I know I’ve said this before, but a home is for living - not storing. It is so easy to use our space as a storage unit for our things. Our closets and cabinets get packed with the “what if” and “just in case” items and seasonal decor is packed in so tight those Easter bunnies and Santas can hardly breathe in the crawl space. We have an ongoing intention to get more organized or to clean out that dreaded closet - to finally update our linens, clear out old college papers. But we don’t have the time. And most of all, we can’t muster the energy.
Where do we even start? There are so many other things going on in life right now that it seems almost impossible to take the time to declutter and take back control over our home. If we want a more livable home, we have to start taking care of it differently than we did before. It is possible for closets to be used for hanging coats again and spare bedrooms are capable of having visitors. It might take time, but we guarantee that once a decluttering rhythm is established, getting rid of the things that hold us down gets easier with each trip to goodwill and each sale on Facebook Marketplace.
1. Start by imaging what you want your home to look and feel like. Would you like to host a family holiday party someday? Or have a bookshelf that actually holds books instead of mail, papers, and other miscellaneous knick knacks? An inviting living room and cozy bedrooms that make your house feel like how it is meant to feel - a home.
2. Get a box and fill it. Then fill it again. We find it’s just easiest to start small. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself so as you start to minimize, cruise through each room and decide what you can get rid of without even a second thought. Over time you’ll encounter some things you’re not sure you want to part with just yet. It’s still good to place them in a box just so you can see what it would be like to not have them around. If you can live without even thinking about them after a week, you’re probably ready to part ways. You might be surprised by how much stuff you can get rid of by just scanning a room.
3. Schedule a yard sale. It’s important to decide if the stuff on the way out is worth the time and effort for a yard sale. This time of year is prime pickers season and with Facebook marketplace you can even advertise a yard sale online.
4. Don’t let FOMO run your life - a lot of times people hold on to things because they’re afraid that they might need it someday. The extra set of pots and pans, baby clothes, shoes, etc. We can always think of a million reasons to keep something no matter what it is. So if you’re committing to simplifying your life, be careful not to let the fear of missing out on the utility of something be the reason why you keep it.
5. Care. We’re becoming more aware of how we can take better care for our bodies. We watch what we eat and try to stay active for the sake of our health and to live a long life. Why not put a similar effort in taking care of the space where our bodies can thrive? It’s amazing how a decluttered home can impact how we care for our bodies. Imagine having a life where you could spend more time taking care of yourself and the people you love rather than the things that get in the way. We should care for our homes how we care for our bodies because they are both dwellings.
Home is for people, then things. I’ve been into houses before that didn’t seem lived in even though they had all the essentials for human survival. But the stuff crowding the walls, hallways, and virtually every flat surface made it seem like just stuff lived there instead of people. I’m of the opinion that humans can thrive and live comfortably in a lot less square footage than we believe we can. UCLA conducted a heat map study of how much space the average American household uses. It turns out that the average American household only uses about 40% of their living space. Having all that extra space might look good, but we end up just filling the space we don’t use with things we don’t need.
A home is a place we go back to at the end of every day, a place we stay at on weekends, and a place where we gather those who are most special to us to make memories. We should be using home for people and as a sanctuary where we can recharge and raise our families with the peace and safety we’ve always imagined we would.