A home full of loud children, dirty laundry and a sink full of dishes can be pretty stressful. But infinitely worse than that is the same chaotic home with piles of clutter everywhere.
If you want a sure way to stress me out give me a simple task, like making dinner, and then put a couple extra kitchen appliances out on the counter and some random pieces from a 50-piece toy set on the kitchen floor.
I absolutely cannot stand clutter. My husband thinks I get a little dramatic about it, but I cannot control my disdain for it. I am amazed at the amount of things I can routinely bring to the thrift store and still have more clutter to go through. It is a constant job and I'm convinced that if I don't stay on top of it as a daily chore (literally) we would be on the next episode of hoarders.
I have gotten even more serious about getting the clutter out of my life after reading Marie Kondo's book: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The basic premise of the book is to only keep in your home things that inspire joy.
Although I am a pretty militant clutter clearer there are still several things I would like to donate to the nearest thrift store in 2017.
Here is a list of items you may find taking up precious space in your home that need to get the boot:
1. Random chargers and electronics
Am I the only one who has whole basket of chargers and other random electronics accessories? I plan to get rid of all but one charger per phone. There is no reason to hold on to the others. If another charger is needed for some reason, WalMart sells them for less than 10 bucks.
2. Toys that are missing pieces
Toys with multiple pieces stress me out. I always feel the need, at the end of the day, to return everything back to the set it belongs to.
I can sometimes spend half an hour every day sorting toys. I put the Duplo in the Duplo box, the train with the tracks, the pawn in the Sorry box. Gah!
Any excuse to get rid of toys with multiple pieces is a good one.
I just recently got rid of the toy kitchen set with all the food and accessories. I told my husband I probably spent 20 hours, or more, of my life the past six years returning food to the kitchen set. If you think about that in money terms, and I pay myself only $10 an hour, that stupid thing cost me $200 to own, plus the actual cost of it.
Not only that, I am convinced my kids never actually even played with it, but just scattered its pieces throughout the house. As you can tell, I don't miss the kitchen set.
3. Clothes that haven't been worn in over a year
If it wasn't a good idea all summer, why would it be a better idea next summer? Styles change so quickly that it will likely never be worn again.
4. Furniture that just isn't working
Last Spring I did some pretty crazy decluttering and sold off my entire Ashley furniture bedroom set, two couches in the living room that I just never loved, an entryway table, and a few random end tables.
Although it was a lot of work and my house was pretty empty for a few months, I am so glad I did it. I wanted to be more intentional about the things I keep in my home and realized that keeping the pieces I didn't love was really holding me back.
I am trying to now shift my focus when buying things by only buying things I love, even if they cost a little more money.
5. Extra plates and bowls
When is the last time you had 25 guests over for dinner? If you're like me, the answer is never. In the unforeseen case you would have a large gathering, you could always use paper plates.
When you have to shuffle things around every time you put away the dishes, it is time to do some decluttering.
6. Craft Supplies
Did you buy several skeins of yarn with the intention of learning to knit someday? Do you have fabric scraps laying around that you will eventually make into a quilt?
I know we all think life is going to slow down sometime in the future, and allow us time to pursue our hobbies, but that just isn't going to happen.
And if you do end up with some extra time 10 years down the road, you can go buy yarn and knitting needles for under $30. Think of how many times you would have to rearrange and organize your craft supplies between now and then. Would that work be worth $30 to you?
I think it makes a whole lot more sense to buy craft supplies on an as needed basis, whenever you are actually ready to complete a project.
This is coming from the girl who spent at least a day every month for five years organizing her craft supplies. I still have thread, in just about every color imaginable, that I plan to donate this year. I seriously always use white thread. All that thread has done the past eight years is take up space.
7. Extra blankets
Do have a whole closet or tote in the basement full of extra blankets? If so, have you drug them out for any reason in the last year? Two years? Five years?
Have you spent any of your precious time organizing that said closet or tote? Even one hour is too much for some blankets that are never used.
8. Books that you hope to read someday
Unless you truly like the way they look on the shelf, they are literally pointless.
If you ever actually do decide you want to read a certain book at a future date, which is unlikely to happen if you haven't read it already, you can always buy the ebook for $10, or go to the library.
Again, think of the opportunity cost of owning something. If you're spending time putting it away, or it's taking up valuable real estate or, worst of all, causing you to lose your sanity, you are actually gaining something by getting rid of the item!
9. A gift someone purchased for you that you never liked
I absolutely love the way Marie Kondo rationalizes this situation. Think of the moment when the person gave you the gift. Think of the joy it brought them to give it to you and see the excitement on your face.
That right there was the purpose of the gift.
Now that the moment has passed, the gift has served its purpose and you are free to discard it.
Now imagine your home free of all these items. Picture the closet that is stuffed full. Wouldn't it be nice to open it up and see only things you love?
What is holding you back from that beautiful linen closet with three nicely folded blankets? A bunch of ugly blankets you haven't actually used at all in years? This is when your extra stuff is no longer serving you.
A few more tips:
Don't wait to declutter until you have the time. It doesn't have to be a big job. You just need to be consistent and intentional.
Start looking at your belongings with new eyes. Filter everything through the question: Is this item something useful or does it bring me joy? If the answer is no, throw it in a bag right then and there.
Let it be a part of your everyday routine. Just as you're going through your day and you come across an item that you realize you haven't used in a year, take it to the donate pile.
I have a donate bag sitting by my back door at all times. Every time I come across an item that doesn't make the cut it goes in the bag.
I do have days where I go on a major decluttering spree, but for the most part, it is just something I do as I am going about my normal routine.
Do not think about the value of something. Even if it is worth $100, it is not worth the stress of it being in your way all the time? Do you get stressed out every time you open a closet that is stuffed full of junk you don't use. Those items aren't worth all that mental energy they are costing you. Always remember, too, that things aren't normally worth what you paid for them years ago.
Try to sell the valuable things on the local buy, sell, trade facebook groups but if they don't go right away, it is still important to get rid of them. Don't let the task of getting the full amount that everything is worth stop you from living in a tidy, clutter free home.
For example, I brought home a late 1800's armoire that I wanted badly to fix up and put in our bedroom. When my husband saw it, he said it looked like some really expensive firewood. That thing sat in our garage for A YEAR and every time I walked by it I got stressed out that we hadn't ever worked on restoring it.
It drove me crazy.
I finally threw it on buy, sell, trade for $25, even though I paid $100 (not my proudest moment). We both feel so glad it is finally gone. Our garage is less cluttered now but, more importantly, I am finally free to start looking for an armoire that we can actually use in our bedroom.
Now go forth and be clutter free in 2017!