To misquote a well known book opening, “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that every single cupboard in possession of internal space must be in want of filling”.
And fill them, we do. Especially when we become parents. And as you go through each stage from babies to toddlers, from toddlers to primary school, the collection of ‘stuff’ grows and grows.
But then we reach the stage when all the cupboards are crammed with stuff we don’t use and there’s nowhere to put anything else. The house ends up looking like a hurricane just blew through, and nothing can be found without a thorough search.
It can happen to even the most organised parents. With constant demands on time and energy, the temptation to put something somewhere ‘just for now’ is too hard to resist. And the trouble with ‘just for now’ is that it ends up being permanent, and tidying up simply means putting things out of sight, which is just another way of saying we move clutter from one space to another without actually reducing it.
There has to be a better way.
Forget the Six-Month Rule
You know how we’re told to hang onto things for six months, and only get rid of them if they haven’t been used during that time? It’s time to debunk that myth and deal with unwanted items straight away.
You know, in your heart, when you’re keeping something just for sentimental or other reasons, and that the item won’t ever be displayed or used. Things like the dreadful vase a distant aunt gave you a few years ago, or last year’s mobile phone model that you suspect has a resale value but you never get round to selling it. These things make up the bulk of household clutter, and should be sold, recycled or disposed of straight away.
For other possessions, the ones you genuinely love and want to keep hold of, but not necessarily display and use at home, there’s an alternative solution. But first, take the initial step towards decluttering by taking stock of what’s in the cupboards and noting down which items are dispensable. Either make a physical note, or a mental one. It doesn’t matter. The object of the exercise is to become more aware of the space you have and how you’re using it.
Taming Everyday Clutter
Some things we can’t do without, but they hang around on surfaces creating visual clutter that has an effect on the emotions as well as how the house looks.
Being surrounded by physical clutter creates barriers in thought processes, muddles thinking, and stymies creativity. Simple solutions include swapping standard furniture for pieces with ones with built in storage, providing somewhere for TV remotes, games consoles, magazines or other mundane bits and bobs.
With everyday clutter out of sight, there is space to display cherished items; they look better, brighter and cleaner, and take on a sense of importance that’s lost when they’re surrounded by chaos.
If you find the house feels much bigger and open when you take down the Christmas decorations, you’ll understand how clearing everyday clutter has a similar effect.
Items you only use seasonally, from sports or hobby equipment, garden furniture and machinery, beloved items of seasonal clothing or even discarded but still good games and toys, don’t need to take up permanent space at home.
You can create acres of shed, garage, cupboard, and wardrobe space by placing those items into self storage. It’s especially useful if you have large furniture items that are only used occasionally, such as if the family normally eats at the small table in the kitchen, but you also have a big dining table you only use for extended family gatherings.
Once considered only for people with vast storage needs, self storage is now seen as a normal, convenient, low cost way of enlarging home capacity. There are other benefits:
- Short term contracts that roll over weekly. You’re not tied in for months at a time.
- Long opening hours so you can retrieve items at a time most personally convenient.
- Many different sizes of storage rooms from very small to very large. There’s something to suit all needs.
- Pallet trucks and trolleys so you don’t have to make umpteen journeys to your storage room or physically lift heavy items.
- Easy access and parking for all sizes of vehicle.
What, where and how we store things can have a huge impact on the quality of life.
Get it wrong and it becomes a burden, get it right and it liberates you both physically and emotionally.
This is a guest post on behalf of Big Yellow who kindly provide free storage to my local NCT branch, Bromley & Chislehurst, for which we are very grateful. Without their support we would not be able to store the rails and tables etc for our Nearly New Sales.