A random side benefit that moving overseas taught me was to simplify my life (and my family’s lives).
I had to figure out a way to get all of our earthly belongings packed away in 13 suitcases, 7 backpacks, and one walk in closet at my in-laws house.
I learned a few lessons in the process of packing to move abroad.
One thing I discovered about myself is that I really enjoy purging. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not the most organized person. So if there is something in my house that I don’t have a place for, I have to stop and think, “Is this worth keeping?” And if the answer is “no” then I try to give it away, sell it, or throw it away as soon as possible so I don’t have to try to figure out a place for it in my house. In reality, since I am not that good at organizing, if I don’t get rid of something we aren’t using, it will just sit there, meaninglessly collecting dust on a desk. When I was younger, the clutter didn’t bother me at all, but now that I am older…it drives me nuts.
Here are some things that I learned to help me declutter my home, I hope it’s helpful to someone😊.
If you haven’t used it in a year, do you really need it?
Now I am not talking about seasonal things, like Christmas decorations…of course, do not get rid of those if you know you will use it that next year. For me, I hold on to homeschool curriculum that can get passed down to my younger children, but other than this, seriously, if I haven’t used or worn something in a year, I usually get rid of it. I was helping a friend declutter her home once and she asked me if I ever regret getting rid of something because that was her worry in letting go of stuff. My friend said she feared getting rid of it and then one day needing it and kicking herself that she got rid of it. I thought about her question for several minutes, but after mulling it over, I realized, I think I have only gotten rid of one thing in my life that I have regretted. Seriously.
This is something I have observed in life. For example, someone will have 10 hats in their closet, just because they have accumulated that many over the years. Maybe a few were gifts, maybe some were souvenirs, maybe you bought one because you liked it. But my question is this, you only have one head, you only wear hats (maybe) once a week, so why do you need so many hats? Realistically, you probably only have enough opportunities to use 3 of them at most, so why not get rid of the other 7?
Another thought to ponder is this, “Could my stuff be a blessing to someone else?”
For example, let’s say you have 20 bath towels in your home, but there are only 5 of you living in your household. Let’s say realistically the most guests you might ever host at your house at one time is 7 people, 7+5= 12. So the most towels you will need at any given time is likely 12, so why not sell the other 8 towels at your next yard sale?
Maybe there is a family out there, whose bath towels are threadbare and can’t afford to get brand new ones, but they come across your yard sale and buy out your never used bath towels for their family…you totally just blessed them and simultaneously made more space in your closet! It’s a double blessing!!!!!
We lived in a 1200 sq. ft apartment for most of our years overseas, with 7 people. And to be honest, our apartment never felt overcrowded with stuff. Why? It’s because as soon as it did feel cluttered, I made sure to get rid of unnecessary stuff. We had no basement or closets to store junk in (older European style apartments do not have closets!) , so we just held onto the essentials and didn’t accumulate excessive things.
The reason I am sharing this with you today is because I want to share with others the personal freedom I have felt in letting go of the clutter in my home. When you have stuff all around your house that you really don’t need, I find that it makes us feel over crowded in our own homes instead of at peace.
I know you may have paid good money for some of your stuff, but you also are paying good money for your home…and you want your home to feel peaceful, not cluttered. I have visited homes where friends express discontent with their house size because it’s too small in their opinion. But honestly, when I enter their homes, I usually always see a beautiful home…underneath way too much stuff.
Could it be that instead of needing a bigger closet, a bigger garage, a bigger home…that you could just solve this overcrowded feeling with getting rid of belongings that you don’t use?
Start today! Grab some opaque trash bags, use one to donate stuff, use another to throw out stuff, and begin a different pile to sell if you want to have a yard sale. (Realistically if you aren’t going have a yard sale in the next few weeks, just donate the items to a charity!) Pick one area in your house and just begin. Why not?! When you have a basement, or lots of closets, or a garage, it is so easy to just stick your unnecessary things in those spaces and just shut the door. But over time you are literally just accumulating layers and layers of random STUFF. Wouldn’t it be nice to see parts of your closet/basement/garage again?
One caution I want to give married people though is this…begin with your OWN possessions! Don’t get rid of your wife’s/husband’s stuff without her/his permission. A lot of times, we want to point our finger at our spouse’s possessions that drive us crazy, but in reality we ourselves have accumulated plenty of excess to begin decluttering in our own lives. Begin with your OWN things and your kids’ things…and who knows, then your spouse watching you may want to get rid of some of their stuff too.