I’ve recently been thinking that I need to really get started on cleaning out the clutter in my house – and I don’t just need to, but I actually want to. I’ve got a beautiful home, but far too much stuff filling it up, and it’s really started to weigh on me for a lot of reasons. For one thing, the clutter keeps me from enjoying my home as much as I’d like to. For another, I’d like to do some travelling and possibly rent the place out for an extended period of time so I can wander a bit, and it’s just not possible without a real clean out. But most importantly, an excess of stuff is literally weighing me down in many ways. My life has changed dramatically in the past couple of years, and I’m feeling in need of something resembling a fresh start to clean out the cobwebs of the many negative things that have happened, and to make room for something new to come into my life in this next phase of it. If you want to know the condition of your mind, look in your closets and around your house.
I wonder what I can live without of all of this. When I look at it, there are reasons for keeping all of it, and I start thinking it’s going to be a herculean task, and that I’ll feel deprived if I give up all this stuff. But when I had a fire in the house several years ago and was left unable to access or use the majority of my belongings (thankfully they just needed deep cleaning), and had to live without 99% of this for nearly a year, I can honestly say I didn’t miss the vast majority of it – and didn’t even remember I had a lot of it.
These thoughts were literally keeping me up last night, so I got up early, only to find the following article in my email, sent by the wonderful kitchen and bath showroom DJ Mehler. It seems this is a common theme these days.
What do you think you could never live without, and what are you sure you want to jettison?
Take a look at the following article reprinted from Family Circle.com for a list of 18 things you can get rid of today, and some great ideas on how to let the things you don’t need go.
Just Say No to Too Much Stuff
Stuff. For many of us it’s worse than any four-letter word. That’s because “stuff” can weigh you down and hold you back, says Gail Blanke, author of Throw Out Fifty Things. And, in the end, much of what we accumulate in life isn’t all that important. As Marilyn Bohn, author of Go Organize!, points out, “No one ever says, ‘I wish I’d kept more stuff.'”
Still, getting rid of our discards can be a challenge. Carla Eskelsen, a mom in Farmington, Utah, admits she had trouble letting go of stuff until she figured out how to manage her “pioneer DNA.” Once she figured out that donating and recycling “honored” her pioneer ancestors, she found it much easier. “It’s about sharing and blessing others instead of keeping it all for yourself,” she says. Here’s how you can share and bless others with all of your stuff-and end up with a cleaner, more peaceful home while you’re at it.
1. Kitchen Utensils
Is your utensil drawer so full you can barely open and close it? You’re not alone. When Robin Austin started cleaning her kitchen in preparation for a move, she found she had plenty of duplicate utensils, the result of a new marriage that combined households and six kids. Many of us also buy new utensils but forget to get rid of the old.
Here’s a smart way to figure out what you’re really using, from Motherboard Mom Jeanne Smith, Overland Park, Kansas: Toss everything-all the spatulas, rubber scrapers, pie servers, and so on-into a box. As you use a utensil from the box, put it back in the drawer. After a month, check what’s left in the box. Keep those once-a-year items that remain in the box, like a turkey baster or candy thermometer. But donate the rest.
2. Coffee Mugs
Another item many moms find hogging valuable cupboard space: coffee mugs. “We had over 20 coffee mugs,” says Kansas mom Dawn Schnake. She and her husband each chose four mugs to keep and donated the rest to a church rummage sale.
“Even if you received something as a gift, it’s okay to let it go,” says organizer Marilyn Bohn. “You only need to keep what works for you.”
3. Plastic Containers
Mary Pankiewicz, owner of Clutter-Free and Organized in east Tennessee, suspects that plastic containers have a secret life (probably hanging out with those AWOL socks and hangers). How else can you explain why so many lids and bottoms don’t match up? She suggests holding a “lid party” to match up those errant tops and bottoms. Pankiewicz recently took her own advice. “I had 25 lids with no bottoms and six bottoms with no lids,” she says. After swapping with friends, she recycled the rest of the mismatched items.
4. Little-Used Kitchen Stuff
When was the last time you used that Bundt pan? If it was months ago, maybe you should give it to a friend. That’s what Suzy Ayres and a pal did when they performed a joint kitchen cleanup. They took everything out of their cabinets and only put back what they used regularly. “The things that we left out that didn’t get used much, we had to choose. If we put one thing back in the cabinet, we had to pick one thing to donate,” Ayres says. The two also traded items: “She had lots of muffin pans and I didn’t.”
An added bonus to the plan: They now know what’s in each other’s kitchens, and don’t need to buy some of those rarely used items, like a Bundt pan. “We’ve been trading the same ice bucket back and forth for years,” Ayres says. “I can’t even remember who it belongs to!”
Cupboards full of food you’re not sure you’re going to use? Some solutions:
·Check the expiration dates on everything in your pantry, fridge, or freezer. If it’s about to expire, put it on the menu for that week, says professional organizer Bohn.
·Motherboard Mom Dawn Schnake gives her sons what they call “muffin pan snacks” to get rid of those almost-empty bags of cereal, crackers, and chips. She fills each of the 12 muffin cups with a different snack and throws in some veggies, cut-up fruit, and cheese cubes. “The boys think they’ve sat down to a feast,” she says-and she gets her pantry cleaned out.
·If you know you’re never going to use an item-and it’s still good-give it to your local food pantry.
·Have an “Eat Out of the Pantry or Freezer” week, says Marla Cilley, flylady.net. You’ll be surprised at how creative you can get with your menu planning when you’re only using the ingredients on hand. She also suggests this as a way to inspire creativity and frugality: “When you throw away food, imagine you’re throwing dollar bills in the trash can!”
Got vases from the last three Valentine’s Day bouquets? Take them back to the florist, says Marla Cilley, who lives in Transylvania County, North Carolina, and runs the flylady.net, an Internet site devoted to housecleaning and organization.
“It takes away your creativity and takes over your mind,” Cilley says.
They don’t mold and don’t appear to go bad, but spices don’t last forever, not even cayenne pepper. (Cinnamon’s an exception to the rule.) “Dried is one thing, tasteless is another,” says organizer Blanke. Give your spices the smell and taste test and if they’ve gone bland and boring, dump them. To find out how old your McCormick or Schilling brand spices are, go to http://mccormick.com/Spices101/HowOldSpices.aspx. And when you buy new spices, mark down the date on the package with a Sharpie.
Computers were supposed to usher in a paperless society, but it hasn’t happened quite yet. “Most of us are still drowning in paper,” says organizer Pankiewicz. She suggests an annual cleanup. Check with your accountant about how long to keep important papers like tax returns but, in general, materials that support tax returns (receipts and so on) can be tossed after seven years.
Do you have a stack of magazines by your bed that you haven’t read? If two months have passed and they’re still sitting there, consider donating them to a retirement home, hospital, doctor’s office, or school. Many take magazines for art projects (if not for reading material). If, like former magazine editor Cherie Spino, a mom of four in Toledo, Ohio, you “can’t throw a magazine away without reading it,” do the flip-and-rip. Spino rips out recipes or articles she wants to keep and throws the rest into the recycling bin. She’s putting the recipes in a binder.
Organizer Bohn suggests tearing out articles and putting them in a folder you can grab when you know you’ll be sitting and waiting (think doctor’s office). Or, if you’re a tech-lover, you can get many popular magazines as an app for your phone or electronic reader.