Ruthless Decluttering

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

'I keep doing all this doing,
But there's nothing getting done;
Once a round of something's finished
Then another round's begun."

"I prepare and shop and cook
For meals that disappear too fast -
And I'm thinking of the next one
While I'm cleaning up the last."

"I do 20 loads of laundry,
And I get it put away,
Just to find the hamper full again
Before I end my day."

"Then I mop and dust and vacuum
Till I'm purple in the face...
So why is it that my house
Is a perpetual disgrace?"

"All my efforts just recycle
And replace and rearrange;
Nothing really gets accomplished
'Cause it's all just temporary change."

~ Lilabean: A storybook about simplicity for grown-up girls, Kate Carpenter


I am, officially, a ruthless de-clutterer (yes, that's a word).

I feel like I have seen the light. I just have way too much STUFF. Stuff in my house, stuff on my computer, stuff in my head. It's draining me. Sucking away precious time and energy.

The quote above (From the excellent e-book, Lilabean, which I recommend as a lovely little read) really sums up how I feel - even as a stay at home Mum. I feel like I'm on a treadmill. Every day I find myself doing the same things - and not just the things that obviously need to be done (washing, cleaning kitchen, etc) but just ... tidying. Tidying all this stuff that I can't find homes for because there's too much of it.

It makes my head hurt.

It drains my energy.

Physical clutter, at the moment, seems to represent mental clutter. All the stuff makes me feel stressed and makes my mind jump around, ticking over a constant, never-ending, always-expanding to-do list.

Too much stuff, you see. Just ... too much.

I'm still in the midst of our Bible study, Breathe, which I mentioned before. I'm learning about rest, about Sabbath, about peace (and also, funnily enough, being challenged to de-clutter, shortly after I had already resolved to do so. Maybe God thinks I need to hear this a few times before it will sink into my brain). And I realised that something really has to give here. I'm not chasing a perfect, tidy home. I am chasing sanctuary. Part of finding that peace is to do with what goes on in my mind, how to learn to let go of impossible ideals and live with a bit of chaos.

Part of it, though, is definitely physical.

All the stuff is taking up head space as well as actual space, and I've had enough.

Quoting again from the wisdom-packed Lilabean because I love it:

Her anxiety was mounting,
And compounding the attack
Was the sudden realization
Of how little she got back ...

"Simple living" she asserted,
"Is the art I need to learn..
'Cause I'm wasting time on things
That give me nothing in return."

This is how I feel. I'm fed up of being in this endless, panicky loop of Stuff Management. I have so much stuff - paperwork, books, clothes, make-up, everything - and yet, at the same time, it doesn't seem to be the right stuff. So, worrying about keeping up with everyone else, I buy more stuff on impulse, but that isn't quite right, either, so that stuff ends up laying around taking up space and being of no use to me.

I spoke before about how I'm trying to make wiser shopping choices, and I've realised this definitely is an area I need to work on. It's silly how much a new top or dress will pick me up if I'm having a self-esteem low. The thing is, I know deep down that sometimes hormones and societal pressure make me feel that I'm not good enough, but that feeling isn't permanent - but at the time, when I'm having a bad day and I feel low about myself, that not-good-enough feeling seems to be everything, and I can't escape it.

Unless I buy a quick something to make myself feel better. Especially if that thing is on sale - then I feel like I've really done something productive.

No matter how it was made and where it came from and whether or not the person who made it was fairly treated.

I'm not talking all the time. I'm not a serious shopping addict. But it happens enough to create so much stuff that I sometimes feel panicked by it.


I started my ruthless declutter in our wardrobe. I was hating our wardrobe. Sometimes I opened the door and I felt like it was going to swallow me whole into its chaos. So I was ruthless: anything that I don't wear is gone. Things I was holding onto pointlessly for sentimental reasons, things that I really like but just never use because they're not practical, things that I bought on impulse but that don't actually look right on me, things that suited me five years ago but don't anymore.

I made a rough estimate of how much all this excess, unused stuff is worth, and I think it's well within the region of £300. (That's just mine - before I forced asked Chris to sort his stuff out too).

£300! Spent on things that I don't even use, wear, or enjoy!

Ridiculous, isn't it? Not just ridiculous, actually - it's kind of selfish.

Main wardrobe before and after!

Side cupboard after. Picture the before as like the most mess you've ever seen, crammed into little shelves. Please excuse Jellybean investigating the coathangers.

Bye bye things.

I get the feeling that I'm not the only one who has this problem, either.

So I'm on a mission. To hold on less tightly to my things. To stop buying into the idea of quick-clothes-fixes, to realise I don't need to be cocooned in items in order to feel safe.

To create space. To create breathing room. To create Sabbath.

To create, hopefully, a less frazzled, constantly-tidying-up me.


I have so far decluttered five areas:

1. The cupboard under the stairs (utter chaos area, and became a necessary clean-up zone when I opened the door recently and a mop fell on me and whacked me full in the temple. Obviously this occurred whilst Jellybean was whinging and I was running late for something).

2. Our wardrobe

3. Jellybean's wardrobe

4. Our bookshelves

5. My make-up and toiletries (goodbye, seven year old eyeshadow and lipstick! Also, ew).

There are approximately seven million areas left to sort out. Or so it feels.


I have noticed a few curious things since sorting out my clothes. For one thing, I feel like I have more clothes, now, not less. Maybe because I can finally see what I own? Anyway, I'm wearing different outfits and my old clothes feel a bit newer because I've rediscovered them.

Another thing is that I have less ironing to do (I HATE IRONING)

Another thing is that I find hanging my clothes up a lovely task now as opposed to an awful wardrobe-wrestling task like it was before.

I can find decent pyjamas instead of enormous old t-shirts that have holes in them.

Finding our coats is easier because we got rid of the old ones cluttering the cupboard under the stairs.

I was able to actually find the screwdriver and spare batteries in the cupboard without getting concussion.

Already I can see that having less things is creating a bit of ... wiggle room, if you see what I mean. I am appreciating what we actually own a lot more, without feeling overwhelmed by choice. When I've been shopping, too, I have noticed a change - I've found myself actually putting things back on the shelves, saying (sometimes through gritted teeth) 'I don't actually need this, I don't actually need this.'

Fancy joining me in a declutter? Let me know in the comments. Freedom from stuff! We can do this, people!


  1. Under stairs cupboard - check. Million and one other places to sort and de-clutter still to go though!! It actually fills me with joy every day I open the cupboard door and see how organised and tidy it is!!

    1. Wow well done, that was quick! Amazing. I know that feeling, I have it every time I open up my cupboard under the stairs now! Real happiness. Lol x

  2. Very useful tips, love it. Here is my article on a same topic. Feel free to visit for more wardrobe detox tips
    Yukova x


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