We’re knee deep in house sale right now. In amongst the boring and seemingly never ending paperwork for the mortgage company and solicitors, there’s the actual move to plan. In the past we’ve moved our own stuff in vans borrowed from friends or hired from slightly dodgy local companies. For our last move, we lugged everything out of our flat on a sack truck, down in the lift, and into the van parked on double yellows. We did the move ourselves. Just the 2 of us. I didn’t know that I was newly pregnant. We did several journeys backwards and forwards from our flat to our new home 10 miles away. We then took the “essentials” and valuable stuff to our in-laws along the coast in two trips. It was time consuming and exhausting. We bought loads of cheap boxes – plastic and cardboard. We moved boxes and boxes of stuff we didn’t need or never used again. Meaning, some of those trips were completely unnecessary. All of the cardboard boxes and broken plastic boxes went to the rubbish dump. Some of them not till years later. Everything about that move was stressful, inefficient and wasteful.
This time we’ve decided to call in professional help. The company we’ve chosen will provide a team to pack everything into strong boxes using their expertise and reusable packaging. They will drive our stuff around the corner in one go in two vans. They will put each box into the right room and rebuild any furniture that needs to be rebuilt. They will send someone to collect the boxes and packaging when we’ve finished unpacking. The Actual Dream. And so much more environmentally friendly when you think about it too. You could say that we’ve learned from past mistakes…
And I’m determined that we won’t be moving loads of unnecessary “stuff” this time either. So, the Big De-Clutter is in full swing.
Marie Kondo’s legendary book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” wasn’t published when we moved in 2012. I first read this book in 2015. It revolutionised the way I think about our stuff. I follow Marie Kondo on Instagram and there is something completely mesmerising about other people’s tidying projects. Or maybe that’s just me. I am a firm believer in her philosophy, we just haven’t been brilliant at employing all of her methods. I’ve yet to master the folding, for example. Maybe her follow up book “Spark Joy” should be on my Christmas List. Maybe 2018 will be the year of amazing drawers.
Nearly, but not quite, all of the girls old toys from the loft to sort through
Minimising and owning less stuff is much more of a thing now than it was five years ago. I think it’s significant that our huge DVD and CD collections are long gone – these used to fill a couple of IKEA Billy bookcases and were diligently moved in boxes, where they stayed for years until we decided to sell them off via Music Magpie. I know The Husband is sad about a couple of the CDs we sold but not so much that he’s tried to track them down to add back into our tiny keepsake collection. Whether it’s having children and different priorities, access to online streaming services, living in a smaller property or being part of a trend I’m not sure. Maybe a bit of each. Five years since our last move, we both have capsule wardrobes, a few nicknacks around the house that “spark joy”, and significantly I now own less than 10 pairs of shoes (I considered 10 pairs of shoes the norm to take on a 7 day holiday in 2008). I think besides books, gin and lipsticks for me and The Husband’s musical instrument collection we’re pretty utilitarian. And yet. Despite our efforts to declutter over the years we still appear to have a lot of stuff. It’s the children. And the demands of a modern household. And maybe it’s not the packing this time that’s so daunting but the prospect of unpacking in a new environment with small children to entertain and settle and guide through one of the biggest changes they’ve yet encountered.
There is a small possibility that we could be moving before Christmas (the Actual Horror). December is notoriously chock-a-block so we’ve been getting on top of things. I stupidly thought that there wouldn’t actually be that much to do because of the decluttering regime I’ve been operating since we moved in. Well, ha ha, ha. We’ve been working on streamlining our possessions for nearly 3 weeks now. And I’m amazed at what we’ve turned out. I’m so glad we started early and there is still a way to go. I’m eyeing the coffee table drawer suspiciously as I type.
Just some of the cuddly toys that the girls own between them
The loft has proven bit of an Aladdin’s Cave of trash. We’ve now re-homed, recycled and donated loads and loads and loads of stuff. We’ve halved the girls’ toy collection up there (and that’s excluding the toys stored in their rooms). I’ve sorted through a large plastic tub of 100s of pieces of paperwork. Out of the whole box we needed about 20 documents; 4 were really important for the house sale and the rest were receipts for building materials and instruction manuals for appliances and baby equiptment long gone.
You can tell I was in the very first days of parenting when I created this little filing gem
The boot of our car has been full 5 or 6 times since we’ve started the de-cluttering spree. I’ve donated the girls’ old moses basket (without the mattress) to a very worthwhile charity called Baby Basics. I delivered it filled with clean bedding and a bag of toiletries and essentials for both Mum and Baby. The charity provide a new mattress for each moses basket or cot donated and then arrange for one of their volunteers to deliver the filled basket or cot to a family who are struggling financially. I think it’s a really brilliant idea and I hope that our basket is of use to a family and their lovely new little bundle of joy.
With the loft now organised and labelled, I think we both feel relieved that there shouldn’t be anything we don’t know about come moving day. At least I hope this is the case. Either way, I’m just glad we started early.
A small selection of items to sell or donate from my wardrobe. These are all in excellent condition but don’t fit me brilliantly. I have no room in my capsule for ill fitting items!
And it isn’t just the loft. I’ve ruthlessly sorted through my tiny wardrobe again and have taken several items out to repurpose, sell or recycle. We have a shop in the village called Le Chic Fashion Exchange. You take your unwanted clothes to them. They assess the garments to see if there is anything suitable for their shop and if there is, they hang it up and give it 6 weeks on the rail to sell. If it sells, they share some of the proceeds with you and if not they take the unwanted garments to the charity shop. The shop is brimming with amazing bargains at some very reasonable prices. It was a shame they only wanted one of my dresses. I may eBay the other items.
I’ve also sorted through our bathroom cabinet, my make-up bag and spare toiletries drawer to throw out any items that are out of date or used up. I always struggle with what to do with old make-up – should it be recycled or thrown away? Do you remove the make-up and then recycle the packaging? Can anything be salvaged? Does anyone know?
The best thing about sorting through possessions is the feeling of lightness afterwards, the tidiness (although you have to be strong stomached to endure the initial short lived chaos) and the treasure haul. We’ve found a toy train set that belonged to the Big One when she was tiny and the Little One has loved playing with since it was unearthed, she’s also take a shine to jigsaw puzzles and we’ve unearthed some new stories for reading together. I found a drawer full of body lotions and trial size face masks. Perfect for mini evening pampering sessions on colder evenings, especially as my skin suffers so much in the colder weather when the heating comes on. And let’s not forget the good feelings from giving away lovely stuff that we no longer need but others can make good use of. It may have taken a long time to re-home everything but at least our stuff will be put to good use, maybe even handed on again and hasn’t been sent to landfill in a last minute packing frenzy.
I guess, what I’ve learned most over the last month is that as a family we’re still amassing way too much. This is definitely something to think about next year. I have a much better idea about what we use and don’t use – when you become aware, you’re really aware. For starters, I will definitely stop buying new make-up until things are used up; I know what products work with my skin and I don’t need to try so many new products next year. As for the girls and their massive toy collections. I just don’t know. Our families are very generous and as the only grandchildren in both families they receive lots of wonderful and thoughtful gifts. I know that Bea Johnson’s 5 Rs to zero wasting include refusal, but I feel really uncomfortable about being so churlish when it comes to the girls. Throughout this process I’ve felt pangs of deep guilt. Broken plastic toys, toys from magazines and sticker books that can’t be recycled. More cuddly toys than we know what to do with. It’s overwhelming, actually. We’ve been really careful to recycle, donate and repurpose what we can but we’ve still ended up throwing things in the bin and this will all go to landfill. It’s nauseating, but then maybe it’s the best we can do. We need to work on reducing our waste goals as a family and we have to teach our children more about the hideous long term repercussions of our throw-away society on the planet. I just don’t know if zero waste is possible for us. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to grips with it all after the move. Maybe we’re preparing to move to a more sustainable way of living.