How We Are Conquering Clutter

At the start of this new year, I caught the “de-clutter bug”. This means that I had the urge to go through my entire house with a cardboard box, some garbage bags, and a dust cloth, while brutally de-cluttering and thoroughly cleaning each room.

Ways we are conquering our clutter and living a more peaceful, simple life. The Homesteading Hippy
What’s amazing to me is the amount of stuff that I have seemed to accumulate. I couldn’t tell you HOW it happened, either. I have tried to only purchase things that are absolutely necessary in our lives, or things that would enrich our lives somehow. The problem is that what I *think* is necessary isn’t always so 3 months later.
For example, an extra set of cast iron pans. Sure, I love cast iron and if well taken care of, they will last more than a lifetime. But, did I really need 3 sets of 3 quart pots and lids? It wasn’t that I wouldn’t use them. The unforeseen problem was that I had no space to store them. It became a pain storing them in the oven since I had to take them out each time I wanted to bake something, then put them back.
Then there were the extra sets of sheets for the beds. Did we really need 3 sets per bed? Even changing the sheets and washing them weekly meant that 2 sets were adequate. I really didn’t have space to store the 6 sets of sheets, either. Buying another cabinet or set of drawers just to store those extras seemed like an expense I couldn’t justify, either.
Let’s not forget the coffee mugs. I love a pretty coffee mug. I have a favorite for my morning coffee and for sipping tea the rest of the day. My husband has his favorite mug, too. So, why did we need 18 more? We kept a few extra for company, but adding hooks or another shelf for coffee mugs seemed ridiculous.
Speaking of coffee, at one point in time, I had 3 coffee pots in my kitchen! One was an electric auto drip, one a French press, and another an old fashioned percolator. I love coffee very much, but there was no need for 3 different varieties of coffee making contraptions.
I don’t even want to touch on the DVD’s that we amassed. It was embarrassing how many movies we had purchased, yet only watched one time.

Those are just some examples of things in my home that came in quietly and then took over my life.

When this happens, and clutter builds up, it can be stifling. Finding room to store more and more stuff means that I have that much more to clean. Having to buy shelves, drawers, and other things to put the stuff in means more money spent on…STUFF. More money out, more budgetary stress. And for me, my main stress relief was, you guessed it…SHOPPING. This easily became a vicious cycle.

First, you need to decide WHY you are buying things.

I had to become honest with myself. Things were NOT going to fill my life, nor were they going to take away any stress I may have. I really didn’t need to keep up with anyone else, or their lifestyles. I didn’t need to have all the things that “other people used” because what I had worked for me.
I began with the “flylady” routine. You may remember this from “yahoo groups”. (yes, it was that long ago) The premise was that you would de-clutter 15 minutes a day, to remove unnecessary things in your life. 27 items, no matter what the size, would go into a bag to be given away or thrown away. Just 27 items daily to make your life less stressful. Easy enough, but my problem had grown too big. I needed to do more than 27 items in each room. I had to get brutal, or I would forever be up to my ears in things I didn’t really need, want, or use.

Now, let’s get a box, some garbage bags, and a dust cloth.

This will help you as you move from room to room, tossing garbage, collecting things to give away, and cleaning as you go.
My starting place was the living room. This is one of the main “hubs” in our home. Everyone who comes into my home passes through here, and my family lives in this room. Clutter on flat surfaces builds up quickly in this space, remotes get lost, and books are tossed all over. We solved these issues by removing most of the flat surfaces. No more coffee table or TV stand. (currently, our TV still has a place, but it’s on a wall bracket now.) Then, the bookshelves were emptied. Shelves were dusted, and books and movies sorted. It was amazing how many paper books we had that we never read. We donated those books and purchased the kindle version of some instead and kept the rest. Many movies also went “bye-bye”. Once that was done, we felt like we had a comfy, cozy, inviting place to relax again. The TV is no longer the front and center of the room. It’s tucked away in a corner, behind a couch. We did that on purpose, as we wanted a place to sit and chat, read or just relax without the background noise.
The next room was the bathroom. This is another busy room in my home, especially since we only have one. I got rid of all the sheets that were torn, worn, or losing their elastic. We will put them to good use in the greenhouse or for animal related needs. I splurged and made sure that everyone had a good set of 100% cotton sheets, with a secondary backup. This will give us 2 sets to rotate, and we can use the extra set for company as well. This also keeps the laundry load down a bit, since there aren’t as many sheets to wash. Why didn’t I think of that before?

Don’t be afraid to get rid of things you haven’t used in 6 months, or you no longer love.

Finally, in this pass, I hit the kitchen. My kitchen is my “kingdom”, if you will. I nearly live in my kitchen making meals, prepping food, and even working from the kitchen table. Having clutter on the counters stresses me out a bit, so my hubby hung shelves for me to put things on. There were hooks, nails, and such to hang things on too. It still got out of hand. So, off to the thrift store went the extra coffee mugs, the air popcorn maker, (that we never used- we prefer stove top made) and the odd jars and lids I have collected “just in case I need them.” My friend was blessed with the extra cast iron, and I even gave her my old china cabinet. That cabinet took up a lot of precious space, and it was oo teasy to “hide” stuff inside.
I know I’ll hear some gasping and groaning, but I also got rid of a bunch of canning jars. Our family is no longer growing, and as my children start flying the nest, I won’t need to save as much food to feed us all winter long. So, I went from nearly 2,000 canning jars to 1,500. That’s still a HUGE amount of jars, honestly. Enough for nearly 5 jars of food per day. Easily enough for my family.
Getting rid of the canning jars also opened up some space on my large food storage shelf. I could finally see what I really had again. I “found” bottles of ketchup, salad dressing, and canned salmon. That’s money saved on groceries!
Our next step will be cleaning up the yard and getting rid of “possible projects”. If we can’t accomplish it this summer, we are going to put it on indefinite hold. We have spent so many summers trying to get so much done, that we have never really enjoyed a summer with my kids. As they are 19, 17 and 13…it’s about time we stopped and smelled the roses with them.

Getting rid of the clutter in my home has made life a lot less stressful.

It is much easier to clean and keep clean, and comes with a lot less “noise” in my day. I have a ways to go to really conquer this clutter, but it feels so good to have made a start! What ways do you keep clutter down? How often do you de-clutter?
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