For the month of November I decided to play the Minimalist Game (loosely – I doctored the rules to suit myself). Basically I had to get rid of 465 items of clutter by the end of the month and, guess what?
I finished early.
Ignoring the fact that I have been procrastinating over my Christmas preparations – or lack thereof – which no doubt helped my speedy completion, I have mixed feelings about whether to be proud of myself for achieving my goal.
Nothing beats a five bar gate for keeping count
On the plus side, I had a really good clear out and tidy up, and obviously I managed to commit myself to the game and see it through.
On the negative side, as I wrote in my half-way post, I found it too easy to dispose of a large number of possessions.
It really wasn’t heart-wrenching to part with any of the 465 items that I got rid of – which illustrates that I didn’t tackle any of the more challenging decluttering. Although many were things (mainly belonging to the children) that we have made full use of, but have grown out of, I do feel sorry that I allowed so much stuff to linger in our home, taking up space and causing clutter.
I’m not in favour of wallowing in negativity though. What’s the point? You’ve got to learn from mistakes then move on, so I’m going to commit to playing the Minimalist Game again in January (although I won’t commit to boring you with it on the blog). I’m hoping that I can keep up my good work, as well as purging the house of the unnecessary Christmas excesses that we will no doubt fall victim to.
I have yet to fully redistribute all of my 465 items to their rightful destinations. Sadly, too much ended up in the bin without being put to good use (more guilt!), but I think there comes a time when you need to decide whether it’s realistic to sit down with a list of the weird and wonderful items that have emerged during decluttering, and google each and every one of them, until they are all rightfully in the best place for recycling or reuse. Is there ever truly an ethical solution to disposing of low quality broken toys which, let’s face it, should never have been allowed over the doorstep in the first place?*
Happily, many of the items were clothes which have now been handed down to family members who will put them into immediate use.** In a wave of enthusiasm, I even mended some things so that they can remain in circulation for longer.
I amassed a huge pile for the charity shop.
4 bin-bags, a toy farm, a laundry basket & 2 pictures
I have to admit that I was getting anxious about the practicalities of taking this mountain of stuff to the charity shop. I couldn’t leave the kids in the car while I ran back and forwards several times unloading the car (none of my local charity shops have guaranteed parking outside), and I definitely couldn’t get them to help as they would realise within seconds that I was giving away their old things…
As luck would have it though, this very weekend just happened to be the time that we replaced some beds in our house. We were keen that the beds went to people who need them so I phoned Barnardo’s who agreed to come and pick them up and, equally as great, they were delighted to relieve me of all of the bags I’d marked for the charity shop. They arrived with a van the day after I contacted them and it was a close call as to who said ‘thank you’ the most. Thank you. No, thank you. No, thank you! etc etc.
Finally, I tackled a clear-out job that I had put off for at least a year. I have a two drawer unit that sits in the hallway – premium space – that was bursting with artwork my kids have produced. It was always my intention to sort it out by keeping the best stuff and binning the rest, but…you know… it’s kind of hard to get started when there’s a history of your precious children’s artistic development just sitting there…
Realistically though, if we keep it all for the next 16 years, we will drown in it – and let’s not talk about the fire risk! I am already known to the fire service from when my eldest discovered the bathroom lock at 14 months. This discovery necessitated a fire engine to arrive at the house (siren on) at 9am in the morning (I was not dressed to receive visitors). There were no less than three prams sitting in my hallway which would have caused an obstruction, should there have been an emergency, which, it turns out, a toddler alone in a locked bathroom was. I digress… but the mountain of paper had to go!
It was easy to separate the wheat from the chaff. I kept the first drawings, and the super cute family portraits of us sketched strictly in age order, and the odd piece of brilliance – there was a Disney character that kind of looked recognisable, if you viewed it from the right angle. All other pictures were recycled. (I used to make them into shopping lists, but I soon learned that doesn’t work if you take the kids shopping with you).
The whole decluttering ritual is addictive – I have found myself roaming around the house for the past few weeks, eyeing up items, wondering what I can get away with binning next. I would have kept going if it wasn’t for the fact that Christmas is now less than a month away and I am being panicked by all of the school-gate conversations suggesting that everyone else has finished their shopping, iced their cakes and are just biding their time until they can pour the Bucks Fizz on Christmas morning.
The irony is not lost on me that I am abandoning the process of reducing my possessions to concentrate on acquiring more bloody things, even if they are for other people. It’s been a good reminder though that I need to focus on sourcing gifts for people that are useful – or, at the very least, are fully recyclable!
*If there is, do let me know for January.
**Top tip: encourage your family to have children 18 months + after the birth of each of your kids (preferably matching the gender/s of your own) for optimum hand-me-down bliss