Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tips on Starting a Household Clutter Purge

I have been on a serious house purge these past couple months. So far, I have donated NINE enormous black grocery bags filled with random things from the house.  I've sent out THREE bags to ThredUP in the past two months. Dropped things at consignment shops, given things away, and eBay'd some items.

This is all part of my master plan to declutter our lives, and bring in some extra cash. It all started when I had a meltdown recently after stepping on things that I swore I had just put away (ahem, Legos).  I was sick of spending my day picking up clutter and trying to find homes for things I really didn't care about.  I knew something had to be done, and I stopped thinking about and just started doing.  Opperation Declutter and organize was in full effect.

When picking up an item to contemplate getting rid of, ask yourself the following:

-does this make me happy?
-am I keeping this only because I bought it and I'll feel bad for just getting rid of it?
-will I even notice this is gone?

The first is easy. No joy, you don't keep. The second is a toughie and I've been there. But at the end of the day, don't keep something just because you bought it. It made sense at the time, and oh well, you've change your mind. You're forgiven. We've all done it. We learned our lesson. Get rid of it. 
And last, the answer probably is: you won't miss it.  Ask yourself: why am I keeping this?  The answer should tell you whether or not you should be. 

Here's a few things I did to get started, and I tell you, it's so much easier to purge your house of clutter once you donate those first few bags.

1. Get a garbage bag or a box and put it in a location where everyone in the house sees it.  For us, this is by our front door.  I wanted this donation bag to be in the way so everyone remembered it was there.  This served as a reminder that clutter is in the way, and also to encourage everyone to donate things as they saw them.

2. Start in one area of your house.  I started upstairs in my son's room.  Go through EVERYTHING. If you don't have time for a deep clean/purge, no worries! Only look on surfaces.  If it's toys cluttering up your life, pick some to donate, sell, or put in storage to rotate later.  If you pick it up, or your child does, and no one has a positive from it, it goes! Broken or missing pieces? Goodbye!  One trick for doing this with kids is to go in like a ninja when they aren't looking. I emptied an entire toy box of my son's stuff and put it in the basement.  I thought he would notice. He didn't.  He never asked for anything specific in there and when I showed him his new, decluttered room, he actually said, "wow! Look at all my toys!" It was like Christmas when he saw all the toys he had forgotten about because they were buried under clutter. 

3. Decide whether to donate, give away, sell or keep. If you want to donate, throw it in the donate bag!  Keep your friends in mind when you find something to get rid of. I found a pack of diapers we didn't need and gave them to a friend along with a few other baby items I thought they might want. Have a cute shirt your friend would look great it, that you don't wear anymore? Give it to them!

If you have something of value, consider selling it. This takes a little more time but is worth it.  I sell clothing on eBay all the time. If it's clothing, check around for consignment shops too, and make an appointment to drop things off to sell.  EBay of course is a great place to sell anything, Facebook swap groups is awesome for kids/baby items.  Kidizen is an awesome app for selling kids and baby clothes.  There are so many options and you can make a little cash doing it.  My breakdown for the last month alone was:

$25 from ThredUP
$37 from the adult consignment shop
$25 from eBay
$10 from Kidizen

I promise you, once you sell even one item and realize there is cash in your clutter, it will motivate you even more.

4. Get the donation bags out of your house! I bring them a few at a time to the donation bin and it always feels amazing.  I usually just toss them in the bin, but you can also donate to local churches, Goodwill, thrift stores.

5. Keep up on this! I found that once I started, it was easier to get rid of things.  And I'm not saying get rid of everything you own. Not at all.  But I am saying, if it doesn't make you happy or have a home, you don't need it.  The less you have to pick up, the more time you have for other things.  We are still in the beginning stages of this.  The garage needs a purge, as does the basement.  But it's ok to start slowly!  Even getting rid of one item is a start. 

When you start this process, it is overwhelming.  That's why I suggest starting in one place and diving in.  But you can also do it by item as you find them.  Say you are in the living room, and you see a pillow that always finds it way to the floor. You pick it up, curse that damn pillow and put it back on the couch.  Five minutes later, there it is again on it's migration path to the floor.  This time when you pick it up, ask yourself: does this pillow bring me joy? Why am I keeping it around? Does this serve a purpose other than to irritate me?

Much like our cluttered houses, this post has a lot of information coming at you, and if you read it all, you really mean business and you're ready to go!  So get your garbage bags, and get ready to purge.

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