Any illusion that I am nearing a more minimalist clutter-free way of life were brutally shattered over the weekend when we embarked on mission Loft Clearout. There is an NCT sale* in our village next weekend so my husband and I decided that, now that the baby days are behind us, it would a good opportunity to sell some of the toys and clothes that have been lurking in the loft for far too long. Only I hadn’t realised just how much stuff was residing up there – seriously, it is a wonder the ceiling hasn’t caved in under the weight of it all. So there we were, the children and I, standing on the first floor landing while my husband chucked down bags and boxes through the loft cavity for us to catch. At first it was kind of fun seeing all these long forgotten things again, but when the bags and boxes just kept on coming, I started to feel slightly alarmed – I know a good clear out has been long overdue but this was something else. Before long the kids and I were standing on the only small patch of clear flooring left, pushed up against the ladder with boxes and zip-up bags, as well as big bulky plastic toys, a rocking horse and a travel cot, taking up the rest of the space and blocking all the bedroom doorways. It was dusty too, as would be expected since no one ever cleans the loft. In the end, we counted 12 zip-up bags crammed full of baby and toddler clothes, five big boxes of toys and all the other bits, including no less than five cot mobiles (all in good working order so why we have so many I have no idea!).
Now I am faced with the mammoth task of dividing it all into three different piles for selling, giving to charity or keeping (only those very special pieces that I can’t bear to part with – I plan to whittle this down to one smallish box – wish me luck!). Upstairs is still a mess – to clear the landing so we can actually get into our bedrooms I have moved everything into our room and the boys’ rooms so the poor things now have to climb over umpteen boxes to get to their beds. I never thought of myself as a hoarder but now I am not so sure. I guess it’s true that however much space you have, the tendency is to fill it up. It was easier to just send everything up to loft to be dealt with at some later stage – out of sight, out of mind! – so the boxes kept on accumulating. Now that we’re planning to convert the loft into a bedroom, we will have to think a lot harder about what we hold onto, and frankly, I’m pleased. There is something about having so much stuff that you don’t use or plan on using in the near future, that makes me feel very uneasy.
My eldest son is ten years old now and while lots of clothes were passed down to his younger siblings, his brother was a bigger baby and his sister was born in the summer so some of the items had not seen the light of day for over a decade! If I leave the next clear out for another ten years, he will probably have left home by the time I get around to it. So I’m determined to try and stay on top of it and the trick seems to be little and often when it comes to decluttering.
*Any UK mums will probably be familiar with these ‘good as new sales’ run by the National Childbirth Trust.
As I am obviously in no position to offer tips myself here is a useful guide that I found on the blog We Only Do This Once – to read the full article click here.
Start small – Pick one small section of a room to start with, whether it’s a chest of drawers or a kitchen cupboard
Stay motivated – If you declutter consistently it will become a habit. Don’t get obsessive, try to keep it to 15 minutes a day
One area at a time – Tempting as it may be, don’t move onto another area until the first one is finished
Limit your time spent – Set the timer and give yourself half an hour to clear out one small section
Make it a routine – Set a regular schedule for decluttering that works for you and your lifestyle
Make piles – As you go along sort the stuff into piles for keeping/giving away/garbage/selling etc
Organize – Once you’ve whittled down your possessions make sure each one has a home
Take breaks often and stay chill