Home Cleanse Day 1: Motivate
This year, spending more time at home, especially with winter approaching, necessitates creating a space that brings you peace and comfort. Cue the PROJECTS! This doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can be gratifying and freeing. Here’s the plan for this blog post series. Check in every day for a new guide to spur your progress, and then sign up for a time slot for some of your no-longer-needed items to be picked up from your porch and donated to The Shelter House.
- Motivate – I’m going to make you want to do this. Starting TODAY.
- Purge – Tips for processing your items.
- Donate – Ideas for locally selling, consigning, and donating through IMP’s Shelter House pickup and elsewhere.
- Organize – A place for everything and everything in its place.
- Clean – The stuff you know you need to do, and the stuff you didn’t know you need to do.
After making many attempts over the years to clear out the clutter, I never felt like I quite got there. Thanks to pregnancy nesting, (aka the only good thing about pregnancy), I’ve fully embraced a complete home purge in the past couple weeks, and only had to stop when my husband put his foot down and said I need to stop selling furniture that we still use.
Along the way I donated and sold MANY items that are perfectly useful to other families. Isn’t it convenient that we can turn this into a philanthropy event! I’m going to make you want to purge, accomplish the purge, DONATE the most useful items (without leaving your home, because you’ll sign up for a time and we’ll come get it from your porch – more on that later), and then organize, clean, and maintain.
I want to emphasize that though I give occasional examples related to children’s toys and clothes, this is in no way targeted exclusively to families with children. I have tried to keep discussion of toys and kids clothes fairly separate so you can skip on by if it doesn’t apply to you. Now, let's get on with it.
Do you ever “finish” cleaning up and take a look around only to feel that your house still looks cluttered? Me too. There are multiple reasons for this. First of all, YOU HAVE TOO MANY THINGS. I don’t know you and I don’t know your house but I am sure you have too many things. Secondly, you have too many things you don’t care about, which retracts from your motivation to care for them. This seems to be especially common in medical families like us, where, during the many moves and living within the margins of a training salary, we have accepted cheap items or hand-me-downs from family that we don’t truly love. Thirdly, you haven’t had time to optimize your space, but with enough motivation, you will want to make time.
Here are some concepts that I have mulled over and feel are important to accept. Accepting these principles has helped me get rid of things and also choose not to buy more things that I didn’t need. Am I an expert on this? No. But I did read a lot of Marie Kondo, The Home Edit, and endless minimalist and housekeeping blogs, and I write ~ScIeNce~ for a living so I know how to be REALLY entertaining and not dry at all (just kidding, science is not entertaining, except to me and probably your spouse). In no particular order:
- Release yourself of any obligation to keep an item you don’t love and need. This is a derivative of Marie Kondo’s “thank it and let it go”. You can be thankful for a gift you received at the time and still say goodbye to it. The giver felt the joy of giving it to you, you felt the love of receiving a gift, and now let’s move the heck on. Better to say goodbye than to think about how you don’t love the item and you “should” keep it every time you see it. Same for items that you bought fairly recently but realistically don't use. It's bringing guilt into your life, and guilt is a burdensome feeling. It is also completely self-inflicted. The guilt is a "you" problem. I give you permission to let it go.
- Too many of ANY item is unnecessary. You do not live in a third world country where there is true scarcity and things cannot be replaced. For clothes, think about the circumstance under which you would wear an item. It’s time to pick a sweater – are you always choosing sweater A over sweater B, even if you like sweater B “just fine” and you bought it recently and… and… and…? Yes? Then goodbye, sweater B. For toiletries, do you always reach for one lotion over another? Out it goes. There really is no reason for more than one sheet set per bed, but two is allowable. More than that… not necessary. This concept even applies to sentimentals. I had a box of sentimental Christmas items that my mom used to display and she ended up giving them to me (cue guilt, see above). I kept two or three of them because they give me good feels when I see them. The rest? Out. The. Door. Same for your own (and dare I say… your children’s) childhood pictures and schoolwork – keep a few report cards, pictures, and writing samples to bring up those good feels. Fifty variations of them taking up space? No thanks.
- When sorting through items, take them all out of their space, and only put back in what you are keeping. Do not leave them in their space and only take out what you are eliminating. It is much more impactful to see all your crap in a pile, and selectively re-introduce only what you truly need and like.
- Evaluate an item’s worth in many ways. Firstly, of course, its monetary cost to you (assuming it is an item you either need or are likely to need to replace shortly after discarding it). Also, though, the cost to your storage space, the cost in your time to clean and maintain it, and honestly, the space it occupies in your brain. I had five bins of baby clothes. Even though I have another on the way and they would probably use some, the amount of space they took up, the weight on my shoulders of holding on to a ton of crap, and the inexpensive cost to replace them helped me ditch more than half of them. Let’s be real, children’s clothes on consignment aren’t that expensive, and you’re always going to be gifted new clothes and make a few new clothing purchases for a new baby.
- Realize how valuable your time is. That pile of toy cars your kids dump out every day just for the sake of dumping out adds one minute to your cleaning schedule that you could use doing something else. Your time is valuable. Save your time. Also apply this logic to the time investments you make in your purging/organizing/cleaning. If a four-hour closet purge reduces your overall laundry burden, saves you time shopping for things you didn’t need, and creates more breathing room (which translates to joy, which translates to energy, which translates to making time for things you love), those four hours are time well spent.
I am crossing my fingers that this project will spur lots of chatter on our blog, Facebook invite page, and everywhere else. Please liberally comment with updates and suggestions!
If you already know you’re “in”, sign up to have some of your items donated to The Shelter House. We will pick up your donations from your doorstep. https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70A0444A4AD2FA2FF2-shelter
While you anxiously await tomorrow's post, why don't you visit some favorite inspirational folks on their blogs and Instagram?
The Home Edit BLOG and INSTAGRAM
Marie Kondo BLOG and INSTAGRAM
Real Simple SITE and INSTAGRAM
Go Clean Co INSTAGRAM
Julie Blanner BLOG and INSTAGRAM
Allie Casazza BLOG and INSTAGRAM