That dirty word…clutter!

My journey towards less stuff

We have a mess in the house right now.  For less than a month, we have seven people living in the house.  Our daughter Natalie and her new husband, Reid have joined us while they wait for their new apartment to be finished.   It really has been a blessing having them for a few weeks, because unlike some of the residents in the house, they tend to help out more without being asked first.

Natalie has acted as my personal assistant several days and I also had a list of things I wanted her to help my accomplish, a.k.a. closets I wanted cleaned out!  I have been working for some time on my clothes closet.  I  am working toward a capsule wardrobe. While I still have things to cull out, I really like having less, but very versatile, quality clothing.



So far we have cleaned out a closet in her room that had her high school stuff, boxes of pictures, old tax returns, craft items, tee shirts to make into a quilt, sewing supplies and other odds and ends.  We successfully narrowed this closet down to about a third of what it was, only now we have a pile in the game room.  Actually, we have a really big pile in the game room as Natalie and Reid cleaned out our game closet too, and it actually closes now and you can remove a game without starting an avalanche!  They also culled out dozens of dvds and vhs tapes.

Usually I try and immediately remove items and donate them to our favorite charity but since we are doing such a huge clean out, and they have some things to sell, we thought we would have a garage sale.  Only, so far every Saturday has been booked for us.

The next thing to tackle is cookbooks.  Ugh.  I love cookbooks and it really hard for me to cull these.  I know it is silly since almost every recipe you can imagine is available online and I go online frequently for inspiration.  However, there is something about thumbing through a cookbook that I really enjoy.  Especially those, that almost read like a novel or a documentary of a particular culture.  So, I definitely need moral support to tackle this pile.

The other area which we are working on soon, really soon, before we die of heat, is the attic area of our garage.  I don’t even want to start that project.  For years we have said, “oh just put it in the attic.”  Well, now we are paying for that procrastination.   I have forgotten what all is up there.  I know some of the items were saved for the girls’ apartments, or ski clothes for trips we never get to make, or tax records for us and Robert’s parents.  Then there is the little Case tractor and the tricycle the children rode that I have insisted on keeping for future grandchildren.

In some ways this kind of clutter is easier to deal with for me than the daily pile of clutter which accumulates in our household.  First, we have mail that comes in to our house for seven different people plus our farm businesses.  It is frustrating when two thirds needs shredding!   Then there are the school papers to sign or just leave laying around for mom to decipher if you need it for school or if should be thrown away.  Then there are my own clutter messes where I feel compelled to keep something in my sight so I don’t forget to care for it and then I move it around until I finally deal with it.

After almost 27 years of managing a household, you would think I would have mastered this!  The truth is some days I am incredibly on top of it and then we have a project, or an event, or multiple events and everything gets dropped to focus on whatever is urgent.

The intentional promotion of things I most value and the removal of

everything that distracts me from it.  –Joshua Becker

Some people seem to be so good at managing clutter.  They seem to never have any, but then I have also heard their families say they cannot leave anything out or it will be thrown away.   My granny was like this.  I remember my Granddad always accusing her of getting rid of something they needed.  Whenever I would visit their house, I usually slept on a pallet on the floor.  I remember on more than one occasion getting up around 5:00 to go to the bathroom and when I came back to get back in my bed, Granny would have it folded up and put away!

I have always wondered what makes someone so good at decluttering.  Is it the way their brain functions?  Do they figure if you left it out, it is fair game for them to throw away?  Am I not so good at it due to my multiple interests and responsibilities?  I still do not know the answer.  I have read many books through the years and many tips and tricks have been helpful, however I think my real problem is I just don’t want a solution to getting rid of clutter, I don’t want it to exist in the first place.  Kind of like how I don’t want cockroaches to exist.

So now my focus is no longer tips and tricks as much as it is completely getting rid of everything I don’t use on a regular basis or that which brings me great joy.  I no longer want “stuff” dictating my schedule or lifestyle in any way.   There are several great blog sites and books available now on minimalism and living with less.  My favorite so far is Joshua Becker’s “Simplify“.  He also has a new book called, “The More of Less,” which has had great reviews.   I also enjoyed Courtney Carver’s, “Living in the Land of Enough.” and the New York Times best seller by Marie Kondo, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering”.  Kondo’s book is helpful and interesting but I will warn you, the author seems to be animistic, which I am not.  I do think it is good for us to be appreciative for every single thing we have been blessed to be a steward of.

So I keep this quote from Joshua Becker in my closet to help me attain my goals.  Minimalism for me is, “The intentional promotion of things I most value and the removal of the everything that distracts me from it.”

If you have a thought, tip or trick for removing clutter, please comment and share it with us.  In the meantime, I have to go start on those cookbooks.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “That dirty word…clutter!

  1. Molly, I had never heard the word “cull” until my mother-in -law used it this past Christmas, and now I see it everywhere! Funny how that works. My best trick for motivation to de-clutter is to visit the house of someone who is a hoarder. That’ll cure you! 😀 Or the less-financially-friendly option of taking a trip to Vanuatu. Seeing how happy people are there and how little they live with always makes me thankful for my blessings and more practical about what I can live without.

  2. I have a tip, if you want to accomplish your task, don’t do it alone. Enlist the aid of a daughter or a very close friend that will be brutally honest. I’ve been there and done that and need to do it again. Have fun, remember it’s all just stuff!!!

  3. With the passing of my mother-in-law, we have been going through her house to prepare for an estate sale. Somethings we are preparing to sell, somethings are going home with family members, others are being trashed. Somethings we are looking at and wondering “Why in the world did she EVER keep this?” Other items we look at and say, “Well, that is cool, but what would we ever do with it or where would we put it?” My brother-in-law is viewing everything as “I have only one child, instead of 3, who will have to go through all my stuff some day. I don’t need to take any more of this “stuff” to by house.” This has prompted us to go through our own stuff at home. We are purging and going to take many “treasures” over to be sold at the Estate Sale also. Many items we have collected over the years and yet have been in boxes since moving into this house many years ago! Enjoy the memories. But don’t focus on the “stuff”.