This fall, I’m on a mission to change my life, and the world… by decluttering my home. I know it sounds fabulous and I bet you’re just covered in goosebumps at the idea of cleaning up your house and yard. I know. I know…
However, I am a stressed mom. I really try not to be, but I have certain … well, triggers. Those little things that make me need to stop and breathe deeply as I walk down the stairs in the morning into my family room.
It’s the shoes. They’re everywhere, especially the ones that don’t fit anyone anymore. The toys, they’re all over the floor, especially places where they might be stepped on! (You know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!) It’s the dirty clothes, the blankets, the books, the knickknacks, the stuff that the kids already started playing with by 6 o’clock in the morning, and by playing, I really mean throwing anywhere where there is air to throw something through. I mean, it was all cleaned up last night when I went to bed. But by morning, it is all being used as weapons of mass destruction.
My little boys are two, four and seven. They are little destructionists. They like to see how quickly they can break, disassemble and destroy something. A new toy car? I give it 20 minutes. New shoes? Lost within 5 minutes of getting them home. A dresser? That lasted a little longer… about 3 months. And the door on their closet. It’s on its last hinge. Literally. And it all makes me want to join the door and come off my hinges too!
But while I would love to blame it all on my precious little monkeys, it’s not all them! I’ve got a junk drawer. I’ve got craft supplies I’ll probably never use. I’ve got clothes I may never wear again. My husband? He has hand tools galore. He even already has some set aside for giving away! We have old furniture, baby gear, school curriculum, and who knows what else lurking in closets all over the house.
And while the easy way to eliminate it all would be to toss it in the big green can outside, I decided that maybe my stuff, at least the good stuff, could be put to better use.
Without further ado, here are 7 ways decluttering my stuff can change the world:
- The Wedding Dress. Ladies, really, is there a real chance your daughter is going to wear your gown? Do people really do that? Well, ok, yes, I had a friend who did, but I had one friend out of hundreds who has done that! Why are we hanging onto these gowns? Instead you can donate them to Angel Gowns, Sophie’s Place, or one of the other non-profits where they accepted donations of previously worn wedding gowns and sew them into beautiful gowns for families to lay their precious newborns to rest in. One wedding gown makes several angel gowns and you can see examples online.
- I have far too many purses and bags. How about you? I see one and I like it and then my last conquest hides in a closet somewhere. Well, now you can give new life to those bags in the form of blessing bags. Fill them with toiletries, snacks, socks, water bottle, a fast food gift card, handiwipes, and other items that will bless a homeless person. Make a bunch with all your old purses and keep them ready in your car! You never know when you’ll want to bless someone.
- Men’s Shoes and Clothes. I recall a few years ago, when volunteering at a Teen Challenge program, that they were specifically asking for men’s shoes. Apparently men are harder on their shoes than women are. Probably because they wear the same one or two pairs. But men in recovery programs like Teen Challenge are always in need of gently worn shoes, suits, and clothing.
- Hand Tools. Remember when you couldn’t find that wrench so you bought another one? Or that year the kids gave dad another hammer. I know my husband. He’s got tools. Screw drivers, wrenches, hammers, thingamabobs and doohickeys galore. So why not wean down to the basic tools he uses, loves and needs (let him do this—never touch a man’s tools without permission). The rest can go to a local skill building organization that works with developmentally disabled adults. Having additional tools on hand where people are learning new skills can be really helpful! Bigger organizations like Habitat for Humanity, and even organization that sends tools overseas to empower people to learn new skills and perform different jobs.
- Craft Supplies. I like to consider myself a crafty person. Only I’m not. At all. Once in a blue moon, I’ll try my hand at soap making or lip balms. I might make a few greeting cards or gather my kids around to do a craft. I mean the moon has to be legit blue! So why do I keep boxes and bins of crafting supplies? Is it just because I once bought them in a moment of madness? Instead, I can donate these to a nursing home, a senior center, a youth center, or a women’s shelter where they might actually get put to good use by someone who has more time or passion for it than I do!
- Kitchen Gadgets. You’ve got them. Your neighbor has them. We all have our share of spare kitchen gadgets. Some of them have changed our lives and some of them just take up space as mere duplicates of things we already have. Do I really need two sets of measuring cups? How about kitchen shears? Cheese graters? Sifters, pie crust cutters, and zesters? Even with my big family, I don’t really need these things in duplicate. But there are people out there, whose house may have burned down, who may have just been evicted in a foreclosure, who may be getting a new start as a single mom, and my spare kitchen shears could make her day!
- Coats, Gloves, and Scarves. With my kids’ tendencies to lose gloves, I don’t have many to spare, but scarves? I hoard scarves! I don’t know why! Maybe I think they will look super cute with that coat and hat, but most likely, I won’t wear them. On an extremely cold day I might grab one as I head out the door, but there are people who live on the streets and a good scarf, a pair of gloves and a warm hat can mean survival. An extra coat is all the more important. Near me, in parts of Connecticut, there is a drive to tie scarves to telephone poles where the homeless may find and take them. Often there are coat and glove drives in town. And I’ve got plenty. My extras can make a big difference for those living on the streets.
So what about you? If decluttering can improve your life, who else’s life can you impact in the process?