There are few silver linings to the pandemic, but one of my favorites is that as a culture we’re all now watching a lot of the same television at the same time. Before, everyone had different schedules and could watch the “buzzworthy” shows at their own pace.
Now, we’re all pretty much trapped at home and devouring shows within days of release on Netflix. I can’t really say why, but I love this, and I feel it’s an easy way to connect with others and strike up a conversation (Hey, have you seen Bridgerton?!!!!!)
Recently, I watched the second documentary by The Minimalists: Less is Now. Full disclosure, I haven’t seen the first one, but I’ve been big fans of their blog and work for years. I’ve long recommended a thorough home purge as a way to declutter and add some extra cash to the bank.
That is…I thought I was pretty good at living more “minimally”, until I watched this documentary. I was wrong.
I do clean out our home fairly regularly – maybe once or twice a year at least. I’ve always done this. I come from a long line of women affectionately known as “keepers,” and so I’ve had a front-row to how much it costs people to keep and store stuff.
My friend Esther has a theory, and it’s that the more time you spend at home, the more cluttered your home gets. And since we’ve all spent a lot of time at home within the last year or so, this makes sense. In our house, belongings seem to have multiplied like bunnies, not to mention the birth of our son, and now we have the possessions of another third person in our family too.
I thought I was organized, but fired up from my viewing of Less is Now, I decided to turn a fresh eye and pare down our belongings yet again. After months of the daily grind, I began to see the problem areas of our home: the guest room no one lives in with a bursting closet, dresser, and under bed storage, the amount of spillage in our garage, and the piles of detritus littering our entryway and kitchen island.
I won’t list everything out here, but I did get rid of over 300 items, for which I am very proud. Maybe more if you count all of the boxes, gifts bags, and multiples of certain items.
I’m forever keeping my closet mean and lean, but this time I found all of these items when I went through these “less organized” pockets of our home.
- My sock and underwear drawer
- All of the bathroom cabinets. (I don’t know why, but I had a very hard time getting rid of the free samples I get in the mail with my Sephora purchases….?)
- The entire guest room and all of my “memory” belongings from my childhood and adolescence.
- The nursery.
- My office, which hasn’t been organized since we bought the home in late 2018.
- Our pantry (and I got rid of three small kitchen appliances we never use!)
- The dining room buffet cabinet, which currently houses more china than we could ever use even in the most social of seasons.
I really struggled parting with a china set that was handed down to me from my Grandmother. We never use it, but it has sentimental value. I’m now selling it on Facebook marketplace. This line from the documentary really stuck with me, “the memories live in us, not in the stuff, ” and this helped me really pare down.
Getting rid of the china set won’t make me forget my grandmother. And it’s not like I even have it stored in a place where I see it every day. She wouldn’t want me to keep it if the storage and maintenance of it stressed me out.
It also helps me to think of the new home these sentimental items will get. Maybe they’ll move on to places where they’ll be truly cherished, used, and loved.
And then I earned…..
Some of my favorite places to sell gently used items are:
- Poshmark ($115)
- Facebook Marketplace ($170)
- Craigslist for the larger items like Furniture (no money in recent purge, but I made over $400 when I cleared our garage out in August!)
When it comes in, I split this money. If it was something that was both mine and my husbands, or some of our son’s old clothes, the money goes to incrementally building up his college fund.
If it was a possession of mine that predates my husband, I put the money in a small savings account I keep for when I want to buy myself a little something on a rainy day. (Like a less substantial “fuck off fund.”) I’m currently doing a no-buy year right now, so this money will sit in a high-yield savings account all nice and tidy until 2022 when I’m ready.
I scribbled in my journal the other day, “when will I ever be done clearing junk from our house?” because lately it does feel very overwhelming to me. I’ve spent several weeks now trying to re-home our possessions so everything fits in our designated space.
But then I think about everything I really earn: I imagine that each time I get rid of things in my home I earn a little piece of my sanity and mental bandwidth back. Bit by bit, with each cast off, I’m able to think a bit more clearly and breathe a little bit easier. One less thing to worry about, you know?