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Help needed with decluttering

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#1 Bendigedig

Posted 17 December 2012 - 10:48 AM


We need to declutter. We are bad at it. Everything is either essential, or has memories attached to it etc.

So, I need tips, ideas and anything to help us throw stuff out (eg throwing baby stuff, we wanted another baby but after three years of trying its very unlikely to happen so I need to throw out all that stuff).


#2 Escapin

Posted 17 December 2012 - 10:52 AM

Would you consider joining Freecycle? That way things are going to real people who will use them, not just the rubbish tip?

Or maybe start an online journal, where you can photograph things and write down why they are important, and them you can let the 'thing' go?

#3 Frau Farbissina

Posted 17 December 2012 - 10:59 AM

Not easy, I know. Would you consider donating all the baby items to a women's refuge? If you could look at websites/ call local ones in your area and you may find one that is on need of such items.( I know of one in canberra if you're here.)

Hold on to the items that are sentimental and keep them together in a memory box.

Throw/recycle/donate what you can. There are charities that will pick up large furniture items that you donate. There may be a freecycle set up in your area where you can basically advertise items you have for free and people interested would contact you and arrange to pick them up.

Once you've got left what you want to keep, find a home for everything . Let everyone in the household know where it is and try to stuck to putting them back where they belong.

Good luck. I know it's not easy and overwhelming. I feel like I am in a permanent state of "must declutter!"

Edited by Frau Farbissina, 17 December 2012 - 11:19 AM.

#4 Lagom

Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:09 AM

It's hard to throw out things with sentimental value.  Some suggestions that I read once included making a quilt out of your favorite baby clothes and taking photos of things that have memories attached and making a memory book.  Often it is not the object itself that is important but the memory it brings up for you.  Having a photo helps you retrieve your memory and so you can (in theory!) get rid of the object.  Same with the blanket.  Get rid of boxes of stuff and replace it with a small blanket or throw for the couch.

Once you start I'm sure you'll find it very freeing and find it hard to stop.  original.gif

#5 PurpleNess

Posted 17 December 2012 - 12:48 PM

Not sure if this will help but start one room at a time, get three large boxes & mark
& the only thing for it is be ruthless, perhaps call in a more impartial 3rd person who can guide you and rationalise with you about hoarding.

Also get a skip bin.

Agree with PP you may actually find it cleanisng & liberating once you get started.

I keep all my photos and letter & cards for special occasions, everything else goes, so maybe set your self some boundaries & be specific.

Good Luck

#6 Feral Grey Mare

Posted 17 December 2012 - 12:57 PM

As an incurable squirrel I know exactly what you mean. We had our house repainted earlier this year and moved entire contents into the garage. We hired a rubbish skip and ruthlessly threw away anything we hadn't used/seen/thought about for ages. When time came to move everything back inside we got another skip and filled that as well. I got rid of wedding presents we had never used (married 25 years!) old toys, books I would never read again, jigsaws with missing pieces etc. I would advise you not to get too caught up in keeping stuff to donate as charities are overwhelmed with donated goods (I read on the weekend that Lifeline spend $55 000 each year on rubbish tip fees). Happy disposing!

#7 Bendigedig

Posted 17 December 2012 - 03:10 PM

Thanks for hints. I like the idea of taking photos or making a blanket, as you are correct, it's the memories more than the object.

Old Grey Mare, our households sound similar. I think our problem is, is that we don't want to get rid of stuff that someone else could use, but everyone we know doesn't need our stuff and charities in Canberra don't want electrical stuff . Skip is coming this week (we pulled out our kitchen) and I don't want to miss that opportunity.

Frau Farbissina please let me know of the refuge as we are in Canberra.

This is a pre-moving declutter and my aim is that we move, everything will have a place as built in storage is better in our new house. The biggest issue is that we have too much stuff.

#8 75etd

Posted 27 December 2012 - 05:54 AM

Visit my house. My Mum moved in a while ago with more stuff than we did-family of four-which included only two pieces of furniture. It has really encouraged me to go mad with my stuff. Think about whether you will ever need it, does it really hold any significance memory wise or is it just another memory, does it cause you more stress to keep it than to replace should you ever need it.

My Mum collects s**t-beer mats, milk bottle tops, cards, stamps, coins, books, linen, kids toys, all my school books from grade 1 to 12 (and gets upset that I don't want them!) etc. it is so overwhelming I just want to throw it ALL out.

#9 LittleListen

Posted 27 December 2012 - 06:14 AM

An awesome resource for decluttering:


Check out her ebook (also an actual book) Organised Simplicity. Its a plan for every room of the house and how to declutter and clean successfully. I love it.

#10 Myprincesses

Posted 27 December 2012 - 06:24 AM

Are you on Facebook? There are heaps of buy, swap and sell sites there linked to towns/regions. Anything that is too good to throw out but you don't need take a photo and list it to either giveaway or for a few dollars. You just don't know who maybe looking for that item. That way you know those things that are too good to throw away are going to someone who will use it.

We are about to move again today. With each move we go through everything and get rid of the things we know we won't need in the next place, any clothes we have not worn in the last 2years (you know you won't wear it), anything broken, or anything our girls have grown out of. Of course nothing special  is kept in a small box.

Mind you last night we discovered a large box of Vases I had totally forgotten about. Can't do anything today but once we move these will be sorted too. I don't think we need 12 vases espcially when we all get hay fever any asthma! They are too good to throw out so I will be listing them on face book at our new location.

Good luck with it.

#11 BeakyHoneyButt

Posted 27 December 2012 - 06:39 AM

My rule is once its set to leave the house i don't look at it again. DO NOT re open op shop bags or things to go to other people.

#12 CourtesanNewton

Posted 27 December 2012 - 07:06 AM

My rule with the sentimental stuff is, if something happened to DH and myself, and someone had to come clear the house, would they see the item and recognize why it was important? Ie, DS' hospital bracelet from when he was born or our wedding photos are obvious sentimental items. A broken TV that a deceased relative,gave us or the top that I was wearing when DH and I had our first date might mean something's me, but absolutely nothing to anyone else, even my nearest and dearest, so out they go.

#13 Rainbow Lemur

Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:09 AM

Hi there JoIsMe !

Some people find it easier to imagine if the house burnt down what would they rebuy?  What would they be heartbroken they have lost.

Some items have sentimental attachment but the emotions might not be positive ones.  This might be the case with the baby items?  They might be a reminder of the baby you longed for and don't have.  It will be easy to get baby items if you do have another baby in the future (heck I'll even send you some myself)

There are women on EB about to give birth who would love baby stuff.  Could you offer them on here?

Can you imagine each room in your new house and imagine in your mind's eye what each room will be used for and what items woudl create that perfect space and the rest will go?

You sound a lot like me in that you find letting go responsibly the hardest thing.  I often place things out the front on the nature strip and random strangers take them.  Could you do that?

#14 BenevolentDictator

Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:27 AM

Hi JoIsMe!

another hint if you find the whole process daunting:
at least as far as baby clothes go, you don't have to go from full on clutter to minimalist in one fell swoop.  I got myself one largish plastic tub for old baby and toddler memorabilia, and as it filled, I edited.  Some things I couldn't bring myself to get rid of on the first pass, but a year or two later, I was ready to let go.

Since you are moving you probably do need to be a bit more ruthless but if it seems insurmountable, just make a start.  Oh and I second a PP's advice about tackling one room at a time.

#15 FeralLIfeHacker

Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:49 AM

I'm super at de-cluttering. I love living minimally.  It feels so good to purge crap.  Your home will feel so much lighter.
I don't sell anything - it takes too ling, if I put stuff aside to sell I never get around to it - it is much more satisfying to give it away. Freecycle or donate and it's gone and your unlikely to go grab it back again or leave it sitting somewhere for months.

When I first started decluttering we filled 2 skips it was awesome, we also have a guy that will come and take anything metal - old bikes/computer/tv's/fridges etc - he took 2 trailer loads.
Then we donated bags and bags of clothes to goodwill.
Now I am down to going through removing pics from the walls (visual clutter) and colours but I am aiming for true minimalism.
I joined a minimalist group and it is very inspiring.  The feeling of freedom that comes from not being attached to and bogged down by stuff is amazing.  I have very little attachment to "stuff" now, I actually prefer not to own/buy much.
For me the xtra space freed up by decluttering means more than keeping an old baby blanket that I may or may not need again and could easily be replaced if I did.


#16 Rainbow Lemur

Posted 27 December 2012 - 10:57 AM

Do you have a link to the minimalist group?

#17 ~rollercoaster~

Posted 27 December 2012 - 02:47 PM

I would like the link too.  original.gif

#18 FeralBee

Posted 27 December 2012 - 03:12 PM

I think the hardest part of decluttering is not the physical side, but the mental and emotional. Some resources which help me to keep on track are http://www.aslobcomesclean.com/new-here/ and http://www.theminimalistmom.com.

There's a lot of information out there, so just read the ones you resonate with and ignore the rest.

A few lessons I'm learning which have helped are:

- Remember that stuff itself doesn't have meaning - we are the ones who attach meaning to our stuff, so focus on the meaning rather than the stuff.
- Getting rid of stuff that doesn't suit your life anymore is not a waste of money. The money has already been spent, it's gone, but you can still save space and mental clarity.
- If there's something in your house that you don't love or don't use, there could be someone out there who is looking for exactly that. Let it go and let someone else get joy from it.
- If you give something away and down the track you realise that you really need it, you can buy another one. That may sound wrong, but the majority of the stuff you won't need ever again. Keeping 100 things around on the offchance you might need one of them one day takes up physical and mental space. Buying (or borrowing) that one thing you actually need when you actually need it makes more sense when you look at the numbers.
- You don't have to get rid of absolutely everything, but be smart. Keep one or two extra special mementos, the little outfit your baby wore home from the hospital, but not every outfit from the first year of their life, for example.

And to finish, a quote from William Morris: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

#19 Acidulous Osprey

Posted 27 December 2012 - 03:25 PM

I love that Morris quote.

I think it's a good idea to sort out for yourself what kind of a declutter you are talking about.  I want organised with little to no excess junk.  The thought of minimalism fills me with horror and dismay--it's not how I want to live.  

I'd feel paralysed if I decided that I had to declutter to the point of minimalism and thus do nothing. My truth is I want to have less stuff with more organisation and to have very little around which is excess to requirements.

#20 Bendigedig

Posted 27 December 2012 - 03:48 PM

Thanks everyone for your ideas, it has really helped to think about my stuff differently.  We have started.

So far, I have discovered we don't have a lot of rubbish stuff that would be destined for a skip, but we will have a lot to donate.

I started on things that I would find easier emotionally, so have decluttered my clothes. I have got a couple of plastic boxes to put keep sakes in (and that's the limit). Working well so far. Going through DD's baby stuff, we have decided to keep some stuff (just not ready to get rid of it all yet) but we have a large box filled ready for donation and I feel energised to downsize other things on order for it to be donated. It's helped that there is somewhere for it to go (going to try a women's refuge in Canberra).

I am also mentally thinking about our new house and how we are going to store/organise stuff.

I have also discovered that DH is a hoarder in denial, but he has managed to cut his computer cable stash by half and we have found a charity that will probably take them.

I also suspect that we will declutter moving in to the new house, trying to use the "if it doesn't have a home then it doesn't come into the house" mentality.

DDs toys are the hard bit. But I am now feeling optimistic that we will get there. I have even thrown out notes from school from over 20 years ago (that has survived over 15 moves)!

#21 Overtherainbow

Posted 27 December 2012 - 11:41 PM

Fly lady can be a great help.

I find going through room at a time works for me.  If I start in the kitchen I do benches first, then fridge/freezer, pantry hen cupboard at a time.  I know how I want it to be at that my goal.

Kids bedrooms are done with the child.  They have a set area to put toys/books and it has to fit in there.  I help them each holiday making sure they only keep what they love and everything is in the right place.

I hang all my clothes backwards.  At the end of a season if it hasn't been turned around, it goes.  Makes it easy to see what's really used.

I aim to put one plastic bag full of stuff to Sammies each week when I take dd to dance.  Good way to cull books, clothing, etc.

When it comes to memories, I found the blessing of seeing a friends baby wear my children's clothing and not hav to buy it when she was struggling financially was far more rewarding.  I've only kept 2 outfits per child.

I have one filing box per child where I keep art and writing I value.

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