Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Decluttering and Throwing out the Baby with the Bathwater

Part of my on-going de-cluttering saw me frantically searching odd corners of the house in order to rid it once and for all, of all those 'might come in useful one day' items.

A hoarder, both by nature and nurture, I find it very difficult to force myself to part with anything in good condition whether useful, ornamental, old, new or just plain 'spare'.

Some of this comes I know from my poverty-stricken childhood and wartime earliest memories when it was regarded as positively sinful to part with anything which might be 'recycled' in any way at all.

Since the death of my husband 2 and a half years ago, I have slowly been realising that all that I previously regarded as necessary, and precious and which I thought enhanced my day to day living, were in fact just 'things' and with no real value in the scheme of things except, maybe, a momentary flash of pleasure in ownership.

My first gut reaction was to throw out or give away anything which was not my own personal 'stuff'', and all John's clothes, watches, cameras, computer and accessories etc, were handed on to family, friends and charity collection schemes.

Next I began to sort through hundreds of photographs taken over a period of 38 years and ended with my retaining about 70.  My thinking at the time was "there is no-one now who would recognise these locations, and they would not be of interest to anyone but us".

Very soon I discovered that the overall affect of all this 'weeding' was barely visible to the casual eye and had not really had the desired affect on me either.

After a few months I found I needed to get rid of more clutter in order to maximise the small amount of space in my very small house so, where to go?

I moved the furniture around a bit, found one or two things would not be missed and got rid of them.

Now that the sitting-room has been re-decorated it looks larger and rather better than before, so where next?

My bedroom was last decorated (by John), about 10 years ago, so that is the next project.  This will include getting rid of twin beds and buying a small double as a replacement.  Making about four feet more space to play with.

This, in turn, will necessitate buying new bedlinen and I will then be able to virtually empty my brimming over airing cupboard of its sheets, duvet covers etc.  A real de clutter.

Laudable though all this may appear, I am under no illusions that what I am avoiding is .......ssshhhh!   My wardrobe.

As I have said before,  I've lost five stone in two and a half years and rather than recycle the larger sizes I have simply added to the bulging wardrobes, which are full of clothes now too big to wear along with those so many sizes smaller that I can only just get into them.

Yes, I do know the golden rule, "if you haven't worn it for a year you are not going to wear it again" Get rid of it the voices are saying, but, "it might come in useful some time" is the feeble rejoinder.

Has anyone a large bottle of make your mind-up pills to spare?

Why is it I can be so utterly relentless with some things and throw them out or give them away without a qualm and yet be so completely hopeless about clothes?


  1. I was a post war baby...plus I've moved so many times in my life and had to give up so many "things" I wanted to keep...that now I save things a while and if I don't use I recycle!

  2. Ray, I do sympathise, but my situation is the opposite of yours. I can, and do, get rid of clothes without a qualm as I've never had many and only keep what I know I will wear. It's all the stuff which DH loves to hoard which stops me being able to declutter as I would like. Still, your post has made me think of some things I can dispose of, so thanks. :-)

  3. You are doing really well. As for the clothes -- I'm sure that you will get around to them and in the meantime there are other things you can work on. I don't have so much difficulty with clothes (my main problem is that I put things in bags or boxes to get rid of them and my husband says he'll take them for me -- and then I find them somewhere else because he can't deal with just getting rid of them!) The one thing I have trouble getting rid of are photgraphs :-(

  4. Well oddly enough Perpetua, I used to say John was the hoarder, but on reflection it looks as though I may have got that wrong.
    Unfortunately it took his death for me to discover the beam in my own eye.

  5. I actually am doing quite well Broad, but thanks for saying it for me. Since I wrote this post I've arranged for the Heart Foundation to come and collect a vacuum cleaner, toasted sandwich maker, small table lamp and a digital radio.
    This is due to happen tomorrow, so more space soon.
    If the worst comes to the worst, I suppose I could buy a wardrobe with elastic sides!