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This is a guest post from Angela, who blogs at Setting My Intention. Learn more about Angela below!
They handed me the gadget.
“When you find something you’d like to put on your registry, just scan the bar code and you’re all set!” the employee explained to me.
We looked at each other, nodded, and starting walking around the store.
Pretty candles? Check.
Knife set? Check.
Queen size bed sheet? Check.
Rice cooker for a crowd? Check.
Pretty do-dad that we would probably enjoy having around? Check.
I remember taking the gadget and walking around with my soon-to-be husband scanning in anything that looked remotely useful or caught our eye. We were pretty clueless as to what we would actually need or use in our new life together. We also didn’t have a lot of stuff individually that we would be bringing to the marriage, so we were starting from scratch. There was a mix of useful and decorative items on the registry.
Nineteen years later we still have some of the items on our wedding registry, but most of the items? They were used once or twice and eventually decluttered years later as I decluttered our home.
We did the same thing three years later at a baby store when we were expecting our first son – just as clueless as we entered this new stage of our life together.
Is anyone else nodding their heads along with me?
They say hindsight is 20/20 and I totally agree. I want to share some of my hard won realizations as I’ve been working to simplify our lifestyle and declutter our home for the past few years.
Clutter Free Home Tip #1: Purchase with intention
Scanning freely and putting random things on a registry is fun at the time, but receiving and storing those items? Not so fun.
No one told us to wait until we started our life as a married couple to see what we might need.
No one told us to wait until we lived life with our new baby to see what we might need.
Here’s what I want to tell you, which you may or may not accept: Wait until you know what you need before you buy something. The “I might need this” statements are the ones that fill our house with clutter.
We’re blessed (or cursed?) to live in an age where we can have something the same day or the next when we order something online. We don’t have to be prepared ahead of time for all the circumstances. We can purchase as we find we truly need an item.
I usually write down what I feel I need first before purchasing, then wait a bit before actually purchasing. If you tend to purchase items as soon as you think about them, I encourage you to try this. Waiting a few days or longer can help you think about whether you truly need that item or if it’s just an impulse purchase.
This is especially important to remember during birthdays and holidays. Clutter free gifts or experience gifts may be an option for you and your family instead of the regular gift giving frenzy that usually fills our homes.
Clutter Free Home Tip #2: Borrow as much as you can
This is especially key if you are expecting your first baby. If you were anything like me, I was reading all kind of baby books and taking notes of everything they told me I would need for my first baby: car seat, swing, stroller, bouncy seat, exersaucer, pack-n-play, crib, rocker, baby carrier, diaper genie, diaper bag, bathtub…the list went on and on.
The truth is, you need a car seat, diapers, a few clothes, and somewhere safe for the baby to sleep. Except for the diapers, you can borrow the rest! There are an overwhelming number of things that you COULD buy your sweet new baby, but most aren’t essential. Baby items are used for such a short time so they are usually in great condition to borrow from a friend whose child is older now.
Our three boys are beyond the baby stage, but we’ve routinely taken hand me downs from family and gladly used them. We also borrow tools from a tool library that is in our neighborhood. We borrow lawn mowers and other tools that we occasionally need instead of purchasing them.
Clutter Free Home Tip #3: Make decluttering a regular habit
My motto at Setting My Intention is “progress, not perfection.” This is especially important to remember if you have a family.
I’ve been decluttering regularly since 2015, but I’m not done decluttering our home. With a family of five and three sons, you can bet that there is a constant flow of papers and stuff that comes into our home. That’s normal. The trick is to make going through all of that stuff just as normal.
The best way that I have found is to pair up decluttering with a habit that I have already established. Every morning I make coffee and while the coffee is brewing, I declutter the kitchen counters and kitchen table.
Every Sunday I do a load of laundry for my youngest son in the basement. When I’m down there, I spend 15 minutes or longer picking up some obvious garbage or recycling and grouping items together for my husband to go through later.
What is a habit that you already have established? Or a routine that is a daily practice? For example, do you have young children who take a nap daily? Try setting a timer for 10-15 minutes right after you put them down for a nap. Choose an area that needs decluttering and work on it in 10-15 minute spurts.
Decluttering is a muscle that needs to be built up daily. Be patient and focus on your progress, not how far you still have to go. If you focus on these three tips, you’re home will be soon be clutter free!
Hi I’m Angela!
I write at Setting My Intention where I focus on intentional change and developing healthy habits in the midst of the daily demands of life. I am a coach for women who are frustrated and overwhelmed with their clutter. You want to feel at peace in your home, but you feel stuck and have no idea where to start. I help you envision your ideal home and create a step by step action plan to go from chaos to calm. Learn more about what we can do together!