Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Four De-cluttering Excuses

De-cluttering my house and creating margin depends upon my success in blocking out the excuses that run through my mind. Maybe you battle the same excuses. Here are some of my most common.

Excuse #1: I might need this sometime.

This is a big one for me. I hate to throw away something I might need later. And I know when I throw something away - I'll find a use for it tomorrow.

I try to ask myself "Is this the last of its kind?" If I find a genuine need for this item, will it be impossible to procure a replacement? And if it would not be worth buying a replacement, is it truly a need? Often I'm using this as an excuse just to store more stuff.

Excuse #2: I paid good money for this.

This is a tough one for a tight-wad like me. Whether the purchase was wise or not, if I spent money on it, I will force myself to live with that item.

Chuck the guilt and allow yourself the privilege of occasionally making a foolish spending decision. Don't add to the misery by making a second foolish decision of holding onto an unwanted item.

Last year I got rid of all the dresses in my closet that I disliked or didn't fit well. I love having only dresses that I enjoy. I don't miss the others at all.

Excuse #3: I used this___________. 

This can be anything from "I wore this dress on my daughter on the first Sunday we went to church." "I wore this dress on our honeymoon." And so on. All the kinds of sentimental reasons to hold onto items that have long since outstayed their welcome.

It is fine to keep some items just for the memories, but make sure they are still blessing your life. It is impossible to store every item that is associated with a memory. Give yourself a limit such as a certain number of totes. When it is full, no more. Take a picture of the item if you really want to remember it, and give the item to someone who can use it.

Excuse #4: It was a gift.

This is a tough one. I never want to knowingly hurt a giver - even if it means holding onto an item I dislike. Relationships are more important.

But sometimes this can get a little ridiculous.



Like this fern.

My grandma grew many ferns in the corner of her living room. One day my grandma was dividing her ferns and gave me one. When she died a few years later, I treasured it as a memory of my grandma.

When I married, I hauled the fern to my new home. And it thrived, along with my many other houseplants. But then came children, three of them in about as many years, and in the choice of which living things to keep alive, the children won and the houseplants succumbed one by one. Eventually I was left with one houseplant - Grandma's fern.

And it has been trying to die ever since.

This fern has been banned to the basement windowsill where it is seen by nobody but me. And it is not making my laundry room more cheery. I look at it and feel guilt that I can't keep my grandma's fern alive.

My grandma died in 1996 - nearly twenty years ago. My fond memories of Grandma are not dependent upon keeping this fern alive.

So today, I'm stopping the excuses, kicking out the guilt, and adding the fern to the compost pile.

I know Grandma would approve.

Okay, so what about you. What excuses do you hear when you try to de-clutter your house? And what is your cure?

13 comments :

  1. We live in a teensy-tinesy little house and have plans to build in the next couple of years. Right now I'm battling the question "Do I keep this for when I have a bigger house, or get rid of it to save my sanity now?" Some things should simply go in the attic for now, others should probably just be gotten rid of! I love the one about getting rid of those dresses I never war anyway. Last summer I went shopping and bought myself 3 nice pieces of material with kind of the same idea in mind. It was so fun to have some nice, new dresses since I spend most of my sewing energy on my girls these days and tell myself I can "make do".

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    1. Bethany -
      I found I was wearing dresses I hated just because I felt guilty that they were in my closet. So crazy! Why do I do this to myself?
      Gina

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  2. I hung on to a dress I wore on our honeymoon (10 years ago) since it was a favorite of my husband's (back then). I finally got rid of it last year, deciding there is no reason I hang on to it...and I will probably never fit back in it. (sigh) I also -tight wad shining thru here- think, " I paid $$$ for this! I can't just drop it off at Goodwill." :) But when I do, I LOVE the empty space!!! I have a designated 'yard sale/Goodwill box" in my attic. Through out the year I toss things in there. Anything I haven't used in the last year goes. My husband fears some days that he'll be the next thing thrown in the Goodwill box. ;) Love reading this series of organization as I'm always looking for more tips as a mother of 4 that are 8 & under.

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  3. Oh my,you sound like me...only I have 38 years of accumulated "treasures". I also have the years of gifts from 3 now grown children!! We aren't planning on moving,but since hubby retired we have been hoeing out. It is so hard to part with some things,but really they are just things. The people are what matter. Many of my family have passed away,so I treasure the memories,not the stuff they may have given me. I do make excuses when it comes to the things the kids made for me when they were little. They tug at my heart strings...I guess if they still are around when I am not,the kids will at least get a laugh because their crazy mama saved such things! By the way,the upstairs is progressing nicely..curtains and windows got done today!

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    1. Barb- I'm almost done with my windows and curtains too! So fun to look out of clean windows again!
      Gina

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  4. I'm really enjoying this series. I have a lot going through my mind but its hard to put into words. Just know that you are encouraging me! Thank you. Also, I am glad you are letting the fern go. I also think your Grandma would understand. :) Another thing I am thinking is that when I pay good money for something, and I have to let it go, someone else is blessed by finding a good item at a low cost. That might make someone else's day. I know it makes my day to find something I need at a low cost at a thrift shop or similar! Someone had to get rid of the item for me to find it at that low price.

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  5. I had a plant that someone gave me after we miscarried. I don't have much of a green thumb but I kept that thing barely alive for 15 years. My mom kept trying to put it out of its misery every time she came to visit. I'd find it hidden in all sorts of obscure places after she left. I finally gave in and let her compost it. I guess a half-dead plant isn't the best way to keep a memory alive anyway. :( But...I am glad I'm not the only one. :)

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    1. Holly -
      I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't keep gift plants alive!
      Gina

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  6. Oh what a great subject! I wrestle with all the questions, and think of what I could use things to make, like recycling plastic containers to hold desk drawer items etc. I decided to put limits on what I keep or I'd have too many. Since we live on a limited income, the money issue is a BIG issue. If I get rid of something, I really may not be able to afford another. Since medical insurance goes up $100 a month every year that passes, I figure I must declutter and trust God on this.

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  7. Shontele TorkelsonApril 30, 2015 at 10:55 AM

    Have you heard of flylady? www.flylady.net . Following her brought me to my senses on the "emotional attachment" we can get to stuff. I had a hard time taking "perfectly good stuff" ( which honestly I didn't want anymore) to goodwill. She terms it "blessing others" and honestly it is! How many times have YOU been glad to find a "perfectly good" item at goodwill :) I have a garden shed and anything that I use less that 2 or 3 times a year goes out there. Her tip for clothes is to get rid of what we no longer like/feel good in. Everything else hang up backwards, (hanger hook facing you) then after 6 months-1 year anything that is still hung up that way... Get rid of! I saved a dress that I wore when we dated that was hubby's favorite. I thought it'd be fun for my girls to see when they are grown.. And my wedding dress but besides that, it all went. I save my babies first church outfit and their "home from the hospital" outfit and one blankie. It takes very little space and it might mean something to them someday. I do not store children's clothes because I live in a trailer n don't have space! I give them to other moms with kiddos just younger than mine. That way they are not old/outdated. I have been blessed with friends who do the same to me so it has worked out great.
    I totally understand the "fern story" I just threw out a fern my MILAN gave me when we got married. It just made me feel bad everytime I looked at it cause I don't have a green thumb and I thought I should be able to keep this one plant alive. Honestly I'm sure she doesn't even remember she gave it!
    One question I have though, as a person who is not overly attached to stuff, how do I keep from offending those who are? Someone close to me is much more emotional about things and it hurts her if I get rid of toys/ things she gives me or my children. Even if it's toys they've outgrown? To me the love is in the act not the object but I don't want her to think we don't appreciate it!

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    Replies
    1. That is a tough question. Any of you other readers have any suggestions?
      Gina

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  8. I can understand your thing with grandma's fern but you can bet your life if you throw it on the compost heap it'll spring back to life and look wonderful in no time at all. I have my grandma's christmas cactus.....my grandma died 16 years ago. But I can't bring myself to chuck it out, it would just die in our climate!

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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