Declutter and Eat Your Butter

When we used to live in apartments we didn’t have that much stuff. Each year the lease would come up, we would pack up, find another new cool apartment, and move on. Along the way we cleared out the clutter or anything extra that wouldn’t match in the new place. I also wouldn’t buy so many things because there would be no space to put it.

Then we bought a house. Lots of space! So many rooms to fill up! Anyways, we are now on house number three, and the amount of stuff we brought along was a little bit more than from apartment living. Okay, a lot more stuff. This time our living situation is unique, more specifically meaning that the garage is ENORMOUS. All the things were stored in there. I’ve always known that having too many things was stressful: it meant more mess, it meant harder to find things, etc. But with school-age children who are homeschooled, and play things, and an upstairs and a downstairs, and a flexible life schedule at that, it came to a point where I needed to re-think about all the THINGS.

Slowly I would try to organize one section of the house or room but it would keep getting messy faster than I could keep up. I definitely am not a hoarder or anything, but there are things that I attach way more value to than to other things. For example, all my art supplies, or the kids’ art supplies, or all the educational books or activities or games, that might ONE DAY be in use. Some of them were gifted, some were purchased. I remembered one of the rule of thumbs is to get rid of stuff if you don’t use it in a year or two. But was that about clothes? It can’t be relevant to education, or creativity, right?

I used to read articles about how to be tidy, how to always keep a clean house, or helpful tips of that sort, so I knew kind of what to do. It was to never let it reach such a state where you’re overwhelmed. It was to always tidy and pick up, not a huge spring cleaning type of event. But just because I knew that didn’t mean I DID it. So I began. One bag here. One bag there. One box of STUFF taken to garage for assessment, to see if kiddos would remember or miss anything after a while. Nope. Gone. For a few days I tried posting items (extra lamps, large art easels, things of that sort) to sell online, but it wasn’t super successful. However, when I listed that item FREE – it was picked up almost immediately! So that is how I got rid of a bunch of big things. Everything else was taken to Goodwill. It was too much for me to try to post and sell and deal with it, I wanted quick results.

Less things meant less mess. When the mess was there, it was much easier to clean up. Kiddos played with the things that were available, and had more entertaining games. A fun fact: I didn’t stress so much about all the things. Apparently it was like a never-ending nag at the back of my head to constantly need to clean up and not be allowed to fully rest because the mess would be reappearing.

Also I accidentally came across a show on Netflix – “Tidying up with Marie Kondo”. In it, she visits families and helps them organize their life and home. It’s all about tidying by category: clothes, books, kitchen, miscellaneous and sentimental items. If things don’t spark joy, or are not actually being used, then it’s time to let it go. Each item needs to be purposeful. She taught how to properly fold different types of clothes. All of this was just in time for my de-clutter journey.

Here’s what her site says: Marie’s tidying method is about choosing what to keep – not what to get rid of, and this is an important distinction from other techniques. Tidying is about looking forward, so devote your energy into choosing objects that spark joy for you. Here’s how:

  • Pick up each item one at a time.
  • Ask yourself if it sparks joy – you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising.
  • If it does, keep it!
  • If it doesn’t, let it go with gratitude.

Not having too many things doesn’t mean not spending money on them. It means each item is purposeful. It’s better to spend more money and get a high-quality product that will last, instead of several bad-quality things that take up space and aren’t being in use. I would rather have one nice solid game board that we love to use on family games, than to have a dozen boxes of games that we don’t use.

I would say this took me a few months to really get going. If I was fully dedicated, I’m sure I could have all this taken care of in a week, but hey, there’s real life happening here too. It’s not perfect yet. I still have a shelf upstairs to go through, a few bins of paper stuff in the garage, and the Christmas things. Oh and the miscellaneous drawer in the kitchen. But now it’s manageable! And I have so much more time during the day! Less things means less distractions! I can now focus on living my day and doing what needs to be done, and actually enjoying it!

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