This has been the work of several weeks now. Whenever I trip over something, or am irritated by it, I bin it. Anything the children fail to tidy away, disappears. That rule was intended to enforce discipline – it hasn’t worked, but there is much less stuff!
I have been through every room, grouping items to sell, to give to charity shop, textile collections, recycling and the bin. It is extraordinary how much stuff we possess that adds nothing to our lives.
Sofas and tables and dressers and drawers and slides and climbing frames have all been sold. 6 bin liners filled with textiles, old clothes, curtains, and duvet covers that we never use. At least 3 boot loads of toys to the Salvation Army. Anything that doesn’t fulfil an actual current purpose in the home has to go. (Apart from a couple of boxes of photo albums and childhood letters. I figure I have hung onto them this long for a reason.)
A couple of points are interesting – one is how little any of it is actually missed. The children have lost at least half their toys: all the plastic paraphernalia that we have surrounded ourselves with for the last 3 years. They have barely even noticed. A lip wobbled when an ebayer made off with the doll’s house, but it was forgotten in minutes and hasn’t been mentioned since. In any case they spend most of their time pretending to be cats, or princesses, or magical unicorns, without any need for props. I could have cleared out years ago! I am not missing half my wardrobe, nor the various items (vases, jugs, candle holders, wicker baskets…) left over from an earlier stage of life when I bought things just because I liked them, rather than to use them as a matter of urgency.
The second is just how much actual refuse we have been sharing our living space with. There is a fine line between kids’ art and household waste, and we have definitely been on the wrong side of it. Models made of some sort of dough found rotting in cupboards. Rockets made out of empty cardboard boxes and other recyclables. A vast stash of chocolate coin wrappers discovered in a jewellery box. Disgusting!
Memo to self: declutter often, and ruthlessly. (And check more regularly behind radiators for hidden soiled pants. Nuff said.)