Time for some serious talk. Anyone will tell you that decluttering is hard work. Where do I start? How can I keep going? Why should I bother? I know this feeling but it is a battle that can be won. In this blog I hope to share some of the various ways I managed to declutter our four bed detached house in order to move to a three bed terrace.
In our previous house we had at least two whole rooms (plus a loft and two sheds) that were rammed with stuff. We moved there from a smaller house yet it didn't take long for some areas of this larger house to overflow. Added to this we had mature gardens (front, back and side due to a corner plot) that were overflowing beyond their borders.
We were keen to make our dated 1970s house modern and streamlined and slowly began the process of redecorating it a room at a time. Our design style is fairly simple and plain. We would empty the room we were working on, make good the basic structure (re plastering over Artex or damaged walls if necessary) and then paint each room white. Against this backdrop we brought back in just enough furniture and decorative items to give the room some basic style. We chose simple light fittings and blinds over curtains. We enjoyed this process and the calm spaces we created but beyond this facade of order disorder and array still loomed.
Several years ago 'decluttering' a room for me was merely a surface tidy up. Clearing the room of some of the random 'pot pourri' that silted up on top of surfaces made a room look lighter and tidier but it soon collected again. I felt like I was regularly decluterring yet getting nowhere. Probably because out of habit, boredom, mindlessness and greed I was still consuming and filling the house with stuff. Also, having been a full-time working Mum for many years there simply hadn't been time to focus on decluttering or evaluating our possessions. There were rooms (study/spare bedroom and music room/garage conversion) and cupboards where it was best just to leave the door closed.
Once we had made the decision to move we had major amounts of declutttering to do and had to do it fairly quickly. Initially I found it hard to surrender items but donating items to charity always made me feel good. Each time I dropped off stuff at a charity shop I felt not only physically lighter but also happier because I was helping others. Also by signing up for Gift Aid I received emails informing me of how much money had been raised by my donations. I was so proud the first time I received such an email and it encouraged me to give more.
Want to declutter and feel good at the same time? Here are some tips:
1. Keep a bag or box handy and fill it gradually as you come across unwanted items. Take it to the charity shop when full or leave outside your house if there is a door to door collection.
2. If you sell at a car boot sale take your unsold items immediately to a charity shop (some are open on Sundays).
3. Support one particular charity – maybe one associated with friends or family who have been ill. You will feel 'attached' to the cause instead of attached to your old possessions.
4. Pick a charity shop that has good rear access so you don't have to pay for parking or walk too far with heavy goods.
5. Sign up to Gift Aid to increase the benefit of your donation and so that the charity can inform you of how much money has been raised from your items.
6. Instead of having a yard sale leave unwanted items outside your house with a 'Free to a good home' sign. A good time to do this is in the school holidays.
Hope giving a little makes you feel freer, lighter and happier. Let me know how you get on.