Time for Winter Decluttering and Downsizing

winter decluttering and downsizing

Winter is upon us, which means shorter days and more time indoors, just on the heels of the holidays. The holidays inspire a lot of emotions and often among them is the feeling that you have too much stuff! After putting up a tree or making space for guests or receiving a lot of gifts–for better or worse–you might feel the urge to purge. Maybe you’re making a new year’s resolution to streamline your life or prepare to move to a smaller home. Whatever your inspiration, it’s time for some winter decluttering and downsizing.


The Kids are Gone But Their Stuff is Not

With the kids surely due for a winter visit, the reality might strike you anew. Your children moved out a while ago but their stuff still lives at your house. With the attention of your family on you again, it might prove a wise time to approach the subject. Do they want to remove that stuff or will they leave it to you? A lot of times the mere suggestion relieves your home of all kinds of old things. Her dolls and his train set will surely sit in their closets as unused as in yours. You will have the problem off your hands, regardless.


Organize It or Ditch It?

When the cleaning bug finally hits, you will have a decision to make. Will you organize your clutter or will you toss it? That may stand as the most helpful question to ask yourself. Once you have answered it, very little can stand in your way. Start by creating rules to determine what you keep and to avoid stacking things up on nearby flat surfaces. You might start your home revitalization project simply by making two piles, those that will stay and those that will go.

For those belongings you choose to keep, a good organization strategy comes next. Most people turn to bins, shelves, or cabinets. Which solutions work best for you and how fancy do you want to get? Some storage options are actually quite attractive.


The Two D’s of Decluttering: Dispose and Donate

Some things you own deserve a second chance and others do not. For those items you no longer use but which strike you as valuable, try donating. Plenty of charities and organizations will accept your valuable items. Have you called the local churches about that old organ in the living room? Could the youth club use the left-behind sporting equipment in the garage? Donating has attractive benefits. Some items have too much value to discard and donating allows for that value to continue. Check with the recipient organization to learn what they will and will not accept. Some will even take clothing with holes in it, because they recycle the fabric. Conversely, don’t treat their donation bins like trash cans. Give only what they can accept. Some organizations even pick up items from your house!


The three R’s of Home Cleanup; Recycle, Repurpose, Re-gift

When clean-up time arrives, getting clever never hurts. Gathering items with similar qualities together might allow you to recycle them instead of simply sending them to the dump on trash day. If you want to get even more clever, try repurposing some of those old things. Can that old bedroom dresser work well in the basement instead? Can you come up with new ideas for your kitchen storage devices like mason jars or bins? Gifting or selling items moves them on to new owners quite well too.  Do your kids want any of those bulky kitchen countertop appliances or that huge set of dishes you used to use for entertaining? Do your neighbors have need of a few nice items? Re-gifting isn’t a bad idea, especially when you have things that never really left the box they came in.


Tricks and Games for Getting Rid of Clutter

Cleanup does not have to bring you down. Playing games with your organization, your big move, or your downsizing can make it much more interesting. Decluttering Your Life suggests creating challenges such as “fill the trash bag” or “declutter by the dozen.” Experts at MakeSpace.com and suggest using mobile apps to help you. Choosing one room or one storage area like a small drawer or a large armoire can get you started on a project that otherwise seems to large to face. Make up your own games. Create clever tricks. You might add an element of fun to something you have dreaded.


Know Your Goals for Decluttering and Downsizing

The overall goal of your cleanup and declutter matters a lot. You may simply want a cleaner house. However, for those with serious goals like moving, restructuring an empty nest, or downsizing for the next stage of life, focus on the outcome. The weight of your challenge will determine how seriously you need to consider removing items from your home. How thoroughly you organize and declutter will depend on those expectations. With your winter decluttering and downsizing awaiting, it’s time to decide how to proceed. The good news is that, when you have finally accomplished your goals, you will feel much better and, perhaps, even a bit lighter.


PHOTO: Flickr / CC BY 2.0