It would seem that my previous blogs on purging our home of all excess and clutter has hit a nerve with some of the readers of my blog. I am still receiving emails and comments on this topic. Thank you! It is so good to know that my blog brings about so much thought in others. I have had so many asking similar questions that I will attempt to answer them here.
How do you determine what to keep and what to get rid of? Aren't you concerned you will need the things later?
In making the choices, I take 2 things into consideration. First, do we use that item on a regular basis? For me, this means has it been used within the past month. Second, is it a seasonal item (winter gear that still fits), tools, or a irreplaceable sentimental item (family photos, etc) that you will need or use? Items that are not used on a regular basis becomes the first things to go. It is really easy for me to box up surplus cookware, books, craft supplies, and other items that we have no need for. The tough part is fighting the part of me that can rationalize the reasons to keep just about anything. :-) By looking at how long it has been since the items were used, I can feel comfortable with the idea that it won't be missed. Seasonal items, tools, and things like family pictures or other irreplaceable things are rarely purged from the home. This doesn't mean that I don't scale back on them. One example being pictures of my older children. I saved out a few, but gave the rest to one of the kids to share with the others.
How do you manage things like homeschool supplies? This is right up there with the idea of getting rid of books. Again, I look at whether I still see a need for keeping the item. I recently purged the kids' book collection of all the books that they had outgrown or were in bad shape. The ones that were in good shape were given to another child. Damaged ones that could not be repaired were tossed out. I did the same with Abbie's preschool materials that I won't be using for Micah. If you have homeschool materials that others may be able to use, contact your local homeschool group and donate the materials to them. There may be families who can use the materials. You can also go online and find a curriculum website where you can post what you have to sell. Many homeschool families will buy their curriculum through these websites or ebay.
How do you keep the clutter down when you have hobbies (scrapbooking, sewing, crafts, etc) that can be a source of clutter? This is a weak area for me. It is so easy to allow your hobbies' supplies to take over. The only answer that I have for this is to limit your purchases to what you need for a current project. Once you have completed that one, then buy for the next project. If it is something that you use quite regularly and you see it on sale, limit your purchase to what you can easily store in a predetermined space. For me, it is going to be a tote bag. I also limit my crafting to usable things like crocheted dishcloths, wearables, clothing that is needed, etc. This helps to keep the supplies under control.
What do you do when your husband is not too happy with what you get rid of? Yikes! That would be a sticky place to be in. When I first started doing this for the first time, I was constantly worried about accidentally tossing out something Joe would not be happy about. I have learned since that he trusts me to recognize what is of value to him. We talk about it often enough and I know my husband well enough that I am confident in my ability to make a good decision. I strongly recommend that you sit down and talk to your spouse and learn what are the items that they would not want you to discard. You may find that you are in total agreement. You may also find that you have to compromise what YOU want to show love and respect to them by keeping things that they value. For example, I remember my Dad loved to keep old magazines. He would read them over and over. My Mom hated seeing the tall stack of magazines on the end table. She often would throw out all but the current issues. It made her happy, but often upset Dad and caused contention. Pick your battles. The bottom line is that you are showing respect and love. Remember, your spouse has to put up with YOUR collections too. The main point is that you have to have good communication. Once Joe realized that I understood what was important to him, he trusts my judgment in purging the home of excess when he is out on the truck for so long.
One of the benefits that I am seeing now with the decluttering is that Abbie is catching on. She comes up to me with toys and books that she no longer plays with or reads and asks if we can give them to another kid who doesn't have any. She never does this with Micah's things, but hers alone. She is learning at a young age the blessing of donating what we no longer need to charity or a family in need. This past few weeks, she has gone through all of her toys and boxed up some to take to a charity. She kept less that 25% of her toys and books. Everything else is gone. She is really happy about it. She doesn't miss the toys & books. She is happy and content with what she kept. She takes better care of what she has now.
Purging the home is never a quick and easy task. Every little bit you do will make a difference. It is a process, not something done in a day or two. Once you have purged the home, you may realize a few months later that you have more to donate or get rid of. It is done step by step. It never is "finished" after just a day or two. Keep the goal in mind and you will achieve it. Just be sure to have a rule in place about the amount you bring in or purchase after you are done purging the excess. Otherwise, all of your work will soon be for naught when youhave new clutter to deal with.