De-cluttering for Christmas in a small home

Toys  , Christmas tree ball on ,  branch.

Apologies for the early use of a Christmas bauble!

 

Last week I went to see The Minimalists on their UK book tour. I have been exploring minimalism for a while and, even before seeing Joshua and Ryan in person, I had planned a massive de-clutter session at home.

There are many reasons why I like the idea of minimalism: of owning less, spending less and using your time to pursue the simple things. There are many environmental, financial and social benefits to following this lifestyle.

There is also a very practical reason for doing this: we are a family of five living in a small 18th century cottage. Roughly speaking our total floorspace (upstairs and downstairs) is 800 square foot. Using this interesting blog post here from Shrink That Footprint you can see that this is roughly the same size as an average new home* in the UK today. Only Hong Kong, China and Russia have smaller new homes. And in the US the square footage is a whopping 2,164 for a new home (something The Minimalists allluded to in their talk).

So you can see space is tight. Particularly in the girls’ bedrooms. My eldest has a room measuring 66 square foot; my younger two share a room that is 80 square foot. They also have generous grandparents and we have lots of friends who give us hand me downs. So, despite my love for all things second-hand, I am constantly de-cluttering and making space for toys, clothes and, well just things.

With the festive season creeping upon us I have set myself the ambitious aim of De-Cluttering for Christmas. I want to pare down the possessions that we have, to keep only those things that are useful and are used. I know that, in return, we will receive more stuff for Christmas although I am working on that.

In the meantime my de-cluttering plan sort of looks like this:

WEEK 13 Oct: Kitchen

WEEK 20 Oct: Conservatory/Office Part One

WEEK 27 Oct: Kids’ small toys (they are on half term break so can help with this one)

WEEK 3 Nov: Kids’ large toys

WEEK 10 Nov: Christmas decorations

WEEK 17 Nov: Bedrooms (incl clothing)

WEEK 24 Nov: Bathroom

WEEK 3 Dec: Loft (esp kids’ clothes, books, houseware)

WEEK 10 Dec: Lounge, then put decorations up

WEEK 17 Dec: Conservatory/Office Part Two (with husband’s help as he has a lot of stuff stored here)

I’ve already de-cluttered the kitchen and given away a tonne of cookery books on Freecycle as well as paring down my utensils quite significantly. I’ve also sorted through the kids’ craft supplies, which are also stored in the kitchen. I focused on the quality pens, paper, paints etc and they can now see the wood for the trees and are starting to enjoy using the smaller – but better – selection of art materials.

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Good quality pens and crayons from Djeco, Staedtler and Smiggle for the girls’ art drawer

 

Do you have any plans to de-clutter for the Christmas season – or, better still – any tips on reducing the festive stuff that comes into your home?

 

*I’m assuming this is what we’d call ‘Starter Homes’ in the UK – a lot of new builds round our way are at least four bedroom and more thna we can afford.

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How many phones does a girl need?

I recently had a clear out of the girls’ bedroom and, to my horror, discovered this collection of old  mobile phones that they play with:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Okay, so the bottom  two aren’t ‘real’ and the others are all obsolete so they can’t call or text their friends with them (although my six year old did say ‘lol means laugh out loud’ yesterday (!?). However I was slightly unsettled by the number of unwanted phones we have. While Phil has a Blackberry I am still smart-phone-less and rely on a rather basic Nokia one that does take pics (purchased from a friend so I guess second-hand). I have been toying with the idea recently of getting an i-phone or something similar to make it easier to pick up emails etc. But do I really need it and who says I have to have one?

I confess to being somewhat of a Luddite when embracing new gadgets, although we did purchase an i-pad at Christmas as a family present which I have become a convert to. I am obviously able to work my way round a computer somewhat by creating this blog, becoming addicted to Pinterest and occasionally checking Facebook. I’m not sure where this rambling is heading to. When faced with waste like this it does make me feel uneasy. Once again I also come across the term planned obsolence. I also wonder what it teaches our children about having to have things (my 11 year old claims she is the only one in her class not to have a mobile phone although I question that).

Anyway the phones are off to the Post Office to be recycled.