The new year brings with it hope and new beginnings – or at least good intentions. For some it means Veganuary, dry January, or a time to start looking for a new job or a new home.
For those content with their current abode it is the ideal opportunity to show it some love, in the form of decluttering.
If you have let things slide, and let’s face it, who hasn’t, it can seem a daunting task, and if we allow our goods and chattels to build up to unmanageable levels, it can leave us feeling out of control.
In this situation, the key is to not try and tackle it all in one go. Take a step back and focus on one room at a time, or tackle it on a month by month basis. This will keep you in good stead for the rest of the year and is a great way of getting into a positive decluttering routine.
As the first month of the year leaves us, it’s time to take stock and survey the scene. Are there any Christmas decorations or lights you no longer need or which are broken? Put what you don’t need or want in a bag for the charity shop. If any are broken, put them in the bin. Recycle your Christmas cards and if there are any presents you don’t need or want, either donate, re-gift or use a platform such as eBay to earn a bit of extra cash.
Get in the kitchen and check the sell by dates on all the food. Anything out of date can go in the food waste bin immediately. Kitchen drawers are notorious for hiding a multitude of sins, namely old takeaway menus, batteries, receipts, rubber bands and appliance manuals. Take it all out, sort through and recycle as much as possible.
Staying in the kitchen it’s time to give the place a good clean. Firstly, clear a space and empty all the cupboards. Seeing everything laid out focuses the mind on whether you really need all those utensils, mugs, plates, saucepans etc. What is superfluous can be put in the charity bag. Items which are broken can be binned.
With spring around the corner, now is the perfect time to sort through your clothes and shoes. Get everything out, give the wardrobe and chest of drawers a good clean and before you put everything back, check each piece of clothing. Be realistic and ruthless and sort into piles – charity shop, eBay, keep and mend. If you know you won’t have time or the inclination to mend then take to a textile recycling bank. If you have kids, do the same with their room.
Having a stock take of towels, blankets, pillows, duvets and bed linen should be done at least once a year. Anything that has seen better days can be donated to an animal shelter or vet’s practice. If it’s beyond redemption, there are textile recycling banks or places like H&M which will take rag.
Anyone with an attic, a shed or a garage, or even just a cupboard under the stairs, knows only too well how over time they can resemble a junk yard. So now it’s time to investigate these often neglected or forgotten about spaces. As with other rooms, clear the space and then clean it. Before it all goes back, ask yourself if you are sure you need it all. Once you’d identified what can stay, arrange it all into specific areas so you know where things are.
The bathroom is next on the list. Go through all the cabinets for out of date make up, creams, bath and shower products, cleaning materials and anything else you no longer use or don’t want. Give the room a good clean and remember to ventilate it regularly.
With the summer holidays in full swing it’s time to focus on all those books, CDs, games, craft boxes and toys. Leave them and you can become overwhelmed with it all. Get the kids involved and have a good sort out. Donate anything usable to charity or have a garage sale or boot sale. Only keep what you really need and will use again.
September heralds a new school year so before the kids go back to the classrooms, make sure all their uniform fits and anything that doesn’t, can go. Most schools have a second hand uniform outlet so donate to that if you can. Check the usability of all tech needed, as well as pens and pencils and replace, repair or recycle what isn’t working.
With winter on the horizon, now is the time to sort through your wardrobe again. Go through and then put away your summer clothes and shoes and donate or sell anything you haven’t worn. Look at winter boots and coats and don’t forget umbrellas, hats, gloves and scarves. Have a cull of anything you haven’t worn or are unlikely to again.
Back to the bathroom or whichever secure area you keep your medicine cabinet. Go through all the items in the box and if anything is out of date dispose of carefully. It’s also a good idea to ensure your emergency first aid box is fully stocked.
By now your home should feel a lot less cluttered! However, with Christmas around the corner try and think about what needs to come into the house. One good tip which can be used all year round, is to have a rule that for every one item that comes in, at least one leaves. This way you can keep on top of things and hopefully decluttering won’t be so overwhelming in the future. Even better, your home will feel more spacious. So sit back, put your feet up and enjoy the festivities of the season.