As part of the Declutter Cleanse 2017, February was the month I chose to declutter the basement. I didn’t accomplish this enormous task in February.
I think I finished around May, just in time for our neighborhood garage sale. I took a half hour here and there to work on it. Since this time, I have organized and cleaned out even more.
I found it helpful to have a large garbage bag, a box for donation items, and bin for items to sell with me every time I worked on the basement. Without these supplies, I would have put the items in piles and forgot about them.
I’ve been living with the organized and decluttered basement for almost a year now and this is what I have learned:
You can hold onto memorable items without having the actual tangible item. I took pictures of items that I didn’t want to dispose of. For example, I had a newspaper from the day Syracuse University won the national championship. I’ve dragged this newspaper from apartment to house. I took a picture of the front page and recycled the paper. I did this with many other items that were taking up space. I plan on putting these pictures into a photo album with a little caption about why they are special to me. I also use this technique with the boys artwork.
The amount of toys on the floor is directly correlated to my rise in blood pressure. The kids have their playroom in the basement. I think of this as their place to get crazy and do as they please without me having to listen to it. The toys were taking over the floor to the point where no one wanted to use the playroom. It would take me half a day to clean it up. Plus, every time I had to look for something down there, I would get stressed by the mess. I ended up taking a day and sorting every toy in our house into categories and then decided some would go in the garage sale and in the garbage. I have plastic totes for the sorted toys. I have a whole system now that has drastically changed the state of our playroom for the better, but I won’t get into that here. However, one of the rules is that by the end of the day, all toys have to put in the appropriate tote and placed where it belongs. Every night the floor free of toys, and the boys start out the next day with a clean playroom.
My kids play more with their toys. Since organizing the toys, my kids play with way more of their toys than they used to. Plus, when I am asked where Spiderman is, I know exactly where to find him. No more melt downs over lost toys, or spending an hour looking for the lost toy. Even though, I do love a good lost toy challenge. I will pull apart the house and car and I WILL find it. But is this really a good use of time?
You can make a lot of money off of “stuff”. This is pretty self-explanatory. If you have something you don’t have a need for anymore, there’s someone out there who will pay money for it. We made over $500 from our garage sale. This was well worth the time it took to clean out the basement.
Life is just easier when everything has a home. I created individual memory boxes for my son and one for my husband and I. These memory boxes have made my life so much easier already. For example, I found an envelope with professional pictures of my son when he turned four. Instead of sticking them in a pile somewhere, I put them in his memory box. All of the cards my son received for turning two went into his memory box. In the past, I would have kept these in a pile somewhere on my desk trying to figure out if I should throw them out or not.
Entertaining is much easier when I know what I have on hand. Getting ready for my son’s birthday party was a breeze. I knew where all of my paper products and birthday decorations were, as well as serving trays. Clean up was also easy. After all the dishes were cleaned, and other items used, they immediately went back to their home in the basement. In the past I would have kept everything out for days because I didn’t want to spend the time to find the space for them. Or things would just be placed out of the way and forgotten about.
There’s no need for duplicate pictures. Remember the good old days when you would take your film to Eckerd and have it developed? Of course you would get a double set of the pictures. I must have kept every paper envelope filled with every picture I ever took, and many duplicates. I went through all of these and threw out so many pictures. My next step is to organize the pictures I did keep into photo boxes. I went from a few boxes of pictures to one small rubber tote.
I don’t need to hold onto clothes from ten years ago. I had two large totes filled with clothes I hadn’t touched in over five years. Some of the clothes I bought right out of college! My scarcity mentality kept saying I should hold onto them in case I found myself in an office job again. But let’s be real, if that is the case, I should buy more age appropriate and current clothes.
Decorating for holidays is fun when you know what you have. All of our Christmas decorations are stored in one place in the basement. I have a bunch of stuff that I haven’t put out in a few years, but I do hold onto these items because I may want to use them in the future. For the first time this year, I used a theme to decorate the house. I used a lot of red, gold and silver. It was fun to go through what I had to see what matched this theme.
I’m picky about what comes into the house. After doing such a major clean out of the basement, I now think twice about accepting something that we may not use. I prefer the look of open space to cluttered boxes and random furniture.
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