• Not as in the song. (Talk about an earworm – I am still humming that song and I haven’t heard it in two whole days. But I digress). This article is about letting clutter go. How to really once and for all, just get it out of your house and free yourself from the burden of things. What clutter, you say? If your problem lies in the lack of ability to identify what constitutes clutter, let me give you a starting point. Anything that isn’t used monthly or doesn’t have sentimental value to you, can be clutter. Let it go!

    We were going to sell our house and spent a Sunday, dumping everything we didn’t need into donation boxes. I pretended that I was going to move into a much smaller home (our home isn’t big by any stretch of the imagination) and so, I needed to downsize, everything. I got rid of 75% of my clothes. One month later, I don’t remember half of what I got rid of. Because I wasn’t wearing it. Why horde it? I shared it with some lucky person who might stumble upon a designer pair of pants for $5 at the thrift store. I’ve been that person who has lucked out with a good find, so time to pay it back. At the end of the day, my husband and I were amazed at how much we had that went unused. Our house wasn’t a cluttered house. Yet, we had boxes of things we just didn’t use or need. In lieu of ‘stuff’, we placed a few vases of flowers around the house. Returning home, we felt so peaceful at home. We looked at each other and said, we should always live as though we are having an open house. It felt so calm and gratifying – there was nothing to clean up or put away, mainly because there wasn’t much of anything useless. And we love it that way.

    Look around your home. Do you really need everything you see?

    Hoarding comes from feeling insecure – it is the deep-rooted desire to make sure that we have enough for our survival. Our problem is being burdened by the excess of things. Adults and children are burdened by an innate inability to constantly organize and appreciate their excess of ‘stuff’.

    I went through a drawer and found 15 baby blankets. My baby needs one at a time. Let’s say we do laundry once a week. We would be in excess of our need by about 14 blankets. Having 7 (a fresh blanket daily) would be considered a luxury. What is it when you have an excess of luxury? Uber-luxury? How do we accumulate so many items and why can’t we just let them go? Blankets upon blankets are stacked up in my drawer while impoverished families wrap their newborn babies in newspaper to keep them warm. Chew on that for a moment.

    Let’s start the new year with a clutter free home. All of us. Here are some ways to keep a home clutter-free without having an open house.

    • * One in, one out – When something new comes into your home, find something old to get rid of. This is a way to keep control of the chaos And insure that it doesn’t get worse.
    • * Season’s cleaning – Start a tradition that I picked up by necessity after living in a tiny apartment in Manhattan: At the end of every season (only four times a year), donate what you didn’t use for that season. Grab some boxes from the recycling bin and make sure you empty something from each room at a time. Sweaters that weren’t worn in the winter get tossed in the box. Sand toys that didn’t get used in the summer go in after Summer. Also get rid of items in duplicate or triplicate. Your child has one body, they don’t need four winter coats. “But the teal coat doesn’t match everything”. Buy things in neutral colors. No excuses people, because I have more than my share of them. Go through every section of each room and promise yourself beforehand to donate one item. That way, you have to find something and can’t talk yourself out of it. You will be amazed at the conversations you have with yourself justifying why you need certain items. Once in awhile, I will cut myself some slack and reason that if I want to keep the melon scooper, tea bag holder, etc, then I MUST use it in the next day or else it will go in the box as well. If I really need a melon scooper, once a year or less, then I can borrow one. Most likely I won’t need it, or I can improvise and repurpose another item for that use.
    • * Load up phase – If you are just getting started and need a serious cleanse, use the ‘1-2-3 and you’re out’ rule. Go through your clothes and toys and toss out whatever is your fourth favorite item.
    • * It’s hard to let go – To help your kids in this venture, keep reminding them (and yourself) how their excess will make someone else very happy. Then play the song and sing “Let it Go” while clearing house or the Red Hot Chili Peppers Song “Everything Must Go”.

    Happy Clearing!