As I enter my third trimester, it feels like suddenly my family are all getting WAY messier, and suddenly we have WAY too much stuff, and it’s falling out of drawers everywhere and making it impossible to live and…
Oh wait. It’s that time again… I’m nesting.
Add that to the normal spring cleaning urge, AND an impending move [our lease expires 5 days before I'm due, couldn't have planned that better if I tried] and I’m burying myself under a mountain of grime-and-stuff-induced stress.
So what’s a gal to do but bite the bullet and start purging? Well, it’s way easier than it sounds, especially for this lady who was lucky enough to have inherited strong pack-rat tendencies from both parents. Whoo. So for those of you who are [or aren't] like me, I’ve spent some time thinking about what I’ve needed to help me get through the awful ordeal that is letting things go, so without further ado, I give you:
The Pack Rat’s Guide to Getting Rid of Stuff
- Get a buddy. This can be anyone from your spouse, to a sibling, to your neighbor, to even a blogging/internet friend, but the key thing is that this person be SUPPORTIVE, and *not* judgmental of what you’re going through. For me, it’s my husband, which is incredibly convenient since he lives here with me, but the reason I picked him to help me through the process is that he understands what a struggle it is for me. So, he doesn’t guilt or belittle me for struggling over each item we come to [yes, today I cried over every baby item I wasn't going to keep], and he celebrates me for each donation box I feel because he knows what a huge success it is!
- Define the storage space you have to fill, and stick to it. We have one medium-sized closet, one small closet, and one shelf in our utility room for everything in the whole world that we want to keep. I’ve been in denial about this since we moved in here, and as a result, every single table, desk, dresser, bed and bookcase has stuff piled in, on, under and around it. Not okay. I’ve finally faced the fact that if it does not fit in the space we’ve got, we cannot keep it. If one thing stays, it means that something else must go.
- Having a reason to keep something isn’t necessarily enough to justify keeping it. Between being sentimental, thrifty, “preparedness oriented” and attracted to shiny things, I have reasons for holding onto almost everything I keep. I’ve learned that being able to justify keeping something isn’t always enough. What it comes down to is this: is the benefit of storing this object that I do not use or even look at regularly, going to outweigh the stress and hassle that it will put on me, my partner and my family? If the answer to that is yes, AND it fits in the storage space we have allotted, then it may stay. If the answer is no to either the stress question or the storage space question, then we have some more re-evaluating to do.
- It’s okay to go slow. It’s like eating an elephant – just take one bite at a time, and eventually you’ll get the whole thing down.
- It’s okay to be sad. Lots of times, the objects I’m purging mean more to me than just the function they perform – they represent some part of me, and letting go of the object means I’m saying goodbye to something that I may not be really ready to say goodbye to. For example, today I cried over every baby item that I put into the donation box – some were because I remember my children wearing them and don’t want to lose that memory, and others were because getting rid of them confirms that I’ll probably never have any more babies after this one, which breaks my heart. So saying goodbye to the baby clothes is like saying goodbye to the children I’ll never have. Which is really, really hard.
- Celebrate those successes! Every box filled, and on some days, every item parted with, count as success – reward accordingly. [My treats of choice are Oreos, foot rubs and having my family dance around me singing songs about my awesomeness.]
As hard as getting rid of stuff can be, the feeling of having more space and less stuff is INCREDIBLY unburdening. [I don't want to say "liberating", mainly because of the cliche factor.] Being able to walk from room to room, open and close closet doors freely and not be embarrassed to show the contents on camera [yeah, I'll get to that point... someday ] brings a certain peace of mind and body that cannot be had in any other way.
Is it just me that struggles with this? What do you guys do to cope with stuff/getting rid of it?