It feels like everyone is on the Marie Kondo bandwagon right know. But if you really want to know how to declutter and get rid of unnecessary things there is a much better resource. If you want to purge like a pro, just ask. military spouse.
If you have watched Tidying Up or seen any of the many many memes floating around, you know the concept is holding things and asking if they spark joy. I prefer the mil spouse method. I like to go through my house, hold everything, and ask if I really want to drag it through the next 12 years of PCSing. If the answer is yes, I pour a stiff drink while I grapple with the realization that I am going to be moving from place to place for at least the next 12 years. If the answer is no, that item is out.
All joking aside, military spouses are champs at letting go of things and purging belongings. Sometimes it’s done willingly because we can’t imagine having to unpack all that stuff one more time. Sometimes it’s done less willingly because we are straight up out of weight allowance and a DITY move just ain’t happening.
So what does this have to do with anything? Well we are nowhere near a PCS (I hope) but I am challenging myself to purge my house this month…and I am inviting you to purge with me if you are up to the challenge! (Spoiler alert: next month I am deep cleaning my house so I am getting rid of stuff this month so I will have an easier time cleaning next month.)
Here’s some tips I’ve picked up over my years of moving if you want to join me!
Purge when you aren’t under pressure
A lot of military families start purging their belongings when they know they are going to be PCSing soon. Some start purging after they get orders. Others purge when they are unpacking. I have been guilty of trying all these approaches. But this time I am determined to purge like a pro and do it when there is no pressure and it is not emotionally fueled. How many times have you been up against a deadline and just started throwing stuff out because you didn’t want to deal with it? I know it’s not just me. So I am setting aside this month to purge my house because there is no deadline and I ca do it on my own time. The purge won’t be emotionally fueled so I will also be better able to make clear headed choices about what to keep and what to toss.
Find your why
This is what they say about everything these days right? Want to lose weight? Find your why. Want to start a business? Find your why. Want to learn how to knit? Find your why. Ok I know you get it…
But the reason it is such a popular saying is because it’s a big deal for reals. Clearing out the clutter form your house is no small undertaking and it is always tempting to just call it good enough until something comes up and you have to do it. Knowing why you are purging your house now will make you more likely to be successful. My why is that I am tired of living with the clutter and the stress it causes. The really tangible why is that I need to deep clean my house and I really don’t want to deep clean around all the “stuff” we have sitting around.
What your “why” is doesn’t matter and it could be different for everyone. The important thing is that you have one.
One bite (aka room) at a time
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you purge like a pro? One room at a time.
When you go into the project of purging your house, thinking go it as purging the whole house feels reallllllly overwhelming. But if you tell yourself “today I am purging the hallway closet” and keep knocking out a room at a time it can feel much more manageable. The amount of work doesn’t change, but you go from one big goal that is going to take a long long time to accomplish to a series of small goals that you can knock out faster. The mind is a powerful thing and those little feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment when you finish a room will do a lot to keep you motivated to finish the entire house.
What stays? What goes?
So as we know the Marie Kondo approach is to ask if it sparks joy. That’s a pretty good place to start, but I can tell you that nothing in my sock drawer sparks joy. Most of my clothes don’t spark joy, but replacing my entire wardrobe with things that do simply isn’t in the budget right now.
I prefer to ask “what purpose does this serve?” Now for some things that will be obvious. Your frying pan is a keeper because how else would you make a grilled cheese. (See my priorities here?) A stuffed animal might stay because it makes you happy. A pair of socks can stay because they fit and don’t have holes. And you need socks.
On the other hand, the text books from biology in college that I have been moving from one place to another serve no purpose to me. I am never going to read them again. They have moved with me this many times simply because I hate to get rid of books. But because that book, and others like it, serve no purpose for me, they are going out in this round of purging.
Purging doesn’t mean getting rid of everything that isn’t absolutely essential. It doesn’t mean signing up to be a minimalist. It just means simplifying and decluttering by getting rid of the things wasting space in your home and in your life. Profound right?
Make it a habit
After you get through your mega purge, keep the concept in mind as you acquire new things. Once again, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy new stuff, but think of how you will benefit from owning and how it will actually be useful in your life before you bring things into your home.
Doing another small purge every so often can also help you stay in the habit. The fringe benefit being that you do not have to panic and try to downsize quickly when you suddenly find you have to move!
Are you a purging pro? What are your tips and tricks for keeping your house decluttered and focusing on the things you truly use and enjoy?