Let me be the first to say, I love my stuff! I love my lamps shaped like horse heads, my leather rocker, my accidental collection of roosters, my books, my throw blankets for every season, my grandfather’s crystal ball… you get the picture.
What took me some time to realize, is that those things I love are, for the most part, all I need.
For example, I do not need three ladles, even though two of them I got for free and I might someday have a soup party.
I do not need the giant, carved Christmas pumpkin my friend was getting rid of which I’ve hung onto because it’s hand-made and I feel bad that I prefer my store-bought decorations. And I definitely do not need the American Girl Doll my daughter doesn’t like even though my mother spent a lot of money on it.
Those are the easy ones.
What’s harder are the once-loved items, the hand-me-downs, the inherited stuff once treasured by a loved one. When it comes to these items, of which I have a long list of my own (like the dollhouse my father made which I’ve lugged all over the country) my advice is to hold onto them for now, set a time to reconsider (say 6 months) and re-evaluate at that time. If you still feel like getting rid of it, do it, and let go of the guilt as well.
For the first category of stuff you know you don’t need, get rid of it! Sell it, donate it, trash it. Be done with it and move on.
One caveat: This only applies to your stuff! As much as I would love to apply this to my husband’s side of the closet, or my children’s rooms, that is their stuff, not mine. Say it like a mantra: You can only get rid of items that are your own, and no one else in the house has a use and/or attachment to.
For further inspiration, a step-by-step guide to ridding your life of stuff, I recommend Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
This method is not for everyone, and it’s written by a woman who’s clearly never hosted a large family gathering and would therefore never accept my argument for keeping three ladles, but I found her method for tackling a large house of stuff motivating, helpful, and inspiring.
The best part of all this, for me, is the ease with which I can now clean my house. Everything has a place, so tidying is easy for everyone in the house. Sundays are no longer “cleaning day” where my husband and I grumpily try and stay out of each other’s way and arguing about where best to keep the kitchen mixing bowls.
I would love to hear your stories of letting go of stuff! Please share in the comments.