John and I worked our butts off getting it ready to sell. For 3 months we spent a part of each weekend sorting, purging, donating, trashing and cleaning. It was a lot of work going through all of our accumulated stuff, in our wasteland of an office and every nook and cranny of our closets and cabinets. It is just incredible how much stuff one can build up over an 11+ year span, especially when you have young kids.
Oh man the toys! Wow.
Now that we’re on the other side of The Great Purge and Move, I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned to get your home and life clear. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it feels, how much lighter and brighter and just GOOD it feels to have our things purged. The amount of stuff we can collect in our homes really does have a huge impact on our mental health, and clearing that out can do wonders.
This clearing process started to feel amazing even as we still lived in our old home, which we did for a couple of months after selling it. But before it sold, I almost felt like we could have happily stayed if for some reason it didn’t sell. That would actually have been OK. We had basically created a new space for ourselves getting it ready for someone else. But I am exceedingly happy the move did happen because we adore our new home.
Prior to selling, I was SUPER anxious because of the unknown home selling process (it was our first time selling a property!) but beyond that my anxiety lessened considerably when I looked around our purged home. There weren’t piles of things to distract and overwhelm me. It was really quite soothing, more so than I expected, and we’ve carried that feeling into our new home and have continued to work our butts off to keep it that way.
I’m sure you know how easy it is for things to pile up if you’re not too careful.
So how do you motivate to actually get this purge done? I truly know it isn’t easy. Really, this is a difficult task you are setting up for yourself. It is daunting and can be tiring. But I discovered a few things that helped us get it done, so I’m sharing them with you from the other side.
Set a deadline but make it reasonable.
Like I said, we worked on The Great Purge for several months. We knew in October that we had a deadline to put our house on the market in January so we gave ourselves a good solid 3 months to get things done.
Set small goals each weekend. Don’t overdo it!
Even though we had 3 months, we made it a point not to procrastinate. We set a small goal each weekend to purge one or two small areas of our house. Like one weekend, we might do the linen closet and guest bath, the next it might be time to tackle the master bedroom closets. Once that small task was done for the weekend, we let it go and gave ourselves time to also relax.
Don’t do it alone.
If you live alone, I suppose this is a bit tougher but as a family we worked together to complete our purge. The kids helped as much as they could (sometimes more than others) but we got them involved as much as we could giving them small projects along the way. This was important for all of us so we did it together as a family.
Purge the toys while the kids are at school.
My one caveat to the above. This is pretty self explanatory. The toy purging process will not work successfully if the kids are home when it’s done. It may seem natural to get the kids involved in donating their own toys but it will never work. I donated slews of toys that my kids would have wanted to keep. It’s now been several months and they have hardly noticed most of the things that are gone.
Try to let go of some of the sentimentality of your things.
I know this is a tough one. Things can also carry lots of memories but those memories can also weigh us down. Do I really need to store that giant candelabra I never ever ever use just because we got it for our wedding? It’s OK to let go of things and still hold onto the memories.
Fill the cars with donations immediately and deliver them right away.
Every small project each weekend resulted in oodles of donations. So we made a point to fill the cars immediately and drive them to the donation place within a day or two just to get it done. Don’t wait to take this step or you’ll just end up with piles of donations laying around.
Find a well-priced trash pick up service in your area.
I researched local trash pick up services and found one with decent pricing and good availability to pick up the junk that could not be donated. You could of course rent a truck and take a load to the local dump yourself, but I think this will more likely get done if you’re able to pay someone to help you do it. Luckily we could and it was a BIG help!
Create a place for everything and put everything in it’s place.
This step goes a bit beyond the purge and more into our move but it’s super important to have a place for everything that you choose to keep. If that means buying new baskets or storage bins, go for it. If you’re purging to prepare for a move, storage bins that can be used for both moving and storing at your new place are a great idea. Be sure to label them for easier moving and organizing.
Overall, my biggest piece of advice is not to keep things you will never need or use.
I know this can be hard. You think, but one day we might! … Trust me, that one day is not coming and if it ever does, there are other ways to get what you need in the future.
In the end, the freedom and lightness you feel will be it’s own reward for all of your hard work. Yes, it can suck at the time but the process does not have to be overwhelming. And it feels SO GOOD when it’s done.
And in the end, with a place for everything and everything in its place, you will feel a lot less overwhelmed in your space and in your life.
Is it time to clear your home? What are your best tips for purging your home and your life?