4 Things I Should Have Gotten Rid of Years Ago

published May 27, 2022
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Young woman hanging framed picture on wall near boyfriend during relocation into new apartment
Credit: BONNINSTUDIO/Stocksy

For about five months, my family has been preparing for an interstate move. Having such a long time to plan for it has bred restlessness, for sure. I’ve had plenty of time not only to organize before packing, but to declutter our belongings before they get shipped off to our new life with us.

The biggest thing I’ve learned from this — a lesson I hope to carry to our new home — is that we probably shouldn’t have kept a lot of the stuff we’ve held onto all this time. (We’ve lived in our current house for over a decade.) Sure, we had the space for it, but even if our stuff was neat and orderly, we still expended energy just by having it around. We spent precious time deciding what to do with it, where to store it, organizing it, cleaning it, looking for it, looking for stuff around it, and, eventually, getting rid of it and carting it off to the donation center

Now that I have an incentive to let go of as much as I can, I can’t help thinking — what if we hadn’t held on to those things in the first place? How much time and effort could we have saved, and how much peace could we have gained from the calm that comes with cleared-out spaces?

Here are four things I regret not getting rid of sooner: 

Party Decorations

I love to have themed parties for my kids, and I usually buy them decorations to set the scene. I can sort of justify why I held on to more generic decor, like gold tinsel curtains or sparkly “Happy Birthday” banners, but I do not understand why I kept things like the barn backdrop I used for my son’s farm birthday, or the honeycomb fish decorations I used for my daughter’s ocean-themed party. Did I think I’d recycle the themes? Maybe. In any case, I donated an entire huge bin full of decorations that I’m sure will bring others a good deal of joy. 

Broken Toys or Toys with Missing Pieces

These have been dead weight since the moment they broke. I don’t know if I thought the missing pieces would show up one day or if I believed I’d have a toy-repair day like one of Santa’s little elves, but neither ever happened. I regret keeping them around and feeling guilty about them for all this time. 

Credit: kitzcorner/Shutterstock

Dishware I Never Liked

Why, oh why did I hang on to servingware that never suited my tastes? It’s probably because someone gave them to me and I felt guilty getting rid of something that was not only a gift, but something that was also perfectly useful. Did I ever pull out those “useful” things? Nope. The love expressed in the gift-giving was received gratefully when the gift was given. That love doesn’t change based on whether or not the gift sits in my cabinets or not. I wish I’d sent those pieces on to a more fulfilling fate long ago.

Excess Linens

An overstuffed linen closet is nobody’s ideal setup. Yet I’d clung to extra sheets, old pillowcases, and stained or ripped towels just in case (of what, I’m not sure). Here’s the thing: If you do suddenly find yourself in the unlikely scenario of a houseful of guests that will actually make use of your entire linen horde all in one night, everyone could probably make do with sleeping bags and blankets. 

There is no need to sacrifice the orderliness of your daily life’s linen stash with more than two sets of linens (in most situations) for each person in your household, max. These extra sets can double as guest linens, and in the meantime, you can say goodbye to the headache of stashing and digging around in a big collection of sheets.

Moving is a big life event that involves re-evaluating many things in your life, including the stuff you surround yourself with and how it impacts your life. Even if you don’t have a move on the horizon, recognizing that many of the items you’re hanging onto might be a waste of energy could be just the thing you need to spur you to decluttering action — and a more simplified life.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: I Got Rid of These 4 Things While Packing for a Move — And I Wish I’d Done It Sooner