Written by Amida of Journey into Unschooling.
Chinese New Year is just around the corner and for me, it means a massive purge session. Something about the upcoming New Year always brings on the urge for me to clean, clean, clean.
Out with the old and in with the — well, hopefully, nothing!
This time around, I am determined to keep the Stuff at bay and out of my house.
Just seeing the amount of things that have snuck in and filled up all corners of my home is enough to make me think twice about my spending and acquiring habits (because in actuality, a lot of things enter in the form of gifts, freebies, and deals-too-good-to-pass-up).
Want to join me in cleaning out the clutter?
If so, grab your gloves and 30-gallon heavy duty bags and favorite playlist. It’s time to purge!
Touch and dump
My method for a great cleaning is simple — move fast and think fast. This is no time to be wishy-washy or sentimental.
Just start with a pile, a box, or a table top and remove everything on it that you don’t want. Don’t ponder too much about each item.
I find it helpful to visualize what I want the space to look like before cleaning. If it’s a cleared counter top, then I work towards that and know that everything has to be thrown away, given away, or put away.
It’s always slow going at first but once you start seeing space, momentum takes over and you will want to just get rid of everything to make even more space.
It’s a thrilling feeling to declutter.
Realize what works for you
One year, I put all my loose beans and grains into mason jars and stored them in the cabinet.
It looked fantastic! So pretty, so organized!
This year, I threw them all away, because apparently, it never occurred to me to look for food in pretty mason jars. I usually just open a bag of beans or whatnot and cook the whole thing.
If you, on the other hand, like transferring all your dried goods into more visually appealing containers, the go for it.
What’s important is to know how you use your space and what works for you.
Schedule a donation or garbage pick-up
I am lucky to live in an area with lots of donation options, many that come right to your house to pick up your stuff for you.
Usually, I don’t schedule a pick up until I’ve got a good five or six bags filled. Then I have a better idea of how many more I can fill up and can give a better estimate for the driver.
Besides the donation truck, I also schedule the garbage truck to pick up extra bags, preferably around the same time as donations pick up.
Don’t save (too much) for the next kid
I love hand-me-downs, especially the baby clothes worn by all my kids.
But in reality, as they get older, they develop their own tastes in clothes and acquire their own sets through gifts, so it’s pointless to keep saving for the next kid.
I totally understand if your children are close in age and of the same gender. But for me, I’d end up storing clothes for 3-4 years before the next kid even fits them. That means at any given time, I have at least 4-5 complete wardrobes in storage. That’s a lot of potential space!
If you have kids, chances are, you have toys, and tons of them. We have so many toys that most are stored in the garage and not played with.
Why store toys that aren’t played with? I do keep a few outgrown ones for keepsakes, but the rest end up in the donation bag.
Gifts and freebies
I love getting gifts, but honestly, I don’t love most of it.
Many times, we open gifts, admire them for a few days and then sort of forget about them.
Instead of letting them collect dust on the counter, if it isn’t love at first sight, return or re-gift to someone who would love it more. I won’t tell.
And now on to my ultimate weakness — homeschool freebies.
If you are part of a homeschool group, more than likely, someone somewhere is getting rid of something.
You get all excited and take everything home — textbooks, workbooks, craft kits, science kits — you’ve really hit the jackpot!
“I’ll sort through them again later and integrate them into our school day,” you tell yourself.
But then days pass, then weeks, and before you know it, that pile has taken up valuable space in the garage for months on end and you have absolutely no use for the majority of it.
I know. It’s hard to say no. But the truth is, you, like the person before you, probably won’t and will never have use for 95% of the stuff in that freebie pile.
Do yourself a favor and get rid of it.
So there you have it, my game plan to major clean outs: visualize your space and get rid of everything that doesn’t fit in that picture. It may take a couple of days, it may even take a week. But be diligent and continue editing and deleting until you’ve reach a “done” point.
I cannot tell you how exhilarating it feels to walk into my kitchen after a good purging and see counter space, as opposed to piles of stuff.
The best time to start is now. Grab that bag and start editing.
How do you keep the clutter under control?