For homemakers who have a pull towards more old fashioned ways, it can be a challenge to keep clutter under control. We scour thrift shops and find perfect little treasures for our home. And we have a tendency to want to hold onto things for the next generation. However, in order to maintain a comfortable home and to keep cleaning our homes simplified, it is important to get rid of clutter in order to perfectly curate your home.
Getting Rid of Clutter
I will begin by saying that I am not a minimalist. There was a time in my life when I was more closely aligned with the minimalist philosophy. And it served me well when we were in a season of moving every couple of years. But now that we are settled and are living on a homestead, my perspective has changed.
There are two main reasons for my change in thinking. The first is that I understand the value of having tools and items on hand for the various endeavors that come with homesteading. It is good to be ready for the numerous situations that might arise.
The second is the joy that comes from having heirloom items in my home. So my focus has changed from getting rid of practically everything, to finding a healthy balance between keeping a simple and organized home while also curating a meaningful and practical home.
Getting rid of clutter is vital to maintaining this healthy balance. Too much stuff, no matter how beautiful and practical it is, can be overwhelming. What follows are some practical tips for getting rid of clutter as you curate a home environment that is welcoming and comfortable.
My first suggestion is to make getting rid of clutter a regular part of your cleaning schedule. At least once a week do a 15 minute clean out of one area in your house.
Consider creating a cleaning schedule that rotates through your home. Each week focus on a particular room and give it extra attention through deep cleaning and getting rid of clutter. Over the years I have modified the Fly Lady method to make it work for me.
Limiting your time to 15 minutes of decluttering will keep you from getting burnt out. While having a regular rotating cleaning schedule of your home will ensure that you come back to all areas of your house regularly. This will help you stay on top of the clutter.
When I am working on cleaning out the clutter I sometimes find myself unsure about getting rid of an item. If I am struggling with this I like to ask myself if the item in question can be replaced easily.
For example, if it is a generic kitchen utensil or something that can be easily replaced with a trip to the thrift store then I do not hesitate to get rid of it. If it is a family heirloom or something that is very unique I might set it aside for awhile so I can spend more time deciding if it is something I want to keep to curate my home.
If you want to get rid of a family heirloom, consider asking other family members if they want it. If a family member does not want it, offer it to a friend who would appreciate it. Sometimes it is easier to get rid of something if you know that it will be valued in its new home.
Here is a confession: I gave an entire set of family china to a friend! The china was beautiful, but it was not right for my home. I am so glad that I gave it to my friend. I have peace of mind knowing that it is in a home where it will be loved, and my friend was greatly blessed by the gift.
Have a Plan for Clothing
My second suggestion is in regard to clothing. In order to clean out the clutter, I recommend that you switch out your clothes seasonally. I do this twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring.
When there is a shift in the weather I go through all of our closets. I pull out the clothes that we will not be needing to make room for new seasonal clothing. This is also when I figure out if we need to purchase any new clothes for the upcoming season.
My husband and I do not buy new clothes very often. We simply put away our winter clothes or summer clothes switch them out as needed. We really only need to bring in new clothes if we have items that have become worn out. This really helps to keep the clutter down.
For my kids we depend on hand me down clothes from their cousins. We are so thankful for the hand me downs and they have been so helpful to us. However I must state that it is important to use caution with hand me downs.
Sometimes the volume of hand me downs can be downright overwhelming. If you bring in a lot of hand me downs, it becomes counter productive to getting rid of clutter.
My method to keeping hand me downs under control is to go through them right away. I sort through everything and only keep what I know we will use. I leave the rest for my sisters to do as they want with the clothes.
We have a nice system going where my oldest daughter receives hand me down clothes from her older cousins. When she outgrows them I set them aside for my younger daughter. I keep the clothes in a plastic storage box like this one.
I really enjoy seeing the same clothes passed down from one kid to the next. Some of the clothes have been in circulation within the family for over 15 years.
Think Before You Buy
My next tip is about buying things. Before you buy something and bring it into your home, I encourage you to stop and consider for a moment. Think about if this is something that you absolutely need.
If you do not need it, then carefully contemplate if this item is worthy of your home. If your goal is to get rid of clutter, then anything you purchase should be carefully evaluated.
There are a lot of beautiful things out there in the world. For those of us with old souls, those beautiful old things are fun to bring into our homes. Especially when we find them at bargain prices.
Sometimes it can help to step back and take some time to make a decision. If you want to purchase a particular item, try waiting a week or two before you purchase it. During that time you will realize if the item is valuable to your home, or if you simply wanted it on a whim.
I recognize this can be particularly challenging if you frequent thrift shops and enjoy finding good deals on beautiful things. But we simply cannot house all the beautiful things in our homes.
Of course it is ok to buy something that you know will help you curate your home. If this is the case for me, I sometimes get rid of another item. This helps get rid of the clutter so that you do not accumulate too many things. I do not have a strict “one thing in one thing out” rule. But it is a good guideline that I keep in mind.
Another alternative to buying something is to make it yourself. Having to go through the extra effort of making the item will help you determine how much you actually need or want it. And you cannot put a price tag on the satisfaction that arises from making something with your own hands.
Considerations for Special Items
My last tip relates to how to handle sentimental items. I think it is important to have a strong heritage for your family and to share special things from one generation to the next. But there is a delicate balance in this. You do not want to overwhelm the next generation with all of your belongings.
My parents and my aunts have all shared really special things with me. I love the stories that go along with these items.
For example my aunt gave me a cowbell that belonged to my great aunt and uncle. The bell was attached to their car as they pulled away from their wedding. And I cherish the fact that I have that cowbell now.
With that in mind, here is what I do to handle the sentimental items and the things that I want to share with my children in the future.
To keep the clutter under control I keep sentimental items organized in separate plastic boxes by category. So for example I have one box that I call my “memory box” which holds special items from my childhood. This has things like my baby blanket, pictures, letters, my diplomas, etc.
My husband also has his own memory box which holds things like his baseball parafanelia from his childhood. I also have one box that I keep sentimental baby clothes in.
The important thing is to be careful to not have too many boxes. Be very mindful about what you put in them. I also suggest going through the boxes every so often and cleaning them out.
It is enjoyable to sift through the memories. Rather than letting them fade away in a dusty box, you get to revisit the moments and share them with others.
Another reason it is worth sorting through them is that I find over time some items become less important to me. I found this to be particularly true with the box of baby clothes. Now that we are a few years removed from the baby years, I have a better perspective on the clothes that are worth keeping.
Getting rid of clutter is vital to curating a home that is meaningful to you. Keeping these decluttering tips in mind will help you find a healthy balance between creating a beautiful heritage for your family, while not overwhelming your home. I am a strong believer in less is more and that is what I strive for as I curate my own home.