For the past almost two years now, I've been on a slow mission to rid myself of extra stuff. I just taught my kindergartners the meaning of the word "extra" last week in the context of teen numbers, and how they are one group of 10, plus some "extra." Extra is the stuff beyond what we need to fill ourselves up. I use need lightly. I don't need my Kindle Paperwhite like I need food, but I use it on a daily basis. Max does not need his Little Tikes office/house thing that he borrowed from his BFF, but he plays with it every day and is learning how to climb, sort shapes, and open and close things with it. Stuff is inevitable, and that's okay.
I will never be a minimalist. I will read minimalist blogs, listen to their podcasts and at times (when I don't feel like cleaning and organizing)I will wish I was a minimalist. But I will never be one. That will not stop me from getting rid of stuff whenever possible. This is not a post about how to be a minimalist, you can find more about that from people much better at it than me. This is just what I have done so far. Maybe it will give you an idea or some motivation :)
I've read some books: 7- An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and Simplicity Parenting
I've read some blogs: The Art of Simple, Zen Habits, Be More With Less, and Our Little Apartment (Ashley wrote a great post about how to decide what to get rid of. I love her concept of "would I replace this item if it was lost?" If the answer is no, get rid of it.)
I've listened to some podcasts: The Art of Simple and Minimalism for the Rest of Us
I've gotten rid of stuff: In the past, I donated almost exclusively to Goodwill. But now, I have so many things I do with my stuff I am getting rid of. I still donate quite a bit, but I also learned about the many "Yard Sale" groups on Facebook where you can post items. I'm a member of an awesome "closet sharers" group for kids clothes/items. I have already sold multiple items on there. I also love to sell back my clothes (I haven't done any of Max's yet because we are not sure what our future plans for kids are). My favorite company is Twice. I've written about them before and I continue to think this is the best company for selling back clothes. I usually get $50-$80 back for a large bag of clothes and it honestly could NOT be any easier. I've also used Thred Up which is good for selling back cheaper quality brands (they take more brands and actually they take kids clothes too)- I only got $11 back when I sold to them, but most of the time I'd take no money to just get this stuff out of my house!
I've tried to lower the amount of stuff coming in: I've done a "No Buy November." I was a crazy researcher about baby stuff and tried not to get too much. Of course, this is relative, some people would say I have WAY more than necessary but I have borrowed a lot and given away or sold anything we didn't use. We have switched to event gifts with many family members. Overall, I've just looked more critically at items coming into the house and tried to not buy things that I didn't really love/wouldn't use a lot.
My motivation for doing all this is that I hate cleaning but I like to live in a reasonably clean space. My mom says everyone hates cleaning, but I think I hate it even more than the average person. I also hate not knowing where something is when I want it. I hate when thinking about stuff and where it is or where I'm going to put it occupies my precious time.
I still have a long way to go. In 2015 I want to get better at the 1 in, 1 out rule (I never do this and I need to). But I've started. I've started thinking more critically about what I really want to do with my space and what I want in it. For a girl who used to hoard an absurd amount of stuff under her bed as a child, this is a start :)
How do you keep clutter under control?