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May 18, 2012

Living Independently: Unclutter Your Home

Continuing to live independently in your home as you grow older can be both easy and difficult at the same time. It is wonderful to be settled into a home that you have created without worrying about the unknown. However, as we grow in age, we tend to grow stuff, too. Years’ worth of clothes, shoes, art projects, utility bills, gifts we never used, and so much more cover every surface of our houses.

Now is the time to unclutter and uncover a brand new way of living: minimally. There are several benefits to downsizing, or as it is now referred to, rightsizing, your home.

  • Your home will be cleaner: It is nearly impossible to clean around clutter. Vacuuming around randomly strewn pieces of furniture is difficult, and dusting surfaces covered in papers and trinkets is more than challenging. The less stuff you have, the easier it is to clean.
  • You will experience less stress: Everything you see demands some part of your attention. When your thoughts are scattered all over the place, you experience loads of anxiety. A clutter-free home is both calming and peaceful.
  • Your home will speak for itself: When furniture is not covered in chaos, it can be shown off. You can easily feature your vintage coffee table, handmade kitchen table or uber-modern couch when you remove the clutter. Without the extra stuff, your home becomes more welcoming.

When you make the decision to downsize, or rightsize, the items in your home, take time to recognize the feelings you experience. Don’t do everything at once. Find a process you are comfortable with then stick to it. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Work one room at a time. Focus your energy on one space rather than attempting to organize your entire house at once.
  • Only work one or two hours a week. You don’t want organizing to feel like a chore.
  • Get boxes ready. Label a few for donation and trash. Having them pre-made helps you make tough decisions easier when clearing out a closet or bookcase.
  • Clear the floors. Aside from furniture, you should not “keep” anything on your floors.
  • Clear flat surfaces. Tables and shelves are not places for “filing” paper work. Find an out-of-sight place to keep important stuff and get rid of the rest.
  • Declutter your storage areas. There is probably stuff in there you have not used for years. Donate it if you can; if not, trash it.
  • If your children do not want family pieces for themselves, widen your search for a new home for antique pieces to extended family members.
  • Pick a charity to donate proceeds to when you sell items.
  • Have a gathering of family and friends. Allow each person to choose an item you have decided not to keep.
  • Ask your adult children what they were hoping to inherit and then give it to them.

While letting go of the things that have previously shaped your life can be emotionally difficult, it can be rewarding, as well. Allow the actions to serve as an expression of gratitude for the abundance you have been given in life. Take pleasure in giving to those in need, and know that you are not allowing yourself to be held hostage by your things, but instead are a testimony of the Quaker testimonies of simplicity and stewardship


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