As a result of all of the remodeling taking place in our house my husband has become mildly obsessed with the topic of removing clutter from our lives. This is nothing new for me. As a small child I worked hard to keep the smooth surfaces of my room clean. I found a place for each and every toy and put them back in their place after playing with them. Neat and orderly and a little bit strange, yup that’s me.
My parents don’t keep a particularly messy house, but I don’t believe I inherited this trait from them. I think it’s just a way of keeping my mind at ease. I suppose I need a lot of physical space in order to free up mental space. It’s one of the reasons I often cleaned my room before writing a term paper or studying for an exam. The distractions of the physical world make it difficult for me to concentrate so I do my best not to allow messes to build around me.
My husband has always been relatively neat, but his spaces in the house, (a table for tinkering, his office and the garage), are far from tidy. It’s funny to see how this renovation is causing him to jump on the less is more band wagon.
In fact, he’s been so excited about the paring down of stuff in our house that he recently started talking to coworkers about his desire to corral toys and organize common household items. He took pictures of my super organized closets and shared them with a few close friends.
They returned the favor by sending him photographs of their own homes, which are the complete opposite of mine. Mounds of clothing cover kitchen tables and every inch of counter and surface space. In fact, there are so many items in those homes that the homeowners are unable to close bathroom doors or sleep on their beds without moving the clutter out of the way first.
This is not the first time we’ve seen or heard of a situation like this. When a family member set up the nursery for her son she could only set aside three drawers of a very tiny dresser. The rest of the closets and dressers in her home, including closets in the basement and hallways, were filled with clothing she wouldn’t part with. Every inch of space was filled to capacity and it was nearly impossible to slide a hanger on or off of any rack. The closets couldn’t contain everything she owned. The rest of her clothing was draped over couches and other furniture in the basement.
I’ve written many times about my inability to find clothes that fit. I find it terribly frustrating to search for clothes, so most of the times I simply avoid shopping. When my son was born I did feel a strange desire to shop for him. Between hand-me-downs and trips to the store his dresser quickly filled with adorable little outfits.
In the beginning I photographed him nearly every day and I liked looking at different shirts and pants each time I glanced through the photographs. These days I take a lot less pictures. I also realize that it’s silly to buy clothes for a kid that will outgrow them so quickly.
How many articles of clothing can one little boy wear anyway? These days whenever I receive a bag of hand-me-downs I quickly pick through the things I like best and donate the rest. I buy very few new items and typically only shop from the clearance racks. I keep the tags on most items and the receipts in case I look in the closet and see too many of one particular item. If I’ve learned anything in these three short years it’s that my son gets hot easily, so a handful of sweaters and sweatshirts are all he needs. He typically wears long sleeve or short sleeve t-shirts.
My grandmother told me she owned four dresses as a child. It cost a lot of money to buy clothing back then so she told me most families owned very little of it. Now clothing is so inexpensive that it’s easy to stock up and get overwhelmed by the sheer weight of it.
I know houses can be filled with all sorts of clutter. In our house the source is typically toys, but in many other households the culprit appears to be clothes. Particularly shirts, pants, sweaters and dresses that take up space without getting worn.
At one point in time I probably wore less than 30% of my overall wardrobe. I owned a closet full of clothes but typically only reached for the ones that were soft and comfortable. After purging that number has probably increased to closer to 80% so it seems I still have room for improvement.
Do you suffer from an overabundance of clothing? How many of the items hanging in your closet are actually worn?
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