Confession, lately I’ve started to feel a little suffocated by all our stuff. It’s not like we had that much to begin with but with the addition of a baby, who has now turned into a toddler, and all her accouterments, are house feels fuller than it used to.
At the end of December, the overflowing feeling started to really nag at me and our “collection” had me more anxious than joyful.
So after the holiday, as we were taking down the tree, we decided our house needed a facelift. Furniture needed to move around, our well loved but oversized coffee table had outstayed its welcome and the leftovers we kept hanging on to needed new homes.
Although this may not make sense to everyone, it makes perfect sense to me. Living simpler and having less makes me happier. It fills me with a feeling of spaciousness, peace and room to think, breathe, be. I also find that the more open our space, the easier it is for me to create. There’s less distraction, which is always a good thing for me.
I don’t want to dust more than I have to. I don’t want to sort through 100 items to find the one thing I need. I like being able to see all my clothes at a glance and know that the little storage closet in our backyard only contains holiday decor, baby stuff Noe has outgrown and our bikes. Maybe some day we’ll get it to a point where it contains nothing!
That said, here’s how we’re decluttering in the new year:
I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing a few years ago and loosely used it to downsize. My biggest takeaway from the book is, if doesn’t bring me joy or is not functional in its use, it goes. That means, I’ve sorted through clothes, paperwork, kitchen supplies, bathroom lotions and potions, etc. This took me a while and I continue to reevaluate every so often. I even got Michael in on it. If you’re looking for more inspiration we also just watched Minimalism: a Documentary About the Important Things which gave us even more resources for downsizing.
Moving things around.
After my sister and her husband stayed with us for a few weeks in December they mentioned that part of our problem was that our furniture was really big. We took a good look around and realized that it was true. We had/have a lot of big furniture that made the house feel cluttered. We moved some things around, utilizing them in different ways, got rid of what didn’t serve us anymore and suddenly the house felt more open. We sold a few items on Craigslist and even made a little profit on our coffee table. I love that our furniture gets a second life with someone who’ll appreciate it.
Determining why we’re so attached.
Michael made a big leap over the weekend and got rid of a TV and stereo we’d been moving from house to house. Each time he went to get rid of it in the past though, he hesitated. He was holding on to the idea that we might be able to use it again in a different house or a different way. But the truth is, the technology was outdated and we would likely never use it again. What he realized though was that he was holding on to it because it was one of the first big purchases he made as an adult and that memory/feeling meant something to him. However, the physical items themselves didn’t. Getting really truthful about why you’re holding on to something can be really revealing and may help you part with those things you’ve been holding on to.
Making smarter purchase choices in the future.
No we aren’t going cold turkey on buying things but we are trying to be smarter about what we bring into our home. We’ve made a new rule that any item we want needs to come up on 3 separate occasions before we can buy it. This doesn’t go for food or the basics like toothpaste, cleaning supplies, etc. But more for things we think we need or just plain want but can easily get by without. We want to really want what we want :). We just implemented this so we’ll see how it goes.
Exercising quality over quantity.
What we’ve realized through this exercise is that we’ve wasted a lot of money over the years. We think we want something so badly only to see it in a paper bag on its way to Goodwill a few years later. I can’t help but see the dollars attached to each of those items. We’re working to buy less but better quality stuff. We’d like to implement this with Noe as well as she gets older and begins to want things of her own.
What I’m still working on.
We are far from perfect and we’re very much in the implementation and experimenting phase of this journey. We’re still figuring out where we can trim the fat, tactics to keep us organized and ways to keep ourselves honest. If you came into our house today you might not think it was all that clutter free, we still have areas that look like this (!)
but we also need to live and play and be in our home. A house containing a chair, a lamp and a table isn’t realistic for us. What that means is finding the right balance for our family. I think the above helps.
So that’s how we’re decluttering in the new year.
Do you struggle with too much stuff? I’m happy to come help you if you’re in the area, I’m kind of on a roll 😉