Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Quest to Declutter by Patricia Petro


Have you ever looked around a room in your house and wondered, How in heaven’s name did I ever accumulate so much stuff?

Everywhere you look, there’s something to see; and much of it is just sitting on shelves and tables or in cabinets, unused and untouched, except for the times when you have to move it to dust.

Maybe the thought occurs to you when it comes time to pack for a move. Suddenly, your books fill ten boxes. The good china has to be bubble-wrapped and packed with extra care. Crystal stemware, rarely used, is a bothersome worry. Kitchen gadgets galore and drawers full of miscellaneous little things get carelessly dumped into boxes for sorting through later. Pots and pans, wall hangings, lamps, and linens . . . the list goes on and on and the packing feels as though it will never end. And then, of course, there’s all that furniture.

“It takes living without it to realize how clutter affects your life and takes away from your freedom and creativity. I am reminded of that every time I walk into my kitchen and, instead of seeing a cluttered counter,
I see sunlight streaming in from the kitchen window.” —Courtney Carver, Be More With Less

It happened to me

During my last move I was so overwhelmed by all the stuff I owned, it took months for me just to channel the energy I needed to start packing. I kept telling myself, Simplify simplify simplify . . . use this move to purge the stuff you don’t really want or need.

To make a long story short, I didn’t purge much of anything and decided, instead, to purge as I unpacked.

Tom and I had bought a house and were moving in. With our children grown and on their own, it was just the two of us. We didn’t need a lot of space—a smaller house was a perfect fit. We were, however, combining two households, each with over twenty-five years worth of furniture, furnishings, files, household items, clothes, electronics, garden supplies, tools, toys, a cat and a dog. You name it, we had it . . . and, in many cases, we had duplicates of the same things. It was a lot of stuff to unpack. Finding room for it all was impossible.

There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of stuff, if that’s how you want to live. It wasn’t, however, part of my master plan.

This move was going to be a fresh start for us, a new beginning. I wanted our little house on the lake to be an inviting, restful retreat. Clean . . . serene . . . relaxing. As lovely as any of the model homes we had visited during our quest to find the perfect house. With just enough furniture to make it comfortable. And no clutter anywhere.

Decluttering is easy as 1-2-3 . . . but you have to be ruthless

1. Start small with a drawer or closet.

2. Decide to either keep an item or sell it. If you can’t sell the item or give it away, toss it.

3. If something is tugging on your heartstrings, put it in a box. Write the date on the box and store it for a year. If you haven’t opened the box within a year, get. rid. of. it.
Let the purging begin.

Patricia Petro writes the book on empty nesting every day with her website Our Empty Nest. Her motto? "Living simply. Simply living well." She and her husband, Tom, enjoy a drama-free, clutter-free life of two happy-go-lucky empty nesters. Her website offers recipes for two, decorating your home, simple living and "simply living well."


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

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