The only 4 questions you need to help you declutter

“Moving house is the second most stressful thing that can happen to you, after divorce”, was the main response leveled at us when we told people we were moving house. With two young children, a new job, and a husband with a super busy job, it’s true to say that I felt somewhat anxious and a little overwhelmed by the thought of uprooting and moving us and our 4505704534 belongings. I found myself regretting our decision to move house and fantasized about staying put in our home. Nice, easy, safe.

M(oving)-day was creeping ever closer when I forced myself to begin to systematically sort through rooms, spaces, cupboards. The wardrobe on the landing that has just had things thrown into it without thinking for three years, the ‘art’ drawers that were supposed to contain crafts but which I knew probably had living matter in them, my wardrobe which had clothes in it from when I was 13 years old. All of it. All of it had to be examined, analysized and judged if it were worthy of a space in our moving boxes and (smaller) new home.

Countless bin bags, shifting, lugging, charity shop shlepping, eBay bartering, give aways later, it turns out that moving house is one of the best things that has happened to us. You see, we sorted through and got rid of A LOT of items (there’s still some way to go) but the result of it is that I feel amazing. I feel physically lighter. I feel inspired by knowing now what I know own. (Who knew we had the most awesome Abel and Cole veg book festering at the book of a bookcase?). I can appreciate my belongings far more, and crucially, enjoy them so much more. I feel excited by a new space, and a new area. I feel closer to my kids and to my husband. All those feelings of anxiety have been channeled into clear thinking and S P A C E. Without being able to offer you any gimmicky titles, and certainly not mentioning the word ‘minimalist’ because that I am *not*, there were certain behaviours and questions I’d ask myself that seemed to help.

First up, my mood. I’d really have to find myself in the right one; there were days I could hardly bring myself to get rid of a broken hanger and other days I would accumulate bags of things to go. When I caught myself in the right frame of mind, I would latch onto it and launch myself into the decluttering process. Then here were 4 questions that I would ask myself again and again which hugely helped:

1. Does this item bring me joy when I look at it?

2. Is this item good quality?

3. Have I used this item in the last two years?

4. Is this item irreplaceable?

So, how would this work in theory? Let’s start with the stuff that you look at and that brings you zero joy (1). Like the ‘fleecy’ (who knows what it’s made of, but put it this way, I wouldn’t like to see it next to a naked flame) Paw Patrol blanket we received as a gift (eeks). I look at it and every time, it brings me zero joy. It had to go.

And then there’s the question of quality (2). The crappy plastic toys that were falling apart. The Primark strap tops. The ripped tupperware. All of it had to go.

And what about frequency of use (3). Let’s take my (ex) sewing machine. We’d got it for a wedding present, so four years ago. Four years later, it still sat on the shelf, (sadly) untouched, unused and mainly, unloved. Not only was it taking up valuable ‘real estate’ in our home but I really struggled with the idea that I knew that someone out there would love to be putting it to use and yet here it was, literally gathering dust in our home. Same story with the balance bike – I knew there are so many children out there who would be up and down the street with this; it’s just Jack wasn’t one of them and really didn’t seem to take to it.

And then finally, there was the items that were all of the above, and yet are all imminently replaceable at later date. So stuff I kind of like (not love) but that for one reason or another is just not being used. Like the bamboo fencing that had been leant against our back garden fence that we’d been sent as an extra set, that had been untouched for a year. Now you all know that there is little more I love than bamboo but now that we’ve moved house into a rental home, we won’t need it. Not for at least a year. So I ask myself: how much is the space it’s taking up, it being sat there, untouched, worth vs. the £19.99 it cost me?

So next time you’re thinking about decluttering, check your mood and perhaps try asking yourself those four questions and see where you get. And if you’re umm-ing and ahh-ing about moving house, and it’s within your realms, (FRIGGIN’) DO IT. Moving house forced us to address how much stuff we own, face up to the fact that much of it is not being used, acknowledge and appreciate what we do own far more. And as a result, feel lighter, freeer and perhaps even a little happier.

Thanks so much for reading this folks. Do you feel like you need to declutter? Have you asked yourself any of these questions I’ve mentioned and found they have helped?

Emma

P.S 10 ways to reduce waste and live with less

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