Every spring I get the urge to purge. I’m not sure if it’s the spring cleaning bug or simply the fact that during the school year we kind of neglect our house. Since my husband and I both teach, we tend to put off big projects until summer break, so by the time late spring rolls around we have built quite a to do list.
This summer, one major task is to declutter. About a year ago I started really simplifying my wardrobe and have since purged close to 70% of my wardrobe. I’m totally hooked. It is so easy to keep my closet neat and organized when it isn’t cluttered. Now, I’m ready to tackle the rest of the house.
I have ready Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (twice) and there are two big ideas that have stuck with me.
The first is to handle each and every item and ask “does this bring me joy?”. I admit that when I first read this it seemed a little much, if you know what I mean. However, now that I’ve done a number of purging rounds with my closet, I think I get it. To me, this means to follow your initial instinct for each and every item – don’t let your head talk you into keeping an item. I can’t tell you how many times I start a declutter session strong and then the further I get into the project I start talking myself into keeping things or even pulling them out of the donate pile because they cost a lot, or because I might need them someday, or because of some long past memory. I let my head get in the way of my initial instinct.
I have found that it is much easier to purge once I have emptied out a drawer, cabinet, or closet it and cleaned it. This method forces me to handle each item as I choose what to keep. I am much more selective about the items I put back into a clean space than I am when I grab items to get rid of out of a full drawer. For example, if I leave all of my clothes in the closet I tend to grab a few I don’t like and call it a day. If I have to refold or rehang an item to put back into an empty space, I am a lot more “picky”. To me, asking if an item brings you joy means I should go with my gut. Do I love or need this item? This removes my head from the process which means I’m not as likely to talk myself into keeping something I don’t’ really need.
The second is to tackle the decluttering all at once. Now, this is probably never going to happen as long as any of my four kids are home. To go through our entire home would take a few solid days of uninterrupted work. And to be honest, if I’m going to have someone watching the kids for a few days I’m going on a mini vacay with my husband, not decluttering 🙂 I understand the value in this because once you see how much you really have it makes it easier to purge excess items, but it’s not my reality at this point.
So, I’ve decided to focus on tackling one area of our home per day. This will break the overwhelming task into smaller pieces that I can fit in during naptime, an early morning wakeup, or while the kids are busy with my husband. Somedays I may get a few areas decluttered and others I may not get to any at all, but this way it’s a manageable and practical project.
I got a good old-fashioned paper and pencil and started listing areas of our house I can declutter at once – pantry, bathroom cabinets, kids’ books, junk drawer, etc. Originally I was going to create a “schedule” but I decided an open-ended checklist was easier to work with. I can choose which area of our home to declutter and tidy based on the day’s schedule, kids’ moods, and my motivation. Plus, I’ll get that satisfaction of crossing items off the list!
Over the next month I will tidy each of these areas in no particular order, but based on what works best each day.
When I say tidy I really mean a major declutter. I wouldn’t say I’m ready to go minimalist, but my experience with a capsule wardrobe has opened my eyes to the idea that less is more. I’ve also realized how much of my stress comes from feeling overwhelmed by the stuff we’ve accumulated during our 10 year (and 4 kids) in this house.
Throughout the process I will share weekly updates here to keep myself on track and let you all know how it’s going, so stay tuned…