Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you welcomed in 2021 with your health, strong positivity, and an excitement for what is to come this year. I know I was ready for a change: a fresh year, a renewed outlook, and an eager spirit to make 2021 as best as we possibly can. We can’t control everything (we’ve learned that lesson real quick in 2020), but boy can we control how we handle ourselves and make the most of what is handed (or violently thrown) at us.
So let’s start our 2021 with a little renewal. An ode to tossing out the old and starting fresh with the new. A little new year, new me theme that begins with the big purge.
Over the holidays, I began taking down Christmas decorations and with it, cleaning and organizing so many neglected spaces in my house. If you’re anything like me, you tend to neglect areas of your home for a long time, and then freak out and purge everything when it’s gotten too far-gone. That was me the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I realized how many spaces in my home were unorganized, in disarray, and fast becoming “drop zones” for junk.
I’m a firm believer that our home is our sanctuary. The world is chaotic and unpredictable enough. When I walk through the door from the outside, I need my home to not be that way. It needs to be the calm that you feel when you walk through the doors. Clean, organized and inviting. A place that everyone is welcome, there’s room at the table, and a place to rest that isn’t buried under a mess.
The problem with achieving this is that if you don’t have an organization in place, then you find yourself just moving “junk” from one place to another within your house without ever finding a forever place for it, and spending far too much time doing that. But put the effort into it now and you always know where something belongs, you have enough room for it because you’ve purged the useless and uninvited items, and you make it much quicker to clean your home moving forward.
I’m not a professional organizer (sending all my love and job applications to you The Home Edit!), and most of these are ones you more than likely have heard before, but they’re the tips and tricks that work for me to purge and organize my home.
Do one room at a time – Looking at your entire house as a whole is daunting, terrifying, and the fastest way to get you to never start purging and organizing in the first place. Do small amounts and only focus on one room of your house at a time. Doing just one room makes it more manageable and helps you to stay focused on your goals. Where to start? Maybe you plan to move a lot of your extra dishes or decorations down into your basement, so starting your work in the basement may make the most sense for you. Cleaning it first will allow you to have the room to relocate items, and you’ll be less likely to just dump it when you’ve already worked so hard on organizing the basement. Or have a huge mess of a closet and you want to tackle your largest issue first? Think of the sense of achievement you’ll gain from purging your most difficult space first. It will give you so much for excitement and motivation to move on and keep moving through your home once you see how easy it was and how great it looks now. We all have many, many neglected spaces in our homes. Don’t feel like yours is too much to handle.
Empty your space to see what you’re working with – It’s time to clear those shelves! This is key for two simple reasons: 1. You won’t know the kind of shelf space you actually have available if you can’t see your shelf to begin with. 2. When you pull everything from your space, you’re able to begin grouping items on the floor. Think about making a donation pile, a garbage pile, and then sorting your “keep” items into categories of similar items. When everything is off the shelves, grouped into categories, now you can sit back and see where the most logical spots are and what will fit better when you’re ready to put it back where it belongs. If it helps, draw a plan. Sketch a quick picture of your space and start penciling it where it will all make sense.
Drop the sentimentality – This is tricky. I want to hold on to every scribbled drawing, every “masterpiece from school,” every stuffed animal my child owns because I think maybe they’ll want that when they get older. News flash: We don’t really love getting every scribbled drawing we ever did from our parents, do we? Save the important things that show how little they once were or that tell about what they want to be when they grow old. Things that they will want to look back and see when they are grown and they pull that box out of the attic. The rest needs to go!
Be realistic with yourself – I’m a big optimist and love to believe that I’m going to “get to that project someday” or “fit in those pants again,” but sometimes we need to face the facts and just move on. When you’re purging, turn into a realist. If you are holding onto pants that are too small, clothes that you are going to “fix,” that fondue pot that you know you’ll use with friends this year, really ask yourself how long you’ve been holding on to it. If it’s sat for this long, it’s going to probably sit there even longer. Someone else may want that right now. It’s time to move on and get those things to someone new.
Include your family…or not – I run a tight ship at the Kemper house. My boys know it’s important to clean up after themselves and do their part for our home. That means, when it comes to purging and organizing, I sometimes need them to start sorting out clothes in their rooms or toys in the basement playroom or outside. I want them to help with donations and have an interest in giving to others. However, sometimes my family members have a little more “I’m going to hold on to this item forever” mentality and make purging extremely difficult. Oh, you want to keep that baseball glove that you haven’t used for 3 years and probably doesn’t fit you anymore? But if it slipped into the donation pile while you were inside, you’d never think about that glove again? Sometimes it just needs to be a one-woman show.
Make a plan for where your pieces are going – If you are purging items in good condition, it’s time to search out for donation spots that mean the most to you. Used to work but now stay at home? Have work pieces that just don’t fit anymore or you find you just aren’t wearing any longer? Look for a local branch of Dress for Success. Same goes for men’s suits. Have some that just don’t fit well any longer? Look at Save a Suit and get a suit to a veteran for job interviews. A simple Google search will unveil tons of worthy donations based on what you are purging. My go-to tends to be Goodwill because we have so many stores locally for KC families in need.
Have a lot of items that are too far gone or broken? Stained, ripped, or too worn? Invest in a dumpster! When you are purging (and I mean really purging), it makes so much more financial sense to invest in a dumpster. Garbage adds up QUICK. Bottles of old cosmetics, broken tools in your garage, missing tupperware pieces, old and expired food. It adds up way too fast. If you’re local to KC, I’ve used U-Load-It Dumpsters for our home remodel and they were the kindest people, easy to work with, were so punctual, and had a great price. Don’t think you’ll fill it? Chat with some neighbors and I guarantee you could split that cost easily with them. Everyone has some junk they need to get off their hands! They’ll more than likely be thanking you for getting them motivated to start.
Keep items in the room you typically use them in– When you’re making your plan on where you’re going to store your items, be sure you think logically. Don’t keep extra towels two floors below your bathtub or put your koozies away from your beer fridge. You’re setting yourself up for failure. No one in your family is going to keep walking in other rooms to return those items later. They’ll end up piling up on stairs, countertops, and tables and never be taken back to their correct spot. You have to keep them close to where they are used or it just won’t work.
Contain it – This is where the investment comes in. When you’re organizing, you don’t always have to contain every little piece in your home. Yes, it looks great; however, let’s be logical. We don’t all have that kind of money to spend. Use baskets and plastic tubs you may already have in storage (and bonus when you purge so much that you have more baskets and tubs become available for what you really want to keep!) Then look into cost efficient containers that can help you with managing loose items that need a system. I linked a few of my go-to storage essentials below to help you get started on budget-friendly containers for all kinds of organizing.
If you’ve been here long, you probably remember when I organized my pantry a few months ago. My pantry was chaos and I found myself over spending at the grocery store because I never knew what I really had. Plus, I felt like the big, bulky cardboard boxes and bags were taking so much more space than necessary. That’s when I decided to ditch the cardboard and invest in containers. Everything now has a place, our food stays fresher longer, and it looks great! Months have gone by and the system still works amazing. It was so worth it!
Label things – This started with my pantry organization and now I’ve seen it’s benefit in all areas of our home. I can walk my family through the house showing them where things go, but if I don’t have it explicitly written out for them, they’re not following it. It makes it so smooth to have labels on everything in my pantry so when food comes in from the store, everyone can help put it away. Everyone can find what they’re looking for. And everyone can put things back where it belongs. You’re going to get frustrated with your family if they don’t follow what you have in place or they leave it for you to do it because they don’t know where anything belongs, so make it easy for them. You’ll save yourself so much frustration later!
If you don’t love it, lose it – This is a simple one to end with. If you don’t love something, it’s time to part ways with it. Fill your home with only the things that bring happiness and calm to you. More things don’t equal happiness. It’s time to purge the old and keep only the things that bring you joy.
Here’s to starting your New Year off with a sense of calm among the craziness, a santuary inside of chaos, and a control within your space to help you make time and room for the important things in your life.
Happiest New Years, friends! I’m so excited for this year with you!