I wish I was a minimalist. In fact, I often type "minimalist" in the search bar on Pinterest and gaze longingly at the perfectly matched capsule wardrobes, the kitchens free of clutter and dirt, the bedrooms that are sparse yet, beautiful.
I have an appreciation for those who have taken on the discipline of minimalism. And while not one myself, my husband and I have made great strides to rid our home of things we just don't want, need or use.
In the past two years, we have gotten rid of about half our stuff. It has been both freeing and frustrating, satisfying and telling.
Here is how we (or should I say I, because let's face it men don't worry about clutter) did it.
1. Evaluate your needs.
I talked about this when I wrote a post on why I got rid of half my clothes. But how many times do we hang on to things we don't need because we think we might need them later? I realized that at this point in my life I don't need four pant suits and seven pairs of work slacks.
As a stay at home mom raising sons and chickens, let's face it, my good clothes would get ruined pretty fast. I needed to change my "work" wardrobe to something more appropriate.
The same thing can be applied to other areas of your life. Did we really need two couches? Or a carpet cleaner when we had a house full of hardwood floors? Or six casserole dishes? Nope. Things got tossed, sold or donated because we simply didn't need them.
We kept one sofa and donated half the casserole dishes.
2.Let go of guilt.
I cannot tell you how many things I was hanging onto because someone gave it to me. Stuff I hated. Stuff I never wanted to begin with. But I felt guilty letting go of these things. Here is how I feel: stuff should never be the defining point in our relationship with another human being.
I will repeat stuff should never be the defining point in our relationship with another human being.
By hanging on to that stuff I was not only hanging onto misplaced guilt, but I was allowing for resentment to breed in my thoughts and actions toward my loved ones.
3. Dump duplicates.
I realize this is sort of a point I already made in #1 but I am going to talk about this again. How many rubber spatulas and serving spoons do you need? Really need?
This was something I really struggled with. But what is something is dirty? If something is dirty and you need it, just wash it. There you go. I just saved you serious drawer space in your kitchen.
4. Toss (sell, or donate) toys
Okay, I am just going to say this here and now. I don't have a problem with toys. In fact, I don't have a problem with lots of toys.
My sister said something to me once that I really appreciated, she reminded me that we spent our days at home. And that if my children went to daycare and I saw there were only a handful of toys I might think it a sad place for my children to be all day. This made me feel better.
However, since we have moved to a smaller house we are now without a play room and there just isn't a lot of extra space for toys. So before we moved we got rid of some of the bigger things and have paired down to blocks, trucks, trains and musical instruments. Our toys take up far less space.
5. Offload DVDs
I got rid of about 98% of our DVDs. It's the age of streaming, most of those TV show collections we were keeping are available on Netflix or Amazon. The movies we did keep were taken out of their DVD cases and placed in a CD binder. This takes up far less space.
The DVDs I chose not to keep were either donated or sold via the Amazon trade-in program. This was also a great way to make some extra money.
6. Clean out the attic and garage.
I have this rule, if it's not Christmas decorations or baby furniture for future offspring, I don't want to store it in the attic. So basically, if it's something I have to store then there is a good chance I don't need it and should probably go ahead and throw it out.
So we ended up getting rid of a LOT of stuff that was clogging up our attic and garage. And by the time, this was over I could have just kicked myself. We had moved this stuff from house to house to house.
7. Throw out the tech.
How much obsolete, outdated and broken tech do you have? Old cellphones, game consoles that are outmoded, computers that have seen better days?
Some of these things like old game consoles or MP3 players can be sold.
If you have old TVs or computers call your local solid waste management department and see if there is a recycling program to get that junk out of your house.
It's not going to happen overnight. Downsizing, decluttering, simplifying, whatever you want to call it, takes time and effort. So just keep trying.
Attack one room or closet or corner at a time.
What about you? Have you downsized or simplified? Tell me about it.