I realized during this process that one day- I hope in the not terribly distant future, we will live somewhere for longer than a year. Then the de-junking process will have to become a part of our daily lives instead of a moving task.
Here are a few ways that we try to cut back on clutter along with ideas that I have for managing it as our family grows. I am learning a lot from this moving stage of life that I hope will help me keep things simple as life gets more complicated. I am excited to hear your ideas as well- so please share!
Step One: Evaluate Purchases
This is where it all starts- in the store. Daniel and I try to evaluate our purchases based on budget & space. In times when we really don't have the money to spend, it is great to know how to substitute and do without. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you make a purchase:
- Do you really need it?
- Can you afford it?
- Will it improve your quality of life?
- Is there something you already have that would work as a substitute?
- Is there room for it?
- Do we need to get rid of something else to make room for this item?
Step 2: Organize
It does not seam to matter if our apartment is 500 sq. ft. or 1100 sq. ft., it is easy to fill the space with our stuff. My conclusion is that clutter is not always caused by having too much stuff or too little space. Sometimes we just need to figure out a way to better utilize the space that we have.
For example- I have my stockpile of personal care products in totes. If I tried to organize all these items in a cupboard, they would take up a ridiculous amount of space. Instead I have 2 totes stuffed full. I store the totes in a closet and know right where to look when I need more toothpaste.
We have also found that it is much easier to keep things clean and organized if everything has a place.
For example- I currently have a basket in our living room where I keep a burp cloth, change of clothes, and diaper changing items for our son. These items all have a place in his bedroom, but I use them in the living room. I use to put them away in his room every night, but by the end of the day these items would be scattered throughout the living room. Instead of fighting it, I brought this basket into the living room to make a place for them where I use them most.
What ways have you found to organize your stuff and reduce clutter?
Step 3- Don't Keep What You Won't Use
This is the one that I struggle with the most. I have a hard time getting rid of things- I always convince myself that I will use it one day (even though I haven't for years).
Here are a few ways to get rid of items you don't use:
- Give gently used items to a shelter or a needy family you know. It is much easier for me to get rid of things if I know that I am giving it to someone in need. This can also be a great way to teach your children to give.
- Sell useful items you no longer use. Sometimes we keep items because we feel like we have an investment in them. If the item is really worth a lot, try to sell it. Get together with friends or family and have a garage sale once a year.
- Swap unused items with friends. Host a spring cleaning swap and encourage friends and neighbors to bring the stuff they no longer use. Let everyone swap their old items for items they will use. Donate all the items that are not taken to a local charity.