Clearing The Clutter

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Clearing The Clutter

Having lived in our home for a number of years, we have accumulated a fair amount of clutter. Some of it sentimental, some of it just-in-case-we-might-need-it and some of it because we simply haven't got round to getting rid of it yet.

We moved from a flat to this house and we most definitely have more clutter here than we ever had there. Is it a case of the bigger the house, the more you store because you can? In my case, it definitely seems to be a case of the bigger the wardrobe, the more clothes you store. Even if you don't wear it!

Having children does not help in the clutter department. This is where the aforementioned sentimental clutter comes into play. These little people are little for such a short while that I want to grab everything and keep a hold of it. Everything from the outfits from when they were first born, to the toys they loved but never look at now, to the gazillions of pieces of "art work" they put together at home or at playgroup/nursery/school.

And please tell me we all have the Junk Drawer in the kitchen? The one that's full of screws, coins, pens, broken crayons and chargers for devices that died several years ago. Oh, and the mystery keys. Nobody knows where they came from or what they open.

First, Let's tackle The grown-up Wardrobes

I remember someone saying to me a long time ago "if you haven't worn it in the last 6 months, you'll never wear it again". I have always remembered this and in my case, it seems to be true. My only exceptions to this are the holiday clothes because lets face it, it's not often I get to wear thin summer dresses in my corner of the world.

This can be made relatively easy:

  • have a quick look through your wardrobe and if you come across anything in good nick but you wouldn't now be seen dead in – chuck in a charity bag!
  • if you're still not sure, here's where you get round that! On the rail, turn all the hangers round the same way. As you are wearing and washing things, put the hangers back up the opposite way round. Review in 6 months time. If any of the hangers are still facing the original way, off to the charity shop that item goes.

6 months is a long time really, so you could just have yourself a fashion show and be ruthless.

The Kid's Clothes

I have decided to keep just a few from when said child was first born. Just one or two favourite outfits. Let's face it, in this day and age we are photographing our children virtually every day when they are first born, so we are bound to have a photo of them in each and every single one of those outfits. And it's not like they'll ever fit into them again, is it?

The Toys

Along the same lines as the grown up clothes, if a toy has been in plain sight and your child still hasn't looked at it for a few month, they have likely lost interest in it or have outgrown it.

Channel your mind into thinking that some children are not fortunate enough to have an abundance of toys. Other children could be getting the enjoyment out of them that your child had when it was new to them.

Places where you can donate them:

  • Local charity shop
  • To a local organisation, such as a playgroup or nursery. Councils are making cut backs everywhere so these organisations might not be able to replace old or broken toys.
  • A local children's hospital might also appreciate them.

The Artwork

This is where the real struggle is for me. How can I throw it out, while remembering the proud look on my child's face when it was handed to me? Some of it will have to go but this is also where I need a better storage plan. Here's what I am going do:

  • buy some tubes with lids from one of the bargain stores
  • roll the pieces of "artwork" up and stuff them in there.
  • Hide the rolls at the back of a cupboard.

I know I should really part with them, but at least they're better organised!

That Drawer

For this, we have no excuse. When we moved in did we think to ourselves "right, that's where we are going to store all the junk we don't need". I don't think so! It must have just evolved.

This one should be a quick fix really:

  • Get the screws in the bin or in the toolbox.
  • Loose change, chuck it in your purse/wallet and put it in the first charity tin you come across. Or, if it's a considerable amount of loose change, take it to your bank and get it deposited in to your account.
  • Broken crayons are no use to anyone! Throw them out!
  • If the chargers don't charge anything you now own, throw them out too.
  • The keys are a bit trickier. Try them around your home/shed/garage and if they don't open any of your locks, I suggest you ask your closest family and friends, those who are most likely to have given you their keys or left them in your home. If an owner can't be found, you know what to do with them!

The only remaining thing on my list was pens, you can keep them... if they actually work.

The most important part of this dreaded drawer is to find a real purpose for it. Don't let it fill up with clutter again. If you have useful things that are out of easy reach, get them in there instead.

Another area where we had lots of clutter was the shed. So often throughout the autumn and winter months we dumped things in the there that were actually destined for the tip. Because we aren't in the shed regularly getting the lawnmower to cut the grass and the bucket to wash the car, the collection of clutter in there got forgotten. It was out of sight, out of mind.

Ours was, unfortunately, full of cardboard boxes! Boxes for things we had bought that were too big for the recycling bin but weren't worth trekking to the tip with at the time. We also had a collapsed BBQ that gave way midwinter, a dismantled glass dining table, plus random bits of wood and plasterboard.

Get this job done on a sunny day like we did. It didn't feel like such a boring task while soaking up some sunshine. Here's what we did:

  • Empty the shed completely, separate all of it into 3 piles: Keep, Recycle, Tip.
  • While everything is out, give the shed a good sweep out to remove spider webs, mud, etc. (You could even give it a good vacuum out if the cable will stretch that far!)
  • Put up a few shelves and hooks for the smaller items. The shed feels and looks far less cluttered with fewer things on the floor.

As a bit of a green, environmentally friendly kind of person (let's pretend for a minute I don't drive a 4x4!) I HATE throwing things out if they can be of any use to anyone, so I give as much as I can to charity shops. Please also consider the environment when disposing of items. See zerowastescotland.org.uk for lots of helpful information and advice.

Inevitably, some items will need to go to landfill though, and one last problem I have with all this is actually finding the time and motivation to get it out the door to the tip. Post a task on Task Junkies for someone to come and take it all to the tip for you!

If this all sounds like too mammoth a task to take on by yourself, check out the25thhouruk.com Owner Jodi Sharpe offers a de-cluttering service and her website also offers de-cluttering tips.

More in this category: « Hassle-free House Cleaning

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