When my husband and I sold our average home in suburbia, we had plans to move to property we had purchased in the country. But we weren’t ready to make the entire move at once. We didn’t know what our home would look like, or how the future would all play out. All we knew at that point in time was that we were moving to a much smaller apartment. With 5 kids.
I don’t need to tell you that it was a big adjustment.
I took the opportunity to drastically downsize and weed out and sift through sixteen years of accumulated stuff. There were tons of memorable items, but mostly it was all stuff that at one time I didn’t know what to do with or had shoved into the closet or attic to deal with later…whenever later was going to be. Well, moving made “later” right now.
It was impossible to move it all into our apartment and ridiculous to store it. So, we made enough trips to Goodwill that the drop-off workers gave me friendly waves in the store. We had enough garage sales that the kids thought we were going to sell them next.
I really thought we had cut our possessions in half, but now, a few years later, I feel like we’re up to our eyeballs in stuff again! Where did it come from?!? Let’s think about how all the extras weasel their way into our homes and lives.
First and foremost, kids. They are stuff magnets. Multiply that by five kids, and we could be affecting the rotation of the earth. If you haven’t developed any clutter busting habits, kids are the number one reason to start.
Preparing for emergencies. I’m not talking stockpiling for the zombie apocolaypse, but I was raised by parents who were born during the Depression and they believed in being prepared. That means having at least two of everything.
Thriftiness. That sounds like it should not be at odds with decluttering, but that whole “waste not, want not” philosophy of my Depression-era parents actually works against you when you’re trying to declutter. I mean, I might really need all 500 twistie-ties one day.
Fixer-upper. Just about everything broken has the potential to be fixed with enough duck tape. So, save it until you can match enough odd pieces to make a new-ish one. Frankenstein was a prototype, after all.
Laziness. Call it what it is. If I don’t deal with it right away, it goes into a pile. And the piles grow like a tribble from Star Trek.
You get the idea. There are dozens more reasons that decluttering never ends.
I know enough now to push back against the stuff.
Too much stuff robs us of our time.
Too much stuff robs us of our peace.
Too much stuff robs us of our joy.
I’ve committed myself to a new path. The NOT normal way. So, we work hard to remove the clutter that accumulates in our home. Here are my 12 Clutter Busting Habits:
1. Trash junk mail immediately. It’s a no-brainer. You know you don’t need to apply for another credit card. So chunk it before it goes into a pile.
2. Remove 5-10 pieces of clothing every month. If you are typical, you own way more than you wear. That shirt with the stain you never treated? The skirt with the hem that needs repair, or the pants that need the button sewed back on? If you haven’t repaired them in a month, give up and put them in the donation bag.
3. Everything has a home. Not on the floor. Not on the dresser. If something can’t find a home, it needs to go to another home via donation.
4. Pick up everything each evening. For kids, this teaches responsibility and helps them realize that more isn’t always better. For adults, it makes us realize that there really can be too much of a good thing.
5. Take out the trash. Don’t practice your Tetras skills. The house will smell better, too.
6. Halve your decorations. Walk through your living room and look at each of the decorations on the shelves, cabinets, end tables, etc. What means something to you and what are mindless space-takers? Grab a box and gather up the space-takers, leaving just the things that you enjoy. So much less to dust!
7. Wash dishes right away. The dishes won’t clean themselves, and it won’t be any easier when food is dried on them.
8. Fold and put away the laundry while it’s still clean. It won’t be any more fun to fold and put away five loads at once, and no one wants to sit next to a pile of laundry.
9. Keep your desk clear. This is my struggle. I don’t have drawers to hide things in, nor would that solve the problem of too much stuff. I’ve committed to clearing the table/desk in my office once a week. I have to see the grain of the faux wood at least once a week. I have gotten better about piles on the floor. Sometimes, it’s the baby steps.
10. Store media out of sight. Make a home for DVDs, video games, and remote controls. They don’t need to be strewn around the room. I repurposed a small dresser for all our media. It’s an attractive piece of furniture where everything is kept in one place. Believe it or not, we lose far fewer movies. Who would have thought?
11. Keep flat surfaces clear. Kitchen counters, bathroom counters, bedroom dressers, tabletops. Keeping them clean takes daily effort. Resist the urge to pile.
12. Finish a magazine or newspaper and trash or recycle immediately. If you’ve finished the paper, rid yourself of its clutter immediately. Rarely do you actually ever read it again.
Try it and see what you think.
Got your own clutter busting habits? Share them in the comments.
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