Remember how I said I was cleaning out my house? I want to use it up, use it up, bless others with unused stuff, and only bring things in that my family uses and loves. It seems to me that our society promotes filling up our homes rather than creating fulfilling homes. I realize that commerce is good and all, but it seems to me that this practice is creating more stress than it is happiness. If it takes us forever to find the things that are important, and we have to repurchase things because we can’t find them, how does that make life better? I argue that the opposite is the case. If we can buy just the right things in the right amounts, we will waste less, find our belongings easier, and will be able to relax. There will be less maintenance and less time wasted. I’m in. With that in mind, I have been on a mission, and I can finally relax and breathe a sigh of relief. It took me three years, and lots of ruthless editing, but I think we are 95% there. There will always be a margin for clutter. Before, my margin was probably 40%, so I am proud of my 5.

How did I do it? Here are some of the ways I widdled down our household goods:

  • I gave away 16 empty bins (12×12 fabric ones – 16 is the actual number) that I didn’t like, but was saving because they would be useful “someday”, to my daughter’s school. Now, I see them every time I drop her off. The investment I made in them is better served in the classroom than my house.
  • I got rid of clothing that was worn out or would never again fit me. I handed down clothing to others (family and friends) who would gain use from them with their kiddos. I mean really, even if I DO decide to have another kid (not likely), likelihood of the kid being born of the same gender in the same season as their elder siblings? Not. Likely. My best friend had a baby girl in the right seasons for my Girl’s baby clothes. My sister had a boy in the right seasons for my Boy’s clothes. I gained the space in the big trunk storage bins in my garage back when I passed on the cuteness to others. I took pictures of the pieces I really loved before I let them go.
  • After Dunkin passed, I knew we would not be getting another four-legged-family-member-in-a-cage. I contacted a friend with two guinea pigs in the same cage and asked if they would benefit from our leftover supplies. They said yes, so I gifted a back-of-the-van load of supplies to them. Then, we went through our bigger-animal supplies and donated another back-of-the-van load to the humane society in our area. We got back a shelf in the garage along with 1/2 a garage stall. I don’t have to be sad seeing the supplies that Dunks is no longer using. The other animals were blessed with new equipment. Win-Win.
  • I did a huge scanning project that got rid of several bins of scrapbooking-to-be-done-someday and waste paper that was around our house.
  • I stopped buying new things for the house until I knew just the right thing for the purpose. I’ve learned that often if I wait a week or two, I don’t actually need it. It’s just filling my house. Not fulfilling. So I do without, or make do with what I have. It’s actually really a lot easier this way.
  • I sold our guest room furniture on Craigslist ($500!), a bookcase ($50!), and some other items (total sold = approximately $1,000!) that we were not going to be bringing with us during our upcoming move. These items were unnecessarily sitting in our home taking up space, and are worth more financially than functionally. See you stuff, hello space and money!
  • I have been doing the projects that were around the house “waiting to be finished” whenever time allowed. I finished knitting a blanket, did some of the scrapbooking that was outstanding, and put to use the supplies that I had on-hand to do crafts with the kids. I’m excited to get back the space that these supplies used to use. I’m also excited to have the memories I made with the kids.
  • I have been using up the bulk purchases that I made in the past. Too many rolls of toilet paper, paper bowl, clorox wipes, and such sitting on shelves waiting to be used. Having so many, I feel like I was using 8 wipes to do the job of 3, just because I could. Now I am using them frugally, but I’m getting back the space they are taking from my family. Eventually, I will replace some bulk purchases… but only those that my family will really use all of in a timely manner. Otherwise, I’m not saving money by buying in bulk. I’m using up my storage and driving myself crazy.
  • I consigned a bunch of baby equipment (that I had barely/not used with Boy) at a local consignment store ($300). This included my travel system (because the carseat was only good for another 16 months and the stroller wasn’t used with Boy more than twice), the Bumbo (Boy’s thighs were too big to fit in it, so it only was used three times with him!), and one of the two high chairs I had in the house. I kept the swing, pack-n-play, Boppy, and the other high chair, you know just in case… or for guests…
  • I went through all of the drawers and closets in my house. Every. One. I emptied 40% of our drawers. Our end tables are empty. Under our beds: empty. Half of Boy’s drawers: empty, because we choose for them to be this way. We have one drawer now that’s the “junk drawer”, but it’s the one in the kitchen we all have with miscellaneous small items for writing, note taking, yo-yo needs, etc (yep –  three yo-yos in our drawer). Where did all the other stuff go? AWAY. Most of it was stuff that belonged somewhere else that we were too lazy to put it. Now, everything seems to be in its place, and we have MUCH more space!
  • I used Space Bags to store out of season clothes and linens. We have three large ones in the steam trunk Hubs had from college that sits at the end of our bed, and that holds all of our out of season gear. Now we have the shelf and drawer space that they used to occupy. I rotate them each season, saving only those items that are in good enough repair for the next season.
  • I am even working on using up our back-up food supplies that fill our cabinets. Why save it? By the time I end up going to use it, it will be out of date. Yum! Cake for no reason, but gaining even more delicious shelf space! This one is also saving us at the grocery store and in restaurants by cooking what we already have at home!

All of the bins, wire bins, drawers, hanging shelves, space bags, and boxes you see here? EMPTY.

So there you have it. Empty boxes, bins, and shelves… My family is living in inner space… and the living is good.