I know I am always on about decluttering… But lets be honest stuff is the burden of the modern man. I am not joking, really think about it. The nicest thing about going away on holiday is the lack of stuff… No tripping over a million toys, no guilty piles of things to get to – projects undone, books unread, not to mention post unopened. There is something lovely about everything you need fits in a suitcase.
I know I am a minimalist by nature, but I live with more than a few clutter bugs I have learnt to be “not too obsessive” about getting rid of stuff. But rather make sure their stuff is organized and they can actually access it – there really is no point in having stuff if you can’t get to it.
Luckily we live in a part of the world where there are so many people in desperate need right on our doorstep, that firstly I cannot justify having stuff we don’t use and secondly there is always a welcome home for things we no longer need.
Here we go se7en decluttering tips:
- Watch what comes in: And then there is the reality of stuff and even though I have made a concerted effort not to shop and stay away from the shops as much as possible our house is still burdened with stuff. It really helps when you are shopping to think if you really love something or if it is just a whim. Do you need it or just want it. If it is a whim or a reward for a job well done then reward yourself with a consumable, you don’t actually have to bring stuff into your home.
- Limit your space: Folk often say “Se7en kids! You must live in a mansion. But no we don’t!!! A regular house and our kids know the space isn’t getting any bigger. That’s it and you can only fill a space so full!!! Really I never want a bigger house, I never want more space to clean and I never want more space to keep stuff! Really if everything is packed away in boxes and cupboards then you are not using it and you most likely don’t need it – I know it sounds extreme but I really think if you don’t use it then you don’t need it. We do have some things kept that we will need one day and some things that we only use once or twice a year but mostly if we don’t use it then we let it go. We do keep memories and such-like in a system but the system is finite when it gets too full then we have to discard.
- Forget about needing more storage: So often I hear “I can’t organize our stuff I never have enough containers – trust me on this you probably don’t. If we are decluttering then as I empty out containers I just put them on the side until I am finished. Often when I think we need a bigger box for something I discover that actually a smaller box that I already own will do the trick just as well. I recently thought just this with our kids stuff it just seemed like everything was overflowing. We had a discussion and I discovered that actually, the kids were unanimous, they had so much stuff that they could no longer cope with packing it away. We went through each box and reduced the contents by half – only the best of the rest got to stay. We didn’t need bigger containers at all, we needed much less stuff.
- Fifteen minutes a day really works: I haven’t got time to take days or weeks for a project anymore. In life before kids I would have unpacked the entire house and then worked my way through it until I was done. Unfortunately I have a lot of helping hands now and I have to limit the chaos I cause. I love getting them involved in decluttering projects but I have found that daily maintenance takes away the need for a huge declutter. I set my limit on the length of time it takes them to clean their teeth in the morning, usually about fifteen minutes. As they go so do I and I tackle something small – just one drawer, one shelf, the clutter that accumulates in the entranceway. Mostly it is more about putting stuff back where it really belongs than actually getting rid of stuff.
- Be consistent: As soon as a container starts to overflow or a drawer gets jammed then our kids know it is beyond time to sort and discard. They know if you don’t love it then let it go, there is someone out there that will love it. They also know that if they leave stuff lying around (and they still do!!!) then it will vanish. If they don’t make enquiries then I assume they didn’t love it that much and if it isn’t one of our se7en toys then it is out. I do think it is pretty fair to have a set standard – they know the drill and there are not any complaints. Frankly I think they find all the stuff that accumulates to be quite a burden to the passions they need to pursue.
- Make sure the stuff goes out: There is no point in decluttering and then having piles of stuff lying around waiting to be donated. Most of the stuff I discard is small – from my small 15 minute declutter and I keep a shopping bag behind the front door where I just drop things that are lingering and lying around too long. When the bag is full I put it in a large bag in the garage and a new small bag begins behind the front door. I also have a pending zone, where I have boxed up a couple of things that I think may be asked about and a couple of things for rotation. Then we have bigger items that I just don’t know what to do with, and those I put at the front door and ask everyone who passes through it if they would like it… strange things – a scanner, a printer… not exactly the usual clothes and toys. But they do move on!!!
- The best tip ever: Now there is always a leftover pile of dubious things, that you can’t just chuck: a gift you can’t stand from a friend, something that you paid a lot for and actually you didn’t like it the moment you got home, left over bits and pieces… Friends of ours who were leaving the country had heaps of these things that weren’t worth transporting to the other side of the world but they couldn’t stand to part with them. So they boxed the goodies up and gave them to friends to do whatever they liked with them. Friends could keep or discard whatever was in their box. I love this it certainly takes the decision out of the hands of the owners.
Now with se7en, nearly ei8ht kids it is getting to the stage where I cannot keep track of all their stuff let alone declutter it for them. The time has come for them to learn to declutter their own stuff and I will post about it in the next post… Teaching Kids to Declutter in Se7en Steps.