How to Clear the Clutter: Clear Your Home and Free Your Mind!

(This is a continuation of my previous post; please read it before reading this one. It’ll make more sense.)

For part 2 of “De-cluttering; clear your home and free your mind!”, I’ll cover a few more common things that tend to build up over short periods of time: baby items, craft items, and seasonal items.

A very good resource for getting rid of old/unneeded stuff is freecycleTM. freecycleTM is very useful; give away things you don’t need and get things you do need, for free!

For baby items, (if you won’t need them in the near future for another of your own babies) ask around to see if anyone you know needs them before donating them. Many times I’ve been saved from buying new things when people asked me if I needed their old stroller or whatever before donating it. I’ve done the same thing for other people. It’s not usually a good idea to ‘loan’ people baby items; accidents happen. It’s very probable that your cousin’s best friend’s newborn will hurl all over that white lace-covered bassinet, or have some other gross accident on it. Or it might break. If you give someone something, unless it’s a short-term loan, don’t expect to get it back.

If no one you know wants it, either sell it on eBay or however else you choose (newspaper ad, yard sale, etc.), or (even better) donate it to a charitable organization. There are plenty of new parents out there who don’t have enough money to buy their newborn clothes or a high chair, and they rely on Goodwill (or whichever local non-profit re-sale charitable organization) to find these otherwise expensive items.

Craft items are particularly hard to decide what to do with. If you’re anything like me, you hoard these things with the best of intentions and plans to create wonderfully clever things covered with sequins and/or beads. After the original acquisition of these fabric paints, wood chips, potpourri, and any number of other things, where do they go? Into a box or sack or even some sort of organizer, and then that gets put somewhere else. If you don’t plan out specific time(s) to do craft-y activities, all those neat things do is sit and collect dust while you wish you had the time/space/energy to do something with them. Well, now that you’ve decided to de-clutter your house and your life, what are you going to do with them? If you ask yourself the all-important questions “When am I going to use this?” and “Could someone else make better use of this before I’m going to be able to?” and/or “How much longer is this going to take up space (both in my house and in my mind)? Is it more than 6 months or a year?” If, when you answer these questions, you decide to get rid of some or all of your crafting supplies, a few ways to do this are listed above (because selling or giving away things is always a fulfilling experience; you’ve just provided someone with something they needed!); or, if you decide to keep these things, organization without taking up more space is the key. I prefer to use small to medium-sized clear plastic tubs with snapping lids, but anything you choose will work. Label, organize, and store these boxes (or whatever you choose to use) in a sectioned bookcase, or on a closet shelf, or designate a corner of the closet or room for craft supplies. It might be a good idea to set up a small table and chair specifically for crafting, somewhere easily accessible, but not in the way. If you do this, by all means, store your crafting supplies very near to this area. If you see something that serves one specific task/activity, you are more likely to make time for it. (Setting up an area for crafting is much easier to do once you are all done de-cluttering, because you’ll have all that space for it! Until that time comes, definitely organize your supplies as you come across them.)

Seasonal items are things like holiday decorations, winter/summer clothes, and heaters, air conditioners and fans. For the latter three things, I recently learned that the best way to store these over unused seasons is to keep the original packaging (If you don’t have the original packaging, find a box that will fit snugly around the appliance.). Then you can just stick them neatly back into the boxes, and tuck them away in a closet or storage shed. (An outdoor storage shed can be a very valuable asset, especially for storing seasonal items. You can build one fairly cheaply with leftover or scrap building supplies like plywood and tin; or you can buy a pre-made one or a plan for one at a lumber supply store.) I prefer to use waterproof plastic tubs for outdoor storage; but as long as your shed has a floor, walls, and a roof, only extreme circumstances would call for waterproofing. Cardboard boxes work well too.

Clothes are easy, just go through and make sure you’re not storing things to really don’t need, or don’t want. If you keep that horrendous sweater your aunt made you just because she made it for you, but you never actually wear it – donate it. There is someone out there that will make good use of it. Other than that, fold clothes neatly and but them in a box. Cedar wood is a good insect repellent for stored clothing. There are other things as well; I just prefer cedar to something like mothballs because it’s natural and won’t harm anything.

Holiday decorations, as long as you use them every year, are worth the space they take up. Strings of lights are much easier to deal with if you take the time to wind them up neatly. Wind them up into a small circle, and then use twist-ties or something similar to keep it that way. Find a box and put them in. For tree ornamants and other knick-knacks, if you don’t have a special ornament box, it’s fairly easy to make – take a normal cardboard box, measure the inside length, width, and depth; then find some cardboard that you can use to cut to size. If your ornaments and things are different sizes, it’s probably a good idea to keep them close at hand while you do this, so that you can make the right size slots. Cut halfway through rows of cardboard (2 or more inches tall, and as long as the inside of the box) along the bottom of the box. Then, cut halfway through more rows, making sure they line up with the cuts on the original rows. Slide the rows into each other (at 90Ã?° angles) and drop in your ornaments. I’m not an expert at this, so you can measure and eye it out for yourself. (I looked for instructions on the web, and I’m sure they exist, but I didn’t find any!) So, basically, box it all up and stow it in a closet or in your shed.

In our house, we don’t put up a tree during the winter holiday season, largely due to lack of space. We also don’t keep any decorations on hand; I rarely ever think about them at that time of year. It definitely saves a lot of space and stress by not using them, and therefore not thinking about them. The kids all have gifts under relatives’ trees; and of course we go look at light displays and such in December. There’s more than enough decorations at that time of year to go around without having any ourselves. 🙂

By not dealing with as many seasonal items, we have more space for things we don’t use every day, but want to keep on hand (like our large collection of pictures and photos.) We hang up the kids’ artwork on the wall with masking tape and my older son has a special folder he keeps works-in-progess in as well as artwork that hasn’t made it to the ‘art wall’ yet. I used to get so stressed out because of course, I didn’t want to throw any of their artwork away; but dealing with all that paper was driving me insane. I learned that it’s okay to throw away scraps of paper that have barely been scribbled on. It really is.

When we made the decision to simplify our lives, I was worried. I grew up in a pack-rat-ish environment, so of course I was a total packrat. I had clothes in my closet that I’d kept from 10 years ago. (When I was 12. Ridiculous) I couldn’t wear a good majority of the clothes I owned; about half were too big and the other half were too small. I kept the smaller clothes because I was losing crazy amounts of weight after starting to eat healthy. (40 pounds in 6 months, w0w!) To make a long story short, I got rid of everything I didn’t truly need, with the exception of books and photos. The result is amazing. I’m a firm believer that clutter attracts negativity. There was 10+ year’s worth of negativity in the rooms I spent the most time in. I feel so much calmer and infinitely less stressed; because of that, I can concentrate on learning things that I’ve been longing to learn for years, and I can finally be a really Good Mother. I have the patience to homeschool my kids, and I love it (they do too!). It has really changed my life so much – simply getting rid of things that I didn’t need and hadn’t needed for years. My relationships, friendships, and communication with family have vastly improved. We have the space we need to exercise, play, be creative, and concentrate on what’s really important. Bliss.

I’ll stop rambling now. My apologies.

In the next installment, I’ll cover these topics: coins, media (such as DVDs, CDs, and VHS tapes), and children’s toys/rooms.

Thank you for reading! There will be more coming at a later date .. .. ..

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