I recently discovered a huge mess in my bedroom which happened while no one was at home. The top shelf and pole in our closet had broken away from the wall and crashed onto the floor inside and outside of the closet. My husband blamed the two heavy boxes of journals, which I kept on that shelf. It was quite a mess. We emptied 2/3 of the closet so that he could work in it. I realized that my closet was over stuffed. Since most of it was already all over the bedroom, I sorted through it all. I made a garbage pile, a donate pile and a store in the attic pile. He also went through his hanging clothes and when we were finished we had over 50 empty hangers. Plus I parted with 8 purses and 10 pairs of shoes. That is almost embarrassing to admit.
Too much stuff is a burden. How much is too much? Are your dresser drawers barely closeable? Do you struggle to find your stuff? Do you keep a car, or stuff, in your garage? Are you paying a monthly fee for extra storage? If so,iIt may be time to declutter.
Most Americans could learn a few lessons from the minimalist movement and living in tiny houses trend. Both of these lifestyles require radical simplifying. One does not have to live in only 200 square feet of space to benefit from decluttering. I did not ask myself if any specific piece of clothing brought me joy before parting with it either. I just knew it would be easier to find what I wanted in a less full closet and there were many items I did not need or use at all.
I once mentioned to my daughter-in-law that in earlier times big families lived in tiny houses. My mom was from a family of seven and lived in a three bedroom house and so did my dad, who was from a family of nine. There are two very big differences between now and then. Then there was much less focus on personal space (actually there was none) and today every individual has lots and lots of stuff overflowing our homes and bulging out of drawers and closets.
I want to share with you one thing I did well with my children in this area and one I wish I had handled better.
I did expect my children to be responsible for their rooms. When they were little I did most of the routine cleaning, but as they aged they were expected to do more and me to do less. Sometimes I would ask them to focus on a certain area. I might announce that tomorrow after lunch I would be doing a drawer inspection. Each child had time to organize their few drawers keeping only what was designated in each drawer and attempting to make it neat. The children actually enjoyed this challenge because it came with rewards. My inspections were really just a cursory glance. I would leave a note such as, “Impressive!” or “Great Job” in some drawers or might give a stick of gum in another. Obviously these rewards are more exciting for a 6 or 8 year old than a 12 or older child. Use them when possible.
There were several times when we did major house-wide decluttering. Then we held garage sales to part with our unwanted/ no longer loved items. The problem was, when they sold their old stuff, they then had money to buy new stuff. This created the “stuff cycle”. I think it would have been better if we had collectively agreed upon pooling our garage sale proceeds to make a donation to a community service or a ministry or even an individual in need. Or we could have skipped the entire garage sale and just donated our stuff to a resale store that was the fund for a non-profit. I think I missed a great character building opportunity.
How do you manage stuff in your home?