Developing a Habit of Getting Rid of Clutter

habit-declutteringGetting Rid of the Clutter

I have one little boy that treasures everything. While cleaning out his drawer one day I found an empty pack of gum. I asked him about it and he told me it was his very first pack of gum and couldn’t he please keep it so he’d always remember his first pack of gum? He holds on to personal mail, junk mail, stickers, drinking straws, cardboard tubes, every piece of paper he has etched his markings onto … part of this is my fault – I have always played up simple things as being treasure and told them they can turn any piece of junk into something fun with a bit of imagination. But part of his holding onto is his personality – things trigger memories, and the memories are good, and so he holds on.

I have another little boy who cares very little about things and yet in his apathy he lacks the habit of simply getting rid of the clutter and so the things, while not lovingly stashed in drawers and boxes, sit around until I toss it.intentionally nurturing good habits in our children

Our next habit is simply getting rid of the clutter. Oh this will be so good for us all!

Unlike most of the previous months I don’t have a day by day plan for getting rid of the clutter – instead I will be setting up  bags and boxes throughout the house and involving the boys in sorting through and passing on items we no longer use or need. There will be a lot of dialogue about why we are getting rid of the clutter, whether it should be passed on to someone else or if it should be tossed in the trash.

I want getting rid of clutter to be something the boys think about, are aware of the need for, and fully participate in the decision making in regards to getting rid of their own things. I don’t want to be the one getting rid of the clutter behind their backs so they never learn how to do this themselves.

I timed this habit to be throughout the month of September so that we could be working on deep cleaning our home before the holiday busy-ness sets in. Yay for a clean, de-cluttered home! {At least that is the hope!}



The War on Stuff :: getting rid of clutter

Over the past year Paul and I have become increasingly aware of the amount of stuff we have and how it slows down our lives. Stuff takes time to clean, it takes time to organize, it takes time to find a place for it and it takes time to make use of it.

Earlier this year I read the book The Power of Less by Leo Babauta- I have mentioned it on here before and thoroughly enjoyed it.

In the authors personal blog he has mentioned a few times his quest to only own 50 personal items. While I have no desire to strive towards a perfected minimalistic lifestyle, which seems so popular today, I am intrigued by his goal.

I own so much stuff there is no way that I could even come close to putting a number it. So I have decided that I want to be able to put a name to the stuff I own. I don’t want things in my house simply because they found their way here.

I want the stuff in my house to be here because I have invited it to live here. Because I chose to keep it.

Our War on Stuff isn’t really an out-of-control-money-spenders problem. In fact it’s quite the opposite.

We aren’t big spenders. There are a few select items that we have intentionally saved for and bought brand new – mainly electronics. Almost everything else in our house is either gifted or second hand – from furniture to clothes to dishes to decor to cars. There are tremendous deals to be found at thrift stores and yard sales and we have thoroughly enjoyed the hunt for those items.

That being said between the generosity of family and friends and the deals to be found shopping second hand we are realizing we have more stuff than we truly need or want.

Finding the balance that is right for us is an on going challenge.
Stuff seems to breed and multiply over night.

I am slowly making progress through all areas of our home.
When I started getting rid of clutter many months ago I started with the boys toys, as that is what seems to make the largest mess. They don’t own many toys and each toy has it’s place. Their stuffed animals live on their beds. Their cars and car mat and finger puppets decorate a corner of their room. Their Army men, Mr. Potato Head, Lego, Marble Run and some of their building blocks are in their own bins in the hall closet. Their wooden castle and scrap wood and wooden train set are kept in a bin under the couch on the back porch. Dress up items are in the coat closet. They have a few other games on our Game Shelf and then some craft items in my craft closet. I have a place in the living room to conceal any miscellaneous toys that may end up in our house, but that is frequently weeded through.
Each toy has its own storage container and each container belongs in a specific place and it makes cleaning up and organizing so simple.
And I like that I can name each toy they own – as can they.
There’s no junk buried at the bottom of a toy box. They don’t own a toy box.

I have done our linen closet, bathrooms, shoes, clothes, kitchen, books and my office over the past 6 months and am getting ready to reevaluate each area again.

I think the most painful aspect of parting with stuff is that they are  often times items you spent money on and it feels like you are throwing out your money. But the reality is the money was wasted when the item was unnecessarily purchased. Holding on to unused and extra items just because you paid a lot of money for it doesn’t suddenly justify the purchase.
In fact, I think if over-buyers were to purge all unnecessary items from their home it would go a long way to help ‘cure’ the over buying tendencies.

I have been amazed at how my perspective has changed over this year of only buying clothes at the thrift store. (My 2010 personal challenge of the year was to only purchase clothes from thrift store.)
The amount of STUFF that is available is both mind boggling and sad (and at the same time super exciting!)
I am just as guilty as the next person over the Collection of Stuff. Holding onto stuff just in case. Or because I used it once. Or because it reminds me of something special. Or because I might need it in three months. Or because someone I know might need it in 6 years. Or because I plan on becoming an expert Wok user.

Over the course of the last few months of letting go of stuff it has been so freeing.
Freeing to see that I don’t need to bring things into my house just because they were on a super awesome sale.
Freeing to {slowly} see the ease of keeping a {slowly} decluttering house clean.
Freeing to be able to give lavishly to our friends those things which we enjoy but don’t truly need.

I recently gave away a somewhat expensive item that I truly liked, paid way too much for, used briefly and then no longer needed. I struggled with giving it away simply because I felt like I was wasting money {again, how much sense does that make since I actually wasted the money at the check out counter ages ago!?} but after awhile I decided to just give it to a friend that I felt led to share with. This friend uses the item all the time and told me it makes them feel like royalty. How cool is that?! It was just the encouragement I needed to start looking at my stuff with new eyes – how can I bless others with the abundance of items in my house?

I still have a lot of areas to purge and bring back to the basics and the few items we love, but the steps we’ve taken have been good for us. Letting go. Pairing back. Trying to be simple and yet keeping it us.

:: As I stated at the beginning, this is a re-post from 2010. Seeing as our habit for this month is getting rid of clutter I found this a great encouragement to read through again, and hope it is to you too!::

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