Yesterday I threw a bit of a tantrum. I feel like we are out-growing this house that we are living in and sometimes I feel quite claustrophobic. The truth is, this house is quite big (though I’d love a second toilet), and the problem is not that the house is shrinking, but that we keep filling it up with stuff.
When I was a kid, I can remember my Dad getting fed up to the gills with all our crap lying around the house. We would come home from school, kick our shoes off near the door, throw our school bags on the floor, then proceed to leave a trail of stuff all over the house. Every so often Dad would get sick of having to step over it all (I’m one of four kids, so there was a lot of stuff) and he would start picking things up and hurling them at the bottom of the staircase that lead up to our bedrooms. The stairs were wooden, so the noise that the heavier objects was significant and no doubt somewhat satisfying to my poor, long-suffering Dad.
I have inherited his trait for getting Fed Up With All The Crap and yesterday I started throwing stuff. It felt really good. Some of the stuff made it into a garbage bin or the recycling tub. Some of it just flew down the corridor towards the kids’ bedrooms. The whole point of throwing stuff so that it lands somewhere so that kids would have to step over it to get past it on the way to their bedrooms is that they would PICK IT UP. Doesn’t always work, but I shall continue to enjoy the sensation of throwing shoes, hats and yes, the occasional book, down the corridor.
So, back to my tantrum. I didn’t stop at shoes. I then went into the kitchen and, with Ella’s help, emptied the entire contents of the pantry onto the surrounding benchtops. We filled three garbage bags with expired foods. There was a box of custard powder that expired four years ago.
After the pantry, I attacked the coffee mug cupboard. I’ve got a cupboard above the kitchen bench that has three shelves on it. You’d be amazed at how many coffee mugs we have that we never, ever use. I got rid of all of them, including my I heart NY mug that I bought in 2004 that no longer has a heart on it because it faded in the dishwasher. Gone. The heart and the mug. Yes, I was brutal. I even got rid of my old favourite ‘happily dying of chocolate’ mug. But you should see how much room there is on those shelves now!
Then I came into the office and cleaned off a few shelves. Ditched some bottles of glue that had long since solidified. Threw away some scraps of gift wrap that were just annoying. Added some books to the Garage Sale box.
I feel sooooo much better. And that’s the thing with de-cluttering. You don’t know, until you do it, just how fantastic you can feel when you’ve done a big clean-up. It’s like throwing things down the corridor or at the staircase, only better, because when the dust has settled you can look around and there’s all this… space.
Trish’s Top Tips For Decluttering
1. If you haven’t used it in 12 months, get rid of it.
2. If you are hanging onto it because someone special gave it to you, but you haven’t used it in 12 months, get rid of it.
3. If it is still in perfectly good condition, just a little bit dusty, sell it at a garage sale or put it on Freecycle and give it a second chance at life. Haven’t you seen Toy Story 3? Your possessions just want to get used. Give them to someone who will use them.
4. If you really can’t bring yourself to throw it away, bring it to the front of the cupboard and start using it. If, after 12 months, you still haven’t used it, get rid of it.
5. If you buy a new [something], get rid of an old [something]. Don’t stockpile stuff just for the sake of it.
6. Do it a little at a time. If you find the whole process a bit stressful, just do it one cupboard or one shelf or one drawer at a time.
7. In all my years of brutal de-cluttering, I have never regretted getting rid of something. I’ve never had that moment of “darn it, I should’ve kept that extra salad bowl”. Don’t hang onto things because you think you might find a use for it one day. This is how entire homes and garages get filled up. Have you seen the show ‘Hoarders’? I’m convinced that those people just started out saying “I might need this one day.”