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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I visited a very dear friend recently and gave her youngest DD some of the dress-up clothes we decluttered...we have an open wooden toybox for dress-up, and when it overflows, we pare down (makes sense to you mamas here, right?) I explained why we had perfectly good dressup clothes to give away because her DH was giving me a strange look. When I told them about my box and how I don't keep more than will fit in it, he said "we just let our dressup flow all over the house!" Like I was a little nuts for choosing to be so sparse.<br><br>
Their storage space in their house is overflowing with cool bits of things - antiques, crafting supplies, books, things that need repair but haven't been repaired yet. It looks like an interesting and inviting secondhand shop. They just moved to a *huge* house and have a ton of extra space. I have been working hard for a year or more trying to get the extra stuff out of my own garage...my friends just see this sort of thing so differently I guess. I used to be that way, keeping every cool or useful thing I came across "for later." But the way I see it, "later" is NOW, and for me it's time to use stuff or let it go.<br><br>
Their house always feels crowded and cluttery. Maybe they like it that way? I worry all the time that my house is messy and cluttered, but comparing the two houses in my mind gave me a reality check on my stuff. My friends aren't extreme or packrats or anything, just people who save stuff and have a lot of stuff. Their way doesn't bother me, it's just not how I choose to be. I guess I feel like I've sort of "crossed over" to the other side.<br><br>
It was a very strange experience - I must live in my own little bubble most of the time, in the world I've created. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> I just felt the need to share this among people who wouldn't think I was weird.
 

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I think everyone's at a different place on the decluttering continuum. One day, they might feel the same way, maybe not. I have reached a place where I realize that I hate to maintain, so I want to be responsible for less things.
 

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I am exactly like your friends! But, then I realized that with so much stuff, the house constantly felt dirty even though it technically wasn't. So, I have discovered flylady and this forum and been working on getting rid of things.<br><br>
Its hard. I love my things and have high hopes for using all of it. But the fact is, I had boxes and boxes of craft things that I have never done or used....for over a decade! And thats just an example.<br><br>
I would love to see a house more cluttered then mine! :) It would at least make me feel ok about how things are now. And I would love to see a house less cluttered, so I can see what can be achieved.<br><br>
But yes, its a spectrum. :)<br><br>
with smiles,<br>
rebecca
 

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I think I am like them but trying to become like you, in the decluttering sense. I gave my mother a dish this weekend because I had no use for it--have used it probably once since receiving it as a bridal shower gift 9 years ago. She totally doesn't get it when I do this. She proudly countered my explanation by telling me that she still has unused, unopened wedding gifts in her basement. My parents have been married for 48 years. I don't get it, but at the same time, that is the upbringing/example I am trying to overcome! I know that part of it is that my parents remember living through the depression, when certainly no one threw away or gave away anything with any use left in it. And it is wasteful, really. I mean even to give good dress-up clothes to a friend is wasteful in a sense because they already have enough dress-up clothes. And now you will probably collect more (either buying them or receiving them as gifts) that you don't need. There is just too much stuff in our lives today.
 

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Hi amyamanda, I am in a brutal decluttering cycle right now as we have accumulated TONS of crap and may be moving into a smaller house soon. I just want to be decluttered just to BE DECLUTTERED, but the smaller house thing is highly motivating!<br><br>
We are just buried under STUFF. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">
 

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My family doesn't get it. My friends do, because we all seem to come from cluttered homes. I love my parents to death, but wow...when I walk into their house you can't turn a corner without knocking things down. Their house isn't dirty by any stretch of the imagination. It's just very cluttered. They have so. much. stuff. My youngest siblings still live at home, and when I walk into their rooms, it's just....yipes. They have boxes and bins and shelves full of stuff that they haven't used in years. My sister has a room full of baby toys, and a crib heaped to the ceiling full of stuffed animals.....she's 11 yrs old and doesn't touch any of it. There is an overwhelming amount of stuff in that house.<br><br>
I'm not a knick-knack person. I'm not a keepsake person. I don't like stuff. Yet every Christmas, I'm gifted with all sorts of things that - I won't lie - find their way to the goodwill box while we're packing up the Christmas decorations. I've mentioned that I don't need candles or trinkets or whatever....but they don't understand why I wouldn't love these things. They don't understand how I can like having my house so "bare." I feel calm in a clutter-free house. I feel anxious when I can't walk past a piece of furniture without knocking 10 random knick-knacks onto the floor.
 

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I'm still somewhere in the middle of the clutter spectrum. I want to get rid of almost everything. Like a pp said, my house is clean but it never looks like it because there is stuff everywhere. The storage areas are full of the stuff we don't use and the stuff we do use is always out because there is no place to put it.
 

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Hmm. I understand both you and your friends. I find myself vascilating b/w the two perspectives. Sometimes when I'm in "keep" mode, I have regrets about the things I've passed along ("Oh, if I hadn't given X to Y, I could've used it for the girls now that they're getting a bit bigger. Darn!"). But when I visit my folks and my mom tries to load me down w/ notecards, envelopes, trinkets for my girls, I feel how suffocating it is to live a life of STUFF.
 

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It is actually my sister who doesn't understand my decluttering, aside from my argument that I have no place to <i>put</i> extra stuff!<br><br>
She lives in a 3000 sq. ft. victorian home, double lot, two car garage, and they have a thirty-something foot motor home-for general camping and one week a year to florida.<br><br>
I live in an old (but charming) house probably between 1300-1400 sq. ft., regular yard, two car garage and a pop-up that we may sell in favor of tent camping. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
Both of us have three children. She likes her stuff, and the look of status that it gives her. I like an easy-to-clean space, less junk and room for the things that I truly love.<br><br>
A main difference between us is that she has an emotional need for <i>things</i>. They satisfy her somehow. For me, less is better, otherwise I feel disorganized and messy. <b>I don't think either of us are wrong, just different.</b> Her house is always neat, with exception of the kids rooms, but there is a lot of <i>stuff</i>.
 

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You're right, it's just a different perspective but it is possible to become crippled by all the stuff. Some suggestions I've read are to give things to the next generation--keepsakes to nieces & nephews so they stay in the family but are not contributing to you feeling smothered in your house.<br><br>
Think if things have alternate uses. I had a pair of sneakers that turned out to be an odd color I seldom wore. But they were great to keep in my office to put on when we had drenching rainfalls to keep my good shoes from being ruined walking to the bus.<br><br>
Raggedy towels & sheets work great for animal crates & pens. If you don't need that, your local SPCA or SNAP clinic or Humane Society does.<br><br>
Pretty small dishes from your grandmother or best friend are nice to use to put jewelry or hairpins in on your dresser, that way they're out & appreciated, not taking up space in a cupboard.<br><br>
I had 5 children & one thing I learned early on with regard to toys is to fix it directly or throw it away when it comes to broken things. Hanging on to damaged items isn't a good idea.<br><br>
Read Deneice Schofield's book Confessions of a Happily Organized Family. She has excellent advice for storing toys & craft supplies.<br><br>
I read about a woman who was decluttering who walked around saying to herself "I am not the Library of Congress!" to remind herself that only the most important papers (birth certificates, passports, etc.) & books need to be kept, because so much reference & other material is available online.
 

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I really think that a lot of preference for more vs. less stuff is just an esthetic preference and lifestyle thing. I think a lot of it comes down to what you think looks nice/feels nice. And it's an individualized thing that is related to taste in decor. I for example *hate* things like big huge heavy drapes with gold tassels and gilded mirrors--but some people are really into that and think that looks nice! My dad has a love affair with oak kitchen cabinets--to him this is the epitome of taste and style!! I think I'm more of a maple girl, myself! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> I don't want a ton of knick knacks around, but I do like a certain number of decorations. Some people want a small apartment because it feels cozy to them, some people want a bigger house with a great room/cathedral ceilings because they like that feeling of vastness/spaciousness. I'm totally willing to work to support the lifestyle and esthetic I love--I don't mind washing clothes that I like and dusting knick knacks that I enjoy looking at. It's just when your stuff gets beyond your own comfort level, or when you don't really like it but feel trapped with it because your Great -Aunt Sally gave you that Hummel figurine or you don't get rid of that dress that is three sizes too small and fifteen years out of style because you paid a lot of money for it--that is when you end up with a house full of clutter! But if *you* use it and love it, then it's not actually clutter to you, even if the same thing would be clutter to someone else, iykwim.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just wanted to say, I absolutely do not feel judgmental about my friend and I did not mean to come across that way, but I’m afraid I probably did.<br><br>
It was just such a key experience for me, getting some perspective on a) how I think about “stuff” much differently than I used to (i.e., as mostly clutter and not so much for keeping), b) how I probably am on a different place on the clutter-spectrum than I believed myself to be, and c) how I’ve come to take it for granted that everyone wants to declutter and was reminded that not everyone has the same goals as I do.<br><br>
It’s been great to read your responses – I think maybe I’m further along in my decluttering journey (or possibly more accurately, my recovery from my dependence on clutter) than I imagined I was.<br><br>
Also, I wonder how much of this is generational. So many of us have clutterbug parents and pack-rat grandparents…and here we are, trying to distance ourselves from those models.<br><br>
I think I’ve just come to see “stuff” more often as unwanted “clutter” now – and my friend sees “stuff” more often as welcomed “treasure,” (which is how I used to see it, too). I absolutely understand where she is at. I find it really curious that my thinking used to be like hers yet it has changed and now is so different…
 

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I don't like clutter. I like to be able to move around my house without tripping over something or bumping into something. My kitchen counters have to be empty exept for a select few items neatly arranged next to the wall - or else I just feel cramped like I can't move/function. I can't use the counter when it's already covered in stuff.<br>
When my sister lived with us, everything she touched or used or ate ended up being left out on my precious kitchen counter. Yipes!<br>
No I didn't flip out or have a nervous breakdown, it's not like that, but I did get tired of constantly clearing them back off when she went to bed! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>amyamanda</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8142713"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Just wanted to say, I absolutely do not feel judgmental about my friend and I did not mean to come across that way, but I’m afraid I probably did.<br><br>
It was just such a key experience for me, getting some perspective on a) how I think about “stuff” much differently than I used to (i.e., as mostly clutter and not so much for keeping), b) how I probably am on a different place on the clutter-spectrum than I believed myself to be, and c) how I’ve come to take it for granted that everyone wants to declutter and was reminded that not everyone has the same goals as I do.<br><br>
It’s been great to read your responses – I think maybe I’m further along in my decluttering journey (or possibly more accurately, my recovery from my dependence on clutter) than I imagined I was.<br><br>
Also, I wonder how much of this is generational. So many of us have clutterbug parents and pack-rat grandparents…and here we are, trying to distance ourselves from those models.<br><br>
I think I’ve just come to see “stuff” more often as unwanted “clutter” now – and my friend sees “stuff” more often as welcomed “treasure,” (which is how I used to see it, too). I absolutely understand where she is at. I find it really curious that my thinking used to be like hers yet it has changed and now is so different…</div>
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FWIW, I totally didn't think you were being judgmental in your first post--I just saw it as making an observation about where you're at in your relationship to "stuff" and noting a comparison/the difference beween your way of being/doing versus your friends' way. In a "hey, that's interesting--this other person actually likes something that I really hate! wow, people can really have different preferences" kind of way!<br><br>
I think that it may be partly generational, in that people a generation or two ago didn't used to have access to as much "stuff" as we have now, and valued the "stuff" they were able to acquire more, and didn't want to lose it. I think it's kind of like the physical body--so many of us are overweight because our bodies are designed to be out roaming the savannah or working on a farm, but not sitting at a desk all day. Our fat storage mechanisms are adaptive in our previous human circumstances to keep us from starving where food might not be abundant and we are getting a lot of exercise, but not for the way we are living now where food is plentiful and physical exertion for the activities of survival are minimal for most people. Similarly, I think that it works the same way with belongings--people have more ability to acquire stuff now because consumer goods are readily available and much cheaper in terms of relationship to what people make--like in our society even most really poor people have a color TV. (Wish I could remember the name or author of the article I was reading on this subject a few months back . . . .) Yet we still have the compulsion to acquire/save things with the same scarcity consciousness that was prevalent in earlier times, even though the material circumstances have actually changed since then. I think some of that is our generation of "cultural creatives" looking around and saying, "hey, this scarcity mentality that we need to acquire more and save everything "just in case" is out of line with the actual physical reality of our time--stuff is easy to get, often easier to acquire than to get rid of, and if you aren't careful you will get so much of it that it'll take over and you will spend you life dealing with it. Life will be better with less to maintain, dust, search through, etc."
 
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