Upon recovery from the overload of holiday gift-giving and gift-receiving its time to clean house and get rid of stuff you don’t use. Feeling overwhelmed and disorganized after holiday-polooza is exactly the motivation you need to clean out your home, downsize your belongings, and clear a piece of mental real estate. You will find zen in getting rid of things you no longer need. A dose of minimalist living is exactly the cure for clutter. Think kitchen gadgets and closets as your best place to start.
Do you have a mint green KitchenAid Mixer but can’t remember the last time you baked a cake? If you rarely entertain, do you really need all those wine glasses and extra sets of dishes? How many plastic containers are in the cupboard and how many do you really use on a weekly basis? Get rid of the sizes you never use. Spend a little time to consider how much of your stuff you really use and make up your mind to let go of what is just taking up space.
Of course, when I say here to get rid of something, I mean donate it- don’t throw it away unless it doesn't work or it’s broken. There are plenty of charitable organizations and USAgain receptacles (click here: http://www.usagain.com/ for a bin near you) happy to have your stuff as long as it’s usable. Look at your linen closet- how many of those sets of sheets to you really use? If you have towels that have lost their fluff, out they go. Old makeup and medical supplies should be tossed, especially if it’s now past the expiration date. If there is stuff in the basement or garage still in boxes from the last move, it’s safe to say you won’t use it again. Test your courage by just tossing the boxes without even looking in them. If you can’t manage this without your palms starting to sweat, then check to make sure there wasn't a hidden treasure in one of them. I can assure you that after you take the plunge and chuck a box without looking at it, you will feel renewed energy to keep going on your minimalist quest. Biting the bullet and just tossing a possession unclutters mental space each and every time you find the courage. Eventually you will be on a roll and hopefully find a new perspective.
If your youngest child(ren) are preschoolers, there is no reason to keep all of the baby toys from years gone by. Box up baby toys and donate them to a local day care. I know this task is emotionally charged since your babies are growing up so quickly, but the extra floor space will make your internal struggle worth it. If you don't believe me, let Woody and Buzz in Toy Story 3 convince you how excited toys are to be donated to day care, ha!
When your kids grow up and move out, it’s time to clean out the stuff they didn't take with them. Don’t feel you should keep your kids’ room as a shrine to them. While I understand you want to keep your memories, you don’t need to keep sports equipment from high school or every trophy they ever won. If it’s not important enough for your kids to take with them to their new place, you shouldn't hold onto it either. Offer them the chance to keep what they want, but set a deadline for them to move out their things. If you've always wanted a reading room or a place to work on your crafts, now you’ll have it. Or, make this into the fancy room your guests will be thrilled to spend the night in. Redecorate, renovate and make that room your own! At some point as you get older, you may decide your house is too much to keep up and you’ll move to a smaller place such as a condo. Now you will absolutely need to decide what to get rid of since storage space will be limited. Once again, your kitchen and closets are the best areas that can be downsized. At this point, your lifestyle may also change- you may dine out more often than at home, causing you to need less kitchen gizmos. Consider your new routine and decide what you will no longer need.
If you are in the autumn of your life begin giving your possessions away now so your family members can enjoy them. Gifting family heirlooms before death serves several purposes with minimizing family conflict after a death being the biggest benefit. Use pre-death gifting as an excellent example to set for future generations on the importance of spending time and not money during the holidays. When gifting a possession of family importance share stories surrounding its importance when your family is gathered. Your narrative will live on through the years and your family members will remember spending time with you as you told your tales. Take advantage of these major life events to sift through your stuff, get rid of what you will no longer need in your next chapter, and donate it to someone else who could use it to start their own life chapter.