Before I started organizing my home on a regular basis, the definition of the word “clutter” was entirely different to me than it is now. Back then, I thought the word “clutter” referred to messy piles of unwanted papers and other junk that I had not tossed out yet. Clutter to me was unwanted junk. I never thought of “clutter” as my actual belongings, some of which seemed precious to me and many of which were expensive. I had no idea until I started actually organizing my home. I had no choice but to deal with my stuff that had no place to go and the items that I had shoved into bins and into the back of closets. I realized the actual definition of clutter was “items I was no longer using or that didn’t have a proper home.” Let’s be honest. That was most of my house.
So I began the process of “de-cluttering”. It was so very, very hard at first. I had to get real with the fact that I just didn’t have enough space for all my stuff. No amount of plastic totes or shelving was going to make my home bigger. I had to let go of things, some things that I thought were still useful and expensive. Making those tough decisions was actually painful in the beginning, like physically painful. I felt nauseous getting rid of clothes I had never worn, but may wear someday. I cried as I packed up my kids toys and baby items that they no longer needed and drove them to the donation bin. I didn’t want to get rid of my stuff, but I didn’t want to live in clutter either. In fact, having a messy house and constantly having to pick up and clean it was making me miserable. I made the decision to choose my happiness over my extra stuff. The effect was powerful and so much more life changing than I ever could have imagined.
Do I miss the stuff I have purged? Not at all. Yesterday I had one small moment of regret over a tote filled with beads that I had donated last month. I wanted the kids to have some beads to play with in their kinetic sand and I was angry at myself for have gotten rid of that HUGE bin, even though I had no place to put it. The regret lasted only a minute, just until my kids grabbed dolls and cars to play in the sand with instead. They didn’t need the beads and though it would have been nice, they had just as much fun without them and I wasn’t having to struggle to store a rubbermaid tote full of beads in my home.
Having less stuff means having more time. I don’t clean as much, I never have to waste time looking for things and my weekends are free to spend with my family, instead of having an entire day devoted to chores. Less stuff means less work, period.
So now that my home is clean and organized, my definition of “clutter” has changed again. Now, clutter to me is the extra picture frames on my bookshelf that make it look a bit too full. Clutter is the toaster on my counter that needs to go in the cupboard and that black purse in my closet that I never use, even though I have lots of room to store it. Clutter is now the items in my home that I don’t find beautiful or useful. My transition from cluttered to clean has helped me to understand that “less is truly more” and that my “stuff” doesn’t make me happy, getting rid of it does.