Ask anyone you know, and most would admit that they have too much stuff.  We know this, and yet, many of us have a hard time letting go.  Over the next 10 weeks we’re going to go through the most cluttered places in your house and clear them out.  But before we can do that, we need to prepare ourselves.  Let’s face it, decluttering is hard.  If it wasn’t you would have done it a long time ago!  So here we go, the first step on our decluttering journey; preparation.

I was feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff in our home. I knew minimalism was not for us, but I definitely wanted to get as close to organized and clutter free as a person with kids can get.

Mentally preparing

The biggest part of preparing to declutter is getting mentally prepared to let go of your stuff.  Even if you admit that you’ve got way too much stuff it’s hard to make it happen.  We develop attachments to our things, remembering where we got them or who gave them to us.  Then there’s the stuff we keep around “just in case.”  I’d say at least half our clutter is stuff we’re keeping because we might someday need it.

Before you get started give some serious thought to how deep you want to go with your decluttering.  Think of the amount of stuff in your house on a sliding scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being completely minimalist and 10 being Hoarders level clutter.

Where would you say you are on that scale now?  Where would you like to get to?  Do you want to do it all at once as we go through this series, or take baby steps, revisiting each post as needed?

Be realistic in your expectations.  If you’re house is an 8, you’re probably not going to get to a 2 with one pass.  Also, you have to consider if you would be happy and comfortable living at a 2.

What to have on hand

Once you’ve gotten yourself mentally prepared for the decluttering, you need to make sure you have what you need to be successful.

Garbage bags.  I recommend getting 2 different color bags.  Use one color for items you’re going to throw out, and the other for items you are going to donate.  I love this article from Kristen of We Are That Family.  Basically she says that items we donate should be things that we no longer need, but that we would use ourselves if we did need them.  Do not donate ragged clothes and broken toys.  Just toss them out or recycle them.

Cleaning supplies.  As you’re clearing out stuff you’ve collected over the years, you’re going to have to do some cleaning.  Dust gathers, hairballs form… yuck.  Make sure you have a vacuum nearby, dusters, and cleaning spray.  I like a vinegar/water mix because it gets rid of odors, too.

Your phone.  This is helpful in a lot of ways.  First, you can take pictures of things you’re getting rid of and ask if anyone wants them, or sell them in a local tag sale group.  Be sure to put a time limit on how long you’ll hold on to these things though.  You don’t want to clutter up another spot hanging on to things for others.

Your phone can also come in handy when you’re having a moment of doubt.  Give a call to a friend who can remind you that, even though you get rid of the ugly sweater your great aunt Hildegard  gave you, you’re not getting rid of the love or memories of her.

So now you’re ready to declutter!  Keep your goal in mind, follow our step by step guide (starting next week!), and remember, it’s just stuff.

Next week: Clothing

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