I had doubts as to whether I’d be able to get rid of 406 items during the Minimalist Challenge from February. You see, I love to get rid of things. Maybe I like it too much. I like cleared off surfaces, I like airy cabinets and closets that aren’t overflowing. I like beds that have nothing but a little dust beneath them. I don’t buy things we don’t need, so we don’t accumulate much. Truthfully, clutter makes me feel gross and panicky and like I should be spending my time organizing or cleaning instead of relaxing and living. Hence the holiday and birthday requests for gifts that are experiential or magazine subscriptions or college-fund contributions. And yet we have so. much. stuff.
Since I already get rid of so many things if they’re not both practical and pretty, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish the whole challenge. Much to my surprise, I not only finished the challenge but am more motivated than ever to go through our house and downsize the masses of things taking up space. Yesterday, I went through the utensil drawers (again), kitchen linens, bookshelves, DVDs, and cleaning supplies. It took me a total of 30 minutes and I have yet another huge pile of things to donate and sell.
Speaking of sell, let’s talk about craigslist. If you’re considering doing the Minimalist Challenge, I totally encourage you to do it and to sell your bulkier items on craigslist. In the last month we sold a double stroller, a crib, a stove, the shelves and brackets taken down from every room in our house, our old coffee table that kept getting moved around, a car seat, and all the old light fixtures that were in the garage. We made about $700. No joke. How’s that for boosting a stay at home income? We also have a handful of big items to sell yet and we will have a rummage to offload the rest once the weather finally breaks. We had to buy a new stove and pay for a furnace repair this month, so it came at a good time.
I stalled after the second week of the challenge and felt overwhelmed by all of our stuff but at a loss for what to get rid of next. I texted Sara, my sister in law, and she said “go through your kitchen utensils or your sock drawer!” Good advice. When in doubt, pick a small confined space full of small objects. I’m really dreading sorting through the baby clothes since we have no fewer than 18 totes full in sizes newborn-5. I need a pretty drink in my hand (ok, a smoothie will be fine) and some camaraderie for that venture.
I also ignored my entire skinny, not-that-skinny, and maternity wardrobes since I’m in no physical shape to throw out nice clothes that will eventually fit me again. I got rid of all the size fours about a year ago. I don’t plan on teaching pilates four times a week while living on coffee and Skittles ever again, so I’m pretty confident those will never go back on my butt and I’m ok with that. If I do get back to a size four, I deserve to go shopping. A lot. Between my clothes and all the kid clothes, I could easily spend several hours getting rid of things at some point, which will feel super.
There are so many approaches to purging belongings. My best tactic for assessing what to keep and what to pass on was asking myself if I’d pay to move that item again. We had to have two small moving trucks to get here and we don’t want to repeat that experience. It instantly helped to be like “heck no, not worth moving that again” and then feel good about adding it to the huge pile to donate. I also got a real sense of meaning from thinking about our stuff going to someone who actually needs/wants/loves it. It got to the point that it almost seemed selfish to keep things that weren’t bringing me joy. For the more sentimental things, I tried to give them to someone who would love them as much as I did or someone who would use them more than I would. It makes the parting less painful if you pass it on and know it’s bringing happy vibes wherever it goes.
As I continue on the decluttering rampage, I’m using the checklist from the blog called Keeper of the Home. I tried going room by room, but it’s really daunting. I ended up sitting on the floor and wasting a handful of precious naptimes wondering what to do with myself. My next tactic was to cut the room in quarters and take that approach, but then I found the checklist and am doing that instead. Because of the challenge, many of the checklist items were already complete, but I went back for a second look and was shocked at how much crap I kept the first time. I can think of ten books right now that are on our pared down bookshelf that we will never read again. If I didn’t have babies napping in every room, I’d get on that.
I honestly think I could come up with an entire second month’s worth of items to get out of this house. That feels ridiculous and titillating at the same time. Is that wrong? “If getting rid of you is wrong, I don’t want to be right…” Wait, that’s not how it goes. But it does when I sing it in my head.
Expected results of the challenge: less clutter, cleaner living space with less effort, more room for the things we actually use and need access to, more options for rearranging furniture and using our space
Unexpected results of the challenge: huge profit from selling our old things, three packed full station wagon loads of belongings donated to various places, a surprising desire to downsize even more thoroughly, not being able to remember what we got rid of (which affirms that it really needed to go, right?), regret about not taking pictures of the donation piles!