Love me a good purge...
I'm not sure where my love for purging came from, but for some reason I've always loved to collect things around the house that are no longer useful and donate them to Goodwill. Probably like yourself, I am a sentimental person that has years of family guilt coursing through my veins, but for some reason it's not attached to physical items. Having a love for purging has also allowed my family of four to live in a home of 1288 sq feet above grade - GASP! I know, depending on who's reading this your view is going to be split into two categories:
1. How do they do it? That house is too tiny for that many people.
or the opposite side of the spectrum.
2. How do they think that the size of that house is small? Don't they know billions of people around the world live in smaller spaces?
We fall into the category of #2. We love our space, and feel incredibly grateful to have it! That being said four people, even with 2 under three, can generate a ton of crap, even when you are doing your due diligence to keep it at a minimum it somehow creeps in. Who am I kidding, "it somehow creeps in" Ha! it's Grandparents and their weekly gifts to kids, and boxes of your saved personal items they have been holding on to for decades to give to you when you have no space for it, and no time to sort it... but like I said, I may have that family guilt coursing through my veins but not when it comes to physical things. In the beginning, Papa Sasquatch used to feel peer pressured to give up something to put it in my Goodwill bag. Each week I found myself going through my closet, kids toys, books, kitchen ware, etc, adding to a growing pile of things to be donated. Over the years, he has come around and is definitely on board the "let's get rid of it all" train.
So where does our attachment to all this stuff come from and why do we keep acquiring so many items? Is it advertising? Is it a quantifiable way to show that we exist and have purpose? We are in a vicious cycle of having to work so hard to purchase items that require maintenance, cleaning and repairing and yet crave more time to do the things we love. Usually time to do these loved activities are focused on BHAGs of wanting to no longer have a day job. So how do we start to let these items go to create a simpler way of life? In three ways: a few questions, a helpful category list, and no decision remorse.
First things first, start small - this is a huge task that will become extremely overwhelming if you're not used to purging. Set a timer, pick one room, and grab one of your thousands of reusable bags. Ask yourself these three questions:
1. When was the last time I used this item? We have mountains of things in our homes that go unused for months that quickly roll into years without ever touching them. Sometimes we find ourselves buying duplicates due to unorganized spaces and not having a full inventory of what we even own. Isn't that wild, sometimes we don't even know what is in our own homes anymore?
2. Why am I holding on to this item if i'm not utilizing it? If you're not using it, why are you holding on to it? A lot of the time we hold on to things due to expectation, or obligation. It was a gift from your mother-in-law, a hand-me-down from a friend, it quickly adds up into piles of unused items in our homes. Like I said earlier in this post, I don't have that guilt of giving away items but I did recently hear the wonderful Bea Johnson from Zero Waste Home say "When you have things you don't need, you're holding them, you're keeping them from being useful to other people". People are always searching for items from a need or sustainability stand point. What you're not using in your home could be exactly what they are looking for in a second hand shop.
3. Does this item bring me joy? Not everything needs to be tossed out or given away. I'm not a monster that has absolutely no sentimental value attached to things but you need to really evaluate if the item brings you joy - a piece of jewelry, a lamp, a painting and these are the things that can make a house a home.
Secondly, there are tons of lists by rooms & category that give lots of helpful ideas of things you're not even thinking about giving away. They are beautifully organized and can be found floating around on Pinterest. Search words like purging, decluttering, etc. Remember when purging you might think - hey, I'll just organize this and everything will be better. You're going to waste time organizing just to maintain that organization and eventually give it away down the road...
No decision remorse. Go with your gut and get it out of your house. Those clothes you're saving when you're down another 10 pounds aren't going to be the clothes you want to wear, that craft project you swear you'll finish when you have a moment... just pass it on to someone who does have the time. Become familiar with your city's recycling, second hand stores close to you, hold a friend purge & swap party where you all bring new treasures and get rid of old ones. There are many organizations seeking your things that are just collecting dust, so get started, and start purging.