Today we are going to ” Organize It” with some great De-Cluttering solutions to help us to ” Simplify It”.
When properly set, my dining room table could be dressed to impress. With service for 12, each
place setting had a full complement of sterling silver flatware. My crystal stemware included
glasses for water, red wine, white wine and champagne. My Lenox dishes and serving pieces
would accommodate a five-course meal, followed by coffee and tea. If I didn’t feel like pulling out the really good stuff, I’d simply replace the antique sterling with my silver plate flatware and swap the Lenox for a similarly equipped set of Sango china.
Problem was, in more than a decade of owning such finery, which I acquired as wedding gifts and by inheritance, I never set my table as described. I never had a need or desire to, and because I expect I never will, I’ve been getting rid of what I can. Brad Pitt helped me realize it’s time. The actor and I have never met or spoken. But while packing my home in the spring of 2003 to move for the second time in two years, I was flipping channels and happened upon Brad Pitt touring an Ethiopian village while being interviewed by Diane Sawyer. As he dodged questions about Jennifer Aniston (from whom he was separated) and Angelina Jolie (with whom he was newly linked), Pitt spoke of how the poor in Africa struggle to survive with so little, and how he himself was aspiring to live “a more simple life” without so many possessions. “I have this romantic idea,” he said, “of getting my closet down to a section just like this …” (he placed his hand about waist high) “and a little pile of clothes.”
I was only half-listening to the program, but that comment caught my attention. (And not because the two-time Sexiest Man Alive seemed to have an odd sense of what’s romantic.) As I boxed-up an oversized house containing the belongings of two adults and three children, I realized that I, too, aspired to a simpler life. At that particular moment, I aspired to a life in which I didn’t have to pack, protect, store and care for a valuable bounty of fine china, crystal and silver that had become as much a burden as a blessing. Brad Pitt was shedding his Hollywood Glam for Save the World Grunge. I was ready to shed the Formal Life I Never Lived for the Informal Life I Really Live.
Before the movers arrived two weeks later, I had sold the dining room set. At our new house, my
husband and I turned the formal dining room into a library, and we didn’t unpack the china. The
truth was our tabletop treasures weren’t treasured by us. When the prices make it worthwhile,
I’ve been selling the pieces at consignment shops and to replacement dealers.
For most families, dining on fine china is a relic from a way of life we don’t live. (Desperate
Housewives’ Bree Van De Kamp being one exception.) I registered for stemware at age 25
because, as a bride-to-be, I was told to. Relatives gave me china and silver because, as a married
woman, I should set a proper table. But in our first apartment, my husband and I didn’t have room for either a proper table or the multitude of boxes filled with dining finery. Among my betrothed girlfriends who dutifully selected china, silver and stemware patterns at bridal registries, none got all the pieces she wanted, and few could afford to gather the basics she needed. Each of us was acquiring costly housewares for a lifestyle we wouldn’t have.
In my house today, my family and guests eat at a farm-style kitchen table set with run-of-the-mill glasses, stainless flatware and white ceramic plates. Breaking a wine glass or losing a fork doesn’t have financial consequences. In continuing my purge of excess possessions, I’ve donated my kitchenware doubles, passed along books I won’t read again and finally given up on the pre- pregnancy pants I’ll never get back into. I’ve also stopped keeping gifts I don’t want or need. While Brad Pitt’s “small pile of clothes” ideal isn’t fully achievable for me—nor, I expect, for him—the thought of it has helped lighten my load.
BIDDING ADIEU TO YOUR HOUSEHOLD FINERY
You may not want your Baccarat crystal, but you also don’t want to just toss it or give it away to
any old charity. Here are some options:
REPLACEMENTS, LTD: Go to replacements.com for an estimate of what this purveyor of old and
new dinnerware will pay for your fine dining accessories. If you choose to sell, you can ship the
items or take them directly to the company’s enormous warehouse in Greensboro, N.C. Hint:
Selling during holiday seasons often yields better prices due to the higher demand and shrinking
HIGH-END CONSIGNMENT SHOPS: You get a portion of the sale, which will likely be much less
than the items are actually worth. As one shop told me, “Consigning is about you getting rid of what
you don’t want and other people finding bargains. It’s not a way to make lots of money, no matter
how good what you have is.” If your item is a valuable antique, you can inquire with a dealer who
both buys and sells antiques.
CHARITIES: Some thrift shops that benefit causes will accept fine home furnishings, as might a
small college, private school, quality respite care facility or retirement home.
And, of course, there’s always eBay.com or having a yard sale (where you can sell your wares)
and freecycle.com (where you can give them away to an individual or organization).
Here’s anotheridea: If you never took that Wedgwood candy dish out of its box, wrap it up as a gift. Hey, anotherbride might really like and want it, even if you don’t.
Melissa Stanton is the author of The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide: Field-tested strategies for staying smart, sane, and connected while caring for your kids, published by Seal Press/Perseus Books (www.stayathomesurvivalguide.com). Prior to becoming an at-home mother of three, Stanton was a Senior editor at LIFE and People magazines. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, Parenting and MotherVerse, among other publications and websites. Stanton is the founder and editor of “Real Life Support for Moms” © (www.lifesupportformoms.com). She lives with her family outside of Washington, D.C.
Copyright © 2009 Melissa Stanton
Got 2 minutes? Get Organized
Cindy Sigler Dagnan’s book Who Got Peanut Butter on My Daily Planner?
Seven years ago Cindy Dagnan and her husband made the decision for her to leave a teaching position and stay home with their girls. To this day, she is thankful for the sacrifice they made and is filled with advice and encouragement to help other moms
- handle the identity transition from career mother to at–home mom
- streamline meals and at–home projects and enjoy the saved time
- connect with others to create a vital network of friends
This gathering of inspiration and practical steps will lead at–home moms—and those considering the decision—to transcend the daily grind and draw closer to the One who shaped the concept of home in their hearts.
24/7 MOMS is giving away this book. To enter for your chance to win, enter your name and email address in the box below you will be signed up for today’s book giveaway as well as be added to the 24/7 MOMS E-list(if you are not already a 24/7 MOMS subscriber). Drawing to be held on February 1, 2009.
Create a relaxing clutter free home
Sue Kay- no more clutter
When you walk around your home do you feel relaxed, in control and surrounded by things you love and that reflect your life today? If not, then probably your home is being taken over by clutter.
As a clutter consultant, I work with clients to banish clutter and reorganize their homes.
I believe that letting go of clutter can make your life flow so much more freely so you have more time to enjoy yourself.
So what is clutter?
Clutter is things you no longer use or love. It’s things that remind you of a difficult time in your life. It’s things you liked ten years ago but your tastes have changed. It’s those gold shoes that you wore once and can’t bear to part with because they cost £100. It’s broken TVs. It’s piles of unopened junk mail and old newspapers. It’s hundreds of plastic yoghurt pots that might come in useful one day. It’s pots of dried up paint or nail varnish. All these things are clutter.
So how do you deal with clutter?
First don’t panic. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and to walk away and have a coffee. Here’s some tips to help you on your way.
1. Start today
Procrastination is the major obstacle to decluttering. So start now.
2. Choose a small area to start.
Say you decide to sort out your sock drawer. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Put on some upbeat music and you’re ready to go. Then completely empty it and give it a quick clean. As you pick up each item ask yourself why am I keeping this.
Are you keeping old holey socks you no longer wear because they used to be your favourites? Either decide to mend them or let them go. Odd socks are peculiar, I’ve had clients with dozens of these. Set aside a further 15 minutes and scour the laundry basket, the washing machine, dryer, wherever. If your can’t find the matching sock then let it go. Old textiles can be recycled, check with your council.
3. Keep up the momentum
Well done. You’ve made a great start. If you feel energized then keep going. But
always work on one area at a time and finish it before you start somewhere else.
Decide to do a set amount a day such as 30 minutes. Remember one person’s
clutter is another person’s treasure so get the rest of your family involved in
sorting out their stuff.
4. Letting go of old stuff
Once you have decided to let things go, it’s crucial to get them out of the house as soon as possible. Unwanted items can be given to charity, friends or family or recycled. Or you could sell them at a car boot sale or second hand clothes shop or advertise in your local newspaper.
5. How does it feel?
As you put things in the bin or charity shop bag, you may feel great and feel a huge sense of relief. Or you may feel guilty that you are wasting money by throwing thin gs away. You may also feel guilty that you are letting go of unwanted presents or baby clothes. I know many people feel it is wrong to ever discard a photo, even if it is blurred or brings back unhappy memories.
People are often scared that the minute they part with something they will need it and consequently hold onto copious junk. I call this the “ghost feeling”, it takes a while to get used to a newly decluttered home.
All these feelings are a completely normal part of the decluttering process. They often stem from what you were taught in your family. Many of my clients come from families where hoarding is a common problem.
6. So how do you cope with these feelings?
i. Sentimental items Be sentimental but selective. Choose a beautiful box in which to keep sentimental items. Keep a few cherished baby clothes and give the rest to someone who will use them. Put photos into albums only keeping the best ones and let the other s go.
ii. Broken things Give yourself a deadline for broken items to be fixed, if not discard them.
iii. Presents – if someone gives you an unwanted gift and there is no polite way to refuse, accept gracefully and respect the other person’s feelings. But remember it is your home and if you do not like something, it will drag your spirits down every time you look at it. So dump the guilt and let it go.
iv. Paper Be ruthless with paper. Put junk mail straight in the recycling and decide how long you will keep newspapers For example in Barnet we have kerbside recycling so every Thursday I go though my house and gather up any newspapers read or unread. Remem ber no-one has time to read everything.
v. Fear The “what if” thoughts are some of the hardest to deal with. I call these clutter thoughts. I recently bought a new light weight hoover. Then the thought crept into my head, what if the new one breaks down. Perhaps I will keep the old one. But I overcame my wobble and gave away the old one. A useful tip is “one in, one out”
If you really feel panicky about letting go of something then store it for 6 months in the loft or shed. Put the date on it. If you haven’t used it in 6 months then give it away.
Once you have decluttered and decided what to keep, then it’s time to look at storage. To maintain a clutter free home it is essential that everything has a home, so it’s easy to find. So store like with like, such as all vases together. We use 20% of our possessions 80% of the time so put this 20% in the most accessible places. Treat yourself to storage items such as a filing cabinet, a shoe rack or a pretty box in which to keep sentimental items.
8. The benefits
There are so many benefits to decluttering and letting go of old stuff. A more relaxing home where you can find things when you want them. Enjoy the lighter feeling you get when you look around. Next time you indulge in a little retail therapy you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you own and what you actually need.
9. no more clutter
If you find this a bit daunting and live in the London area Sue Kay from n o more clutter can help you. Sue has a non-bullying, practical and sympathetic approach to de-cluttering and organizing your home. no more clutter is a professional de-cluttering and organizing service for your home and office For more information contact Sue on 07974 076 675
Before we end today’s “Organize It” party we have a FREEbie party favor for you
Anyone want a cup of coffee? maybe you need a little bit of energy to keep up with this “Organize It” Party. we have two free coffee samples for you
Join us tomorrow at 24/7 MOMS “Organize It” Party for “Manage It” – Time Savers verse Time Wasters