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Get Out of My House! I: {6 Ways to Slay Clutter}

Buffy the Sock Pile Slayer
I have a fascination with the show Hoarders.

No matter how hard I try, I just.can't.look.away.

It's pretty much my personal horror of horrors wrapped up in a 45 minute show. I honestly feel for the people they feature, and I'm glad they're getting help. Mostly what the show does for me is create in my bosom a ferocious Anti Hoarder.

I start to feel like I'm Buffy the Clutter Slayer. 
I see a pile of 5 socks, and I'm all, 
"Aah! Evil hoarding plague, you will not take root in my house! 
I will vanquish thee!!"

I consider myself a pretty normal housekeeper. I don't have rooms stacked to the ceiling with empty soup cans, or have 5000 ferrel cats running around or anything.

Here we are, 2 weeks away from moving! It's time to get things into boxes and get on the road. We initially thought this packing thing would be a cinch. "We don't have that much stuff" we said. "It'll be cake" we said. An unbelievable 20 garbage bags full of trash later, I stand corrected.

Questions to fuel the Purge 
(when I don't know where to start)
I suggest going one room at a time, maybe one corner at a time, maybe one item at a time, and see how it goes from there. Try no to attack every closet in one day, chances are you'll run out of steam mid purge and get depressed and discouraged. If you lose your nerve at any point, sit down and watch another episode of Hoarders and you'll be good to go again!

These 6 question were my mental check list as I went through our stuff, piece by piece.  Can you think of any more I could add?

#1 Have I Used This In The Past Year ( or years... or ever)?
For me, if I hadn't used it either since I purchased it or since we moved in 3 years ago, it had to go.

A lot of the time it was things like college textbooks or old magazines that had become outdated and we no longer had a reason to hold onto anymore.

Some other big culprits were baby toys,  "miracle working" kitchen gadgets (come on, we've all bought 'em!), and exercise equipment.

Prime example- this giant turkey roaster that I've had for 4 years and never taken out of the box. This thing is huge! Why am I keeping it? Truthfully, it was a wedding present. And if you were the one who gave me this roaster, I'm very thankful, really. I'm just not the roasting type. But I'll pass it on to someone who is!

#2 Is This Still In Style?
I like to learn this one the hard way.

Clothes, accessories, art and home decor all need regular evaluation to keep from looking dated. I try to keep up with trends, I do. But those pesky things come and go so darn fast! My dear friends have had more than one intervention on this subject, particularly in the wardrobe department.

Apparently fuzzy white golf hats 
and hot pink bejazzled tote bags 
are not the thing anymore?? whatever.

Whatever style you have for your home or your fashion should be intentional. If you love vintage or quirky stuff, that's fine! Just know that's what they are. And if you're going for a current look, reevaluate, reevaluate, reevaluate!

#3 Is It Broken? (and will I ever really fix it?)
I have a drawer full of good intentions. "It's just missing this one little impossible-to-find part"... "I'll glue the head back on, and the arms, and legs... good as new!".

I carefully saved the pieces to this magnet Jason brought me back from a business trip to Brazil.

Why? It was sentimental. That was 3 years ago. I've been storing this broken magnet for three years and sometimes I've just got to face the facts. No, I'm never going to fix this, and even if I did it wouldn't be as good as new again. *sigh. *gulp. Tossing it.

#4 Is This Even My Cr@p Stuff?
Have you ever had something so long you forget it's not even yours?

Whether I borrowed it or it got left at my house, I've collected several "I should really return that someday"s, including this lovely XL tupperware conainer. Since I'm moving, and it's ridiculous to pack other people's stuff, guess it's time I got on that.

Yes, that tupperware says WINE, but I'm the wrong Mrs. Wine. My sister-in-law Val lent this to me at Andrew's party. It's coming back to you, Val, real soon, I promise! :)

#5 Will My Husband Realize It's Gone?

This applies to kids too.

Come on, you know you want to. Not anything major like his weight bench or sparring equipment, or the kids' jungle gym. That would be too obvious. But maybe, just maybe the broken pocket knife, and "important" pile of filthy rags he has stored in the garage. The naked Barbies under the couch. Sometimes we need to help our men and our kids purge too.

And if you tell him I did anything with his rags, I'll deny it.

#6 Am I Enjoying This or Just Storing It For "Someday"?
Crafters must have a particular weakness when it comes to empty containers, am I right? The promise of pure mind bending potential is almost too much to resist. And sometimes I don't.

It broke my heart, but I managed to throw away a whole shelf of empty oatmeal and coffee containers I was saving because you never know when you'll need them! Maybe I'll teach a craft class... maybe I'll become a Preschool never know!

How about you? This is a brutal question, I know. But if it doesn't have a place in the house, could you be perpetually storing it for the elusive "someday"?

Our new place's kitchen is much smaller than the one we have now, and every square inch of pantry space will be precious. Plus I figure I can beef up my coffee can stash again pretty easily and cheaply if I need to. You never know!

Post Purge
Whew. It's taken me this whole summer, but I successfully went through the entire house, room by room, sorting and purging without mercy. Those 20 garbage bags were a source of pride, like popping a giant pimple or losing 50 pounds. It feels wonderful!

I feel like my house is clean! The stuff I still have I have for a REASON. It has value and purpose.

And that's a place worth getting to.

I promise.

Are you feeling a purge coming on (or trying to get one to come on)? Do you have a similar set of questions, or different ones you use to evaluate your stuff? I'd love to hear about it! :)

<3 Alyssa

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P.S. My bestie Jesirae deserves credit for taking these pictures. We had the best time, acted totally ridiculously, and loved every minute. Some outtakes of our madness.

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