Operation: PURGE

I am not a hoarder, but I come from semi-hoarder lineage. Cleaning out my late grandparents’ house was a daunting task for my parents, and they seemingly continued the family tradition in their own home. I grew up in a house where you had to move a ton of junk out of the way just to sit on the couch. Where you had to relocate piles of papers to sit a drink down on the end table. The stairmaster was not an exercise unit but an excellent clothes holder-upper. It wasn’t TV-show-level hoarding, but I was embarrassed to have friends over, and I felt suffocated by all of the STUFF in this 1,000-square-foot house.

I vowed that when I had a place of my own, I would not be like that. I would break the hoarding pattern once and for all, and by and large, I have done a good job with this goal since moving out of my parents’ house. I was a neat and tidy college roommate. If someone unexpectedly showed up at our house, yeah, we might have some things that needed to be dusted or vacuumed, but I would not be embarrassed by piles of random junk on the couch or on tables. Yeah, the garage is a mess, but that seems relatively forgivable, as it’s sort of our temporary staging area as we finish up using baby/toddler items and find them a new home.

However, a close inspection of our everyday storage areas — drawers, closets, cabinets — reveals many unnecessary items, most of them being kept “just in case we need them at some point.” That’s exactly how the hoarding mentality begins, and I have vowed this year to put a STOP to it. My unofficial New Year’s resolution — and my word of the year — is PURGE. Each day I take on anywhere from one task to many tasks, and I evaluate each item carefully before deciding whether to keep it or not. When instinct kicks in and I think, “But I might want this one day…”, I force myself to look at it more realistically: I either need to find a good use for this item, or it will be put into the donate pile.
I’ve already noticed a big difference in the areas I’ve cleaned out, and I hope by the end of the year we’re not only living with less-cluttered storage spaces but that we’re better about not accumulating this unnecessary stuff in the first place.
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