Image from Indian Cliff Dwellings in AZ from our trip. What a view!
I'm so glad to hear you guys are excited about the simple living challenge. Hopefully you're off to a great "pick 5" decluttering start!
Don't forget to involve other members of your family in this too if they're interested. Your kids and hubby certainly have 5 things they can pick to give away as well. It's a great opportunity to teach your kids about giving away toys to those less fortunate than you and cultivate their ability to sort through clothes that are too small or they don't like and keep only the things they really use.
Depending on where you are in your decluttering journey, you might find that you have quite a bit to get rid of. Don't despair. It's much easier to accumulate items than it is to give it away.
You might be thinking, why are we decluttering? How is this going to make my life more simple?
Here's the thing - the less stuff you have, the less time you spend maintaining it, worrying about it, replacing it.
When you have less, everything has a place and when we're done with this exercise you will know where it is.
-Your home takes 5 minutes to pick up because it's just a few items to put away.
-You spend less time cleaning and more time doing the things you love.
-What would you do with your time if you weren't spending it cleaning? Would you take your kids to the park? Go for a walk? Knit? :) Sew something? Whatever that ideal image is, focus on it when you're decluttering.
As you drop more and more pounds of "stuff" you'll start to feel lighter. You'll smile when you walk into a room.
Cleaning the kids room will no longer be a struggle. You'll no longer be embarrassed when someone stops by unexpectedly and before you know it, you'll be welcoming them into your home and offering to show them your decluttered bathroom drawers! :)
Heather brought up a great point and one I was going to mention -
Every time you spend $ on something you are sacrificing a bit of your future. There is an excellent article at the Unclutterer that I'd like you to read. Here's the thing, decluttering is great. However, if you continue to bring things into your home and more than you're taking out- the piles will grow and your life won't feel any simpler.
What you need to do is really sit down and figure out why you want to declutter. Why do you want to simplify and focus on bringing less into your home? Hold onto those goals as you declutter. Keep envisioning them, and it will make the process easier.
Hilary also brought up a great reason for decluttering -
...one thing that really helps me when trying to decide to get rid of something is, "Would someone appreciate this more than me?"
I know when I ask myself that question the answer is usually, YES.
Ok! Now that you're cultivating the decluttering mindset, I wanted to share with you a few other decluttering tricks I use to really clear the excess out-
Decluttering Tip #1- Last 6 months
I'm not going to lie, this one is hard for me and it still a work in process. Here's what you do - if you haven't used it in the last 6 months and you don't plan on using it in the next 6 months, get rid of it.
This tip is really great for craft supplies. Think about what you're using and what is on your list to make. There is always something else to make, another item to create and another "ooh - shiny! must make!" distraction. The 6 month plan allows me to really decide - if I haven't made it in 6 months and I don't have plans in the next 6 months, will I ever really do it? Do I really want to make it if I can't find time in the next 6 months for it?
This technique has really revolutionized my crafting. A lot of things I was putting off because I wasn't quite sure of the technique or didn't feel like I had the time, I just tackled. And before you know it, the item itself only took 10 minutes. I'd been waiting years for a 10 minute task?!? Crazy!
Decluttering Tip #2 - Empty container technique
This is one of my favorites! What you do is take a container, or a drawer or an area of a room and empty it all out. Yes, everything.
Clean out the space where it just was - wipe down the drawer, the baseboard, wash the linens, etc. Now, sort through what you just took out. Keep only the items that you love and/or use. It's only the items that give you that pull in your stomach and make you claim proudly, "I love it!" or "Ooh, I can't get rid of that, I use it for XYZ!" Now, just put those few items back. See how much cleaner and open your space is now? Enjoy that feeling. Now, look at the pile of stuff remaining. Consider putting it all in the donation or trash bin as applicable. You've figured out what you love and use, now why keep the rest?
I play a little game with myself to empty as many containers as possible. That means those little rubbermaid plastic bins, shoe boxes, drawers, bags, boxes, etc. It's a fun little game. Then I pile all the empty ones up in the corner so they are ready for use when I get to my next stage of decluttering, Containerizing! Once you've got rid of your excess stuff you're ready to organize it and devote space to it. I'll talk more about containerizing later.
Decluttering Tip #3 - Car-Load Technique
My 3rd favorite technique for decluttering is challenging, but fun. I call it the car-load technique. I do this every year for 4 weeks between my birthday and Thanksgiving to get my home ready for the holidays.
Here's what you do - it's really easy. Every weekend you make a commitment to fill a carload of stuff and donate it.
I know. That sounds radical, and probably crazy.
Here's the thing, everyone I know has at least 1-2 car loads of stuff they could donate and not even miss. Probably more car loads if we're really being ruthless.
Run around and get decluttering, fill that car! Get it out of your house! And when you've filled the car, you're done decluttering for the week. Drive it over to goodwill or salvation army or your local Church and drop it off. Envision all the people you are helping and drive away smiling.
Rinse and repeat for every weekend in your challenge and really clear out the space. You'll be feeling lighter and more efficient in no time.
I hope some of the decluttering tips really help you on your simple living challenge. It's almost the weekend- make an appointment with yourself to clear out the clutter. Don't delay, today! :)