Simple Living | Tips to Decluttering Your Home
Simple living, especially in a small home, is necessary. Purging is essential to creating a space which is organized, clean, and comfortable. The thought of purging is delightful to many; however, many find it to be a struggle. How does one let go of sentimental items in order to make small space living doable? And when I say sentimental, I’m referring to clothing. And other items. Decluttering a space is an emotional task. Learn how to simplify your home by letting items go.
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A true fact, if you do not have the funds to continually purchase new items you tend to value the things you own more. This is a concept which I am reverting back to. Though the funds are not quite restricted, we as a homesteading family need to value what we have.
When I wrote the blog, I Want to be a Homesteading Housewife, it was early in our journey to live a simple life. I thought I had grasped the concept of simple living, though in truth, I didn’t know its true meaning until now.
Simple Living as a Homesteader
The act of living simply has various meanings to different people. For individuals who live in small or tiny homes, minimizing is necessary. This includes kitchenware, clothing, toys for children, and trinkets which have no value.
I am a purger, whereas other individuals tend to part with things here and there. Me? Let’s get down and dirty and let things go; let’s make room for items which are actually needed.
With that said, I love to surround myself with things of comfort. Antiques and vintage items fill our small home, with each piece chosen specifically for our small space.
Leaving suburban American has allowed me to truly find the value in the items we own. Often, my family criticizes me for letting go of things too quickly, with Justin being my biggest critic. This husband of mine, he forgets he has many items which are over 20 years old! Which, by the way, he doesn’t use on a regular basis.
Homesteading has truly taught me the value of caring for what we own. Actually, the correct way to state this is, what we need to own.
Why Decluttering is important for Small Home Living
Small home living forces individuals to love what you own or get rid of it. Our home is 1025 square feet with minimal storage space. A mess is not an option. No way, no how. Making declutering a necessity.
Keep in mind, having too much of something runs the risk of making messes more easily.
If it clutters a space, let it go. With that said, one’s definition of clutter is different from another’s. For example, the decor for our farmhouse is not what is known as modern farmhouse minimalist. What you witness when you walking into our small home are intentional antique and vintage pieces.
Do you understand what I meant by intentional?
Everything in our home has a purpose. Everything.
Instead of side tables used to hold photos and trinkets, antique dressers are used. The drawers are valuable for storage items. Antique trunks are used as coffee tables because they store winter blankets and sheets. We are avid readers in our home, but you’ll not find a big bookshelf. Instead shelving was added throughout the house. But not just any type of shelving. Shelves were made out of boardwalk boards where Justin and I had our first kiss.
Small house living forces one into simple living. If an items does not have a designated spot where it fits perfectly it cannot stay. No storage space should be bursting at the seams.
The Emotions behind Purging
Regardless of how emotionally strong you are, purging pulls forward feelings you may, or may not, have known were there. For many these feelings are similar to parting with a family heirloom. Who would have thought a sweatshirt could do this to a person? These (me) can’t-let-goers have memories in each item.
People hold onto items for various reason, and they are the only ones to understand why. Purging is an emotional state. If you are not ready to let go of items the concept of simple living is not for you. Decluttering creates a clean space and mind. One is unable to focus clearly if the place where you should be the most comfortable and creative is cluttered.
As the Queen of Purging, a name I bestowed on myself, I succeeded in letting many items go. That is, until it came time to purge my clothes and blankets. I had been holding on to items which I hadn’t worn, or used, in years. Years. There were many reason why, yet none were truly justifiable as to why these items should be kept. I was making excuses as to why I needed them.
- I’ll lose weight soon
- I need my fat pants
- Those are my going out clothes, my stay in clothes, my work the property clothes, my remodeling clothes
- I need 60 pairs of underwear
- Yoga and sweatpants are life, and they’re comfortable, not to mention, they double as PJ’s
- 15 pair of PJs is normal for people
- Gotta keep these socks, the partner may show up one day
Simple Living – Purging Clothes
Fifty(ish) sweatshirts, that’s what I owned. Thirty-seven sweaters, 21 pair of shorts, 15 jeans, 24 t-shirts, 29 tank tops, 23 long sleeve shirts. And one too many sweatpants and yoga pants. All this on top of what I wear to work…work which I’m at twice a week.
I could not bring myself to let the clothes go. Regardless of what shape they were in. What was my excuse for owning so many sweatshirts? I did not want to get cold.
Needless to say, my closet was bursting at the seams. And my soul (or so I thought) was attached to each piece.
Live in the moment
- Do not keep clothes which have not been worn in a year. Period.
- Purge at the end of each season. Yes, the end. This will allow you to evaluate whether you’ve worn the item, and if you have, whether it is in good enough shape to wear another year.
- Replace items as needed. Find a great thrift store and replace items which are not worth keeping. Do not hold onto items thinking you may ‘one day’ need it. I promise, if that day comes a local thrift store will have a similar item.
Simple Living with Kids
Letting go of our children’s items is just as hard as letting go of our own. You’ll need to ask yourself:
- Am I keeping this item to give to their kids?
- Is this item worth being passed down to the next generation?
- Am I saving it as a hand me down for another child?
- Is it torn and beyond mending?
- Can the stains wash out?
- Do I have the space to store it?
The most important question of them all:
- Will your child remember the items to be his most favorite things in the whole wide world?
Things which should be kept
As much as I love letting things go, there are things which should be kept and handed down to your children once they are grown. Mind you, the amount of items kept should take up very little space.
- A blankie
- Favorite stuffed animal
- Even a favorite toy….just one, well, maybe two or three
Maybe you have a handful of favorite clothing which your child(ren) has worn over the years. Why keep them all? Consider making a quilt with them. Yes, sewing skills are required for this, but what better way to keep your children’s clothing from their youth? Heck, make a quilt for each of your children if you’re inclined to!
Simple Living – Kitchenware, Cookware, Photos, Toys, Books
This blog was about purging clothing, but I wanted to quickly share how to minimize other items.
Get Rid of the Extra Cups
Purging kitchenware is much easier than many think. This is where I succeeded. For example, 15 coffee mugs is not needed in a kitchen with limited cabinet space. Not to mention, there are only two coffee drinkers in the home.
Let’s talk drinking cups. It is as simple as this: use mason jars. These multi-purpose jars are incredible. Absolutely incredible! Not only do I use them for canning, I use the same jars (wide mouth) to drink from. Additionally, I use them to store much of our leftovers.
Wine glasses, champagne flutes, beer mugs…do you need them? Yes? Okay, truly, how many?
Invest in Lifetime Cookware
Invest in cookware that will last a lifetime, for example, Lodge cast iron pieces. Learning how to properly care for and season pieces allows for simple cookware to become heirloom pieces. And don’t forget, many pieces can be found at thrift stores for pennies on the dollar.
Stop Buying Dish sets
The question is, do you need everything in the set? Like more coffee mugs? If a plate, bowl, cup, whatever, breaks the item can be replaced with a thrift store piece. Also, consider selecting white plates. White plates are easier to find and tend to be cheaper in price.
Photos and Books
This is one thing I will thank modern technology for, the ability to store photos on a thumb drive, external drive, or CD. By all means, take your favorite photos and frame them! But if you have printed photos laying around scan them and store them on a CD. This is going to take some effort and time, but oh, it is so worth it in the end! Decluttering drawers where photos were once kept allows room for other items to be stored.
I’m the type of individual who loves a good book. Especially ones which are educational and how-to.
So, how do you sort through which books to keep? Ask yourself this, if I needed to evacuate my home what books would I need to start again? And yes, this could include good fiction. Books which are read often and loved should always be kept. However, the rest can be purchased for kindle or borrowed from your local library.
Kid Items: toys, books, stuffed animals
This is going to be a tough one, especially if you are involving your children in the process. Don’t fret, purging can be achieved without fighting!
Put your foot down on how many to keep. Stuffed animals collect dust and body dander if they are kept on the bed. I would strongly suggest letting go of half of what is owned. From there, purge a second time. Do not store them, they get crusty and gross. Ask me how I know this!
When it comes to books for kids I’m pretty relaxed on what they can keep. In truth, I say let them keep them all. A child with a book is a rare sighting nowadays. However, once a year (before the holiday season) encourage purging. The goal is to have them value their most favorite books.
Let’s be honest, toys are age based. Why keep toys which are meant for a 3 year old if the child is 6? Still birthing children? Then keep some. Broken, missing parts, or toys which are too young for the age…let. them. go.
Keep as many toys as will fit into a toy chest, Rubbermaid container, or toy storage unit. That’s it. Children will find more value, become more creative, and seek their imagination with just a handful of items. And remember, there are books available if they should become bored.
Also, get them outside. Yes, let your kids become free range children. Like that? Society has created a term for children who run around unsupervised as free range. They will need fewer toys if they play outside more often.
Simple living comes with a mindset of letting go of the past in order to create a simpler present. Not only are we asked to minimize materialistic items, we emotionally grow, as well. Those who once knew us are unsure of who we now are, or who we’re becoming.
What do I have to say about this? Embrace it. Leaving suburban America has allowed for a stronger, healthier version of me. Not to mention, it has allowed me to guide my children into living a more simple life. With less clutter.
Great article,I’m a real hanger onto..even though the kids have left home there’s a heck of a lot of old toys in their old room.I think I’ll start there before dealing with my hundred plus t shirts..thanks farm girl x
Purging is so hard especially for someone who comes from a long line of packrats! My house is smaller than yours but I’m the only one who lives here…until last fall when due to economic issues my son and his GF moved in. I had too much stuff and was not up to dealing with it so I rented a storage unit ( please..no judgment!). Then I retired end of December and 14 years worth of office stuff came home and went straight to the storage unit. Now these many months later I’ve got more ambition to tackle this ( plus I didn’t want to keep paying) so all the boxes were brought to the house and I’ve been going through them…trying to be ruthless. Clothes have kind of been easier…90% of my work clothes went to Goodwill. I am having trouble with the orphan socks though…who knows when the mate might show up? Anyway…thanks for you thoughts on this hard chore. I know I will feel better when the bulk of it is done.