(Almost) nine years ago, I stood in my closet staring at a sea of clothing that no longer fit me. I was days away from returning to work after having my first baby. Returning to work and taking my son to daycare left me full of anxiety and I felt horrible about my post baby body. I started to cry and then without thinking twice, put every single article of clothing I owned into garbage bags, and dropped them off at Goodwill.
After my purge, I went shopping and bought five pairs of pants and ten shirts that fit my new body. It wasn’t much, but later that day, as I stood looking at these clothes – the only clothes in a very empty closet – I suddenly felt lighter. It was in that very moment, a minimalist was born.
Cleaning out my closet made me feel so free and at peace, I kept going. In the weeks that followed, I cleaned out (top to bottom) my refrigerator, pantry, kitchen cabinets, living room, dining area, nightstand, and office area, among other spaces. I tossed, donated, and recycled furniture, candles, towels, sheets, toiletries, Tupperware, vases, frames, electronics, papers, magazines…you name it. If I didn’t use it, love it, or need it – I got rid of it.
Fast forward nine years, I have two young boys, and although my home contains more stuff than I’d like, I still consider myself a minimalist. I de-clutter in one way shape or form every day. If I buy something new, I get rid of something old. I discard duplicates of anything. I own less than 12 pairs of shoes, my walk in closet is about 1/3 full, and I don’t own a dresser.
Clearing out clutter can be a daunting task, but if you want to do it, I’m here to tell you that it’s manageable if you tackle it – slowly but surely – in small chunks (i.e. room by room or piece by piece). To get you started, here is a short list of things that are easy to sort through, recycle, donate, or toss.
- Expired food, spices, and oils
- Clothes and shoes that are worn out; that you don’t wear; or that don’t fit
- Little knickknacks around your house that you don’t absolutely love
- Picture frames, vases, bowls, platters, candles that you don’t use or like
- Craft supplies
- Kids artwork (if you can’t part with it consider scanning it as an image and saving it in your computer or just keep a few of those extra precious kids crafts in a small shoebox/tote)
- Cables and wires you don’t use (or don’t know to what they belong)
- Junk mail and magazines that you’ve already read or will never read
- Extra Tupperware and kitchen utensils you don’t use regularly
- Worn out towels, sheets, and pillows
- Old or outdated sports and workout equipment
- Toys and clothing that your kids have outgrown
- Costume jewelry that is tarnished, rusty, or that you simply never wear
- Papers, pictures, and other print outs/papers that are not being displayed and are backed up on your computer
- Expired medications or scripts
Do you de-clutter your home or office? Are there easy items to sort through, recycle, donate, or toss that I missed in my list?