Written by Jami Spurling, LCSW

Decluttering a home with years of memories and collectibles stashed in every nook and cranny can be overwhelming for you and your family. Nobody wants to make a rash decision to toss items of value or meaning. The best way to accomplish this big task, is to start small. Whether you are downsizing right now or in the next year, start with these 7 areas of your home that may have items with low emotional value to get you going:

Garage– The garage is a place that easily becomes a “dump zone”. If you are like me and enjoy gardening, then you probably have plenty of planting supplies lying around. You will get a sense of relief and accomplishment by bagging up things like old plant containers, identification tags, opened bags of soil mix, and watering cans.

Pantry– Spice it up! If you have a designated pantry or a few cabinets devoted to spices, baking goods, or mixes- dig in! Throw away any opened sauce bottles, used spices, or items that you may have lost the taste for. For example, if you no longer bake fish, you may want to purge the half-used packages of fish fry mix. This will help tidy things up and prevent messes down the road.

Bedroom– It may be the most helpful to your family members for you to sift through your more personal drawers first, before something happens, and they must. Sort through your undergarments, socks, nightgowns, pantyhose, slips, etc. first and then move on to t-shirts, sweatpants, and other things. Most times we keep clothes that we think we might wear again, or do not realize that we don’t actually use all 27 pairs of socks in the drawer before laundry day rolls around again. These items may be easier to get rid of than your nice blouses or slacks that you will want to keep a variety of. Remember- if that old work t-shirt is threadbare, it’s time for it to go!

Bathroom– Have you used that bottle of fingernail polish remover in the last 3 years? What about that aftershave from the 1980’s? Go through your bathroom cabinets and drawers. Toss out old shaving creams, lipsticks, powders, or ointments. These things can easily be replaced later if you need them. Again, preventing messes in your bathroom drawers is a side benefit.

Paper– Old documents, newspapers, and magazines can take up a lot more space than we realize AND can cause health problems in some cases. Critters big and small like to nestle inside or use paper items for their nests. Shredding or recycling these items can help declutter quickly.

Entertainment– Books, Music, and Movies, Oh My! Long gone are the days of keeping a DVD or record collection in entire cabinets; most everything can be streamed these days on a device or two. You can easily free up some space and declutter by donating books to libraries or nursing homes. Movies and Music can be donated as well, or more unique items can sometimes be sold for cash.

Kitchen– In your past life you may have cooked and entertained for loads of friends and family, and you still have the dishes to prove it! Prepare for downsizing by pairing down you’re dining and entertainment dish sets to items that you use more regularly and will have the space for.

The important thing to remember about decluttering is to start small. It is much easier to decide what stays or goes when you can choose that for yourself, and easier when you have time to do it. If you are thinking about a downsize or have questions about the where’s and how’s of off-loading items in Northwest Arkansas, ask us! Lighthouse Group NWA has an experienced team of sorters and packers, who can help you make decisions about decluttering and downsizing.