Seanna Thomas: ABC Kitchen


That One Month When I Threw Out 496 Things

There's happiness in getting rid of "stuff."

One month a year, my husband and I take stock of what is in our house and then pretty much get rid of it. Not everything, but a lot of stuff.

My husband is a minimalist. We don’t have picture frames on side tables or centerpieces in the dining room, and most surfaces are free of “stuff” unless it’s there for a purpose. I was never a messy person, but I certainly had “things” around my house… and then I met my husband and realized the happiness that comes from clearing your home of clutter.

Purging your house can be totally daunting, but it doesn’t have to be if you have a plan.

We choose September because somehow, throughout the school year and then the summer, we tend to accumulate STUFF and it just ends up cluttering our drawers and closets and EVERYTHING. Also, our kids are back in school and can’t protest the throwing away of toys they haven’t played with in a year. But you can choose any month you want. A lot of people like to choose a month in the summertime because there is more daylight and everyone is happier to do anything, anytime, because BBQs and sangria make everyone happy.

It has been said that “Mess causes stress” or “Clean house, clean mind” and I must agree, don’t you? When my house is tidy (note I said TIDY not cleaned to perfection), I feel like I can breathe a little deeper.

So, here’s what you do:

For every day of the month, you purge that many items.

For example, on the first of the month, you get rid of one thing. See? I’m starting you off nice and slow. You might even throw out two broken pencils from your junk drawer and be AHEAD OF THE GAME.

On day two, two things.

Day three, three things.

See the pattern?

You can recycle it, give it away, donate to a charity, pass it on to friends, compost, or throw it out-whatever you do-get it out of your house.

But be careful! Don’t go all crazy and say…nah, that bag of marbles doesn’t count because by the last day of the month, I promise you, you’ll be searching for stuff to throw out!

What are the benefits of doing this?

The first is obvious. Less crap in your house.

Second, you’ll know where everything is. I mean it. I know what is in every single bin in the storage under our stairs and where to find it. Need batteries? A camping stove? Something useful that I wasn’t willing to part with? I know where it is.

Third, you will actually be less stressed. It’s true. Getting rid of things is freeing in a way that a spa day just…isn’t. Plus, I feel so proud and awesome, I just want to tell everyone what I’m doing.

“Hey Sue, did you know I got rid of 26 things today? JUST TODAY. How awesome is that?”

Everyone wants to get on the bandwagon. You just have to do it.

On the last day of the month, you’ll have gotten rid of 465 items. 465! (496 if you do it in a month with 31 days).

That’s a lot of “stuff” just lying around your house.

Do you really need eight blue pens? Or will you just grab one from work when one runs out?

That old floppy disk? I promise you’re not going to use it ever again. And no, those cards are not going to be worth something someday.

Go through one drawer a day, one bin a night, whatever you have to do to make your quota. No giving up, no cutting corners. Once the month is up, you’ll feel so awesome, you won’t want to wait a whole year to do it again…but you won’t have any stuff left so you’ll have to.

There are no hard, fast, rules either. When my husband and I were towards the end, each piece of an elaborate toy set counted as a piece. At the beginning, we would’ve counted the whole thing as one.

Get purging and get happy!

 RELATED: How I Spark Joy in My House by Getting Rid of All the Crap