For years I transitioned the house from one phase to the next as the kids grew – every six months I went through all the clothes and stuff to make sure we were still using them. The rest of the year, I just hoped that the house was clean enough for company…should they drop by.
Then we had times when we knew company was coming – all hands on deck (and even a dear friend from time to time) – we cleaned the house stem to stern…and stuffed things in closets if we couldn’t figure out what else to do.
Recently, I’ve started a new cleaning splurge. This time instead of looking for what must go, I’m looking for what can go – do I really need this for the next 50 years? Why am I holding onto this?
I have discovered that a clutter-free environment makes me feel like I’m on vacation. (Clutter being defined as all that stuff that we keep…but why?)
It is working! We are slowly making our way through the house, getting rid of what we don’t need, and creating space along the way.
Here are the reasons I’ve discovered that we keep things (some are good reasons, others I’m trying to get rid of):
1. Guilt. Seriously – people give us stuff, we use it for a season and then we don’t, but because someone gave it to us, we feel guilty if we give it away.
2. Hope. As in “someday I will fit into these jeans”… that went out of style in 1980.
3. Memories and heirlooms. I have quilt pieces that my grandmother gave me. They are precious to me, and someday I will make them into quilts for my grandchildren (I’ve given up making them soon).
4. Pain. We lost three family members in 2.5 years. We have some things that we just aren’t ready to get rid of. We miss our family, and aren’t ready to let go of some of their stuff.
5. Usefulness. A lot of stuff we keep because we are using it. Other stuff we keep because “we might need this some day”. I’m trying to learn from my friend Rosemarie and scan some of those “might need” piles.
6. Complacency. We get used to seeing things and just let them pile up. When you get a few minutes to yourself, you don’t want to clean, you just want to relax.
It takes a special type of pushing to make a clean, streamlined house. A house without clutter is a great launching place for everything else you want to do. Those that push really do get more freedom.
Do you hold onto stuff? What are some of your reasons?