It’s never ending, the culling and purging of items inside our home. I don’t think we bring that much in. Surely we don’t bring that much in. Or do we? I’m suddenly remembering every box and grocery bag and backpack full of preschool art projects. I could bury myself under the weight of all the little things, assuming I allowed them to stack up and multiply, even under the guise of “I’ll file this away” or “this is for the baby book” or “maybe, someday, maybe.”
We have been aiming for a simpler existence, and for good reason. The last time we moved was a harrowing experience. Alexa was very young, we were strapped for time and apparently we had no idea how much stuff we had. Nearly half our possessions never got packed, and we moved into our Ewok Village (so-called because it is nestled high with lots of stairs) piecemeal, one hastily cobbled box at a time.
Not that we’re planning to move anytime soon, but we vowed that the next time would be easier. We would be more vigilant, and we would not fall victim to whatever storage spots we managed to uncover.
Trick’s on us, though, because it seems like the more we declutter the more we find to declutter.
We have tackled the hall closet, and our bedroom closets, Alexa’s toy boxes and the kitchen pantry. It’s these hidden spaces that are the worse culprits for finding unneeded clutter. I am dreading the day (and it’s coming soon) when I crack open the upstairs hall closet and give our “keepsakes” a good once-over.
I have been cultivating a method for decluttering that works. Granted, through regular practice of these tips I’ve become desensitized to the emotional toll that comes with getting rid of things I once loved. In the past decade we have moved six times. I have helped my Dad move twice — both times a truly traumatic experience when it comes to emotional attachments.
So I know a little something about saying goodbye to baby clothes, childhood keepsakes and the clothes that belonged to my mom. Spoiler: It’s not easy, but it gets easier.
I almost sobbed when I said goodbye to Alexa’s old shoes last weekend. And I nearly saved my copy of “Brokedown Palace” from the donate pile before I realized I hadn’t watched it in six years (probably because its depressing ending depresses me just thinking about it).
5 Tips for Clearing Clutter & Getting Rid of Stuff
1. Have you used the item in the past 6 months?
This question is good for technology, household items, gadgets, gym equipment, costume jewelry. Not so good for seasonal clothing (don’t toss your favorite winter coat!).
If you answer no, toss.
2. Will I find a use for this item in the next week?
Follow-up to question No. 1 if you’re on the fence, and be honest.
If you answer no, toss.
3. Would a photo suffice?
This question is good for sentimental items, including cards, letters, children’s artwork, travel keepsakes, etc. The stuff that means something to you, but it’s not like it’s your grandmother’s wedding ring. For the love of god, do not get rid of your heirloom jewelry.
If you answer yes, take a photo and toss.
4. Invoke William Morris by eliminating items that are neither beautiful nor useful.
I first read about this concept on Jules’ blog when she started her ongoing William Morris Project a few years ago, and it really helped me put things in perspective. Ask yourself: Does this item make me happy? Do I use this item a lot?
If you answer no to either, toss.
5. No mercy.
Just like the Cobra Kai, “Strike first, strike hard, no mercy!” If you find yourself hesitating or making excuses to keep things you do not need, be strong. Do not let it win. It’s just STUFF. You will be fine without it.
If you’re all out of excuses, toss.
What about you — what was the hardest thing you ever gave up during a decluttering? Any other tips for successful purging of stuff in your closets? Do share in the comments.