My 30 day declutter challenge
I guess I hit my mid-life, if it is true that most women spend the first half of their life gathering stuff, building 'nests' and once they hit the second half, the spend their time getting rid of all the stuff. I truly crave a simpler life. Less stress. Less to do. Less noise. Less news and on top of all less clutter.
It's unbelievable how much more stuff piles up in our house: paper from school, work, bills, flyers, to little toys they kids get where ever they go (store, parties, friends, events), tons of toys from baby - toddler - preschool to elementary age, stuff for projects, retired electronics, clothing, seasonal items (Christmas, Easter, Halloween).
We are raised as good consumers. Marco and I both love shopping. Besides eating, it makes us happy. I, in particular, love thrift store shopping. If we see a good deal for a toy, a practical household item, some new kitchen gadget, a interesting book, outdoor gear or a board game we usually can't resist. We both don't have expensive hobbies, are price conscious and usually stay within a range of $30 for 80 % of our purchases, but still... it's a lot of stuff we gathered especially over the last 10 years.
I recently took one week to quickly sort through all drawers, closets, counters and corners to get the house ready for a deep cleaning, cleaning before the cleaner comes. All this 'extra', unwanted stuff sits in our garage now - with all the other unwanted, occasional or seasonal stuff.
Every day the stuff sitting in the garage haunts me. Most of it was brought in by me or approved to being brought in and I know where 88 % of all these items are, even if they are piled up like this: But having to live with piles like this goes totally against my sense of order and sanity, but staying on top of all this crap is very challenging.
I had it! No more! This stuff consumes my life. It takes up way too much space and way too much energy. Instead of hanging out with my family, I have to pick up stuff, tend to stuff, organize stuff, dispose stuff, clean stuff. I am done!
For a while I thought about how to deal with this. I just recently started working with a life coach and shared how challenging this is for me. Emotional attachment, memories, guilt, desire to find time to use the stuff, it seemed like a good idea at the time of purchase, and lack of energy to get rid of the then unwanted stuff, plus possessions of my 3 house mates, one caring very much about every single item, one caring only about a few items (which I have to guess) and one not caring at all.
In my coaching session I committed to tackling this challenge. My internal motivation is mainly being freed from this stuff taking up my thoughts and energy, but also one of my big bucket list items: living in a tiny house for a while. Downsizing to just the 'essentials' would be needed for that step and getting rid of the clutter would be a step in the right direction.
The plan I came up was, first, I'll talk with my family, how depressing and draining it is for me to deal with so much clutter day by day, that I'll need their help in letting go of stuff and making more room for us and what is truly important to us. I also thought, it's easier to have a motivation and an idea what this could look like, and announced that our garage should only house some basic storage along the walls, so we would have a game room, e.g. for video gaming on a big screen together, our bunny could roam around and there would be enough room to play there when friends come over. To ease the pain a little, I also offered my kids to 'buy' old toys of their hand, so they could save money for their savings account or a new toy, that they would really care about.
Second, I got myself mentally ready to 'let go' of a substantial amount of items. I did a little research on this topic, read up on how to get rid of sentimental clutter and created a little 'Clutter Mantra' doc (see below) for myself.
Then my plan was to start to declutter Saturday morning, but my daughter got a stomach bug and required my attention all day. I was desperate to get started, but family first. I used the time to think about what I'll need to do first.
My plan for the next 30 days, tackling the clutter one by one and finding a new home for it, ideally a home that also feels good.
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Optimistic, curious, human bee.