There’s a decluttering revolution gaining momentum in Western society, and I’ve jumped on board. This Christmas our home reached capacity – there are now more material possessions in our house than there is room to store them (even the garage is full). I’m a minimalist by nature, and visual chaos stresses me out, so you can imagine the effect having ‘stuff all over the place’ has on me. Enter crazy mum stage left.
Let me take you on a quick tour of our clutter.
Exhibit A: Soft toys
A quick head count revealed 34 soft toys. That’s a lot of soft toys for a family whose members are allergic to dust mites. What is it about soft toys that kids love so much? Asking the girls to narrow their collection to five each brought about tears and tantrums (mostly from me). I ended up succumbing and letting them keep ten each, five of which will be kept in storage (just as soon as I find some).
Exhibit B: Amelie’s desk.
I was tempted to sweep one arm across the desk and scoop everything into a garbage bag. I had to force myself to walk away. When my blood pressure had stabilised, I sat down with Amelie and, together, we assessed each item by asking: “Do you use it, need it or love it?”.
One by one, we sorted her belongings into four boxes: ‘keep’, ‘throw’, ‘recycle’ and ‘sell’.
The off-putting thing about decluttering is that the targeted area often gets messier before it starts to look better, and it’s tempting to give up midway. But eventually, after the boxes were removed, we were left with this picture of beautiful order:
Ah, I feel so much calmer already.
Exhibit C: Bedroom dresser
Why-oh-why do all the flat surfaces in our house become dumping grounds? Sheesh, anyone would think we live in squalor and hoarding. Here is a before shot of our bedroom dresser, where the kids dump things they want Dad to fix or Mum to put away, where James leaves things with a plan to ‘put them away tomorrow’, even I unload things here when I’m on the run.
And an after shot:
I always thought the best way to tackle clutter was to throw out all the things nobody would notice were gone, and the second best way was to organise the things I couldn’t get away with throwing out. But I’ve been decluttering for the best part of a decade so I’m clearly doing something wrong. It recently dawned on me that decluttering begins outside the home: in the mailbox, at the shops, on the nature strip during council clean-ups, at the home of a well-meaning friend who gives you bags of hand-me-down clothes. It’s pointless (not to mention time-consuming) getting rid of material possessions if they are continuously being replaced by new ones.
So my new year’s ‘revolution’ is to slow the flow of incoming clutter into our house, in the hope that we can live more fully with less.
It is now day 12 of the new year and I think I’ve made great progress (insert pat on the back). Here is a list of my accomplishments so far:
- Placed a ‘No junk mail’ sign on our mail box. I’ll miss the Aldi and Ikea catalogues, but my recycling bin will love me for it.
- Unsubscribed to email lists, 27 to be exact. I really don’t need to know that if I spend $300 at Witchery I’ll get a free handbag because I might then spend $300 at Witchery and come home with a handbag I don’t need. My inbox feels lighter and I’m spending less time deleting emails.
- I’ve adopted an intentional shopping attitude. I’ve always considered shopping a pastime; something I do when I’m feeling down, when I’m feeling happy, when I’m feeling bored. Yes, okay, something I do a lot of the time. Going to the shops with the intention of buying something in particular (rather than wasting time window shopping or wasting money buying impulsively) is going to be challenging. Let’s face it: it’s going to take practice. I’ll let you know how I go with that one.
- Introduced an odds and ends basket into the hall where we can place ‘floating’ objects so we can find a home for them.
- Placed a donation bag in the laundry for items we no longer use, need or love. When the bag is full, I’ll take it to Vinnies. Repeat.
- In a similar vein, I’ve placed a clothes donation bag in each of the kids’ closets. When they’ve outgrown an item of clothing, I place it in the bag. Once the bag is full, I take it to a donation bin. Repeat.
If you’ve got any other decluttering ideas I’d love to hear them.
Wishing you a clutter-free year!