I’ve always had a problem with clutter. Though I love to organize, I have trouble letting things go. Let’s just say it’s in my genes. I hold on to things in case I need them “someday.” I keep things around for the ostensible sentimental value they may hold. I buy things because I like them, not because I need them.
Historically, I’ve framed the issue as a storage problem – if I could just find more space and better ways to store my stuff, it would be OK. I blamed it on our house – it’s a small(ish) house, without a lot of places for shelves and with few closets. I blamed it on my husband – OK, that’s a valid point since he’s even worse than I am. (Sorry, Chuck.) I would do periodic purges of clothes and some household items that didn’t ever get used, but it only made a small dent.
As our family has grown, I’ve become less and less tolerant of superfluous stuff taking up room in my life. Before Charlie was born I read and read and read about the things that you absolutely need for kids, and those things you can do without. I read about minimalist parenting. I researched the crap out of every purchase. I tried to make space by cleaning out some of the impedimenta that was lingering in every nook and cranny of our home (and ended up shoving a lot into closets and the basement). I still ended up without enough space to store everything.
Then, it dawned on me. My house isn’t too small. I still have too much stuff.
What finally made it click was contemplating about moving to our dream cabin one day. We want it to be small, the size of the first floor of our house or less. Of course, I’ve always envisioned keeping only those things I absolutely need when we finally move. Of having a place for everything and everything in its place. One day, I realized I didn’t have to wait to achieve that goal. I could do it now! If I don’t have a place for something, it literally has no place in my house, and thus in my life.
In the four months since Eleanor was born, I’ve simplified. I’ve given away most things that don’t see daily, or at least monthly, use. I’m actively trying to use up all the random products I’ve purchased for no reason at all other than I wanted to buy something (*cough* hair products *cough*). Those things that are really old and just hanging out because I felt bad for purchasing them and not using them have been pitched, recycled, composted, or donated.
I have cleared a ton of space in my house, and am beginning to realize more things that are unnecessary. Why have tupperware when I have literally dozens of mason jars? Do I really need to hold on to these Christmas cards for a craft project I will probably never complete?Why do I have a dozen coffee mugs when at most I have two friends visit at a time, plus the four of us? Do I really need all these cookbooks, when I’ve never made a single recipe out of them? (Because library. And Internet.) Out you go, Dave!*
It hasn’t exactly been easy; I nearly cried when I donated Eleanor’s newborn sleepers to charity. And I probably have made some decluttering mistakes. But it’s absolutely amazing how good it feels to have clear space around. Without the clutter staring me in the face I feel calmer, happier. Let’s hope this trend continues.
*Penguins of Madagascar – If you haven’t seen it, it’s really cute and has about a million quotable lines.