Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Decluttering & Simplifying

We've been decluttering or simplifying for quite a while now, realistically I've been purging extra belongings since I first started packing for my move out west 8 years ago for grad school, and I've done major purges several times since, once when I moved into my truck for a season or two nearing the end of grad school, and once as I moved down into the States to be with the mister.

I don't think I would call what we've been up to lately a major purge, but it has been a rather intentional stuff reduction to make room for more daily life, with less time spent daily on organizing/sorting/cleaning/tidying. I definitely started small with this several years back, and slowly have been building up steam. Its hard getting rid of stuff, especially stuff that has memories attached - oh, so and so gave me that, or oh, I got that at such and such, but for me the evidence is definitely behind having less stuff and being more content (and less stressed by the amount of tidying one has to do!).

Lately I've gotten a great little helper -  Little M has gotten big enough, and old enough, to be a great help, so she's been helping, and we are moving through different areas of our home, decluttering as we go, organizing, tidying, and making sure that we limit the amount of stuff we have, only keep things that are useful and/or beautiful, and attempt to have only one of things when duplicates aren't necessary.
some furniture (not my rowing machine though!) on it's way out the front door, with associated kid-decorations

One of the problems I've been noticing as we try to pare down certain areas, is that since a lot of our stuff is second hand, we often have two or three somewhat useful items, when we could get away with one if only it had all the right characteristics. For example, we had 4 oven mitts, but one was hard to use but a great thickness, two were nicely fitted but had random thin patches that often resulted in hot hands, and one was rather stained, singed, and a bit too large. We got rid of one, and likely could get rid of one of the thin ones, although I hate getting rid of half a set, so for the moment here they be. I could list any number of other things/types of things that we have that have the same problem, a couple not-quite perfect items where one would do.

kid clothes on their way to be donated
This is a problem I've found with second hand/gifted things, they often aren't the perfect ideal item for your current use. However, since thrifting saves so much money, and since reusing things instead of buying new is important to me, I'm not sure of the best solution for that problem. Another reason you end up with a multitude of not-quite perfect items is if you have stuff that you've had for a while, but your use of them has changed over time. I'm trying to be intentional and make do, but there are certain areas (my wardrobe for example), where I'm winnowing things down, to see what is really needed, and what might need to be replaced with something more suitable.

freshly decluttered bins of outgrown kid clothes waiting for Baby E to fit them
In terms of how much stuff we've gotten rid of, well pretty much every time my mother in law (an avid ebay seller!) comes to visit, we send her home with several bags and boxes of things to be sold, or donated if she doesn't feel they would sell or be worth selling. In addition, Little M and I took a large load of kid clothes in to a local women & child support group type organization, where they have a room in the back filled with donated kids clothes for people to pick through as needed. We had gone through our stash of Little M's outgrown clothes as I had realized we had over a dozen long sleeve t-shirts in one size, so clearly I was keeping too many items between kids!

As you can see from the above photos, there is still a long way to go to get a much simpler, streamlined house with less clutter, and less possessions, but we are on a roll at the moment, and motivated to get there!  Ahhh... less stuff just feels so good!


  1. You are so right about that. Less really is more. More time for passions, including one's family. Congrats on making a big dent!

  2. You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.
    (reference, Kipling)
    What I need to declutter is my ragbag of a mind.


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