Downsizing Possessions So Your Kids Will Not Be Overwhelmed
Making Your Home Clutter Free Can Be Incredibly Satisfying
Giving Yourself a Refreshed Feeling That Comes With a Fresh Start
If you're like me and you sometimes turn on a TV episode of Hoarders to get a glimpse into your possible future...Ok, I'm kidding about that. But, if you have a tendency to store things in the basement because you "might" use them someday, you could find that you're setting yourself up for real challenges in the future.
We used to do this, but lately have found that keeping up with all the things that tend to pile up and start to create a cluttered appearance is really the best way to go. Recently with clothing, I've been getting rid of an item for every new item I buy. When we decided to move to Las Vegas about eight years ago, I stayed behind in our home in Wisconsin to "de-clutter," starting with going through the basement.
My first thought was "where do I even start?" I found myself just staring at all the stuff and feeling pretty overwhelmed. I guess it took me about nine months to really get through everything, and then once I was done, I went over the remaining stuff to see if there was anything else I could get rid of!
This process began with looking at the biggest things that I absolutely knew needed to go. Trips to Goodwill became a new normal for me as I slowly made my way through the mess that was in the basement. Next came sorting things into piles... a give away pile, a throw out pile (or even better, straight into a large trash bag) and another pile of things I knew I needed to sell. I tried to keep only what I really thought would sell, whether it was on eBay or through Craig's List (remember, this was years ago when Craig's List was didn't have quite as many horror stories attached to it!)
Today there is also Facebook Marketplace where people can easily and quickly sell things. Our daughter-in-law actually just used Facebook Marketplace to sell things before their recent move and it worked really well. We ended up pocketing between $800 and $1,000 just from selling items that we no longer needed, but they still had value.
Once you start to get things in piles, you can start to deal with them. Like I said, trips to Goodwill were common for me and trips to the curb with the trash quickly became a weekly thing as well.
I found myself taking before and after pictures of our basement shelving units to see progress, and this helped quite a bit! The progress I saw helped to keep me motivated to really start anew each day when it sometimes seemed overwhelming. It is an incredibly satisfying feeling to know that you really are making a dent in getting rid of what can sometimes be 20 years or more of collected stuff.
Chances Are That Your Kids Will Really Not Even Want All that Stuff
Some well-meaning parents may think that the stuff they've collected can be their kid's inheritance someday. The truth is, chances are that your kids are not going to even want those Hummel figurines or David Winter cottages! Unless you are incredibly gifted at estimating things that will truly be valuable in the future, you will most likely just leave a big mess behind for your loved ones to clean up!
I see it on Hoarders all the time, and on television shows like American Pickers. It normally begins innocently enough - you like a specific thing, sometimes theme based objects, and so you begin to collect them. After a while, the collection grows exponentially to overwhelming proportions!
How often have you gone to buy a gift for someone and thought to yourself, they like cats, dogs, dolls, flags, clowns, animal or child figurines, types of flowers, angels, or even pineapples? Ok, pineapples were one of our things - but seriously, you find yourself looking for another of their favorite items to add to their collections. I know I was guilty of this and I often wondered what became of things that I actually went and spent money on so I could give them to someone to add to their collection.
Chances are that these items ended up in their basement or in a spare room collecting dust and eventually becoming a nuisance. I've found as I've gotten older that a better gift choice is the gift of an experience, whether it's a gift card to the movies, a certain restaurant, or a card for something they'll really enjoy. This gives them something that will be a pleasure, but not add to an ever-growing pile of stuff!
Just the Basic Necessities and a Few Things You Love
In all the years my husband and I have been married, it's come down to the fact that we've moved now seven times, and each time involved a thorough going through stuff and getting rid of what we no longer needed or wanted. This definitely helped us to keep the clutter somewhat in check. I cannot imagine living in one home for twenty or thirty years or longer, and not going through stuff periodically. The piles in that case must be incredible and exasperating.
When our sons were growing up and they would outgrow something, we took advantage of a nearby thrift shop to sell stuff we no longer needed and to buy new things (new to us at least) that our sons could use. This was an incredibly economical way to re-use items that other people's kids had outgrown and no longer wanted. We also earned a percentage off of the things that we would sell in the thrift shop. Since our boys were twins, this saved us a lot of money over the years.
Our sons didn't have older siblings to pass things down to them, and we always seemed to need two of everything! I can remember fantastic deals on things like suits for dressing up - a kid would wear it once or twice and outgrow it, and I'd feel incredibly lucky to "score" a like-new outfit that might cost $50 or more new in a store. And our sons would look really nice when they wore them.
Now that we just recently moved from Las Vegas back to the Midwest, we are actually down to just items that we really need and use every day, along with some things that we've collected along the way that have sentimental value or a good story behind them. We moved to Las Vegas in 2011 (my husband got there in 2010) for a job that he had found there.
We collected a few things there that really do have meaning and good memories attached to them, so we kept them and brought them along!
Things that Have Meaning
Keeping Things With Meaning and Stories Behind Them
Here's one example of what I'm talking about when I say that I like to keep things with meaning or a good story behind them! When the Sahara casino/ hotel in Las Vegas was about to be remodeled and re-branded into the SLS Hotel and Casino, they held a blowout sale where everything needed to go! This included furnishings and decor from the rooms and even stools, chairs, tables, trash cans and other things from the casino gaming area itself.
One thing we found fascinating was room 2344 of the old Sahara hotel. This was dubbed the Beatles Suite, since it was where the Beatles stayed when they were performing in Las Vegas. By the time we went through this suite, nearly everything had been taken from it. Someone had even taken the room number off the hotel room door! Basically, the suite was wiped clean. Except for a picture in the bathroom. This picture had unusual hardware and people were having trouble removing it from the wall.
My husband, with his engineering background, had a tool on his key chain that he was able to use to remove this picture from the wall! The hardware on the back of the picture frame and on the wall had a feature that made it so it had to be twisted a certain way to remove it from the wall. My husband was able to use this tool to remove it. So, we walked out of there with an actual picture that was displayed in the bathroom of the Beatles Suite! This picture, shown above, hung in our bathroom in Las Vegas for over five years, and now it is hanging in our home here in the Midwest!
That's a story I like to tell people who notice this picture in our bathroom. How many pictures actually have a unique story like this? I know we don't have many that do!
We have things that we've collected from all the places we've lived as well. We were fortunate to live in Tacoma, Washington, Hawaii for three years, North Carolina, Maryland, Wisconsin, Las Vegas and recently back to Wisconsin. In our living room here, we put a ceramic sun and butterflies that we had on our patio in Las Vegas. Things that spark good memories are the nicest things to surround yourself with, especially in your home.
I've gotten to the point as I've gotten older that I would rather surround myself with things that bring back fond memories than with ceramic knick-knacks, gewgaws or baubles that collect dust but don't have much meaning. I've also discovered that I really can live with just a few basic coffee cups, a basic set of dishes, just a few pots and pans and minimal things throughout the house. You get an incredibly satisfied feeling when you've completed your downsizing and can look around and know that the things you've kept are the items with meaning.
And with an almost empty basement now, I think our kids will really appreciate our efforts one day. Their lives are hectic enough. They don't need to wonder what to do with ceramic hot dog holders, 50 clown figurines or 300 Hummel figurines (these are just examples, we didn't really have these things) Twenty pineapples maybe... but they're gone now. It feels good to live in a clutter-free space!
© 2018 Kathy Haw