When I look at photos of our house 22 years ago when we first moved in, the place looks empty. We had so little furniture and it seemed like so much space.  But after 22 years and 2 children, things are beginning to seem a little crowded. Both boys have moved out, unfortunately, their childhood stuff has not.  And granted, one child has moved home for the summer so it’s good we still had a bed for him as well as a dresser, but we have an abundance of furniture now.

I’m on a quest to free up some space and organize the stuff we simply refuse to get rid of. It’s time to weed out the unnecessary items and organize our home.  It’s going to be a slow process and many of the boxes have things inside with memories attached.  It’s not just getting rid of stuff, it’s getting rid of the family we used to be.   But as weird as it seems, we need to start thinking about the fact that very likely within the next 10 years we’ll be selling this house and moving on to a retirement home.  Egads, how did we get here so fast?

Here’s my plan of action:

  • Start with the high traffic areas: The living room and kitchen are usually the two most used rooms in the house.  Everything gets dropped on a counter or the couch in these two places.   Luckily, we don’t have too much of a problem keeping these areas clean, it’s behind the cupboard doors where we fall short. I’m passing on them right now for the bigger picture, but I’m going to come back and tackle them soon.  Cleaning my spice cabinet a few weeks ago has been priceless.
  • Clean drawers and cabinets: Empty them out first.  It’s a time-consuming process but it is easier to start with an empty space and fill it instead of simply pushing things around.  Our linen closet is in desperate need of a weeding.  We have sheets in there that our kids used as tiny tots.  It’s hard to get rid of them, but it’s time.
  • Make do with less: It’s amazing how much money American’s spend to store stuff.  I’m on a mission to do more with less and I refuse to keep storing stuff.  Somewhere in the attic is my clarinet and saxophone from high school.  I graduated 30+ years ago.  It’s time they found a new home.
  • Weed storage containers Over the years,  we’ve accumulated a huge stack of storage bins where we’ve stashed the kids’ stuff.  We thought that at some point they’d go through it.  That isn’t happening.  For one, they say toss it all without opening it.  I say that there are valuable memories in there and I want to go through them first.  These bins are the result of kids moving out and leaving behind everything they didn’t want to pack.  It doesn’t mean it’s all junk.
    • To sort them, I’m going to divide items into categories:  KEEP, THROW AWAY, GIVE AWAY, and RELOCATE.  Items that will stay in that room are to keep.  Things that you don’t need or are broken can be thrown away.  Clothes or furniture still in great condition can be donated and scheduled for pickup by the Veteran’s association or Goodwill.  Anything that definitely belongs in another room can be labeled for relocation when you get to that room.  For my own clothes, I’m tossing everything that’s not one size up and one size down from where I am right now.

    I read a great tip the other day that I think I’m going to use a lot. The organizer said that if you’re not sure whether to keep or throw something away, put it in a box and mark it with a toss by date 4-5 months in the future.  If you’ve not used the item(s) by the date on the box, it’s time to donate or toss it.  Such a simple solution!  I think the hardest thing for me sometimes is that I attach a monetary or sentimental value to things and forget to value my piece of mind.

    Decluttering and organizing is going to take time. But I’m looking forward to the freedom of having less stuff to take care of.  I’m hoping that someday soon, photos of our home now will look as empty as it did when we moved in.