Permission to Get Rid of Stuff
I oftentimes find that I have a Depression era mentality about the stuff around my house, meaning that if I think I might need it, I’ll hold on to it since I know I won’t be able to afford to buy it again. I’ve been on a graduate student budget for so long that its affected my thinking about the stuff around our home. The frugal part of me also doesn’t want to buy something again if at one point in my life I owned it. The green part of me wants to repurpose things into something new and useful, so I hold on to them with plans to eventually do that. This is fine if it actually works, but lately my husband and I have realized that its NOT working and have been wanting to have a major clean out.
One morning last week I decided to give myself permission to get rid of every single piece of clothing I didn’t love or that didn’t fit me very well (inspired by reading Megan’s post!), every item around the house that I wasn’t using, and any item that I was keeping because I felt some kind of guilt associated with it (i.e. I bought it at a yard sale and then it didn’t end up fitting like I’d hoped it would, so I’d basically wasted money). I also gave myself permission to get rid of half done sewing projects that I knew I’d never finish or fabric that used to be my taste, but really isn’t anymore. Nothing was off limits! I got rid of a bunch of extra drinking glasses because we used to have tons of people over, but that was before we had kids and we haven’t had a party for 20 people since then. I even got rid of my orchid because, no matter what I’ve tried over the past year, I’ve never been able to get it to bloom again and I was tired of it sitting out and not looking pretty.
I spend my day moving our stuff from one place to another and I don’t like it.
It was so freeing to see all of that stuff go out of my house! (Don’t worry. I didn’t throw it away. Its all getting donated to Goodwill.) I also came to a stark realization: I spend my day moving our stuff from one place to another and I don’t like it. Some of that is just part of being a homemaker–you have to keep doing the laundry (moving the clothes from little bodies, to the washer, to the drying racks, back the the closets, and repeat.) But a lot of that is just because we have accumulated too much clutter. I’d rather spend my time doing things I love–sewing, playing with my kids, hanging out with my family and friends–than constantly feeling like a slave to our stuff. (Actually, I usually do that stuff to the neglect of our home. I still don’t have that balance down yet!) I need to streamline our home so it takes less time to keep up.
The sad part is that even after cleaning all of that out, our closets were still full, they just weren’t jam packed. Same thing with the kitchen cabinets–they are still full, just not jam packed. Even sadder than that is the fact that I’d already done a clean out of the house to have a yard sale earlier this year. How are we accumulating this much stuff?!
I’m taking baby steps to rid our house of needless things so I can free up more time for other more worthwhile pursuits. The first step was that big clean out. The next step is another big clean out–this one even more ruthless than the first. (I’ll probably need help to do that!) I’m also going to curtail the kids clothes. I’m going to pick out 10 or so outfits that I like for each child and then put everything else in a box in the attic. If I don’t need anything out of that box after a couple of months, it gets donated to Goodwill. I’m going to need help with this step too since I have a hard time getting rid of anything for the kids that actually fits. Slowly but surely I hope to make sure that all of the things in our home follows this wise saying by William Morris (with thanks to Simple Mom for introducing me to that quote):
Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
Do any of you fellow green and frugal people find yourself also having trouble getting rid of stuff? Anyone found any effective strategies for keeping the clutter away? Please
commiserate share in the comments!