It may be summer break, but I’ve given myself an assignment; something I plan on maintaining as a long-term, continuous project. Each day, I strive to get rid of at least one item.
Of course, I don’t need to limit myself to only one item. Many days I don’t. But setting the goal of one item a day, is entirely doable which means I will feel successful each day and continue purging my home of things I don’t need.
I don’t consider myself a hoarder. Our home is clean and well-organized. But, like most people, I’ve accumulated stuff; things I felt certain I should hold on to “just in case.” Things I keep for sentimental value, things that I’m not sure what to do with so I stash them away in the closet or in the wicker basket under our coffee table. And then they stay there.
With a child in the house, more stuff is always coming in. Trinkets from birthday goodie bags. Prizes from school. Just-because-gifts from Grandma. Getting rid of one thing each day provides me with the illusion that the new item isn’t adding to our collection of stuff but instead is being canceled out.
Gretchen Rubin, in her book The Happiness Project, wrote of the exhilaration she felt as she cleaned out her closet, re-arranged her drawers, and tidied up her apartment; so I know it’s not just me that is feeling a certain sense of satisfaction at making these small changes in my family’s home.
So here’s a look at what I’ve cleared out of our home within the last week. Maybe my list will serve as inspiration to you.
- A red plastic cup half-filled with moldy soil. When my son brought home this red plastic cup a year ago, a small tulip plant was growing in it. It was a science project from preschool. We had the plant in the house and then later out on our patio. Over time, the tulip decayed and while we hoped another would take its place, it never did.
- VHS tapes. Somewhere in a closet is an old, maybe-working VCR. (Something to get rid of on another day). But shelved with my DVDs were a few remaining VHS tapes — movies like That Thing You Do and It Could Happen to You. Both were movies I had seen in the theater on dates with my dad and had consequently held onto the VHS versions out of sentimental reasons.
- Recipes. I read magazines and rip out recipes with the good intentions of expanding the dinner menus I prepare for my family. Some of them I try, but many are filed away in a blue binder in my kitchen cupboard. I went through a few pages of the binder and found ten different recipes to add to the recycling pile. (The rest of the binder still awaits my further review).
- My son’s old coloring book. My son has several coloring books. But I found one that was three-quarters scribbled on. Scribbled and not colored because the pages were completed before he really knew how to color. Neither he nor I had looked at this book in quite some time so I know it won’t be missed.
- Return address labels. I’m fortunate to be in possession of what appears to be a lifetime supply of return-address labels. They are sent to me by various organizations soliciting a donation. The labels are stashed in an overflowing plastic container. I took a few minutes, peered through the contents of the box and decided to get rid of the labels that I didn’t like, the pictures that didn’t seem as cute or festive as the labels I am currently using.
- Emails in my inbox. Granted, they don’t take up space in my house but they’re there, cluttering my inbox and my mind to a certain extent, each time I check for new email. I re-read a few and realized that I didn’t need them any more. Deleted.
- Random articles. Our coffee table has a bottom shelf. It is this bottom shelf where random articles are housed in a large wicker basket. These articles, for some reason, warranted being torn out of their original magazine or newspaper. And then, nothing. They were stacked in the box. My son wanted to play school and pretend the box was for homework folders. So I emptied it and spent a few minutes skimming through some of the articles. One was for Hawaii, dated five years ago. One was for Cambria, a favorite vacation spot. Both were recycled. (The rest of the box’s contents remain and I will tackle them, one article at a time. Eventually).
I’ve started with some little things, things I’m not as emotionally attached to. Because, let’s be honest, it’s not always easy to get rid of things we’ve held on to for a long time. It’s not always easy, but it is possible.