Rest and Catch Your Breath

The past week I’ve been listening to the ‘Your Top Songs 2019’ that Spotify kindly made me. Thank you Spotify. One of these is the song ‘Have It All’ by Jason Mraz. A lovely song where one of the lines is:

‘May you get to rest, may you catch your breath’

So far January has been about that for me, catching my breath. New Year Resolutions? I haven’t made any. The Christmas period was a lovely time for us but it was busy. With three kids off for two weeks and a build up to Christmas which started in early December, there was a lot going on. By New Years Eve, I was asleep by 10pm. I was shattered. The kids were not back to school until 6th January. This week it was about taking my time getting the house back into some form of reasonable shape and focus on getting the kids back into a good routine.

The kids went back to school on Monday and I started to put the house back together. Trips to the recycling centre, loads of washing done, bags sorted and decluttered and Christmas decorations put away. What I didn’t get done? I didn’t get around to sorting through my Christmas Cards or writing up my 2020 diary or I the million other things that I would have liked to get done to make the house and my life perfect. But that’s ok. There’s always next week. Or the week after. I’ve learned not to put unrealistic demands on myself (or others) and remember to slow down. Rest and catch your breath.

In the past, I would have always made numerous resolutions on New Years Eve, only to give up come the third week of January and beat myself up about it for a while after. But I resolved to start @rachelwithless and do a major clear out of my stuff on 16th February 2018. There was nothing special about that date whatsoever except it was the day that I was really ready to make a start and follow through. So resolutions can be made whenever you are ready to make them. It doesn’t have to be the first day of the year, or month, or week. So my 2020 New Years Resolutions can wait for the moment while I rest and catch my breath. In the mean time, I’m going to continue with my post Christmas tidy up at my own pace and in my own time, whilst listening to Spotify. 😃

Happy New Year everyone.

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For me September brings with a feeling of a fresh start as it is the beginning of a new school year and things get back into a routine. So it felt like the right time to do another minsgame. For those who haven’t heard of a Minsgame, it is a decluttering game that ‘The Minimalists’, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, came up with to help people declutter their belongings. On the first day you get rid of one thing, day 2 two things, day 3 three things and so on until you have done 30 days in a row and consequently decluttered 465 items from your home. If you challenge someone else to do it then this can keep the pressure on and make it a bit more fun. I have done two Minsgame a so far – my first was in May this year when I decluttered books, magazines and newspapers. My second was in July when it was a mixture of music and other miscellaneous stuff. This time I want to revisit a few categories that I’ve started on but not fully finished principally toys, books, clothes and music. Since the kids are back in school it’s a great opportunity to declutter toys 😆

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Half Way Through

So I’ve made it to the half way mark on my year long decluttering challenge and I’m glad to say I’ve decluttered 2018 things at this point. When I set myself this challenge back in February I really didn’t have any sort of target in mind. I simply needed to sort out a large room in our house filled with mainly my stuff. As I progressed the room got worse to begin with as I slowly decluttered stuff from around the house and it became the head office for sorting it all out. Now at the half way mark, I’m happy enough with every other room and my ‘decluttering head office’ has greatly improved. I’ve made countless trips to the local clothes bank, charity shop and recycling center. And I’ve read a few books and listened to numerous podcasts on decluttering, organizing and Minimalism. I’ve learned a lot. Now I simply need to keep going and get through the rest of the stuff. I also now have a clearer vision for what I’d like to achieve by the end of the challenge namely:

1) I need to finish certain categories that I’ve already done an initial cull of – clothes, books and miscellaneous items.

2) I want to sort, organize and scan (where appropriate) all my photographs so that they are saved up on my hard drive and to the cloud – this is a major undertaking considering I loved and still love to take photographs.

3) I want to sort, organize and scan (where appropriate) all my paper work into just a few key files – again a major undertaking since I like to keep everything!

4) I’ve set another interim target of decluttering 3000 items but I’ve no doubt that I will reach this if I include all the paperwork and photos I’ve yet to go through so fingers crossed.

It hasn’t been easy to find the time to do this with three small children. Doing a bit daily is the only way I can do it at the moment. Staying motivated is key because it is taking such a long time. I have to say that the support I’ve had on Instagram has been brilliant. I’ve also got great inspiration from following others on Instagram who are doing similar and facing the same struggles in their decluttering. But ultimately I’ve already seen improvements in the house – there is more space, it takes less time to clean and tidy up, the kids now play much better in a tidy, less cluttered play room and my feelings of being overwhelmed, although not completely gone, have certainly improved. So reminding myself of these benefits is keeping me going. Here’s to the next six months.


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Start Your Decluttering

So you’ve decided to start you need to do a major decluttering but where do you start? I think quite often what holds people back from starting to declutter is that they see the enormity of the task and don’t know where to start – so they don’t start at all. That was me. I would look at my boxes of stuff and get overwhelmed with the amount of sorting and clearing out that I would just give up and put it off for ‘When I had time’. But there was never time until I made a conscious decision to just start and do it bit by bit. I started with just two old skirts of mine which I hadn’t worn in years and which no longer fit and I wouldn’t wear even if they did fit! I’ve put down some ideas for someone who wants to get started:

  1. Set aside some uninterrupted time to focus on decluttering and stick to it. If that is 10 minutes, 30 minutes or 1 hour then make sure you are free from distractions for that time.
  2. Start in the place where you spend most of your time and make a start there. If it is the living room then start with a cupboard. If it is the bedroom then start with a category of your clothes. If it is the kitchen, then start with a drawer. This is so that you see the benefits quicker and you stay motivated.
  3. Don’t start with sentimental items – old photos, letters or things that are hard to let go of should be saved for the end of your decluttering. Not only do they take up more time to sort through but it can be quite stressful dealing with these and you want to stay motivated and get momentum in your decluttering. So start with anything you don’t hold dear to your heart.
  4. Only declutter your own stuff and don’t touch anyone else’s belongings. If you clear your own stuff first then you can set a good example for whoever you may live with and they may follow suit.
  5. The stuff you decide you want to get rid of – try to get this out of the house or out of sight as soon as you can. Out of sight out of mind. If you are not sure about getting rid of it then pack it away and label the box accordingly. If you can do without it after a month or two then you can be happier to throw it out knowing you didn’t miss it or need it in that time.
  6. The Minamilists Decluttering Game aka ‘Minsgame’ is where on the first day of your decluttering you throw out 1 item, second day 2 items, third day 3 items and so on until the end of the month or for however long you want to do it for. If you do it for 30 days then that is 519 Items decluttered and a really good start to any decluttering journey. You can give and receive encouragement from others doing a Minsgame on Instagram through the hashtag #minsgame.
  7. If you are tackling a large cupboard or room then try to deal with the larger and more bulkier items first. Old furniture, unused kids paraphernalia, whatever it is – ridding the room of this larger stuff will instantly help.
  8. A quick win would be to start with your car, store cupboard or medicine cabinet. Clear out any unnecessary clutter, expired food or medicine shouldn’t take too long and none of this stuff should cross into the sentimental category. Any medicine that is out of date you can put it together in a bag and bring it to your local chemist who will destroy it for you appropriately.
  9. Try sort through the one area until you have most of it done. It doesn’t have to be perfect before moving on to the next room or area. Try get through as much as you can so that you are happier in that living space and then move on. You don’t want to get stuck in a rut and loose momentum. You can do another cull or sort through in that space when you have tackled other rooms or problem areas.
  10. Remember it is a marathon and not a sprint. Any start you can make is better than not starting at all so try to stay focused on the end goal and bit by bit you will get there.

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Post Decluttering – Where to bring Clothes

So you’ve decided what clothes you are keeping and what you are getting rid of. One of main dilemmas I had was deciding what to do with the clothes I was getting rid of. Here are a few things I tried:

  1. Giving to close family/friends. I guess this depends on what your relationship is like with your close friends/family but I tried to keep to a minimum the items of clothes I offered to my family. Mainly because I didn’t want to run the risk of burdening them with things they might take off me under a sense of obligation or for fear of offending me. So I only offered them a handful of items which I thought they would really like.
  2. Selling some of your clothes or shoes or handbags yourself on Adverts, Done Deal, EBay or Depop or similar websites/apps. This is a good option once you have the time and patience for this. It can take a while to sell things and you have added hassle of dealing with potential buyers and arranging delivery/collection. Put a time limit on it – if you don’t sell them in a month then do something else with them. I put a few good quality things up on Depop. I sold a handbag and ring fairly quickly but there were no takers for the rest after about a month so I gave them away instead.
  3. Consignment – I rang a few consignment clothes shops about some of my clothes but they were only interested in high end designer clothes and not the high street clothes I had. But if you do have high end designer clothes or handbags then this takes the work out of selling these items and you can get some money for them albeit less consignment fees.
  4. Charity Shop – If clothes and shoes are still in good condition then your local charity shop will gladly take them off your hands and the proceeds will go towards a good cause.
  5. Local Women’s Refuge – These usually take women’s and children’s clothes, bedding, equipment etc for those who are fleeing domestic abuse and who often have to leave their home suddenly without many things. Demand for certain items fluctuates so it is best to ring ahead to see if they will take any stuff you may have to give.
  6. Local Parish Fete / Sale of Work – Locally these are not that frequent so it depends on your timing but in my area certainly there are a handful throughout the year that would gladly take clothes and handbags that are in good condition.
  7. Cash for Clothes – This is where you get money based on weight for clothes, shoes, curtains, bedding, towels, handbags, belts, soft toys, hats, scarfs, ties and pajamas. The heavier the bags the better. Some local schools or community groups organize a clothes drive in conjunction with one of these companies where funds raised go to charity / local projects etc. I think this is particularly useful for getting rid of old stuffed toys as sometimes they are not accepted by charity shops.
  8. Freecycle – If you post a bundle of clothes of a particular size/age on your local Freecycle website or Freecycle Facebook group then these are usually taken very quickly by those locally who you can meet or who can collect from you.
  9. Local Recycling Clothes Bank – in Dublin at least there are individual clothes banks for different charitable organizations dotted around the city and suburbs where you can go to drop off clothes. I’ve found that sometimes they are full and so instead of leaving them beside the clothes bank (which you are not supposed to do) I’ve just returned after a few days or the following week instead. So that is potentially one further delay in getting rid of your stuff but you can also go to your local recycling center that accepts textiles including old clothes, shoes, curtains, bed linen and blankets. They don’t accept soiled clothing, cushions, carpets, duvets or pillows.
  10. Finally I think if clothes are in bad condition with holes or bad stains on them then you can rip them up yourself into smaller pieces for use around your home as cleaning cloths or dusters etc. If you are more creatively minded then there are other ideas on Pinterest to turn old clothes into other more interesting things. Otherwise unfortunately it is the bin for them if they are particularly bad.

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My Clothes Decluttering Continued

So how did I go about culling my wardrobe? Well this was the thought process I went through:

  • Anything with a hole or tear or fray or hard to remove stain or badly faded in colour then they were first to go.
  • Anything that was two sizes too small for me or two sizes too big for me also had to go (excluding sentimental items). I didn’t see the point any more having clothes that didn’t look well on me taking up valuable space in my closet any more.
  • Shoes that were not comfortable. I decided life is too short to be dealing with sore feet, blisters, sole burn etc from wearing uncomfortable shoes.
  • Shoes that I had multiple pairs of colour/type. e.g. flip flops. I think I kept three pairs of flip flops hesitantly while the rest went. Still too many in my mind but will cull again I’m sure.
  • After the above I was left with what was really my central wardrobe of clothes and shoes and with these I tried most of them on to decide if I liked it in general and if I liked how it looked and felt on me.

Amazingly after working through all of the above points, I got rid of a lot of my clothes and freed up so much space. But I was still left with just over 100 items of clothes and shoes. However I felt that I wanted to live with everything remaining for the next few months before I did any further cull. And sure enough I already know I will do another cull but I’ve other decluttering categories to tackle before I go back to do this.

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My Clothes Decluttering

So I started my decluttering journey with my clothes. Marie Kondo suggests to start with this category in her book ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ but it was the most logical place for me to start in any event. I had heaps of clothes. As someone who has gone up and down the scales over the years, I found that I had four sizes of clothes in my closet. When your someone whose weight fluctuates I always felt I should hold on to clothes ‘Just in case’ I put on weight or ‘Just in case’ I lost weight. I had clothes that fit me, clothes that were too big, clothes that were too small and clothes I was keeping for sentimental reasons. I parked most of the sentimental stuff as I wasn’t ready to tackle them. But I was taking up three wardrobes, two under bed storage drawers, a chest of drawers and a tall boy with all my clothes so I had to make a start. When I started going through it I got through it relatively easily because I was so sick of looking at my closet bulging with clothes yet feeling like I had nothing to wear. So over 5 weeks I gradually purged my clothes and shoes. That was 12 weeks ago and I haven’t missed any of it. In fact it has only been positive:

  1. I save time deciding what to wear in the morning and when I am going out at night. Deciding what to wear isn’t an ordeal any more.
  2. I like everything in my closet now and feel good wearing everything. So I have more choice than I ever had before.
  3. I freed up two wardrobes and two under bed storage drawers. I know what I have and where I have it.

While I got rid of a lot of clothes I still kept more than enough – in fact too much. In the past 12 weeks I have still probably only worn half of the clothes in my closet. So I’ll do another purge soon to get it down even further because I know I can and I can feel the benefits.

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Birth of #rachelwithless

It was one of those Aha moments after I watched the Minimalism documentary on Netflix. I had been trying to declutter over the past year or so and while I had rid of a lot of stuff I realized that what I really needed to do was something more drastic. Various things that I had been reading and listening to for the past while were at the back of my mind but once I saw the documentary everything made sense. I realized that I have been burying my head in the sand about how much stuff I have been accumulating for as long as I can remember. And as a mother of three young children I had been searching for more order and more calm. So I decided to start a major decluttering and that I would document it daily on Instagram @rachelwithless. That way it made my decluttering more interesting for me, I was accountable to my followers and I had a deadline. And that is what I have been doing. I’m 16 weeks decluttering now and happy overall with my progress to date. Still a long way to go but I am getting there. @rachelwithless #rachelwithless #minimalistbeginner #decluttering #minimise #minimalistliving #minsgame #konmarie #simplifyyourlife #declutteringchallenge #decluttering365 #declutteringlife #declutteringmylife #sparkjoy #konmarie #mariekondo #letitgo #minimalism #minimalist #lessismore #slowliving #simpleliving #intentionalliving #intentionality