(For The Friday Club)
I've been actively decluttering since before the first baby was born to this house.
You can't tell.
But actually, you can, if you used to know what it looked like before. Two adults filled three bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen and a garden shed, and still kept a lot of stuff up in the attic. Now we are two adults and three children, and we have two bedrooms for family use, and a spare room for guests which has a place (only one, but a place) for them to unpack their stuff, if there isn't much stuff, and more room to move in the downstairs rooms than we used to.
It's partially because children NEED more space to move. Their time at home isn't spent sitting still in their house doing things, it's spent moving around their house doing things. They need space to run and dance and spread stuff out on the floor to glue, and enough room to open the front of the dollhouse, and they also need the same sleeping and wardrobe space the adults need, more or less.
So we have gradually decluttered, while never feeling in the least minimalist. We found FLYlady very helpful, if also very enraging, and FreeCycle (now Freegle) has also helped a lot -- we even decluttered the garden shed that way, and someone came to disassemble it. Someone with a phobia of spiders, unfortunately; I helped chase the big ones away. Now the playhouse lives on the foundations the shed used to rest on, and we have a small garden storage cupboard for all the other stuff - and we're about to get an even smaller one, and get rid of even more things. We don't garden enough to need proper grownup gardening kit.
We even got rid of books. Hundreds of books. Metres and metres of books. We went through a phase of leaving a box of books out on the footpath most weekends, a few years ago. Now we've filled the space back up with picture books, encyclopaedias, activity books, cookbooks, poetry books... children's books.
IKEA helps a lot. I might make a separate home-educating-the-IKEA-way post at some point. It's a bit silly how much IKEA stuff we have specifically for dealing with home ed kit.
We got an LCD type TV after reading about several children who were crushed by falling televisions, usually at Christmas; our old TV was a bought-in-his-youth one and weighed slightly more than he does, or as much as I did at the height of my most ginormous pregnancies. That freed up space in the room, and covering it with a big painting made it look visually freer, too.
Clothes with years of wear in them yet are harder. A lot of our clothes aren't quite good enough for a charity shop to sell, but much too good to get rid of. And don't fit. This is particularly true of the kids' clothes, but we have a sort of system of filing them in the attic in boxes labelled by age, and if I ever decide I've finished having babies, I'll give them away (and have another, I assume; that's how it usually works, isn't it?). We do haul them out as the younger two grow into them.
Another big clutter is artwork. The children's artwork is almost impossible to part with. Mine I can just sell or give away, but theirs... it's more difficult. The grandparent on one side has a total of 11 grandchildren, and a limited capacity to treasure art forever and ever and ever, and on the other side they like to take maybe two or three pieces every so often. That's not enough. We are still left with cases and boxes and envelopes of art, ranging from the magnificent to the developmentally interesting. I have a soft spot for keeping originals, too. How do I teach my heart to part with children's art?
And on that note I must depart. In a cart. Don't start...
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