The War on Stuff :: getting rid of clutter

::re-post from two years ago as it directly relates to where we are at right now with our September habit; Getting rid of Clutter::

The War on Stuff :: getting rid of clutter

Over the past year Paul and I have become increasingly aware of the amount of stuff we have and how it slows down our lives. Stuff takes time to clean, it takes time to organize, it takes time to find a place for it and it takes time to make use of it.

Earlier this year I read the book The Power of Less by Leo Babauta- I have mentioned it on here before and thoroughly enjoyed it.

In the authors personal blog he has mentioned a few times his quest to only own 50 personal items. While I have no desire to strive towards a perfected minimalistic lifestyle, which seems so popular today, I am intrigued by his goal.

I own so much stuff there is no way that I could even come close to putting a number it. So I have decided that I want to be able to put a name to the stuff I own. I don’t want things in my house simply because they found their way here.

I want the stuff in my house to be here because I have invited it to live here. Because I chose to keep it.

Our War on Stuff isn’t really an out-of-control-money-spenders problem. In fact it’s quite the opposite.

We aren’t big spenders. There are a few select items that we have intentionally saved for and bought brand new – mainly electronics. Almost everything else in our house is either gifted or second hand – from furniture to clothes to dishes to decor to cars. There are tremendous deals to be found at thrift stores and yard sales and we have thoroughly enjoyed the hunt for those items.

That being said between the generosity of family and friends and the deals to be found shopping second hand we are realizing we have more stuff than we truly need or want.

Finding the balance that is right for us is an on going challenge.
Stuff seems to breed and multiply over night.

I am slowly making progress through all areas of our home.
When I started getting rid of clutter many months ago I started with the boys toys, as that is what seems to make the largest mess. They don’t own many toys and each toy has it’s place. Their stuffed animals live on their beds. Their cars and car mat and finger puppets decorate a corner of their room. Their Army men, Mr. Potato Head, Lego, Marble Run and some of their building blocks are in their own bins in the hall closet. Their wooden castle and scrap wood and wooden train set are kept in a bin under the couch on the back porch. Dress up items are in the coat closet. They have a few other games on our Game Shelf and then some craft items in my craft closet. I have a place in the living room to conceal any miscellaneous toys that may end up in our house, but that is frequently weeded through.
Each toy has its own storage container and each container belongs in a specific place and it makes cleaning up and organizing so simple.
And I like that I can name each toy they own – as can they.
There’s no junk buried at the bottom of a toy box. They don’t own a toy box.

I have done our linen closet, bathrooms, shoes, clothes, kitchen, books and my office over the past 6 months and am getting ready to reevaluate each area again.

I think the most painful aspect of parting with stuff is that they are  often times items you spent money on and it feels like you are throwing out your money. But the reality is the money was wasted when the item was unnecessarily purchased. Holding on to unused and extra items just because you paid a lot of money for it doesn’t suddenly justify the purchase.
In fact, I think if over-buyers were to purge all unnecessary items from their home it would go a long way to help ‘cure’ the over buying tendencies.

I have been amazed at how my perspective has changed over this year of only buying clothes at the thrift store. (My 2010 personal challenge of the year was to only purchase clothes from thrift store.)
The amount of STUFF that is available is both mind boggling and sad (and at the same time super exciting!)
I am just as guilty as the next person over the Collection of Stuff. Holding onto stuff just in case. Or because I used it once. Or because it reminds me of something special. Or because I might need it in three months. Or because someone I know might need it in 6 years. Or because I plan on becoming an expert Wok user.

Over the course of the last few months of letting go of stuff it has been so freeing.
Freeing to see that I don’t need to bring things into my house just because they were on a super awesome sale.
Freeing to {slowly} see the ease of keeping a {slowly} decluttering house clean.
Freeing to be able to give lavishly to our friends those things which we enjoy but don’t truly need.

I recently gave away a somewhat expensive item that I truly liked, paid way too much for, used briefly and then no longer needed. I struggled with giving it away simply because I felt like I was wasting money {again, how much sense does that make since I actually wasted the money at the check out counter ages ago!?} but after awhile I decided to just give it to a friend that I felt led to share with. This friend uses the item all the time and told me it makes them feel like royalty. How cool is that?! It was just the encouragement I needed to start looking at my stuff with new eyes – how can I bless others with the abundance of items in my house?

I still have a lot of areas to purge and bring back to the basics and the few items we love, but the steps we’ve taken have been good for us. Letting go. Pairing back. Trying to be simple and yet keeping it us.

:: As I stated at the beginning, this is a re-post from 2010. Seeing as our habit for this month is getting rid of clutter I found this a great encouragement to read through again, and hope it is to you too!::

Sharing on Titus 2 Tuesdays, Lessons from Ivy, Titus 2sdays

Jessica Lynette

12 Comments

  1. thanks for this post, Jess! We're staging a similar war in our house, trying to wade through the oodles and oodles of stuff completely covering the space in our (finished) third floor! We've been going through boxes for over a year, organizing the stuff into yard sale, garbage, and keep piles and it's taking FOREVER!

  2. I understand! I'm usually pretty good at not having an overload of "stuff"….except when it comes to my boys!! I spend way too much time every week "organizing" and cleaning their room…just because there's too much stuff in there! I have such a hard time getting rid of their toys, because most of what they have is well loved and well played with. Yet, do they really need so MUCH??

  3. LOL We really are on the same page here hey? I have been meaning to do room by room posts but I haven't quite got there yet. Isn't having less stuff awesome?

  4. TELL ME ABOUT IT!! I have been gathering my things in anticipation of a yard sale… But there is so much stuff, it's taking me sooo long!

  5. How does your husband feel about your efforts? I would have no problem purging stuff 'til the cows came home, but my husband bought our house and lived here three years before we married, so my devluttering necessarily involves a lot of "his" stuff. Our standards of clutter are pretty much polar opposites. I just gave to be patient, because you can't change a packrat, much less a male packrat. That said, he has come pretty far and I do appreciate what he's let me do up to this point.

    • He's pretty well on board with it.
      If I am clearing out anything that I think he might want then I put it in a pile for him to look at and sometimes he'll take it out because he wants it still.

      He still has his "stuff" that hasn't really been decluttered – but it's mainly because the garage and office (where his stuff is) are under construction/thoroughly unorganized and it's hard to get rid of things when you're unorganized.

  6. I am in the process of doing the same things. It has taken me a while, but I realize how much STUFF weighs you down, especially when it is just an accumulation of THINGS. The pile is growing, and a big yard sale coming on. I had started on a closet in my room, and got the stomach virus, and the the baby came, so I will be back at it later this week. I have a long way to go, but it feels so good to be making progress, and pic of Judah are now posted. Have a wonderful remainder of the week. Jackie

  7. Great post, very inspirational, I think I may have to do this, at least on a small scale to start. But it might be addicting! 😉

  8. I am wanting to declutter my home too.. its taking awhile because I too want to bless others with my things…and the whole process of decluttering is frustrating yet freeing… but it takes time and I am hoping to have my house decluttered soon!

  9. I have been following a blog called The Year of Less, where a family is blogging about their year of de-cluttering and simplifying their lives. Along the way I am de-clutering too and it feels great. Each time I give things away I find more in the house that I do not need. I have freed up so much space (before I was looking to buy more storage). My personality wants to get right in there and purge the whole house, but with kids and work I have to slow down. I think it helps because no one else seems to notice the items slowly leaving.

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