whether something is worth the space in the storage tote. These types of things get thrown out instead of given away.
- Baby steps. I tend to get a little carried away. I get in a mood and rip the entire house apart. There are times where it is natural to purge a lot more than others- like when we switch clothes seasonally, but just tackling one small area per day can add up and make a big difference. Sometimes, I will go through one cupboard or drawer at a a time. I generally write "declutter" on my daily to do list to remind me to tackle at least one small area. I don't get around to it every day, but the reminder is there and I am trying to cultivate a habit.
- If it doesn't make you smile, it isn't worth your while. There are things I am so used to having sit around I forget about them- and may not even like them anymore. Tastes and styles change- and that is OK! (Picture 80s hair!) There are so many of my old craft projects that make me cringe now! If something doesn't fit, brings bad memories, or is just something I don't like, I don't have to keep it.
- Get rid of it ASAP! I like to load the donation bags immediately in the back of the car. The trickier part is remembering to drop them off and my husband does get really irritated if he has to load something and they are in his way. The longer bags sit around, the better chance one of my kids will rip them apart. Plus, it just junks the place up! (I still need to really work on this one!)
- Stop bringing so much stuff into the house to begin with! I am more intentional about what I buy. I don't buy fabric just because I like it. It has to have a specific project or purpose. Once in awhile I break this rule, but not too often. I am choosier about clothing. I am more resistant to clearance sales for the sake of a good bargain. I am trying to find a way to make do with what we have before I buy something else.
- Find some motivation. Sometimes, I don't know where to start. Making a room-by-room list of areas I want to declutter and then checking them off helps. Keeping a running total of the number of bags I have purged helps my perspective. Decorating an area that used to be junked up makes me happy and helps to keep it from getting cluttered up again as quickly. I just keep trying to find something that works for me.
I hope some of theses tips are helpful. I am certainly no expert, but I am trying. Do you have any other decluttering advice? I need all of the help that I can get!