Have you ever uttered the exasperated phrase, “there’s too much crap in this house!”?
I have. Usually after I’ve been looking for something for hours…and I’ve had to dig thru boxes of stuff I’m keeping because it may come in handy some day…you know what I mean?
As a boomer, possibly your parents (as kids) but definitely your grandparents lived thru the depression. Hence the handed-down ‘keep it til it’s no longer usable’ logic. To this day I feel guilty if I throw away something that’s still usable. And if you grew up like I did, money was short and things were passed around. We did the original ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. Hand-me-downs, we called it.
As a kid, I remember ripping buttons and zippers out of clothes that were headed to the rag pile. Mom would put them in boxes to be used in other garments she would sew for us. Mom’s button box was a treasure trove I assure you. I loved rummaging thru there, trying to put together 6 matching buttons for a blouse or pajama top.
Sometimes, we gather things we fully intend to use someday, but someday doesn’t come. Maybe we lose interest in that hobby, or our home decor has changed styles, or there never seems to be enough time in the day or week or month to get to all the things we’d like to.
And sometimes we just hang on to things for sentimental reasons. I have rugs that were my parents. I always tell myself I’ll use them one of these days. They’re gold, like the color of wheat (remember the 70’s? – harvest gold and avocodo green). Those rugs circled my parent’s bed, an early american canopy bed, with a gold and brown quilt on it, by the way. They were made very well, they’re in great shape still, and I just can’t get rid of them.
I’m not one of those people that thinks you should get rid of everything you haven’t used in 6 months. (Goodby turkey roasting pan I only use at Thanksgiving?) Where would all the antiques and heirlooms be if we all thought that way? But I do aspire to making my stuff fit in the room I have to keep it in. I keep telling myself, I can’t keep it if there’s no room to store it. And I can’t get anything new if there’s no extra room for stuff, so that’s my incentive to keep my pantry and storage room from overflowing.
But if you’re downsizing, you need to make an effort to keep only those things that you’re going to use, or things that you absolutely love. Since the point is to reuse things that still have life in them, find someone in need of what you have. Facebook garage sale is a good way to find someone looking for what you have. I sold some fabric that way. Make a few bucks and share the bounty.
Sometimes I’m hesitant to donate something to Goodwill, if it’s vintage and I think ‘what if no one buys it? It’ll end up in the dump?’. But if I can hand it to someone who adores it, and will use it, then I feel better. Like I decided to pass along 2 sets of drapes I had, but probably will never use, to someone who needed them. She was thrilled to have ‘new to her’ drapes, and I was thrilled someone would be using them.
There’s lots of books out there suggesting you throw out / give away everything except what brings you joy or has a use. I suggest you make a conscious decision about what you’re keeping and why. First, decide how much sentimental objects you have room for. You may have a piece of furniture that was passed down to you, or a set of dishes, or dolls from your childhood, or whatever. You decide how much you can keep.
Next, list different areas of your life, and think about what you plan to do. For example, this can be your work, cooking, gardening, sketching, sewing, quilting, camping, dancing, etc. Then think about what you need for those activities. Let’s say you have 5 cake pans and you’d rather get a root canal than bake. That’s an easy decision – donate them! If you like to camp and you’ve got camping equipment in the garage, obviously that’s a keeper. But if you’ve got enough equipment for 6 people and it’s just you and hubby, think about paring down to just enough for you two.
If you have time, think about doing your decluttering in stages.
Take a few weeks and go thru your home, room by room, and pull out things that you don’t really love, or that you don’t need / use anymore, and put them in a box for donating. Maybe keep the box in the garage for a few weeks. If you haven’t changed your mind or needed any of the items, pass them on or donate somewhere.
In a few months, do a deeper pass at decluttering your home, and dig thru boxes, drawers, and closets, and pull out anything that, again, doesn’t mean anything to you anymore or doesn’t fit in, or you just don’t want or need anymore.
As we age, we get things passed down to us from our parents, aunts & uncles, etc. We may have loved the person, but don’t have need for all of the items. It’s not mean or uncaring to donate something that doesn’t fit with what your have or fit with your life. If Aunt Karen passed on her doll collection to you, and you live in a small house or apartment, it isn’t terrible of you to keep one or two to remember her by, and pass the others on to someone else. Aunt Karen really doesn’t care about her dolls now. Really.
As you declutter, you’ll find there’s room to compact your storage space, fitting things together to take up less space. And you may just start feeling a little lift. A lot of stuff weighs us down. You’ll feel your home start feeling a little bigger.
And while you’re in the mood to pare down, there are other areas of life that could use decluttering too. When you think about decluttering your life, you think about stuff – books, dishes, furniture, clothes, etc. Sometimes we declutter our minds – by writing down all the things we need to do, so to get it out of our heads and onto paper. But we can also declutter our schedule – of things we don’t really like doing. And we can declutter our hearts – of old hurts and bad memories.
And if you’re in a stage of life that has caused you to rethink what the heck you’re doing with your time and energy, or where you’re going from here – like the kids leaving home, or a divorce or death of a loved one, maybe it’s time to think about what’s really important in your life, and what or who you really want to be in there.