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At the end of last summer, my family and I moved into a bit of a fixer upper that was about half the size of our old house. The main project of the past year has not been actually fixing the house, although we have been diligently working on giving the whole place a deep cleaning. The main project has been clearing the clutter in our lives.
The reasons for clearing clutter are many, but the big reasons are that a.) We do not have the space and b.) I want to try to teach the kids to not be as hung up on material things. When we had our large house and first moved there, we had so much space! We had this old house with three floors of living space and a mostly finished basement. We filled it with furniture, toys, books, clothes, among other things. One of the hardest things coming here was realizing that this house did not have the closet space our other house did, nor did it have the storage space. We absolutely HAD to get rid of some things, but how?
My closet was one of the hardest places to de-clutter. I had a walk in closet in my old house. I bought articles of clothing and just kept them…forever…in my closet! My husband had shirts from high school that he just kept in the dressers because he could. We had room! I have finally finished de-cluttering my bedroom. I basically emptied my closet and drawers. I put it all in the homeschool room and brought it back into my room in stages. I made a pile for keep, toss, and sell/donate. I decided that if I had to clutter my room with clothes storage that it was time to make a smaller wardrobe. My clothes fit into my closet and dressers now. I am about ready to get rid of my last boxes of clothing that I don’t wear or doesn’t fit. I took a lot of it to consignment stores so I could make extra cash, which is going towards Christmas presents this year. I thought I would be sad to see a lot of it go, but now I am excited about having a clean room that I can go to rest. Also, I can find a lot of fun outfits that I forgot I had…and I have a new rule now that if I bring a new article of clothing into the closet, something has to leave the closet. It makes me a little more conscious of what I have to give away when I go shopping.
One of the other ways we have been de-cluttering has been by embracing digital technology. I bought the cheaper Kindle Fire for my kids and have been using services like Kindle Unlimited a lot more because we can read the books and “return them” to get more. We all love reading, so it made sense to go this route to save on space for storing books. As of right now, some of our books are in our homeschool room, and others are in the closet as we are still sorting.
With our furniture, a lot of it we just did not bring. We knew all the book shelves would not match the new house. Some of the things we were afraid would break in transit. Then there was the issue that our old sofa just would not fit through the door of our old house to bring it here. (Losing the sofa kinda hurt a bit, but in the end it is just a sofa.) We sold some of it. Our tenants got some of the furniture as well. We have a smaller dining space than we had in our old house, and one of my best friends here has a bigger house but lacked a table. Now, I can still have holiday dinners at my old table…just at her house! She is also getting some of our chairs that just don’t function for a house with a toddler for her recreation room. I do not think I realized just how much clutter extra furniture created. It is so easy to see a space and want to fill it. However, going forward, we have decided that we just do not need to fill our space with possessions. It makes everything feel smaller, and it does not serve a purpose. Now, we have to make sure that it fits, it has a purpose, and it is durable. I try to make sure it is multi-functional as well. I like it if it has extra storage, for example! Also, if I want something, I do not just go out and buy it right away. I think about it for a few weeks to make sure that it is not just an impulse. You have no idea how much this helps!
As for the kids and their things, I have things in storage that the big kids can no longer use but that Miss Crankles will use in the future. I have handed down some of Miss Crankles outgrown items. A lot of her things were pre-loved, and I just want to continue the cycle. I went through clothes and toys and also took many things to consignment shops. I ended up with enough money to pay for Christmas last year doing that!
The thing is that we end up accumulating so.much.stuff. I did not realize fully how bad it was until we moved last year. Even if we would have bought a bigger home, I don’t think we actually needed that much stuff. Going forward, I want to try to teach the kids to be a little less materialistic. Not only that, I want to stick to a budget, and if I am not buying crap for the house, then maybe we can use that money to pay off bills, go on more vacations, or have more field trip days. Less clutter also makes the house look cleaner, and when you have a toddler on the loose, it is kinda nice to have more open space. If you are looking at decluttering, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Ask yourself what is the purpose of the item. No purpose? Then get rid of it
- Is it broken? Can it be fixed? If fixed, is it useful? If not, get rid of it.
- Is it a duplicate? If so, get rid of it.
- Could the money you spend on it be better spent elsewhere? If so, do not buy it.
- If you are cleaning rooms and find things to get rid of, make sure that you separate into piles of give or consign. Consigning is fun, you get money back, and you can use it for other things.
- If you aren’t consigning, do you know someone who needs it. Ask.
- When you consolidate and get rid of things that no longer have use, you actually will have a sense of accomplishment.
I hope that my experience and tips have been helpful. If so, don’t forget to share and follow me on Facebook for more useful tips and fun!