Do you ever get that feeling of crushing overwhelm? The almost manic sense of rising panic? If that’s you, these tips will help you declutter and simplify your life.
That was me when we brought our newborn son home from the hospital. I knew it’d be tough downsizing our home with a baby on the way, but the clutter just seemed more prominent when we brought home baby. And it wasn’t even baby stuff! He’s our second boy so we already had everything we needed for him – boxes of clothes from age 0 to 4 years, baby accessories, bouncer, towels, swaddles – all of the things.
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- Downsizing With A Family: Why We’re Going Smaller
- How to Prepare for Downsizing Your Home
(Side note: that felt really good, not buying a thing (except for a new stroller but that was a gift from my parents) and not getting swept up in the crazy and illogical spend-fest that can be preparing for baby.)
Since we moved in we’ve eliminated what we can from the house. Our garden is a menagerie of recycled materials – re-used in creative and practical ways. Each week I’m committed to selling one item online and filling one shopping bag with items for the local charity shop.
So when I felt completely flummoxed upon returning from the hospital, you might understand why I was a little surprised. I thought we were OWNING this downsizing and decluttering thing and yet all I could see everywhere I looked was STUFF. I got a bit panicky and started a hurricane of filling the recycling bin and re-arranging. Then I got tired and the baby needed feeding so I sat down and did what I do best. I made a list. An instant declutter list.
To get out of my panicky state I needed a quick win. To feel like I was freeing up space for the new addition in our lives.
I came up with the following 6 things that I could do to instantly feel more in control, and less cluttered.
6 Simple Ways to Declutter Your Life
1. Put a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign on the letterbox.Putting a ‘No Junk Mail‘ sign on my letterbox was tough for me as I love reading all the circulars that come through the letterbox. They help me plan my grocery shop and see what other bargains are out there. BUT the amount we get is overwhelming and they sit on the coffee table for days before I read them. So I’m going digital and subscribing to the email blasts of my local supermarkets.
2. Do the one drawer challenge.
J from Budgets are Sexy posted this in July. It’s simple but effective. Basically, you focus on clearing one drawer at a time. It’s just one drawer. Anyone can manage that. Or in my case, it’s been one drawer, one cupboard and a hell of a lot of boxes. I’ve been pretty ruthless with eliminating stuff, especially in my current mood. Stuff = stress right now!
3. Set gift limitations.
Now we might sound like total assholes but we are requesting that no one buy us any baby clothes or anything we already have. It’s been quite difficult to explain to family just how drastic a downsize we have gone through – we have ⅓ less living space than our previous house and no garage so we have very little storage space. I figured that would happen – when you challenge the norm so defiantly it can be hard for others to process. But in that sense, we’ve set some tough limits for gifts (and will do for birthdays and Christmases from now on).They are:
- No clothes or toys – I feel like we have a whole attic full of them already
- A donation to a children’s charity in our son’s name
- Cash to start his savings account
Other ideas that could work:
Home-cooked meals to be delivered!
Offering to clean or just help out around the house
Gift cards (No they are not impersonal – they are AWESOME)
4. Unsubscribe and unfollow
I receive so many daily emails that I delete before even opening them. It wastes 1-2 minutes per morning so I’ve started unsubscribing. I’ve also set some email rules that forwards certain messages to folders for me to view later. For example, all of the emails I receive with weekly supermarket specials go into a folder. Then when I’m planning my grocery shop I just have to go through that folder for the specials – and delete them once my list is written. You can do the same in Gmail here or Outlook/Hotmail here.
5. Create a home command centre (aka cloffice)
The what?? The cloffice – closet office! This was a spare (actually the only) large storage cupboard in our house but as we’ve managed to reduce a lot of our possessions and store the remaining stuff in the attic it was just sitting idle while I was working at the kitchen table.
We really needed somewhere to store the important paperwork and for bills to hang out until they were paid (also – why can’t all bills just be email now? I hate paper).
After some Pinterest inspiration, I said to Dave that I wanted him to paint the cupboard. And that it was going to be my office and home command centre.
He managed to source some plywood to create a desk and used the remaining paint from our house refresh to prime the walls. Then I applied a feature wall behind my desk with a free test pot from Resene. We took the back support and armrests off my old office chair (not shown) and BOOM – Emma’s dream tiny workspace. Total cost for the cloffice = $10 for a new LED bulb.
Now we can eat dinner at the table and put all letters and paperwork in one spot – an IN tray on one of my office shelves. It makes a HUGE difference to have a home for all that paper that ends up all over the house.
6. Set a goal
None of this work means anything if there isn’t an end result to aim for. I’m not inherently frugal or thrifty and I have too many beautiful handbags (from days gone by) to consider myself a natural minimalist. Nope, all of this is for the travel. Smaller house = less stuff = lower costs = more money for travelling. That’s the reason I’m here, doing this.
Tip: Decluttering or downsizing your home at the moment? Or just thinking about it for the future? Great. Come like my new Facebook page, Little House Lovely Home, for loads of inspiration and tips on organizing, decluttering and living well in small spaces.
Have you got any tips to combat the overwhelm of clutter?