Unless you're really good, or child-free, keeping the clutter down in the house is pretty much a losing battle. Here's 5 ideas for your clutter, to minimise, make good use of it, and make money out of it.
Clutter falls roughly into three categories. Memory clutter, I might need it clutter, and I paid a lot of money for it clutter. In my house we've pretty much got all three. Clogging up the loft, the garage, the under stairs cupboard. Even my precious office space, which is needed as I work from home, is turning into a store room.
It is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Part of the problem comes when one of you is a hoarder. This is not me. I come from a family of people who not only don't hoard, but are so unsentimental that nothing is ever saved.
There has to be a sensible middle way surely? Looking for ideas on what to do to tackle the problem sensibly, I came across these five ideas that seem particularly good.
I have tried scrap books before. For some people they're immense fun, and there's an entire industry dedicated to it. There's even specialist magazines on the topic. For me it was a total failure. I just could never keep up with it. All those bits and bobs. Before I knew it, I had two years worth of the stuff in the backlog, no idea of dates and in some instances only a hazy idea of what something was about or a souvenir from.
Now I have a few boxes of stuff from when the step kids were little, and it is all lumped together.
When my son was born, I bought a keepsake box. I can't seem to find the specific one I bought, and now I can't remember where I got it from. But I am so glad I did. It is a bit like this box here, the Blue Baby Keepsake Box (£16.99).
I popped all the little important bits in there, the stuff you REALLY want to keep, from when he was born. My friends sent the most wonderful gift, which was the front pages of their local newspapers from the day he was born.
And putting it in a really nice box, means you can display the box. And having that out makes it so much easier to use the keepsake box, another stumbling block for me.
How many near-pristine items have you got around the house sitting largely unused? It is a bit scary really to think how often I get sucked into buying something I think I really need and then only use it once. The thing is, if you've spent a lot of money on something, it is rather hard to let it go.
There's a guide to the basics of selling on eBay here. Another option, car boot sales, aren't quite as lucrative as they used to be. Ask around your local area to find ones that are still doing a good trade. If you don't know anyone who has tried car boot sales, take a look online for blogs in your area. For example, I came across this description of a few in the Wee Birdy blog.
Sale events can also be a good way to sell items, especially if you still have a lot of baby stuff. You can set up a table at an NCT Nearly New sale, for example. Click here to find one in your area.
The NCT don't cover everywhere though. They don't do my locality for instance, even though I'm in London. However, more local organisers might be doing something similar. Around here, for example, we have Sell It Mama.
Another mum gave me some good advice. Shiree suggests that you "pick one or two pieces of your child's artwork and put them in the frame. Everything else goes. You will go insane if you try to keep it all, and most of it will lose meaning anyway. This way you've got something nice to put on the wall too. And your child will feel pretty chuffed to have their picture nicely framed." For some great ideas on doing this, take a look at the Blissfully Domestic blog.
Larger frames can contain a collage of items. Or you could do what a friend of mine does and paste tickets and similar items as wallpaper in the toilet. Not possibly the best idea if you think you'll move anytime soon though.
One mum puts her children's momentos into a photobook each year. Special artwork, events they go to, school projects all get photographed. Then once a year she puts them into a photobook to keep. A good idea as some of those school projects are quite big! Keep an eye out on here. There's frequently discount codes and offers for the companies that sell these, and you can get them for half price or less.
In researching this article, I came across this blog from Photobox. It would seem that the company has a new 'easy make' feature on its website. The software will recognise the order the photos were taken in (I assume by the time and date stamp on them) and order the photos in the album automatically. I have no idea if this works or is available yet. But it definitely sounds pretty cool.
Donate or throw it
At some point you have to realise you can't keep everything. If you can't sell it you can give it away. And if you can't give it away, then throw it. Sometimes you just have to be ruthless.
You can't keep every single pair of shoes they have owned, no matter how cute they are (as I keep trying to explain to my husband, Mr Pack Rat). These can be recycled, so take them to a shoe shop near you that collects for charities. Some have the shoes made into other items, while others deliver the shoes for use in the developing world.
If clothes aren't good enough to donate to charity, take them to your local recycling depot. To find a recycle bank or centre that will take clothes, try the Recycle Now site. You can enter your postcode, and you'll get your closest recycling points on a map. I'm not sure how up to date it is though. It told me my closest recycling point was at my local supermarket, which is actually true. But it said that it was a Somerfield, a chain bought (and swallowed) by Morrison's about five years ago (I think).
So, what do you do? How do you keep your clutter down. Tips please! Especially if, like me, you live with a hoarder.