I am drowning in a sea of clutter. A couple years ago, we moved from a little two-bedroom condo with a small attic for storage, to a three-bedroom home with a garage, a shed, and a gigantic attic. I was sure that once we moved, I would have a place for everything. We were more than doubling our space! It was going to be an organized paradise.
Well, that didn’t exactly pan out. When we were loading the moving truck, I couldn’t believe how much stuff we had crammed into our tiny condominium. As my husband unloaded boxes at the new house, I quickly realized that we would have to put our garage, shed, and attic to immediate use. I vowed that the third bedroom would be a pristine guest room. I was going to keep it clear of all clutter.
As you may have gathered, I didn’t.
Not even two years in, we have filled this house to the gills. I have broken my vow. My “guest room” is now packed with homeschool supplies, boxes of outgrown kid’s clothing, and décor items that don’t have a home here. Every time I’m not in the mood to figure out what the heck to do with something, it goes in the “guest room.” Not only is it not “free of clutter,” it is basically 100% clutter at this point.
As fate would have it, we are having another baby in a few months, so that junk room is going to have to serve a purpose. An actual human kid needs to be able to live in it.
I have a lot of work to do.
I keep saying “I” because this is my doing, and I can’t blame this on my husband or my kids. My husband has a lot of stuff, but he is actually very organized. He could find anything he owns in just a few minutes. My kids only have things that I’ve allowed them to have, so blaming them for this clutter chaos would be ridiculous.
This is on me.
It’s not that I am emotionally attached to all this stuff. I do have a fair number of sentimental items, but the reason I don’t get rid of things more easily is because I am hesitant to give away something I might need again later. For example, I have every single piece of clothing my 6-year-old child has ever worn. I kept it in case we had a second son, and we did. He’s worn some of it, so I feel kind of justified. (My husband likes to point out that I routinely shop for new clothing for our second child, and he doesn’t wear half of these hand-me-downs, but that doesn’t fit with my desire to hang onto all these clothes, so I just discard that fact in favor of my own alternative facts.)
Now I’m pregnant with our last, and it’s a girl. I know she could wear her brother’s clothes, but I also know that I don’t need to keep them. She’s already got gifts and hand-me-downs rolling in, and to be honest, I want to go shopping for her. This is my last chance to buy tiny things.
That means everything my second child has outgrown is sitting in giant plastic boxes, benefitting nobody, while there are mothers in my own city wondering how they will afford to clothe their child when the weather gets cold. That feels really selfish when I think about it.
And that’s just one example. I could go on and on about all the things I know I don’t need, but I just haven’t been able to part with. It doesn’t make sense. I am sitting on things that are currently useless to me “just in case,” when I could lighten someone else’s load right now by passing them along.
I’m not even fully sure where my need to hang onto potentially useful things comes from. I didn’t grow up wealthy and I’m not wealthy now, but I have never needed anything. I haven’t been without food, water, shelter, electricity, or proper clothes and shoes. My children have never known a single day of lack. We have a nice little house and everything we need, with some money left over for fun.
It’s beyond time for me let go of some of this stuff so our house can become more manageable, and someone else can put these items to use.
I know decluttering is a big trend right now, but I’m not really into it. That’s not what has pushed me to start making some choices. In fact, I don’t really want to call it “decluttering.”
Even calling my completely usable extra items “clutter” doesn’t feel good to me. I do it all the time, but I’m starting to think it’s the wrong word. The word “clutter” kind of implies that the problem is that the extra possessions make our living space less tidy. That is annoying for sure, but the real problem is the level of excess. If I never evaluate what we truly need, nothing will ever feel like enough. I will keep feeling compelled to gather things. It’s time to wade through the stuff and find some balance.
I am definitely at the point where the number of things I have shoved into every storage space in my house is making it really frustrating to find the things I actually need. Scaling back will be the first step.
But the fact that I even have the option of releasing hundreds of things I don’t immediately need is a luxury not afforded to a huge percentage of the world’s population. While I cut back on what I keep, I want to remember what a non-problem having too much really is.
I’m also going to be a lot more careful about what I bring home for a while. Just because something is a good deal, doesn’t mean I need it. If I have any hope of cutting down on the clutter, I can’t keep acquiring. That’s going to be as important as reducing the number of possessions we already own.
The chaos of an overstuffed house isn’t my ideal, but believe me, I don’t for one second take for granted just how lucky I am to have everything I need — and then some.