Our homes may come in different shapes, sizes and price ranges, but one universal truth is that we all have clutter. That stuff that creeps up, hangs around and by some bizarre trick of nature seems to multiply. With a new baby coming in a few months, I’m realizing that with all the gear and things this new little person is bringing into my house I truly have to cut the clutter and make room for the people in my house.  Here are 4 tips to help kick clutter to the curb.

1. Separate The Sentimental – When I was younger we weren’t encouraged to get rid of our excess stuff because my mother believed everything was sentimental. Now I’m learning to figure out what is sentimental and what is just stuff. Yesterday I donated my wedding dress (GASP) to a photographer friend who is going to turn it into a new creation. I know what you’re thinking- “how is that not sentimental?” If I’ve learned anything in life, I’ve learned that memories do not live inside of things, but inside of us. My wedding day was one of the best of my life, but was it really necessary to keep a dress I wore once in the back of my closet for the rest of my life? Nope, especially since I have tons of great photos of it. At least now it’ll get a chance to see the light of day again and maybe make someone else happy in the process.

Honoring Lost Loved Ones

What is sentimental then? For me, it’s those few special items that really remind me of lost loved ones. Unfortunately I have a LOT of those items collecting in my closets right now. I hope to buy some shadow boxes and display them with some photos of those family members who have passed. If it doesn’t fit, I’ll take a photo of an item that meant a lot to that loved one. At least they would get looked at and not forgotten about.

Make Kids Part Of The Process

I’ve also taught my kids to make decisions when getting rid of their old toys. It took a good four hours, but every toy has been gone though, and put in it’s place – in a toy box, in a box for the new baby, consigned or thrown out. I think it’s important that they see value as something they use, not something they own – big difference. Before birthdays and major gift-giving holidays is a great time to do this. It also gives you some perspective on how much your kids already have before you embark on a shopping spree.

Thanks to some decluttering I can actually close toy boxes now and keep the floor clear (most of the time anyway).

2. Value Is Relative – Another lesson I’ve learned is to forget about what an item cost me. The cold fact is that once you take something home from the store it’ll never be worth that purchase price to anyone else. This is also a good rule to remember when making those purchases in the first place. So when clearing out the clutter, price it fairly (start at half off retail) and be willing to donate it if it doesn’t sell.

One Woman’s Trash…

I had a glider with an arm that needed a screw and once my son wasn’t a baby anymore it was taking up much-needed real estate in my house. It would have cost me money to throw it out so I listed it on Freecycle.org. A lady came and picked it up at the end of my driveway within a day and wrote me the sweetest e-mail thanking me for something that would have ended up as trash, but which she was thrilled to have.

3. Use The One In Two Out Rule – You’ve probably heard this rule to taming clutter before, but it goes for every one item you bring into your house you should take two out. Since acquiring things is so much easier than getting rid of them it’s also a great rule to keep in mind when shopping. My husband recently asked to purchase some fishing gear that is not in the budget and he offered to sell his brand new power washer (still sitting unused in the box) in order to get it. It was given to him and he really wanted it, but he has come to see that he’ll most likely never use it and I’m proud of him for learning to let go of something he won’t use for something that he will. Now to list that along with at least a half-dozen other thing in my basement. Craigslist.org here I come.

4. Don’t Let It Live Forever – This baby is a blessing in more ways than one. I really need to renovate my finished basement into a master bedroom so I can’t afford to let the clutter live down there for too much longer. It’s a great idea to set a time limit like a year. If you haven’t touched something in a year it’s probably time to let it go. A cool trick with clothes is to hang all your hangers facing out and then when you’ve worn something rehang it with the hanger facing in. At the end of a year, any item still hanging on the out hangers can go.

Many towns hold spring clean up days so this could be a great deadline for your clutter. If you can’t donate it, sell it or give it to someone by that date then throw it out. Check with your town about times, locations and limits on what you can throw out.

How do you tame the clutter in your house?