This is a very personal question and only you can answer it completely, but I’d like to write down what makes me and my family most happy. Sometimes I forget and hold on to too much and it makes us miserable. I’m so excited to have a permanent record to come back and read to remind myself it’s okay to let go.
Anti-Hoarding Rule: Keep only what I can use within a reasonable amount of time, and what I have a place for.
A reasonable amount of time depends on the item. For food, it’s about 6 months worth. For gifts and cards, I keep what I will use in a year. For clothing that I’m saving for the next child–I allow a wait time of about 3 years. I no longer have any baby girl clothes, even though I hope more babies are in my future. My youngest girl is 7 years old and if I saved her clothing for a future baby, it would be collecting dust. I feel better passing the clothing on to someone who can use it now and trust the Lord for the good deal to come along when I need it.
I used to save maternity clothes too. The first time I was expecting was through the winter. The next 4 babies came during the summer and my winter clothes were worthless, but I saved them anyway. With this 6th baby, I was pregnant through the winter again and the 11 year old clothes that I had saved were out of style and way too big. How sad that someone else couldn’t have used them while they were still in fashion.
A place for everything has new meaning for me. The place needs to be attractive, easy to access, and not overstuffed. If I don’t have a place for the item, I have to ask myself how much I want it or need it. Just because it has value or is a useful thing, doesn’t mean I have to keep it. Instead of imagining how I would use it, I imagine how I would feel if it were gone. Would I think about it or miss it? Would I need to go out and buy a replacement? If not, then I feel okay with letting it go.
This has been so freeing! I have let go of an entire bookshelf of books, knowing if I changed my mind I could get them at the library. I can’t even tell you what they were and I’ve never gone to look for one of them since. I paired down my homeschool materials to only what I am using right now. I had so many helps and extra activities, that I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing more with the children. They certainly weren’t asking for more work! I’m also going through my old letters and papers. I haven’t thought about them since I received them and went from a huge bag full to just 3 very special pieces.
I’ve discovered the only holiday I decorate for is Christmas. So I let all of my other decorations go–and I paired down my Christmas items to the ones that make me most happy. It all fits in 2 tubs.
The hardest part about letting go of things, is when other’s question my wisdom. It’s already hard for me to part, and when someone else confirms my uncertainty I waver between keeping the item, and snapping back in frustration. When I know an item will cause that response, I pack it in a cardboard box and drive it to a thrift store far far away (so I don’t accidentally shop there with that person and they find it!) I’d never get away with putting it in a yard sale–or someone might cry out in disbelief and be hurt that I could let it go. But when it’s gone, they just appreciate the cleanliness and never think of it again. Even though I feel guilty on the drive home, it really is for the best.
I still have a long way to go. Even though I’ve gotten rid of 4 huge storage tubs of fabric, I still have too much–and I have more sewing patterns than I could sew up in a life time. Baby steps :).