Let’s declutter our places and learn to breathe comfortably in our own homes again, shall we?
In Part 1 of our Home Contentment Series, we gave a nice and thorough list of things that might benefit from a good cleaning around your house. My experience is that a clean house feels more comfortable, and therefore I feel more content in it. Today we go to the next step of finding contentment in our homes, and we declutter.
If you can dump all the clutter in your house in one day, you’re either a miracle worker or you own a dumpster and a very large bulldozer. Let’s find a more reasonable option, shall we? Let’s break things up into manageable bites.
Ask yourself this: Do we use this item regularly?
If yes, then keep it. If no, clarify with this question: on the rare occasions we need this, is this very important to have? (I’m thinking tents, holiday decorations, umbrellas…use your common sense.) The no-no items get donated or dumped.
And one more note before we begin– decluttering can be a huge blessing to others who need what you have. An attitude of generosity makes this process so much easier and fun.
Ready? Here we go!
- Entry closet: locate all members of your family and force them to try on everything they keep in the closet. Keep only the coats, boots, and shoes that fit and that are worn frequently. Now send your family away because you are going to be getting rid of things and they’ll claim they need to keep those items. Flummery-some stuff needs to go. With a keen eye, evaluate all the stuff you have in there. Take it all out, and then only replace the things you use at least yearly. Throw out or donate the rest, and do it today.
- Bedroom closets: Declutter one closet each day, repeating the above steps. Remind yourself that the items you don’t keep will be a true blessing to someone else, and be brave!
- Linen closets: I like to keep at least two sets of sheets for every bed in the house, plus multiple extra blankets. This is because we live in Michigan and you can never have enough blankets in your house, but also because I’ve lived through multiple stomach-bug incidents in the middle of the night. One time my son was down to his sister’s sleeping bag and a throw pillow from the couch and I swore I’d keep more sheets in the house from then on. Learn my lesson and don’t skimp here. Homeless and domestic violence shelters will love to take your extra sheets and towels off your hands.
- Kitchen cabinets: Be ruthless. Think of how many pots and pans you actually use in one sitting, and then declutter the cabinets. There’s no reason to look like you’re running a kitchen store. Find a college ministry and donate your extra cooking implements.
- The refrigerator: Why do we keep all those condiments? They’re so gross, but we can’t part with them. Well, today’s the day. Open the fridge up nice and wide. The homeless shelter has no interest in your three year old bottle of Asian sauce, so please throw it away. Keep going until every item has been evaluated and every surface has been wiped down with hot, soapy water. If you have the strength, attack the freezer. Go out for dinner.
- Under the beds: May the Lord be with you in your time of need. I bet you’ll find some treasures under there as you declutter.
- Utility areas, basement, and laundry room: Sort through all your tools and painting supplies. The local Habitat for Humanity is anxiously awaiting this donation. Evaluate those half-used gallons of paint. If they’re in good shape, log onto Facebook and ask if anyone wants them. Paint might be out of some of your friends’ budgets, and they might be sick to death of their own wall colors. If there are no takers, the ReStore will be happy to help.
- The garage: In our house, the garage is Eric’s domain. I don’t mess with much out there, unless I put it there first. In your case you might want to seek a few marital counseling sessions and then prayerfully attack the garage as some sort of marriage-building session.
- Under the sinks (kitchen and bathroom): Maybe there’s a perfectly good reason we own 400 tampons in varying absorbencies, but you know who else would love to have those? The women’s shelter. I’m not sure what to do about the 3,293 plastic bags under the kitchen sink. Maybe keep 10 and take the rest to the recycling bin at the grocery store?
- Various places unique to your home: I’m sure there are places in your house that I can’t see, but you’re looking at them right now and adding them to your list. For us, the coffee table is an endless battle of Legos, magazines, books, and snack bowls. You might have storage sheds, kids’ bedrooms, homeschool areas, or a south wing to your mansion. By now you’re a decluttering expert, so get to it.