Over the last couple of weeks Reubs and I have been working on decluttering the spare bedroom that will soon be our baby’s space. Our house has no storage (just the kitchen cabinets and one small closet in the hall) so when we moved in two years ago, all of the things that had no place to go got dumped in the spare room. In the time that we’ve been here we have acquired more things and many bits and pieces have made their way into that room, mostly just because we had nowhere else to put them or didn’t know what to do with them. For some time now the spare bedroom has been a source of anxiety for me. It reached the point where you could barely walk in there without disturbing a precarious pile of stuff and I had to avert my eyes when I walked past the room, as the mere sight of it stressed me out. We both knew we had to deal with it but had been putting off the inevitable clear out because, quite simply, it’s hard. Letting go is hard. But now that our family is growing and we need the space, we couldn’t put it off any longer. Over Christmas we began the process of simplifying our possessions.
Our clutter mostly fit into two categories; collections and sentimental objects.
The first things to go were the collections. Reuben and I both have bowerbird tendencies and like gathering collections of “special” things. Up until recently, a perfect day off together would always involve visiting a few op-shops or a flea market and bringing home a little haul of treasures. In the last few months however, both of our attitudes toward things have changed. Though I love my piles of vintage linens, stacks of vintage crockery and other odds and end, I’ve started to feel the weight of all the stuff my life and have really felt the urge to reduce my possessions. With this shift, I’ve also felt much less of a desire to acquire anything more. Going through our clutter room I was horrified by the amount of stuff I had picked up at op-shops or markets over the years, but had been sitting boxed up and unused ever since. I have reached the point now where I just want a small selection of items I really, really love, rather than a large collection of things I kind of love. We’ve cut back on our op-shop and flea market visits and, slowly but surely, I’m learning that when we do pop into a charity store or market, I don’t have to bring home every little item that I fall for. It’s ok to let some lovely things go.
The second group of things to sift through was the stuff we’d kept for emotional reasons. Reubs and I are both very sentimental by nature. We tend to imbue objects with too much meaning and find it hard to let go of things, which has resulted in us carting around boxes of sentimental stuff for years. We are realising now that, unless we want our home to become a museum of junk, we cannot keep everything with a memory attached to it. We have to learn to separate our memories from our possessions and only keep the most treasured items. After all, the physical objects are not what matter, the memories attached to them are. As Tricia touched on in a recent post, you have to let go of the things that used to be important in order to make space for the things that matter now. I’ve been concentrating on those words as I sift through our possessions and pack things in boxes to give away.
Since Christmas we’ve donated several boxes full of things and some furniture to a local op-shop, and we’re almost at the point where our baby’s room is cleared out and ready to paint. There is still more to do (especially in our kitchen cabinets and wardrobes!) but with each box that leaves our home, I feel the weight of the clutter lift. Removing all of the excess stuff from our house will make our lives simpler, tidier and easier, and already our home and our hearts feel lighter, freer and more open for it. I know now that in letting go of things that belong to our past we aren’t losing our history or throwing away our memories, we are simply making way for the future.