Four kids, two careers, and ten moves have taught us to travel light and instead invest in people and experiences. As with many things, we are a work in progress, but we make it a habit to clean out our house and perform a hefty purge about twice a year.
This season I was dragging my feet, shoving things in the closets, and telling myself I would get to organizing next weekend. It took a month of those “next weekends” and arriving late too many times because I couldn’t find something, or rifling through paperwork when it could have been filed, or shutting the door on the microwave so I didn’t have to think about cleaning it, before I realized that stuff drags me down. So this past weekend we packed our vehicles full of items to donate to Goodwill and that familiar wave of freedom began to wash over our home again.
The following is a list of our process. Perhaps it will inspire a few of you who are on the fence about parting with your things to take the plunge. I promise. It’s worth it!
1.) Start with the area in your home that is frustrating you the most. (Ours was the freezer full of frozen breast milk that needed to be thrown out. And our garage.) Once you complete that task that annoys you, it will fuel you to tackle other areas in your home.
2.) Keep things simple. Make piles for THROW AWAY, KEEP, and SELL and disperse of these piles immediately. I leave a few shelves in my laundry room bare for items that we’ve grown out of, or do not fit, but that are in good enough condition to resell or give to a friend. I hold an Instagram sale twice a year (one in the spring and one in the fall). I throw away stained or broken items and I’m a pretty staunch believer in not hanging on to bedraggled clothing or toys. I run unwanted items up to Goodwill the same day or the next day so that I don’t change my mind.
3.) Be systematic. Have a plan and stick to it! What works for me is choosing a lighter week and sifting through a closet a day and then spending the weekend working on tasks that require my husband’s input. (Example: Filing our files, cleaning out the garage, or moving furniture.) This keeps the momentum going and morale high. If you only have the time to dedicate one day, then set it aside to do everything at once and nothing else.
4.) Include your children. Some people may disagree with me on this, but I have kept my children apart of our purging process since they were little so that they would learn the value of processing and prioritizing for themselves. I think it’s an invaluable skill to know yourself and your values enough to decide what is essential in your life, and what must go. I never make my children get rid of any toys I don’t want them to keep. Instead I say, “We can’t fit all of your stuffed animals in your bin anymore. Choose three animals to give away to children in need.” This gives them the liberty to reason for themselves, but still gets the job done. My kids make a party of it and put all of their toys in a pile and they all decide together what they’re going to give away. It’s so cute!
5.) Pray over your possessions. I have asked the Lord to unclench my hands from the things I own, so that if it were ever to be completely lost, I would not be done in. Let me not be so materialistic that I cannot see the true value in life. And may someone else be blessed by the things we don’t need or can afford to give.
Some books that have revolutionized my decision-making process: