When we moved from southern Illinois to Oregon we went from over 1600 feet with huge bedrooms and crazy amounts of storage to a 1200 sq foot house with tiny bedrooms and tiny closets. Talk about a serious decluttering! We moved everything ourselves and had to fit our 3 bedroom house into a 20 foot U-haul and my small SUV. When I was just finishing up the cleaning of our house after the move and I called my husband to ask if I was suppose to take the vacuum with. I couldn’t fathom being able to put one more thing into my SUV. But he is a smart man, and when I opened the back of the SUV he had already carved out the perfect, super small, spot for the vacuum and to my astonishment it all fit. It was crazy. Driving that to our friends house before we hitched it on the Uhaul was really scary. There was no view out any window. Just junk.
I’ve said this before and I’m going to keep saying it. Stuff doesn’t bring us joy. It brings us stress. You may not think of it that way, but truly most of my days I picking up random things that we don’t really need. So I’m going to share with you some tips that have helped us simplify and downsize. If this is too overwhelming for you, remember that you get to choose how fast or slow you go. Take small steps.
10 Tips To Downsize & Simplify Your Life
Think about how having less stuff will change your daily life. Less things to clean, move, pickup, get in your way. Truly it’s a freeing thing. I need to be motivated to pretty much get anything done. So I try to do things to help this along. This could be taking on one small task like cleaning out a closet, watching a documentary on minimalism (check out The Minimalists on Netflix), reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, looking at pictures of beautiful clutter free homes. Whatever gets your heart beating. Then use that motivation to get work done son.
Our major motivation was moving across the country. You can only fit so much in a 20 foot truck.
Make A Game Plan
Figure out where you are going to start. I usually like to pick the easiest place. Somewhere I have the most control over. For me, that would be my clothes and the baby’s things (she doesn’t have many opinions about stuff yet). You could also decide to tackle the closets firsts, then move to the dressers, your craft room, spend 5 minutes a day decluttering. Whatever works for you. This could be an entire room or just certain areas in each room.
Organize The Declutter (you can check out my whole post on decluttering)
Have 3 bins and label them toss, donate, and keep. That way you can keep it organized.
Toss Out the Random
By toss I mean donate, give away, sell, or throw away. When we were moving I never realized we had so many random things like bottles of shampoo or conditioner with barely anything left in them, craft supplies I never used (I sold an entire bag of random old paints for $2 at a yard sale), 5,000 pens and pencils, knickknacks that weren’t being used, broken toys, DVDs you will probably never watch again… you get the pictures. These things just add to the clutter. They are not helpful in our lives. Well sometimes you need a pen, but not a million.
Keep What You Actually Need
Or should I say what you can’t live without. This can be really difficult. I have emotional attachment to a few things that would be hard to get rid of. There are probably a lot of things you don’t have great emotional attachment to and beginning with those can be a great place to start. For those things that you do have an emotional attachment to… Imagine life without that item. Could it be replaced if need be? Is it a family heirloom? If it is a family heirloom then you should probably keep it or give/lend it to another family member. That way it stays in the family and if you want it back you probably can (as long as your family is cool).
Keep things you actually love. There are a few things that I love even though I don’t necessarily need them, like my vintage pyrex bowls my mother gave me for Christmas one year. Even though they aren’t technically a family heirloom they are something I still look at and love them. I have two vintage pitchers that I still really like but do I really need two? Probably not so I’m going to get rid of one.
When you are downsizing you may have to get a little creative with furniture. I knew we would be moving to a smaller place because the price of smaller apartments and houses in the city we moved to were at least 2-3 times the price of what we paid for our home in southern Illinois. So having multi functional furniture can be really helpful. For instance, our “coffee table” is really a large chest that we use to store our toddler’s toys. Makes for easy clean up and is great storage. Our “TV stand” is an old dresser that has lots of storage (although we have barely anything it is since we decluttered) for DVD’s, board games, extra toys, etc.
Organize The House
Find a place for everything and keep it organized. Keep your office things in an office area, keep all your craft stuff together, organize clothes, toys, gardening stuff, whatever it is put it in a nice place and don’t just throw it somewhere to deal with later.
We love baskets, bins, and tubs! They are great for quick cleanup and organization. We have a basket in every room for something. Toys, winter gear, dog leashes, craft organization, blankets.
Break The Buying Habit
If you want to downsize and simplify than that will be difficult if you continue to purchase lots of new things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always the best at this (I bought myself chocolate, coffee, and flowers on a particularly bad day last week: see post), but making a true conscience effort will help this. Find other ways to destress besides buying things like pray, take a walk, window shop without actually buying anything, going to the gym, reading… you get the picture.
Don’t Get Rid of Stuff Before Consulting Your Spouse- especially if it is not yours!
My hubby may have done this to me a few times before, which of course he got in big trouble. You always want to be in agreement when downsizing your things. If you are unsure or not agreeing put it to the side and come back to it. Discuss the item, why you need or don’t need the item, truly decide together and agree on that item. Luckily, my hubby would get rid of all my stuff if I let him. We have the opposite problem in our house. Or maybe it’s just me that has the problem hah.
Don’t Stop Or Settle
So what do you do once the house is completely cleaned and decluttered? You enjoy it for the moment and you keep it that way. Once a month or so do a quick sweep of the house and do a mini declutter. Go through your closet to get rid of anything that you’re not wearing anymore, toys your kids aren’t playing with, broken items. This doesn’t take very long, maybe 10 minutes or so. But this maintenance is so helpful in keeping your house clutter free without having to do another big overhaul.
Have you had to downsize and declutter your home before? What was your experience and we would love to hear any tips that worked for you!
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