I grew up in a house with 9 family members. And my mother rules them all. As a result, we collected stuff. Every time someone went to college or moved in with a partner (and then back home), the house got more crowded.
And the stuff was all love. A lot of it still is. It’s memories and a lot of it is genuinely useful, but it’s now outdated or duplicated.
So this brings us to January 2016. A new year, a new chance to free up space for new memories and new mementos. But where do we start? How do we make space without giving little pieces of our lives away?
We’ll start with clothing, because chances are high you’ve picked up some new clothes this holiday season and you’ve still got clothes from the last decade or so lying around. On January 1st, turn all of your hangers so that they’re facing backwards. Each time you wear something, until, say, March 15, put it back in the closet facing forwards. On March 15th, for spring cleaning, take a hard look at all of the clothes you haven’t touched this season. Is it donatable? Does it fit correctly?
This was a really tricky one for my mother. She had three crazy active kids growing up and now has a granddaughter as well, so getting rid of science fair projects and popsicle houses was a necessity after a while. Easy solution: take a picture! Keep a digital library of your kids’ work if possible, or frame one or two pieces from each child for posterity’s sake. But bins full of old work will never get seen anyway. Make like Elsa and Let It Go.
Electronics and Junk Drawers
If you don’t know what it charges: throw it out. If you do know what it charges and have parted ways with the charging item: throw it out. If you no longer have a charger and the technology hasn’t been relevant since 1995 anyway: throw it out. Tech is evolving so rapidly that a lot of that stuff tangled up in junk drawers isn’t even compatible, today. And old mobiles can be donated to people who need them, so don’t leave them languishing at the back of a tub of wires.
Magazines and Books
I’m notorious for buying books at thrift stores and just never getting to them. The room I grew up in is actually just a library with a bed. But I’ve found a solution: re-gift. Daycares, public schools, and actual libraries are always in need of books. And for books you’ve loved, but left, share with your friends! They probably have similar taste and real friends want to read books that have caught your heart. As for magazines, either donate them to art classes in public schools (remember how many collages you had to do in primary school?), or else rip out the articles and recipes you can’t part with and recycle the rest of the paper. And watch the stacks disappear.
Best of luck in de-cluttering this New Year! May you have a year filled with space for making new memories.