Recently, I started writing about my word for 2014, "unburdened." God laid this word on my heart, and it filled me with so much hope, showing me so many possibilities for the new year.
One way that He is unburdening me, is through the physical decluttering of our home. I don't know about anybody else (actually, I do, because I watch Hoarders!) but I have way too much stuff in my life! A few years ago, we moved from a small apartment to a smaller apartment, and I think now, we're rocking about 700 square feet! In the mean time, our family grew larger, and our surroundings...didn't (or haven't yet).
Over the past seven months, I've really begun to question my relationship with things. I know for me, personally, my relationship to my stuff was influenced in part by my upbringing, and the fact that we moved about every year or so when I was growing up. When I turned 18, I realized that I had moved more times than I had had birthdays! So, stuff was the constant in my life. Usually. (Things tend to mysteriously disappear when you move frequently, and you're a child and you don't pack all your own things, but I digress!)
I came to understand that I had a tendency to hang on to things because I didn't have roots anywhere- I think I was just grabbing on to whatever was in my reach! Crazy, right? Plus, I have also confronted the fact that I struggle with attention issues (but that's a whole 'nother blog post!) and don't always have the focus to realize when objects are overrunning my life.
I'm on the path to a decluttered lifestyle. I've made a lot of progress over the course of this year, but I'm not yet where I want to be. I'm encouraged because of how much I've unloaded, and I've learned a lot in the process and had many "a-ha" moments. I'm getting there!
Are you also struggling with the amount of stuff (or the wrong kind of stuff) in your life? Here are some ways to help you get started on the journey of unburdening yourself via your environment.
- Confront your junk!
Literally and figuratively. Reflect on why
you have so much stuff. Have you recently downsized and now your
belongings don't fit your new environment? Do you, like me, have any
deep-rooted reasons for hanging on to things you don't need any
more? Figuring out the why
will go a long way in helping you declutter and actually stay
- Get inspired: Peruse Pinterest for decluttering tips, join a Facebook group with people who are also on a journey of decluttering, read blogs about minimalism. Minimalism is a good key word- don't be intimidated by that word, either. It's not just about sparse decor and furniture, but more like a way of life!
- Set a goal for yourself: Setting a number of items you wish to get rid of helps. FlyLady has some great pointers- like using a timer everyday to keep you on track with daily decluttering. Or set a lofty goal like 2014 in 2014 where you get rid of (you guessed it) 2,014 items in one year (that's what I'm doing, by the way).
- Get real: Do you really need a certain item? Does it get a lot of use in your home? Is it something you're hanging onto because it was a gift, and it never really worked for your particular style or needs? What would it take to replace it if you ever needed it again? Just being honest with yourself will really help you in the long run to get your space under control.
- A place for everything, and everything in its place! I keep saying this to myself when I'm organizing. If it doesn't have a place, maybe it's time for that item to go! Or maybe you really need it, and something else needs to go to make room for it.
- Keep it movin'! Pack up a box or bag, and immediately put it in the car to be donated. Don't let the stuff pile up in boxes or bags, or worse, keep them around so that you can reconsider getting rid of it. Trust me, you will feel awesome once you start doing this.
- Stop bringing stuff into your home. This one is so hard to do, but you must learn to become disciplined with yourself and your family. This is one area I'm struggling with too, especially since the children seem to attract stuff from every corner of the Earth (I'm totally being silly, but sometimes it seems every time we leave the house, they come back with more stuff!) Learn to say no to yourself and others sometimes! You have to figure out what this means because everyone is different- but don't shop for unnecessary items, and if you go to places where the children accumulate stuff (like little toys), develop a system for dealing with it right away to keep it under control.
- Get your children on board.
You don't have to completely clear their room of toys and have them
play with sticks (though this might appeal to some, ha ha), but
explain to them why they should pare down their possessions. They
will have more space to play with the things they love, and more
time to play with them since they won't be spending so much time
cleaning up their belongings. I had my three children each select 10
things (or sets of toys, like train tracks or blocks, for instance)
that were most important to them. We managed to get rid of so much
this way. When Christmas or birthdays come around, re-evaluate. If
people ask what they want or need for gift-giving occasions, point
them in the direction of adding to existing collections- it's much
easier to organize toys that are related than to have to find a way
to store some completely new kind of toy. Maybe even ask for
experience gifts like passes to the zoo or the movies.
- Don't get frustrated.
Remember that you didn't accumulate so much stuff overnight, so it
might stand to reason that it will take time and changing
perspective to really declutter your life. Every little bit of
progress helps! And if you lose momentum, just get going again.
Are you on a journey of decluttering, too? Share your experience in the comments!
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