The house my family and I now call home has the longest history. Simply because we have lived and breathed within its walls for more than a decade. Now that the youngest child has left for college, my husband and I agreed it is time to give it a fresh coat of paint. But first, says the house painter, we must clear the clutter.
Now, I have seen the photo of an author with a messy working table. It appears to me that he works best when his table is cluttered. If you are like the said author, this article is not for you. For many of us, though, too much clutter creates stress and deserves to be dealt with. If not all, at least most of it.
Not As Easy As It Sounds
Decluttering a home, I realised as soon I began, is not as easy as it sounds. Those bottles I have been stowing away in the kitchen cabinet, just in case I need them. The pretty paper bags in the closet. The dainty door gifts from weddings. Certain things mean more than bottles and paper bags. The trophies the children won at school events. What do I do with these? “They are useless, mother,” my son says. “I don’t see any reason why we should keep them.” Obviously, there is no love lost between trophy and owner.
Speaking of trophies, I have seen trophies displayed in living rooms. I wonder if these are deliberately showcased to start conversations. I am not into displaying trophies for guests to see, but I can understand those who do. After all, a trophy is a symbol of hard-earned recognition, an achievement to be proud of. But if we live for people’s recognition and acknowledgement, wouldn’t this imply our purpose and meaning in life is tied to the applause from the outside? How about if you never won a trophy your whole life? Does it mean you’re less worthy, contribute less, never tried your best? I know of people, kids and adult included, who have made exemplary effort, who have triumphed over personal disabilities and challenges, yet never won a single trophy, let alone a certificate. Does this make them any less of an achiever? I think not.
More Than A Physical Task
I guess what I wanted to say is, decluttering is not just a physical task of clearing your home. It involves both mental and emotional processes to get you ready to part with things that you have accumulated over the years, things that have become a part of you, many of them unnecessary. You won’t and can’t start clearing your clutter until you are ready to pass this point. Worse, if you get stuck in the middle of it all, you will be left with a house that is even messier than the one you started with. So, before you lift a finger, decide what you want to DONATE, DISCARD or RECYCLE. Have three boxes or containers labeled as such. Accept that you can’t keep everything.
Some things you just have to say goodbye to. If you are the sensitive or nostalgic kind, you might find this stage a little distressing. More than once, I had to remind myself: Stop hoarding. Start decluttering. Such has been my mantra since day one. After all, what good are the things you keep, unless you know where they sit exactly? If you are uncertain of an item, but you know you have not used it for the entire year, you probably never would. Best to chuck it away or give it to someone who needs it.
To my utter amazement, the hidden stuff I removed from shelves, cabinets, nooks and crannies have amounted to more than a few boxes. I have removed an assortment of decorative items from the walls, sent used books, plastic bottles and glass jars to a recycling centre. The storeroom is next. To be honest, it feels good inside. Less stuff in the house, more space for the family. The physical environment can and does affect our mental and emotional well-being. Truly worth the effort; I should have started sooner. What about you?