Clear the Clutter, Clear your Mind
Feb 13, 2019 12:55PM
By Bette Erickson
When I'm looking for sharp, easy ideas and great decorating intel, I go to my daughter.
A Broomfield High School grad, now living in California with thousands of Instagram followers (@haleywrnr), Haley is style-minded and deeply practical.
“Mom, you have a great house,” she gently said to me a year or so ago. “It's just cluttered.”
With that, I set out on a decluttering crusade and the positive results of organizing my personal domain have spilled over into nearly every peripheral aspect of my life.
I feel lighter and more positive.
Organizing is great – but donating and discarding no longer useful-to-you gadgets, furniture, clothing, and books is an even better, more empowering approach. Don't just box it up in attractive containers, get rid of it if don't you use it.
"I think one of the biggest hurdles is getting over the mindset of feeling like you have to keep something just because it cost ‘x’ amount of money," Haley said. "You don't! If something's not bringing you joy, especially if it's just sitting in the back of a closet, give it to someone who will get joy from it."
Re-doing your domestic sanctuary - and making it your personal, safe, and appealing space - needn't be expensive or involve outside experts. Although, having a Millennial daughter advising you certainly works to your advantage.
I've learned from her that beauty and style needn't come at the cost of comfort or utility. Haley and her husband have a four-year-old, two-year-old and six-month-old. Remarkably, their house lacks clutter. They have edited out the extraneous.
"We're at a bit of an advantage because we're still a young family and haven't had years and years of accumulating stuff," Haley admits. "But we're still very conscious of what items we bring into our home and are quick to part with items we don't need or don't use. If we haven't used something in three or four months, like extra sheet sets or random coffee mugs, we donate them."
One of my New Year's goals several years ago was to donate or discard one box a week of no longer used items. Easy!
I live in a large house. My now deceased husband and I raised our son and daughter here. Fairly soon following his death, I boxed up and donated nearly all of his things. It was emotional, sure. But strangely cathartic, too.
The thing about the death of someone you love is that you'll always have the memories. By holding on to their things, we risk clutter and holding our emotions hostage to the past.
I've kept a few of Paul's things, like the handheld magnifying glass I bought him in jest one Christmas when he said it was getting difficult for him to read small print. He joked a month or so later, “Not only are my eyes not what they used to be, but it's my memory also. I forget where I put the magnifying glass.” That magnifying glass makes me smile.
When I first started my organizing journey, it was easy to fall into a trap of simply tidying up piles instead of actually dealing with them. For instance, on one trip to visit me, my daughter held up a magazine from one of several (tidy!) stacks in the family room and simply said, “Mom?”
Being witty I replied, “What? I need a verb.”
She sighed and said, “This magazine is from 2013.”
Even though I hadn't read the magazine to my satisfaction, I recycled all of the publications scattered around my house older than six months.
A key practice to keeping your home organized, she says, is to always tidy the kitchen before bed.
"It doesn't have to be a deep clean, but we always make sure no dishes are left sitting in the sink and the counters are wiped down (no junk mail and random papers, either). It makes such a difference waking up in the morning and not walking into a kitchen still overflowing with yesterday's mess."
Look around you. If you're at home, chances are you see room for improvement. Now is the time to make a change, however big or small. Become the curator of your domain, making your home personal, meaningful and clutter-free.